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Syrians begin re-populating the Euphrates valley – including Abu Kamal city – under army protection

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 11:44 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 A.M.) – Internally displaced Syrians who originate from the middle Euphrates valley region have begun to return to their homes under the protection of the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitaries.

Opposition sources report that the Damascus government is allowing internally displaced Syrian civilians to return to their homes across the various cities, towns and villages that span the western side (controlled by pro-government forces) of the middle Euphrates valley region.

Reports clarify that civilians have been returned to the city of Abu Kamal as well as the towns and villages of as-Sukkariyah, al-Hamdan, Al-Hiri and as-Suwayyah. Numbers have not been specified and will probably not be until reported by government sources.

The rapid spread of ISIS across the Euphrates in 2014 and years of rebel insurgency against the Syrian Army and allied paramilitary groups prior to that event has seen a massive depopulation of the region as civilians fled west towards the heartland of government-held territory seeking refuge.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Lavrov: US is setting up ‘alternative governments’ across Syria

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:33 PM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:30 AM) – Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has accused the US of attempting to set up “alternative government bodies” in large parts of Syria. Lavrov said this during a UN press conference on Friday.

“We have been receiving contradictory signals in this connection – a couple of days ago the Americans announced the establishment of border security forces in Syria, and today they said that they had been misunderstood as they had no plans to form such forces (…) But it is a fact that the US has been actually setting up alternative government bodies in large parts of Syria, which is contrary to the obligations in relation to Syria's territorial integrity they have reaffirmed commitment to, particularly at the Security Council's meetings. We are concerned about that,” the Foreign Minister said.

Last Sunday, Colonel Thomas Veale, who is the Director of Public Affairs of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the US-led military coalition interfering in the Syrian conflict, stated that the US was planning to build up a 30,000 man strong border security force consisting mainly out of Kurdish fighters.

The plan, which would constitute a violation of international law as it was not greenlighted by Damascus or mandated by the United Nations, was met with outrage by Syria and its international partners, as well as Turkey.
The Pentagon later issued a statement denying that the force would be an actual army, while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later on completely denied the plan outright.

“The entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed (…) We are not creating a border security force at all,” Tillerson said.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Trump to move US embassy to Jerusalem as early as next year

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:18 PM PST

The Trump administration has chosen a location for the new US embassy in Jerusalem and is planning to make the move by the end of 2019.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that senior administration officials plan to retrofit the existing US consular building in Jerusalem into a temporary embassy instead of designing and building a new permanent embassy, which could take several years and cost as much as $1 billion.

hood near the Green Line, the de facto border of Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War.

The consulate in Jerusalem is responsible for managing relations with the Palestinian Territories, since the US does not have a consular facility in Ramallah, the de facto capital city of the Palestinian city located in the central West Bank.

The Arnona site is a new and highly secure building, which will likely speed up the reconstruction process and allow US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his staff members to move there next year. Although there exists a consular office west of the Old City, it is much smaller than the Arnona facility.

According to Arutz Sheva news, tensions have increased between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Friedman regarding the timing of the move. According to officials, Friedman had pressed to move the embassy this year, with support from senior White House aide Jared Kushner. However, during a Thursday White House meeting, Tillerson convinced US President Donald Trump that more time was needed to enhance the facility’s security.

“What you’ll see from the secretary is that we will do this at the pace of security, not at the pace of politics,” Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein said.

Trump’s announcement last month that the US considers Jerusalem Israel’s capital and would move its embassy there was met with widespread indignation in the region and around the world, as Palestinians have long insisted that Jerusalem must be the capital of a Palestinian state. In a United Nations General Assembly vote in December, 128 countries denounced Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Earlier this week during his visit to India, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the US plans to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of this year. However, in an interview with Reuters, Trump dismissed Netanyahu’s comment.

“By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios,” Trump told Reuters. “I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no.”

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Cross-border incident between India and Pakistan kills at least four

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:17 PM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:20 AM) – Cross-border conflict between India and Pakistan has continued for the third day in a row, reportedly resulting in casualties on both sides of the border on Friday, leaving at least four dead.

The Pakistani military stated on Friday that Indian border forces initiated fire from their side of the frontier, killing two civilians in Pakistani Kashmir, and injuring five others. Meanwhile, Indian sources claimed that it was a Pakistani attack that started the day’s conflict, resulting in the death of one Indian civilian and one soldier, while wounding seven.

An Indian paramilitary officer who spoke to Iranian news outlet PressTV claimed that they responded to a Pakistani shelling of border outposts, which he called an “unprovoked violation” of the 2003 peace agreement. Pakistan, for its part, has summoned representatives of India to explain the reasons behind what Islamabad claims is a violation of the ceasefire committed by India.

Both India and Pakistan lay claim to the entirety of the Kashmir region, a majority Muslim border region divided by the two countries. Since the two nation’s independence in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought three major wars over the area. Despite a ceasefire agreement being reached in 2003, sporadic clashes continue.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Kurdish forces claim 4 Turkish soldiers killed during Afrin attack

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:05 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:55 P.M.) – The Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) claimed that their forces killed at least four Turkish soldiers in the Afrin Canton tonight.

According to pro-YPG media, their forces reportedly killed the four Turkish soldiers during the latter’s infiltration attempt into the Bulbul District of Afrin.

Meanwhile, pro-Turkish regime media have claimed that their forces killed several YPG fighters tonight, while also destroying a number of armored vehicles in Afrin and Menbeij.

