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Satellite images show crops on fire in Syria rebel enclave

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The images show fire still raging in olive groves and orchards during harvest season around Kfar Nabudah and Habeet, two villages on the edge of Idlib province where fighting has focused. (AP)

Updated 16 min 22 sec ago
May 28, 2019

BEIRUT: New satellite photos obtained on Tuesday show significant damage to Syrian villages and surrounding farmland as a result of a government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country.

The images, provided to The Associated Press by the Colorado-based Maxar Technologies, show fires in olive groves and orchards during harvest season around Kfar Nabudah and Habeet, two villages on the edge of Idlib province where the latest fighting has focused.

The fires were apparently sparked by intense bombing in the area.

Kfar Nabudah fell to government control on Sunday. Activists, experts and Maxar say the crop burning is part of a “scorched earth” campaign that adds to the hardship of 3 million people in the rebel stronghold.

The UN said fires, triggered by bombings, destroyed staple crops such as wheat and barley, compounding the already fragile humanitarian conditions in the area.

On Tuesday, the Idlib Health directorate said government rockets hit a hospital in the town of Kfar Nubul, causing extensive damage to the facility and to its generators and cars parked outside. The directorate said the hospital is now out of order.

This brings the total number of regional health facilities directly hit in the offensive to 21, including at least five which the UN had identified as medical centers.

Amnesty International has said that attacks on health facilities in opposition-held areas in Syria is part of a well-established pattern by government forces and their allies.

Fighting has raged in Idlib and the surrounding areas since April 30 as Syrian troops pushed into the enclave from the south while unleashing a wave of intense bombing over the overcrowded area.

The UN says the violence has exacted a heavy toll on civilians, displacing already more than 200,000 people and targeting health facilities and schools. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said nearly 1.3 million of the enclave’s residents had already been displaced by violence in other parts of Syria.

“The potential longer-term impact on the civilian population may be compounded as the violence is occurring during the harvest season,” it said. “As the hot summer weather sets in, more fires can occur, further disrupting normal food production cycles and potentially reducing food security for months to come.”

 

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Turkey Says Nearly 330,000 Syrians Returned Home
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019


Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak (L) and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu stand next to each other during a media briefing at the Presidential Palace, Ankara, Turkey, July 9, 2018. (Reuters)

Ankara- Said Abdel Razek

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 329,000 Syrians have returned from Turkey since the end of the operations carried out by Turkey and pro-Syrian factions, including the Free Syrian Army, Turkey’s interior minister said Sunday.

Soylu said those Syrians returned to their homeland thanks to the peace reached in Afrin, Azaz, Jarablus, and al-Bab where the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield operations were carried out.

Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have liberated the region from PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and ISIS.

Some eight million Syrians left their country after the outbreak of the internal war in 2011, including about 3.6 million in Turkey.

In a speech during an Iftar event in Istanbul on Sunday, Soylu said residents in areas where Euphrates Field and Olive Branch operations were carried out feel safe and stable.

He noted that the Turkish armed forces continue to cooperate with the Free Syrian Army in the fight against terror groups northern Syria, adding that these operations have achieved major successes.

Meanwhile, Syrians residing in Turkey continue to return home through the in the southern state of Hatay to spend Eid al-Fitr with their families.

People have started returning to Syria from Gilva Gozo crossing, facing Bab al-Hawa crossing in Idlib province, since May 20.

While their return and entry into Turkey take place through “Ongo Pinar” crossing in Kilis province, south Turkey, facing Bab al-Salama in Azaz.

Syrians, who live in different Turkish states, arrive at the Gilva Gozo crossing to spend the Eid with their families.

As of Saturday, some 16,000 Syrians have left and Syrians will continue to return home through both crossings until May 31.

Turkish authorities at the crossings carry out the necessary measures, and they are allowed to cross the borders after providing authorities with the information required.

 

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US Alarmed at ‘Reckless Escalation’ in Syria’s Idlib
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019


The militant bastion in northwest Syria has been hit by several days of heavy regime bombardment | AFP

London- Asharq Al-Awsat

The United States expressed on Tuesday its alarm by Syrian regime and Russian air strikes on northwestern Syria, saying they were a “reckless escalation” of violence.

“Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public infrastructure such as schools, markets and hospitals is a reckless escalation of the conflict and is unacceptable,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

“The violence must end,” she said.

Regime air strikes, backed by Russia, have focused on the south of Idlib province and nearby parts of Hama, uprooting nearly 250,000 people.