In the coming days, the battle for Afrin is expected to intensify as Turkish-backed fighters attempt to advance against the YPG forces.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS launches major offensive to break out of Deir Ezzor

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:54 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:45 P.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) launched a massive offensive in the Deir Ezzor Governorate, tonight, targeting several areas under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

ISIS reportedly began the attack by storming the SDF-held towns in the eastern part of Deir Ezzor, including Gharanej and Al-Jahrah near the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

While no gains have been reported, the Islamic State alleges that their fighters have killed more than 20 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Islamic State is currently attempting to break out of the Deir Ezzor Governorate and away from the Iraqi border, which they have been confined to for several months.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish border guard attacks Kurdish forces in northern Raqqa

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:41 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:35 P.M.) – The Turkish border guard and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clashed at the Tal Abyad Crossing in northern Al-Raqqa tonight, pro-YPG activists reported.

According to the reports from this front, the Turkish border guard fired several artillery shells towards the SDF’s positions in Tal Abyad.

This attack by the Turkish border guard prompted the SDF to fire their own barrage of artillery shells and rockets towards the the former’s positions.

Tonight’s exchange of hostilities in northern Raqqa marks the first time this year that the Turkish military and Kurdish forces have clashed inside this province.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Houthi forces destroy 9 Saudi military vehicles in 24 hours

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:29 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:25 P.M.) – The Houthi forces destroyed nine Saudi military vehicles in the Najran Region in the last 24 hours, Yemen’s Saba News Agency reported this evening.

“The army and popular forces have launched ground attacks on Saudi soldiers and mercenaries’ gatherings, destroying nine military vehicles, firing ballistic missile on Najran Air Defense Camp over the past 24 hours,” a military official told Saba News.

“A short-range ballistic missile was fired on Saudi air defense camp in border province of Najran, causing heavy losses at the air defense camp,” the report added.

The Houthi forces have recently stepped up their attacks along the Yemeni border in a bid to deter the Saudi Coalition forces from launching more air raids over the northern part of the country.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Russia denies troop withdrawal from Afrin

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 12:46 PM PST

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a press conference following a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

During the press conference, Lavrov Commented on the situation in Syrian Afrin, denying that Russia had withdrawn troops from the city. Turkish news agency Anadolu previously reported that Russian military had been leaving Afrin.

Turkey has been threatening to launch an operation in Afrin since last week, after the US announced its decision to start training a border protection force composed of the the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which has been described by Ankara as a “terrorist army.” On January 19, the operation de facto started.

Later, Lavrov proceeded with the explanation of how the terrorists attacked the Russian military base in Hmeymim, Syria on December 31.

“There has to be 23-24 observer posts in Turkey, and unfortunately a lack of such posts in Idlib has become the reason for the terrorist attack on the Hmeymim base.”

The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was on the agenda of the UN Security Council meeting on January 19. Commenting on President Donald Trump’s accusations against Russia, who blames Moscow for preventing the resolution of the North Korean issue and allegedly supplying Pyongyang with fuel in violation of international sanctions, Sergei Lavrov said:

“If the United States does not file complaints about non-implementation of the sanctions against North Korea, it means that Washington does not have evidence.”

The Russian Foreign Minister added that Moscow was ready for dialogue with Washington, despite claims that the US faced growing threats from revisionist powers, including Russia and China, as outlined in the new National Security Strategy of the United States.

“We regret that the US aspires to assert its leadership, issuing such strategies and concepts, naming Russia and China as threats in its defense strategy, instead of opting for a constructive dialogue based on international law,” said Lavrov.

The document describes Russia as a country that is “now undermining the international order from within the system by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously undercutting its principles and “rules of the road.”

Russian Foreign Minister nonetheless expressed hopes that the United States would eventually realize the need to develop relations with Moscow, including in the security sphere.

“Improving relations between Washington and Moscow depends on President Trump’s ability to tackle the russophobe intrigues.”

When asked about the US role in the Middle East, Lavrov said that the US decision to withhold UN funding for Palestinians “undermined in a serious way” efforts to meet the needs of refugees.

“This decision… undermines in a serious way the efforts to satisfy the needs of Palestinian refugees in the region,” Lavrov said through a translator. “We’ll consult all stakeholders and we’ll see what we can do.”

Earlier this week Washington announced its decision to pay the UN Relief and Works Agency $60 milion, but put on hold the payment of another $65 million it had been expected to offer, with the US Department of State refusing to provide an additional $45 million in food aid it had promised for Palestinians.

The minister noted that Russia was planning meetings with the heads of Israel and Palestine, offering Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu to meet on Russian soil.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Iran nuclear deal could not survive if any side withdrew from the agreement.

“This agreement cannot be implemented if one of the participants unilaterally steps out of it. It will fall apart, there will be no deal then,” Lavrov told reporters.

He elaborated that the deal was not dead yet, and Russia would put in much effort to preserve it. Furthermore, Lavrov said that Moscow had received information, according to which, the United States would try to convince the EU to change its stance on the deal. Meanwhile, he added that “Washington’s demands related to the nuclear deal with Iran would be inadmissible for Tehran,” and noted that renegotiating the deal has no prospects.

Last week US President Donald Trump said that if the “disastrous flaws” of the 2015 multilateral accord to curb Iran’s nuclear program were not fixed within 120 days, then Washington would step out.

Russia believes that there is no need to blame Iran for everything that happens in the Middle East, and considers it impossible to isolate Tehran from any issues related to the region.

As for the Syrian talks, Lavrov said that during the last tour of negotiations, the opposition’s delegation started demanding regime change even before the talks started. The minister added that he hoped this will not happen during the next round of negotiations in Vienna.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Egypt’s Sisi announces candidacy for next presidential election

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 12:42 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:25 P.M.) – The Egyptian President ‘Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi officially announced his candidacy for Egypt’s upcoming presidential election.

"What was accomplished, although great, is not the extent of my ambitions for Egypt," Sisi said in his announcement speech, as quoted by Mada Masr.

"I never did and never will seek power,” he added.

Sisi won the presidency in 2014 after he ousted Mohammad Morsi from power the year prior.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish Army operation in Afrin to begin tonight or tomorrow: MoD

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 12:12 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 P.M.) – Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli stressed on Turkey’s commitment to carrying out the military operation in northern Syria, speaking in a televised interview from Ankara on Friday.

Speaking of the impending operation in Afrin, Canikli said: “This operation will be carried out. Terror operations will be washed out from that area.”

According to Canikli, the operation had “physically started” referring to the cross-shelling of the border region, a fact confirmed by the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked about impending military operations in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions, stating that the Turkish armed forces are prepared to “sort this matter” and that the campaign could start “in any minute.” His warnings followed the US-led coalition’s decision to build a 30,000-strong border force with the help of the Kurdish YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Ten Syrians tragically freeze to death while attempting to flee to Lebanon

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 11:22 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 P.M.) – Ten Syrian nationals were found dead in eastern Lebanon, Friday, after their bodies were discovered by the Lebanese Civil Defense in the Al-Mansaa area.

“They died of the cold. They included two children, six women and two men,” said Georges Abou Moussa, head of operations at the Lebanese Civil Defense, as quoted by the AFP News Agency.

According to the National News Agency of Lebanon, one of the victims was identified as Hassan Jaber ‘Eid.

The NNA added that the Syrian nationals were found along a smuggling route from Syria.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Turkish troops allegedly attempt to enter Afrin

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 10:49 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:45 P.M.) – The Turkish Army allegedly tried to enter the Afrin Canton in northwestern Aleppo tonight, pro-YPG activists reported on social.

According to their claims, the Turkish Army and their allies attempted to enter the Bulbul District of Afrin after a short exchange of gunfire with the Kurdish-led YPG.

The infiltration attempt was allegedly repelled by the YPG.

Intense clashes are now ongoing at several fronts in northern Syria, including the Al-Bab Plateau, Jarabulus, and AFrin.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Hezbollah blames Israel for car bombing against Hamas member in Lebanon

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 10:42 AM PST

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Friday that Israel was behind a recent car bomb attack on one of the leaders of the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Lebanese city of Sidon.

“Everything indicates that the enemy Israel is behind the plotting of the blast targeting one of Hamas’ leaders in Sidon. We hope that it will be qualified as a crime and violation of sovereignty,” Nasrallah told the Al Manar TV channel, noting that the incident posed danger to the security of Lebanon.

On Sunday, Mohamed Hamdan was injured after an explosive device planted in his BMW went off in Sidon.

The incident took place after on December 12 Washington and Tel Aviv had agreed upon the “general framework for future cooperation regarding Iranian malign activities”, forming four joint teams to grapple with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, including Tehran’s clout in Syria and its support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The memorandum of understanding aimed to tackle the alleged Iranian threat, was reportedly signed during a meeting at the White House between US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Hamas is an Islamist political and militant group, classified by Israel as a terrorist movement, which has been the governing authority of the Gaza Strip since 2007. The group has been seeking the creation and recognition of an independent state of Palestine on the territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and wants Israel’s withdrawal from these territories occupied after the 1967 war.

The United States has officially supported the Israeli side in the Jerusalem’s issue, announcing its recognition of the disputed city as the Israeli capital on December 6, 2017. This controversial move sparked mass protests across the globe and the opposition from Muslim countries, as well as the UN, which backed the Palestinians by its resolution.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Iran opposes US presence in Syria: official

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 09:21 AM PST

Chairman of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations Kamal Kharrazi stressed Iran's opposition to the US troops' presence in Syria, praising Syria's reconciliatory efforts.

On a visit to Syria, Kharrazi stressed that the presence of the United States on the territory of Syria does not contribute to peace in the country, and the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the presence illegitimate.

He told Syria's State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar that the United States should let the Syrians talk with each other to establish peace and be able to overcome their problems.

Kharrazi meanwhile hailed efforts exerted by Syrian National Reconciliation Ministry in a bid reconcile Syrian tribes and groups, including armed groups in Syria.

For his part, Haidar stressed that Syria will pass the crisis successfully with the help of allies.

The Syrian minister praised as long-standing the relations between Tehran and Damascus, noting that the two countries are fighting on the same front and will win together.

Kharrazi's visit to Syria came after attending the 2nd Arabs – Iran Conference in Beirut on Wednesday with scholars from Arab countries and Iran in attendance.

Source: Mehr News Agency

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Fierce clashes breakout between Turkish-backed troops, Kurdish forces in Al-Bab

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 09:14 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:05 P.M.) – Minutes ago, fierce clashes broke-out between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield in the Al-Bab Plateau region of northeast Aleppo.

According to pro-SDF activists, the Euphrates Shield forces attacked their positions near the town of Hazwan this evening.

In response to the Euphrates Shield attack, the Kurdish-led forces responded with a heavy barrage of missiles and artillery shells.