The bombing has killed 229 civilians and injured 727 others, according to the UOSSM medical charity.

In the latest escalation, at least 21 civilians were killed as the regime intensified its bombardment of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Nine children were among the 21 killed in regime fire on several towns in Idlib province and the countryside of neighboring Aleppo, it added.

Strikes on a busy street in the village of Kafr Halab, on the western edge of Aleppo province, killed at least nine civilians.

An AFP photographer said the bodies of the victims were torn apart and several stores lining the side of the road were destroyed.

The street was crowded with people out and about before breaking the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

A hospital in the Idlib town of Kafranbel was also hit by artillery shells, said David Swanson, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office.

"The facility is reportedly out of service due to severe structural damage," he told AFP.

The hospital's administrative director Majed al-Akraa confirmed the attack.

"The hospital is completely out of service," he said.

The region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the opposition bastion has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its ally Russia since late April.

The Observatory says nearly 280 civilians have been killed in the spike in violence since then.

More than 200,000 civilians have already been displaced by the upsurge of violence, according to the United Nations.

The UN has warned an all-out offensive on the region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly three million residents.

At least 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, the UN has said.


 

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Saudi KSrelief Praised for Its Humanitarian Aid in Zaatari Camp
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp in Jordan no longer have to queue for water. Reuters

Asharq Al-Awsat

Secretary-General of the Arab Red Cross and Red Crescent Society Dr. Saleh bin Hamad Al-Tuwaijri commended in Riyadh on Tuesday the efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to alleviate the suffering of those affected in various parts around the world.

Under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, contributed to alleviating the suffering of the refugee and supporting Saudi relief work worldwide, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

This came during Tuwaijri's recent visit to the Saudi humanitarian campaign in the Zaatari camp, which was implemented by the Center, where he noted the efforts of the Center to alleviate the sufereing of Syrian refugees.

 

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Paris Says Has 'Indication' of Chemical Attack in Idlib
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a news conference during the Foreign ministers of G7 nations meeting in Dinard, France, April 6, 2019. Reuters

Asharq Al-Awsat

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that the country had an "indication" that a chemical attack had been carried out in Syria's northeastern Idlib province this month as alleged by Washington last week.

"We have an indication that chemical weapons were used in the Idlib region, but for now it has not been verified," Le Drian told a parliamentary commission on Tuesday.

"We're being cautious because we consider that chemical weapons use has to be proven and be lethal, in which case we can react," he said.

President Emmanuel Macron has made use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime a "red line" that would trigger a military reprisal against Bashar al-Assad.

The United States has also threatened reprisals if the suspected Idlib attack is proven.

International inspectors say that Assad's forces have carried out a series of chemical attacks in the course of the brutal civil war, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.

A sarin gas attack in April 2017 in the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed 83 people, according to the United Nations, leading US President Donald Trump to order a strike by 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian air base.

And France joined Britain and the US in launching missile strikes on three suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria in April 2018 after a suspected chemical attack in Douma.


 

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Israeli PM Confirms Strike on Military Base near Quneitra, Syria
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria May 10, 2018. (Reuters)

Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat

Israel launched a retaliatory strike against Syrian targets after anti-aircraft fired at one of its fighter jets during a routing flight, announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a statement, he confirmed Israeli forces destroyed the system in response, leaving at least one person dead and another injured. The incident took place Monday night.

“Our policy is clear, we are not prepared to tolerate any aggression against us and we will retaliate against it forcefully and decisively,” he vowed.

The incident first occurred when Israel shelled a military vehicle in Quneitra. It then struck the vehicle with its jets.

Although Israel did not claim responsibility for the operation, a military source in Tel Aviv said the vehicle belonged to groups affiliated with Iranian militias that are trying to set up bases in the eastern part of the Golan Heights to launch operations against Israel.

Other sources claimed the attack was an assassination attempt targeting a senior militia official. His name was not revealed. Syrian regime forces responded by firing a missile at the warplane late Monday, downing a small Israeli reconnaissance plane.

According to Israeli sources, the plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and landed in the Golan Heights, without any clear indication whether it landed in the Israeli-occupied part or not.

Israel considered the bombing a violation of the ceasefire agreement and an infringement of Israeli sovereignty, the army spokesman said. He said the plane was on a regular reconnaissance mission of the Israeli side of the border.