Both parties are still exchanging gunfire and missiles at the moment, while the Turkish Army continues to bombard the Afrin Canton from the Hatay Province.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Despite political disagreements, Syrian gov’t to allow Kurdish YPG to reinforce Afrin from their territory

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 08:55 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:45 P.M.) – Despite the political disagreements between the Syrian government and Kurdish PYD, the former will continue to allow YPG units to reinforce the Afrin Canton from within their territory in Aleppo.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Kurdish YPG have been allowed to consistently reinforce the Afrin Canton from the government-held parts of Aleppo.

Reinforcements from the YPG traveled along the shared Hasakah-Aleppo Highway to the city of Aleppo, where they eventually made their way to the Afrin Canton in the northwestern part of the province.

The military source added that the YPG has sent several hundred reinforcements to the Afrin Canton over the last 48 hours.

On Friday, the Turkish Minister of Defense stated after his meeting in Moscow that his forces were going to invade the Afrin Canton, despite the Syrian government’s disapproval and warnings.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Hezbollah leader slams US claims of drug trafficking

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 08:41 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:25 P.M.) – Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah unequivocally rejected the US’ allegations about his organization’s rumored drug trade, saying such accusations are merely groundless.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s words on Friday came in a televised address at a memorial ceremony to commemorate Quneitra’s martyrs and the 40th anniversary of the death of Fayez Mughniyeh “Abu Imad Mughnieh”.

“When any official in Lebanon speaks about security, we must all know that such a security would not have been realized without the sacrifices of fallen martyrs,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, paying tribute to their unswerving families as well.

On the other hand, Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah deems the drug issue as religiously forbidden “haram”, voicing utter rejection of accusing the Party of drug related dossiers.

He noted that Hizbullah has in principle a crystal clear religious, ethical and moral stance vis-a-vis the issue of drugs, saying it is forbidden and prohibited by religion.

Nasrallah pointed out that American attempts to smear Hezbollah as a terror organization have failed since the Party has proven to be amongst the most important forces fighting terrorism. As such, the new American attempt nowadays shifted to portraying Hezbollah a criminal organization involved in drug trafficking and car theft, Nasrallah noted.

Nasrallah called on the U.S. Justice Department to undergo an investigation in Lebanon in this regard.

Turning to the issue of the wall set to be established by the Israeli enemy in the disputed border area, Nasrallah said the Party stands by the State and the army in rejecting any Israeli measures to be undertaken in these disputed areas.

“You should take Lebanon’s warnings in a very serious manner,” Nasrallah addressed the Israelis.

On the contentious normalization issue with Israel, Nasrallah stressed Lebanon’s commitment to avoid any sort of normalization ties with Israel as long as there is no just and comprehensive peace. “Lebanon must uphold its commitment,” Nasrallah said, stressing that this matter should be addressed.

On the recent explosion that occurred in the city of Sidon that targeted one of Hamas officials, the Secretary General pointed out that the Party follows up on investigations undertaken in this regard, saying that all evidence show that Israel is the one that carried out this operation.

Turning to the forthcoming legislative elections, Nasrallah expressed his belief that “no one in Lebanon wants to postpone or call off the elections,” voicing rejection of isolating anyone and highlighting the importance of complementary and coexistence.

Source: NNA

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US military stationed 1,000 YPG fighters at Turkish- Syrian border: Turkish state media

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 07:55 AM PST

The US military reportedly deployed about 1,000 fighters loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Syrian Tel-Abyad area on the Syrian-Turkish border.

According to Anadolu Agency, the US military carried out reconnaissance operations in the Syrian Tel-Abyad area on the Syrian-Turkish border prior to deployment.

Previously, the US-led coalition reportedly announced that it would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forced in Syria, which has already outraged Turkey. However later US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed that the United States was not creating a border security force, saying that the issue was “misportrayed.”

Turkey has been threatening with an operation against the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

“The United States is now creating a terrorist army near our borders that threatens the security of Turkey. Our task is to strangle this army until it is born. If the United States wants to establish cooperation with these savage creatures, it is their business. But we will not allow this,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this week.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

In pictures: Massive dust storm hits northeast Syria

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 07:36 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:10 P.M.) – The weather conditions in Syria have been relatively poor these last few days, with heavy wind causing severe problems for millions of people.

Among the provinces most affected by the heavy wind is the Al-Hasakah Governorate, which is reporting a heavy dust storm at the moment.

According to local sources, several civilians suffering from asthma have been hospitalized as a result of this large dust storm.

Below are some photos from Al-Qamishli in northern Al-Hasakah:

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

French prison inmate reportedly shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ attacks guards (video)

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 07:14 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:10 P.M.) – According to reports, at least two prison guards were injured by an inmate in Borgo Prison on the island of Corsica on Friday, with attacker reportedly shouting 'Allah Akbar.'

Both of the injured have been hospitalised but have not sustained life-threatening wounds.

There are no reports regarding the type of weapon used.

The footage shows people crowding in front of the prison. There are reports that the Minister of Justice is set to visit the prison later in the day.

The incident happened days after a similar attack was committed by a former Al-Qaeda member, 51-year-old Christian Ganczarski.

Ganczarski used scissors and blade to injure guards at Vendin-le-Vieil.

Protests by the Vendin-le-Vieil prison guards following the incident have sparked similar riots in prisons across the country including Marseille and Lyon, with guards outraged by the lack of protection they receive while dealing with inmates.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

HTS busts Jaysh Al-Islam sleeper cell in East Ghouta region

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 07:06 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:55 P.M.) – The Islamist rebels once again clashed inside the East Ghouta region after Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a surprise attack on Jaysh Al-Islam’s positions.

According to opposition media, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham uncovered a Jaysh Al-Islam sleeper cell within the territory they control in the East Ghouta, prompting them to attack the latter and capture their fighters.

HTS stated that the captured fighters confessed that they were members of Jaysh Al-Islam and that they were hired to target the commanders of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham with IEDs in exchange for cash.

Jaysh Al-Islam and HTS strongly oppose one another, despite the fact they are both part of the rebel forces in Syria.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Iranian Deputy FM visits Moscow ahead of Syrian peace talks

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 06:45 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Ansari to discuss the Syrian peace process in Moscow on Friday.

"It is very important for us to hold our final consultations on this [Syrian] issue with our Russian and Turkish partners. I'm sure these consultations will contribute to our joint cooperation for the purpose of supporting and quickly resolving this question," Ansari said of the preparatory trilateral meeting on Syria with Russian and Turkish officials, due to begin later on Friday in Sochi.

"Our meeting today in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very important for us to clarify the details and agree on the complex issue of the Syrian settlement, the situation in Syria and around it," Bogdanov added.

Ansari will travel to Sochi to take part in the preparatory meeting, together with Russia’s Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz.

Syrian National Dialogue Congress is scheduled to be held in Sochi on January 29-30.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Entire Republican Guard brigade heads to Idlib for Abu Dhuhour Airport offensive

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 06:26 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:15 P.M.) – A large force from the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Republican Guard has been redeployed to the Idlib Governorate, a military source told Al-Masdar News this afternoon.

According to the military source, the entire 128th Brigade of the Republican Guard has been redeployed from the Qalamoun Mountains to the Idlib Governorate, as they were given orders to aid the Tiger Forces in the ongoing offensive to capture the strategic Abu Dhuhour Airport.

The 128th Brigade was one of the main forces behind the Syrian Army’s successful campaigns in the Qalamoun Mountains; they are a battle-tested and well-trained combat unit.

Due to the poor weather recently, the Tiger Forces have been unable to storm the Abu Dhuhour Airport’s southern gates; however, with fresh reinforcements arriving, the attack should restart soon.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS fully expels jihadist rebels from northeast Hama

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 06:11 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:50 P.M.) – The jihadist rebels have once again been expelled from the northeastern countryside of the Hama Governorate, following another large-scale advance by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

ISIS resumed their offensive in northeastern Hama, Friday, attacking Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s positions near the Idlib axis.

Unable to withstand the Islamic State assault, HTS and their allies were forced to withdraw from northeastern Hama, leaving behind several areas for the terrorist group to capture.

As a result of this advance, the Islamic State has now reached the Syrian Arab Army’s front-lines in the northeastern countryside of Hama.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

At least 21 prisoners escape FSA jail in Daraa

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 05:51 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:35 P.M.) – At least 21 prisoners managed to escape a Free Syrian Army (FSA) jail in the Dara’a Governorate, Thursday, a pro-opposition report claimed this morning.

According to the report, the prisoners were able to escape after one of the prison guards helped smuggle them out of the jail.

The prisoners were originally jailed for several crimes, including theft and kidnapping.

No further details were released by the opposition report.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish Army keeps striking Syrian YPG positions in Afrin – reports

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 05:13 AM PST

The shelling was reportedly carried out from the Turkey's Hatay province.

The Turkish Armed Forces carried out at least 10 strikes on the positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin district of northern Syria, the Haber Turk broadcaster reported.

According to media, the fire was opened from the bordering Turkish province of Hatay. As the channel notes, Kurdish forces responded to the attack, making several shells back to Turkey.

The Kurdish news agency Firat reported of seven settlements shelled by the Turkish Armed Forces, allegedly causing civilian casualties, with a 6-year old child among wounded.

The report claims that intensive fire was conducted along the heights of Tell-Badran, Tell-Bakhtiyar and Tell-Dustan, where the YPG defensive lines are located. Currently, there is official data on losses among Kurdish fighters.

The news agency also mentioned an unusual movement of armored vehicles in the border zone on the Turkish side, adding that the YPG fighters, preparing to repel an invasion of the Turkish troops, blocked the highway from Afrin to Aazaz with antitank moats.

The report occurred after earlier in the day Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has announced “de facto” launch of a military operation in Syria’s Afrin, with no troops officially deployed in the city.

As the minister explained the move, it was “right to self-defense in line with international law,” adding that Turkey was preparing for the upcoming operation aimed at destroying all “terrorist corridors.”

According to him, Ankara was consulting the military advance in Afrin with other guarantors of the Syrian peace settlement, Russia and Iran. However, no official statement on the issue was made by the Russian Defense Ministry at the moment.

The operation didn’t come of a sudden: Turkey has been threatening to launch it since last week after the US announced its decision to start training a border protection force composed of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which Ankara calls a “terrorist army.”

The move was widely criticized by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, calling on Turkey not to engage in any invasion of Syria’s Afrin and met the warning of the Syrian side, vowing to destroy Turkish aircraft if they attack.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian government rejects Kurdish PYD’s proposal to restore state institutions in Afrin

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 05:01 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:55 P.M.) – The Syrian government has rejected the Kurdish PYD’s proposal to restore state institutions in the Afrin Canton, a source in Damascus told Al-Masdar News this afternoon.

According to the source, the PYD offered to raise the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic over their buildings and to restore state institutions in exchange for their continued support in the Afrin Canton.