He pointed out that the Syrian missile missed its target and fell over Syrian territory, thus there was no need to activate the iron dome. However, an Israeli plane bombed the Syrian anti-aircraft battery from which the missile was fired.

According to Syrian sources, a Syrian lieutenant and a Syrian soldier were killed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli missile was "reportedly fired from the occupied part of the Golan", noting that that three Syrian soldiers were wounded.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, most of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

Last week, Syrian sources reported heavy Israeli bombing on a site near Damascus International Airport, which destroyed a weapons cache.

Syrian forces responded by firing about 10 rockets towards the Israeli border, while Israeli media claimed that the bombing targeted an Iranian military post north of Damascus.



 

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EU calls on Russia, Turkey, Iran to protect civilians in Idlib
May 29, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union called on Wednesday for a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province and said Russia, Turkey, Iran and the Syrian government must protect civilians under siege.

At least 180,000 people have fled an surge in violence in the province in northwest Syria, the last major stronghold of rebels who have fought against President Bashar al-Assad’s government since 2011. Government bombing has killed dozens in the past three weeks.

The Syrian government says it is responding to attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants.

“We expect the Syrian regime and the Astana guarantors to fulfill immediately their responsibilities and commitments, and ensure the immediate protection of civilians,” the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini and its humanitarian aid chief Christos Stylianides said a statement, referring to Russia, Turkey and Iran’s peace efforts.

“Indiscriminate attacks on women and children and other civilians, their displacement, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

The region, home to an estimated 3 million people, including many who fled other parts of Syria as government forces advanced in recent years, has been partly shielded by a truce agreement since last year, brokered by Russia and Turkey. Much of the recent fighting has hit a buffer zone agreed under that deal.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by John Stonestreet and Alison Williams

 

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Syria: Fresh Strike on Militant Enclave Kills 13
Wednesday, 29 May, 2019


Heavy regime bombardment of a militant bastion in northwest Syria has led to a mounting civilian death toll | AFP

Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat

The latest strikes in an unprecedented wave of regime bombardment on a militant enclave in northwestern Syria killed at least 13 civilians on Wednesday, a war monitor said.

Air strikes, some using deadly barrel bombs, and shelling by both government and Russian warplanes have claimed a mounting civilian death toll over the past few weeks.

The violence, which has rattled a fragile truce deal brokered by Moscow and Ankara in September, is causing mass displacement and bringing Syria to the brink of the worst humanitarian catastrophe yet in its eight-year-old conflict.

The United States and the United Nations demanded an end to airstrikes on Tuesday, as bombardment by Damascus killed 27 people -- the single highest civilian death toll in the region since the regime increased attacks in late April.

But on Wednesday, aerial bombardment did not relent.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring organization, seven of Wednesday's victims were killed in an air raid on the village of Sarja.

It lies in Idlib province, most of which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate.

The four other victims were a father and his three children in the village of Bara, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Two others were killed in strikes on the Idlib town of Hbeit, he said.

"The bombardment by the regime and Russia continues to be intense on several areas. The Russian strikes are focused on Khan Sheikhun but have not caused any casualties for now," he said.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported one woman was killed by militant shelling on northern Hama.

The regime has not announced an all-out offensive to retake the entire militant enclave, a large area which is home to almost three million people.

Analysts predict that the government of President Bashar al-Assad and its allies will continue to chip away at the area but not unleash a major assault that would create chaos on Turkey's doorstep.

The regime is likely to continue applying sustained military pressure whilst attempting to preserve a fragile truce agreement reached in Russia last year to spare the region a large-scale humanitarian disaster.

On Tuesday, Syria's UN envoy Bashar Jaafari said Damascus "will spare no effort" to free the residents of Idlib from militant control, according to comments carried by SANA.

UN deputy aid chief Ursula Mueller, however, told the Security Council that a further escalation would threaten humanitarian assistance for the region's residents.

She said some 270,000 people had been displaced by the fighting in Idlib since late April.

Aid agencies have been forced to suspend their work in some areas, she said, adding that 22 hospitals and clinics had been hit by air strikes or shelling since April 28.

The United States has said that "indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public infrastructure such as schools, markets, and hospitals is a reckless escalation."

The civilian death toll has mounted in and around Idlib in recent days, reaching more than 270 over the past month, according to the Observatory.

In villages struck by regime raids, excavators dug new graves and civilians buried the dead stealthily at dusk to avoid being targeted by more air raids.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011.