However, the government rejected the proposal after the PYD refused to allow Syrian security forces inside the Afrin Canton.

The government fears that accepting this proposal will leave their institutions at the mercy of the Kurdish security forces, who have harassed their employees in other regions of the country, including in the northeastern cities of Hasakah and Qamishli.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS counter-offensive against Kurdish forces in east Syria produces disastrous results

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 04:53 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 P.M.) – A counter-offensive by ISIS against Syrian US-led forces (of which Kurdish units form a key part) on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River in the province of Deir Ezzor has backfired badly, leaving dozens jihadist militants dead.

According to pro-Coalition sources, ISIS launched an assault against US-backed forces at the village of Behrada (near the town of Haijin which is still contested) early on Friday morning with both motorized and mechanized infantry.

The attack was spearheaded by two car bombs, both of which were destroyed before reaching their intended targets.

The follow up infantry assault by ISIS was equally unsuccessful, being foiled on the spot, and in the end the terrorist group suffered 51 dead; furthermore, two pickups and one armored personnel carrier belonging to the jihadist assault party were destroyed.

At the present time, heavy clashes between Coalition-led forces and Islamic State militant continue to take place across a stretch of the eastern Euphrates shore running between the towns of Gharanij and Haijin.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian troops not withdrawing from Afrin: Syrian media

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 04:52 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:45 P.M.) – The Russian military is not withdrawing from the Afrin Canton in Aleppo’s northwestern countryside, pro-government Damascus Now reported this afternoon.

According to Damascus Now, their sources in Aleppo have denied the withdrawal of any Russian troops, despite earlier claims by pro-Turkish regime media outlets.

Should the Russian troops withdraw from the Afrin Canton, this will open up the region for a Turkish military invasion.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has yet to respond to these rumors.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish military begins striking Kurdish-held Syrian border-city

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 04:46 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:40 P.M.) – The Turkish military has begun firing several rounds of artillery shells on the Kurdish-held border-city of Jarabulus in Aleppo’s northeastern countryside, pro-opposition activists reported this afternoon.

Furthermore, the Turkish troops have intensified their attacks on the Kurdish-held Afrin Canton, striking several towns under the control of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The YPG has responded to the Turkish Army’s aggression in Afrin with a barrage of grad missiles; however, there has been no word from the Jarabulus front.

The Turkish Minister of Defense announced on Friday that their forces will indeed be conducting an invasion of the Afrin Canton in a bid to uproot the YPG from the area.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russia to withdraw troops from Afrin: Turkish MoD

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 04:26 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – The Russian troops in the Afrin Canton are allegedly going to be withdrawn from this region in northwestern Aleppo, the Turkish Minister of Defense told A Haber media on Friday, as quoted by pro-Turkish regime Daily Sabah.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not confirmed these reports.

If true, the Russian withdrawal will pave the way for the Turkish troops to begin their long-awaited invasion of the Afrin Canton.

The Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces have already begun to deploy to this front, as Ankara attempts to get guarantees from their Russian counterparts.

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

“The situation in Jerusalem is a textbook case of multi-faceted and cross-cutting violations of human rights” – Idriss Jazairy

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 04:00 AM PST

19 January 2018, GENEVA – During a speech at the Al-Azhar conference in Cairo on the situation in Jerusalem, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue H. E. Ambassador Idriss Jazairy appealed to the international community, and in particular the Arabic and Muslim community, “to join forces and act in concert in order to halt the violations of Palestinians’ human rights.”

Ambassador Jazairy said that the international community has a “moral duty” to protect and to uphold the human rights of the Palestinian people in the wake of the decision of the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “Al Quds is a textbook case of multi-faceted and cross-cutting violations of human rights,” he said.

The Geneva Centre’s Executive Director likewise remarked in his speech that the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has negative consequences on the Palestinians’ enjoyment of their right to self-determination.

This current situation depriving the Palestinian residents of Al Quds /Jerusalem in violation of the freedom to decide their own destiny” – he noted – “blatantly violates the right to self-determination.”

The situation has the potential to further exacerbate – he added – the daily human rights violations of the Palestinian people and to accelerate the judaization of Jerusalem despite the fact that the three Abrahamic religions should have the same standing in the Holy City. “It may lead, inter alia, to the further expansion of settlements and systematic demolitions of homes in East Jerusalem, as well as to further restrictions on the Palestinians’ freedom of movement across the city,” stated the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director.

“The official endorsement of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem by the U.S. will most likely be conducive to the perpetration of heightened discriminatory policies by Israel against the Palestinian population.

“The decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is another warning of an alarming situation that cannot be ignored,” concluded Ambassador Jazairy in his intervention.

The two-day international conference on Jerusalem – held under the auspices of the President of Arab Republic of Egypt H. E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – was organized in Egypt’s capital Cairo. It gathered numerous international figures including: The President of Palestine H.E. Mahmoud Abbas, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar H. E. Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb and the Chief of the Arab Parliament H. E. Meshaal bin Fahm al-Salmi.

Religious and political representatives of more than 86 countries were present at this landmark conference that was sponsored by Al-Azhar, the highest institution of Sunni Islamic authority.

During his visit to Cairo, Ambassador Jazairy was received in a private audience by H. E. Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar with whom he exchanged views on the progress of the preparation of the Geneva Centre-initiated world conference scheduled to be held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 18 June 2018 on the theme of: “Religions, Creeds and/or Other Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights” to which the Grand Imam has been invited.

About the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue:

The Geneva Centre, an organization with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is a think tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights through cross-cultural, religious and civilizational dialogue between the Global North and Global South, and through training of the upcoming generations of stakeholders in the Arab region. The Centre works towards a value-driven human rights system, steering clear of politicization and building bridges between different narratives thereon of the Global North and of the Global South. Its aim is to act as a platform for dialogue between a variety of stakeholders involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.

For more information, please visit http://www.gchragd.org/

For media requests and interviews, please contact Mr. Blerim Mustafa, junior project and communications officer at +41 (0) 22 748 27 95 or via email at bmustafa@gchragd.org

Ambassador Jazairy’s statement in English can be downloaded at: http://www.gchragd.org/sites/default/files/Al%20Quds%20statement_English.pdf

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army keeps advancing in southern Aleppo, captures new town

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 03:58 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:50 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) resumed their field operations in the southern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate, today, targeting the last towns under jihadist control near the northern corridor of the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport.

Led by their 124th Brigade of the Republican Guard, the Syrian Arab Army began their operations on Friday by attacking the town Qaytal from recently captured Um Sinabel.

Not long after launching this attack, the Syrian Army was able to impose full control over Qaytal, forcing the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham to retreat further south.

The Syrian Army is now attempting to reach the northern flank of the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport, as they continue their offensive in southern Aleppo.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish-backed rebels send reinforcements to northern Aleppo for battle with Kurds

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 03:21 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:10 P.M.) – The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) sent several units to the northern countryside of Aleppo, today, pro-opposition media reported this afternoon.

According to Syrian opposition media, the Free Syrian Army deployed several units to the northern Aleppo city of ‘Azaz near the Turkish border.

The FSA units deployed to ‘Azaz, today, are part of the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces; they will be aiding the Turkish Army against the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Recently, the Turkish regime stated that they will use Syrian opposition groups to attack the Kurdish forces inside the Afrin Canton and city of Menbeij in northern Syria, so the FSA reinforcements to ‘Azaz should not come as a surprise.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Thousands march in Afrin to protest Turkish war plans

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 03:07 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (01:05 PM) – Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin on Friday, to denounce the mobilisation of Turkish armed forces at the borders.

Demonstrators in the predominantly ethnically Kurdish city openly protested recent statement by the Turkish government and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We want to tell Erdogan that his dream would vanish just as his dreams vanished when he tried to enter Kobani, so Afrin would be your graveyard,” one protestor told Russian news outlet RT.

Turkey has been preparing its armies alongside the border with the Syrian district of Afrin. The area is under control of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units’ (YPG) militias, which Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation and an affiliate of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is operational as a rebel group within Turkey.

The YPG is part of the larger, and US-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) outfit, a coalition of armed militias that mostly has been fighting ISIS terrorists, as well as Al-Qaeda affiliates and even so-called “moderate” rebel fractions that are part of the Turkish “Euphrates Shield” operation.

Tensions flared up earlier this week, when the United States of America announced it would form a standing “border security force” of up to 30,000 troops, predominantly Kurdish. This decision, which is illegal according to international law as there has been no permission from Syria or UN mandate for it, has alarmed both Syria and Turkey. Many fear that this new force could be a next step in a US plan to establish an independent Kurdish mini-state that would secede from Syria.

Turkey reacted to the plan by announcing it would undertake direct military operations against the YPG forces in Afrin, a decision that has been heavily condemned by the Syrian government as an open and blatant breach of Syrian territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“Today the people are protesting to assure that Afrin will never fall into the Turkish traitors’ hands,” a female protester was reported as saying by RT.
To which a young man added: “We as people from Afrin, we will defend our city and those fascist Turks can’t defeat us, we will be defending to the last drop of blood (…) Erdogan, listen: neither you, ISIS nor FSA [Free Syrian Army], you and all of your mercenaries can’t break our will, and [you should] stop interfering in our land and be aware that Kurds from all countries will come to defend us.”

The Syrian government also warned Ankara in a similar tone, adding that Syrian forces would treat any Turkish military incursion as an invasion, and would not hesitate to shoot Turkish planes from the sky.

(https://www.rt.com/news/416356-afrin-syria-protests-erdogan/)

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army attacks western Idlib for first time this year

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 03:01 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:55 P.M.) – For the first time this year, the Syrian military has targeted the jihadist positions in the western countryside of the Idlib Governorate.

According to a military source in Latakia, the Syrian Army fired several missiles towards the jihadist rebel defenses inside the key city of Jisr Al-Shughour this morning.

The Syrian military’s missile barrage was conducted in response to the recent attacks by the jihadist rebels in the northeastern countryside of the Latakia Governorate.

In particular, the jihadist rebels attacked the government stronghold of Slunfeh last week, killing at least three soldiers at a weapons depot.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish forces attack Kurdish enclave in Aleppo, intense exchange ongoing

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:46 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:35 P.M.) – The Turkish Armed Forces continued their heavy shelling of the Afrin Canton this week, striking several areas under the control of the predominately Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

According to YPG activists, the Turkish military attacked several towns in the central and southern parts of the Afrin Canton, prompting the Kurdish forces to respond with grad missiles.

The YPG activists added that both parties are now exchanging intense hostilities in the northwestern part of the Aleppo Governorate.

On Friday, the Turkish Minister of Defense announced that his forces are preparing for their invasion of the Afrin Canton, following his meeting with the Russian goverment.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian top diplomat, UN secretary-general discuss Syria and North Korea

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 02:29 AM PST

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have noted the lack of alternatives in the peaceful settlement of crises in Syria and regarding North Korea during a meeting in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Friday.