 

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Russia Calls for Lifting Sanctions on Syrian Regime
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


Russian forces patrol damaged buildings in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus. AFP file photo

Moscow - Raed Jabr

Russia has urged the international community to support the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and launch a massive campaign to end US and European sanctions against Damascus.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday described the US presence in Syria as a “direct support for illegal gangs," saying it “impedes the restoration of peaceful life in Syria.”

“We [Russia and Syria] urge the United States and the European Union to lift anti-Syrian economic sanctions. Such restrictive measures do not contribute to solving urgent humanitarian and socio-economic problems in Syria,” said the statement, which was signed by the Russian-Syrian joint coordination headquarters.

In a separate statement, which was signed by heads of the Russian and Syrian coordination headquarters Mikhail Mizintsev and Hussein Makhlouf, the Russian Defense Ministry mentioned the problems hindering the return of refugees from the Rukban and al-Hol camps.

The Ministry said the situation in the two camps that are located in US-controlled territories in Syria remains “critical.”

“The illegal US military presence in the so-called security zone around al-Tanf continues to be the main factor of instability in the southern part of Syria and the cause of the plight of Rukban residents,” warned the statement.

To support its claims, the Ministry published testimonies of the doctors of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, saying that half of the Syrian citizens who managed to leave the camp are diagnosed with advanced chronic diseases.

“Adults have tuberculosis and skin diseases. Many suffer from muscle dystrophy, developed from hunger. Children mainly have vitamin deficiency and intestinal and viral infections.”

Although Russia and Syria have repeatedly declared the opening of corridors for civilians to safely leave Rukban camp, these initiatives have not received a broad response, compelling Moscow to admit lack of cooperation by the camp’s residents.

Moscow has blamed Washington for the situation, saying the US had turned a blind eye to militia practices preventing people from leaving the camp and confiscating food and humanitarian aid transferred to the camp.

Russian figures estimate about 30,000 Syrians continue to live in inhumane and degrading conditions over their inability to buy their freedoms from militants controlling the camp.

Moscow earlier said that Washington refused to attend tripartite consultations involving Jordan to settle the issue of the camp, while the United States accused Russia of blocking the entry of humanitarian aid.

The Ministry noted that the situation is even worse in al-Hol camp in the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces in al-Hasakah province.

“More than 73,000 people are living in terrifying conditions in al-Hol.”

In other news, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko announced that the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces will get 20 Su-35S fighter jets of the 4++ generation by the end of 2020.

"The plant is following the plan with Su-35 manufacturing, and we expect to get several aircraft even ahead of time this year. In accordance with the current contract, we expect another 20 Su-35S fighter jets this year and next year," Krivoruchko was quoted as saying by TASS.

Krivoruchko noted that the aircraft plant works on modernizing this type of fighter jets, including on the basis of the Syrian combat experience. “In particular, next modernized versions of Su-35S will be able to use all types of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.”



 

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Syrian Doctors Accuse Regime, Russia of Targeting Hospitals
Thursday, 30 May, 2019


A hospital that has been targeted in Syria. AFP file photo

Asharq Al-Awsat

The Syrian regime and Russian warplanes have bombed at least six hospitals in the past month that were on a list shared by the UN with the warring parties in the hope of minimizing civilian casualties, according to Syrian doctors.

Two Syrian medical officials in opposition-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria told the Financial Times that the coordinates of the bombed hospitals were on a “deconfliction list” compiled by the UN’s humanitarian affairs office (OCHA), shared with the regime and its Russian backers.

The list includes civilian infrastructure such as schools, markets and medical facilities.

Munzer Khalil, director of Idlib’s health directorate, said that coordinates of at least six of the bombed hospitals had been shared, and he believed that the targeting of medical facilities was “systematic”.

Although difficult to prove, any intentional targeting of health facilities is a war crime, the Financial Times said.

“It is inexcusable that hospitals, schools and other infrastructure have been attacked despite OCHA’s deconfliction mechanism,” UK’s Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce said.

The World Health Organization said some 22 medical facilities had been attacked in and around Idlib during May.

Pro-regime forces have bombarded the area as a temporary truce brokered by Russia and Turkey has eroded, reigniting the fight for Syria’s final opposition-held bastion.

 

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Israel strikes Syria after rockets fired at Golan
01 June 2019

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military said its aircraft struck Syrian army targets on Sunday after rockets were fired at the Golan Heights, and Syria’s state media said three soldiers were killed in the second such flare-up in a week.

Syrian television reported big explosions near Damascus before dawn and said air defences had “confronted the enemy”.

The Israeli military said it struck Syrian artillery and aerial defence batteries in retaliation for Saturday’s firing of two rockets at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was still unclear who had fired the rockets but the Syrian army was held responsible for any attack launched from Syrian territory.

“We will not tolerate any firing into our territory and we will respond with great force to any aggression against us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

On Monday, Israel’s military said it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft position that had fired on one of its warplanes, and Syrian state media said a soldier had been killed in the incident.

In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against its regional arch foe Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.

Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed the captured territory in a move unrecognized by most of the international community, except for the United States. President Donald Trump announced U.S.-recognition for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan in March.

The White House said on Wednesday that national security adviser John Bolton and his Israeli and Russian counterparts will meet in Jerusalem this month to discuss regional security issues. Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian war on Assad’s behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clarence Fernandez

 

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Israel strikes Syria after rockets fired at Golan
01 June 2019

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military said its aircraft struck Syrian army targets on Sunday after rockets were fired at the Golan Heights, and Syria’s state media said three soldiers were killed in the second such flare-up in a week.

Syrian television reported big explosions near Damascus before dawn and said air defences had “confronted the enemy”.

The Israeli military said it struck Syrian artillery and aerial defence batteries in retaliation for Saturday’s firing of two rockets at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was still unclear who had fired the rockets but the Syrian army was held responsible for any attack launched from Syrian territory.

“We will not tolerate any firing into our territory and we will respond with great force to any aggression against us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

On Monday, Israel’s military said it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft position that had fired on one of its warplanes, and Syrian state media said a soldier had been killed in the incident.

In recent years, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against its regional arch foe Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.

Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed the captured territory in a move unrecognized by most of the international community, except for the United States. President Donald Trump announced U.S.-recognition for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan in March.

The White House said on Wednesday that national security adviser John Bolton and his Israeli and Russian counterparts will meet in Jerusalem this month to discuss regional security issues. Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian war on Assad’s behalf in 2015, turning the tide of the war.

Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clarence Fernandez

 

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Three Syrian soldiers killed by Israeli rockets: state media
June 2, 2019

(Reuters) - Three Syrian soldiers were killed and seven wounded by Israeli rockets fired into Quneitra province, Syrian state media said on Sunday, citing a military source.

Reporting By Ali Abdelatyl editing by Darren Schuettler

 

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Car blast hits rebel-held north Syria
June 3, 2019 / Updated an hour ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded in a north Syrian town held by Turkey-backed rebels on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, rescue workers and medics said, after a war monitor had reported blasts hitting other insurgent-held areas in the northwest.

The blast was the largest in months to target Azaz, near the Turkish border. It struck a marketplace that was busy late in the evening after the daily Ramadan fast had finished.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels control a strip of territory along the frontier between the countries.

It adjoins the enclave in northwest Syria that is the only major territory still held by groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been the target of a government offensive since late April.

That enclave was also hit by a series of blasts on Sunday said a war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Backed by Russian air power and Iran-backed militia groups, Assad has regained control over most of Syria.

The rebels’ northwest enclave is dominated by the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham group, the latest iteration of the former al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.

Islamic State militants have repeatedly carried out attacks across northern Syria in areas held by insurgents and by Kurdish-led forces.

Reporting by Khalil Ashawi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

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Car blast hits rebel-held north Syria
June 3, 2019 / Updated an hour ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded in a north Syrian town held by Turkey-backed rebels on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, rescue workers and medics said, after a war monitor had reported blasts hitting other insurgent-held areas in the northwest.

The blast was the largest in months to target Azaz, near the Turkish border. It struck a marketplace that was busy late in the evening after the daily Ramadan fast had finished.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels control a strip of territory along the frontier between the countries.

It adjoins the enclave in northwest Syria that is the only major territory still held by groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been the target of a government offensive since late April.

That enclave was also hit by a series of blasts on Sunday said a war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Backed by Russian air power and Iran-backed militia groups, Assad has regained control over most of Syria.

The rebels’ northwest enclave is dominated by the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham group, the latest iteration of the former al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.

Islamic State militants have repeatedly carried out attacks across northern Syria in areas held by insurgents and by Kurdish-led forces.

Reporting by Khalil Ashawi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

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