“Regarding the discussion of the thorniest issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula, the parties stressed the lack of alternatives in the search for political and diplomatic ways to settle the modern crisis situations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

When discussing the reform initiatives forwarded by Guterres, Sergey Lavrov noted “the need to coordinate them in an intergovernmental format and observe the principle of division of powers of the world organization's main bodies enshrined in the UN Charter.”

Lavrov and Guterres have confirmed their adherence to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program.

“Both sides have confirmed adherence to the task of the unfailing implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to settle the situation on the Iranian nuclear program,” the ministry noted.

Last week US President Donald Trump stated that his country would withdraw from the JCPOA if changes were not brought into it. He reiterated that he renewed the lifting of sanctions against Iran, but it was done in order to conclude an agreement with the European allies to fix the disastrous flaws of the Iran nuclear deal, he said.

The JCPOA was signed in Vienna in 2015. Apart from the US and Iran, it involves Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany. The agreement stipulates abandoning of arms-grade plutonium production by Tehran and reduction of its enriched uranium stocks in exchange for the lifting of the international sanctions.

More:
http://tass.com/politics/985807

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Turkey will launch invasion of Afrin – MoD

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:51 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:40 A.M.) – The Turkish military will conduct the invasion of Aleppo’s Afrin Canton against the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Turkish Minister of Defense, Nurettin Canikli stated on Friday.

"The threat level against Turkey is increasing day by day. This operation will be carried out and we will combat terrorism," Canikli said, as quoted by the Hurriyet Daily News.

Canikli told the Turkish newspaper A Haber that Russia will withdraw its military assets from the Afrin Canton in order to avoid any potential hostilities between the two nations.

According to a recent report from Turkish state owned Anadolu News Agency, an estimated 8,000-10,000 YPG fighters are currently inside the Afrin Canton.

No date has been set for the invasion.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army storms southern Aleppo in bid to reach Abu Dhuhour Airport

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:36 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) resumed their southern Aleppo offensive this morning in a bid to reach the northern corridor of the Abu Dhuhour Airport.

Led by the 124th Brigade of the Republican Guard, the Syrian Arab Army once again attacked the group of towns located northeast of the Abu Dhuhour Airport and Idlib Governorate border.

According to preliminary reports, the Syrian Arab Army has once again advanced against the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham; however, nothing has been confirmed.

The Syrian Army is attempting to reach the northern corridor of the Abu Dhuhour Airport in order to flank the military installation from two different sides.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Pictures: ISIS swings away at Kurdish forces in Hasakah with high-powered sniper rifles and artillery

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:32 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:30 A.M.) – Amid a renewed series of raids across Syria, ISIS has, during recent days, attacked US-led forces (of which Kurdish units form a key component) in the province of Hasakah with a range of medium and heavy fire support weapons.

Media linked to ISIS has released several photos (available at the end of this article) showing the terrorist group’s forces engaging pro-Coalition fighters with a range of support arms including high-powered sniper rifles (of either 12.7-mm or 14.5-mm caliber), trench mortars, heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles (unconventionally fired from the shoulder).

Unlike the Islamic State’s more characteristic motorized raids (designed to overrun front-line positions and seize enemy equipment), the engagement shown in the pictures appears to have taken place at stand-off ranges raising questions as whether ISIS militants were fighting offensively or defensively.

It is possible that the released photos are linked to a raid that ISIS conducted two days ago near the city of Ash-Shaddadi in southern Hasakah.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US warns Turkey over their planned invasion of Afrin

Posted: 19 Jan 2018 01:02 AM PST

While Turkey has been threatening with an operation against the Syrian Kurdish fighters, which are the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting Daesh, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Turkey not to engage in any invasion of the Syrian city Afrin.

The US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has urged Ankara “not to take any actions” against the Kurds in nothern Syria, saying that “we don’t want them [Turkish authorities] to engage in violence but we want them to keep focused on ISIS [Daesh].

In its turn, Ankara stated that it is its “right to self-defense in line with international law to take measure against a terror group surrounding us on three sides, violating our rights, and we should intercede.”

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, “We have informed them [the US] we will be intervening in Afrin and we will take action against the threats towards us wherever they come from on the eastern side of the Euphrates, in Manbij or elsewhere.”

He has emphasized that Ankara doesn’t want Washingtoin, its NATO ally, to be the opposing side of the conflict.

Commenting on the possible Afrin operation, the foreign minister said that Ankara would target PKK, which is banned as a terrorist organization in Turkey, not the Kurds in general. “This distinction should be made clearly. We should take all measures, including supplying humanitarian aid, to avoid civilians being harmed. And we should take steps carefully,” he said.

While Turkey has been threatening with an operation against the Syrian Kurdish fighters after the US announced its decision to start training a border protection force composed of the the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which mostly consist of the Kurdish YPG fighters fighting Daesh, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Turkey not to engage in any invasion of the Syrian city Afrin.

Previously, the Turkish foreign minister said that Washington has failed to keep promises on Manbij and Raqqa, thus bolstering Turkey’s mistrust towards the country.

Despite recent Tillerson’s assurances that the US had no intention to build a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue, which has incensed Ankara, had been “misportrayed,” the Pentagon said that despite the fact that it is not a “new army,” Turkey’s security concerns are “legitimate.”

According to Col. Thomas Veale, the public affairs officer of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition is training the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to create a 30,000-strong force to maintain security along Syria’s borders. SDF is an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز