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Breaking: Russian warplanes burn multiple rebel convoys in east Damascus staving off big counter-offensive

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:17 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:17 A.M.) – Russian warplanes have once again gone all-out over the skies of Damascus’ East Ghouta region, laying down a heavy bombardment onto a range of militant targets.

In an attack carried out during the night hours of Friday to Saturday, Russian airpower started off by striking rebel tactical positions and gathering points near the Syrian Army’s axis of advance in East Ghouta.

However, later it become apparent that militant forces were organizing for a counter-blow when reconnaissance sorties identified several rebel military convoys heading towards Syrian Army lines near Ash-Shifunyah.

Using precision weapons, Russian warplanes interdicted the convoys at the rebel-held towns of Masraba, Beit Sawa, Hazza and Hamouryah.

At least thirty airstrikes were delivered onto insurgent targets during the course of the engagement.

According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, the Russian bombardment succeeded in breaking up the militant convoys and forced surviving rebel elements to retreat, thereby preventing what was obviously going to be a powerful counter-offensive.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army captures infamous Jaysh Al-Islam base in East Ghouta

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 03:31 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:15 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored another big advance in the East Ghouta region on Friday, seizing an imperative military base that was one hailed as Jaysh Al-Islam’s most important installation.

Led by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army managed to take control of the Battalion 274 base that is located just south of Al-Shifouniyah.

Battalion 274 was used by Jaysh Al-Islam to train new recruits and house several of its fighters prior to the Syrian Arab Army’s large-scale offensive this year.

Jaysh Al-Islam media
Jaysh Al-Islam graduated thousands of fighters from the Battalion 274 base between the years of 2013-2016

Jaysh Al-Islam’s founder and late leader, Zahran ‘Alloush, once delivered an infamous speech from the Battalion 274 base that was attended by several members of the Islamist group.

With Battalion 274 captured, the Syrian Army has now turned their attention to Al-Shifouniyah, where they hope to expel Jaysh Al-Islam in the coming hours.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Kurdish YPG destroys FSA vehicle in northwest Afrin (video)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 03:07 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:55 A.M.) – The Kurdish-led YPG forces destroyed a technical vehicle belonging to the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the Afrin region on Friday.

Based on the video footage released by the YPG, their forces managed to score a direct hit with an anti-tank missile on the FSA vehicle in northwestern Afrin – footage below:

The attack took place in the Rajou District, where the most intense fighting is currently taking place inside the Afrin region.

At least three fighters were either killed or wounded by the YPG’s attack on Friday.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army enters new town in East Ghouta

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:48 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched their fourth night assault this week in the East Ghouta region, tonight, targeting several areas under the control of the Islamist rebels.

Led by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army began tonight’s assault by storming the town of Hawsh Ash’ari in the eastern corridor of the East Ghouta.

Following a brief battle at the town’s outskirts, the Syrian Army was able to bypass Jaysh Al-Islam’s first line of defense at Hawsh Ash’ari, forcing them to withdraw further east.

The Syrian Army then moved inside of Hawsh Ash’ari, where they were confronted by a large Jaysh Al-Islam force at the eastern flank of the town.

Intense clashes are currently ongoing, despite some preliminary reports that indicated that the town has been captured.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

‘Syria must be referred to the ICC’ – UN Human Rights Commissioner

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:24 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:20 A.M.) – “What we are seeing in eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria are likely war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordanian Prince Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein said during the Human Rights Council's thirty-seventh regular session in Geneva on Friday.

Speaking of raging war between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and militants, the High commissioner raised serious concerns over how, “Civilians are being pounded into submission or death.”

According to Prince Zeid, the perpetrators would be held accountable for their crimes and that “Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court.”


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US will turn Ghouta into full-fledged terrorist stronghold – Syrian General

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 01:21 PM PST

The US is going to take advantage of the tensions over Eastern Ghouta to twist the hand of Moscow and Damascus, Syrian Brigadier General Hetham Hassun told Sputnik. He noted that while raising the alarm over the situation in the region, Western mainstream media remain mute about people suffering under the rebel siege in al-Fuah and Kafriya.

“This is not the first time that the US and Western countries have signaled their support to armed terrorist groups,” Brig. Gen. Hetham Hassun, a Syrian military analyst, told Sputnik Arabic. “We witnessed similar information and diplomatic campaigns to support jihadists before the liberation of Aleppo and Homs. Now exactly the same is taking place in Ghouta. Western countries train and provide militants with weapons and essential goods; they also provide information support [to jihadists].”

According to the Syrian general, the Americans are planning to turn Ghouta into a “terrorist stronghold.” To accomplish this objective, they will send reinforcements from the US-held Syrian border area of At-Tanf, he noted.

Previously, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit reported that the Pentagon had deployed 600 troops in the international coalition’s base in At-Tanf in Syria.

“In case it works, it will become an effective instrument to influence [Damascus], since the entire government is located in the Syrian capital,” Brig. Gen. Hassun highlighted.

Still, the US will not be able to interfere in the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) Ghouta operation directly, because the region’s airspace is effectively protected by Russian defense systems, he opined.

That is why it is likely that the SAA will continue its advance and will finally expel terrorists from the area, the general emphasized.

He noted that while Western mainstream media are circulating photographs from Ghouta, they remain silent about the situation in the towns of al-Fuah and Kafriya in the Idlib governorate, where people are suffering and dying under the rebel siege.

“It is not only they who are suffering from the siege,” the Syrian military analyst pointed out. “As Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov said, the United States facilitated the siege of the Rukban refugee camp, At-Tanf, and the city of Raqqa. Humanitarian organizations are not allowed to access these areas. Dead bodies still remain buried under the rubble in Raqqa.”

Brig. Gen. Hassun opined that Washington wants to take advantage of the situation in Ghouta to blackmail Syria and Russia to achieve their political and military goals.

On the other hand, the Americans cannot benefit from the controversy over al-Fuah and Kafriya, as they would have to accuse countries backing terrorists who imposed the blockades on the towns.

“How can the US condemn Turkey, European countries, the Persian Gulf states and themselves [for the siege]?” the general asked rhetorically.

Meanwhile, the fourth five-hour “humanitarian pause” took place in Eastern Ghouta on Friday.

The Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation reported that Syrian civilians complain about the lack of medical care, water, food and electricity, which are being blocked by extremists.

“People do not have an opportunity to eat properly, and many are ready to resort to eating stray animals,” the center’s interpreters’ department head Aleksandr Maslennikov told reporters.

On February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401, which envisages a 30-day ceasefire across Syria. For its part, Russia has introduced five-hour humanitarian pauses in Eastern Ghouta and opened corridors to evacuate civilians. However, militants are not allowing local residents to flee the area.

Being occupied by extremists and opposition forces since 2012, Eastern Ghouta occupies an area of about a hundred square kilometers with the pre-war population reaching 400,000 people.

The views and opinions expressed by Hetham Hassun do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik or Al-Masdar

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russia claims East Ghouta rebels are preparing chemical attack to blame Damascus

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:40 AM PST

Syrian militants carried out 11 bombardments of residential areas in Damascus in past 24 hours, firing a total of 28 mortar rounds, the head of the Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation said.

“Illegal armed groups continue firing at residential areas of Damascus and its suburbs. They carried out 11 bombardments throughout the day, firing a total of 28 mortar rounds. The Russian center for Syrian reconciliation also came under fire,” Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko said at a daily briefing.

Yevtushenko also noted that illegal armed groups continue to violate the current ceasefire regime not only in Eastern Ghouta but in Aleppo and Latakia provinces as well.

“We have received from the Syrian party the information about provocations involving chemical warfare agents that are being prepared by the Faylaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist organization banned in Russia). The provocations aim to put the blame for the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta on the government forces, that is why the action is being prepared close to the contact line with the Syrian army. The civilian victims will be used by the West as a pretext for accusing the Syrian leadership of the use of chemical weapons against its people,” Yevtushenko said.

Commenting on the situation around the humanitarian corridor in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta he said, that the situation in the checkpoint area remains tense.

“Since yesterday, snipers have regularly been firing at access routes to the corridor,” Yevtushenko continued.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that terrorists in Eastern Ghouta shelled Damascus around 50-80 times a day, including the region of Russia’s embassy and pointed out that Russia would not tolerate this forever.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: US-backed forces mobilize entire brigade in northeast Syria

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:21 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:20 P.M.) – Recently, over three thousand Pentagon-backed Syrian fighters of the Self-Defense Forces (HXP) – an extension of the better known Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – graduated as fully commissioned troops after completing their training.

The sheer number of graduates – some 3,500 in total (the equivalent of an infantry brigade) – meant that several separate ceremonies had to be held.

The graduating fighters represent a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians and various other ethnicities from the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli and its countryside.

Being part of the HXP (a local defense force militia), the Pentagon-backed fighters are to be tasked with the protection of Qamishli and its surrounding area.

The sudden swelling of US-backed forces ranks in northeast Syria comes at a time when Ankara is threatening major military operations against Pentagon-led proxy militias across Syrian territories opposite Turkey’s southern border, including in the province of Hasakah where Qamishli is located.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Armen Sargsyan elected President of Armenia

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:21 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 P.M.) – Armen Sargsyan was elected the President of Armenia, Friday, through a vote which took place in Yerevan, Friday.

The deputies elected him with 90 votes in favour and 10 against, without abstaining.

To elect Sargsyan to the presidency, it was necessary to get 79 votes from the 105 deputies.

Together, the Republican Party and the Dashnaktsutyun (7 deputies) provided 65 votes.

The opposition Tsarukyan faction stated to support Sargsyan, which allowed ensuring the necessary number of votes.

Under the new Constitution, Serzh Sargsyan’s successor was elected not by a general vote, but by deputies of the parliament and his powers will be limited.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian Air Force heavily pounds East Ghouta amid latest gains by Syrian Army

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 10:06 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – The Russian Aerospace Forces heavily bombarded the East Ghouta region these last 24 hours, striking several areas controlled by the jihadist rebels.

According to a military report from Damascus, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out 30 sorties over the East Ghouta in the last 24 hours, targeting the towns of Douma, Zamalka, Arbeen, Harasta, Mesraba, Utaya, and Jobar.

Below is a video that was released by a pro-opposition media channel; this footage shows the moment a Russian bomb hit the East Ghouta:

As a result of this bombing campaign, the Syrian Army has been able to take hold of several areas around the East Ghouta, including a half dozen localities in the last 24 hours.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Jihadist counter-offensive in key East Ghouta suburb results in heavy losses for all parties

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:02 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:55 P.M.) – For the second time in the last 72 hours, the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and Faylaq Al-Rahman attempted to recover the ground they lost to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the Harasta suburb.

The two rebel factions began the assault by storming the Syrian Army’s positions at the Harasta Orchards and police housing area; this would result in a fierce battle that would ensue for several hours on Friday.

However, despite their best efforts to push back the Syrian Army, the jihadist rebels were ultimately forced to retreat after they failed to infiltrate the government lines at both the Harasta Orchards and police housing area.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Army killed scores of militants during the jihadist counter-assault, while also destroying a number of technical vehicles that were mounted with machine guns.

The Syrian Army would also suffer a number of casualties during the assault, as the intensity of the battle required several soldiers to partake in driving back the jihadist rebels.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Civilians in Eastern Ghouta manage to flee through humanitarian corridor for first time

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:51 AM PST

Two children left the Eastern Ghouta through the humanitarian corridor overnight on March 2 as the Syrian government troops provided for meeting and protecting them, Representative of the Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria Major-General Vladimir Zolotukhin said on Friday.

“At 00:25 at night, two children [a boy and a girl] managed to leave through the humanitarian corridor. The Syrian servicemen on duty at the checkpoint spotted their movement in advance and managed to provide for meeting and protecting them because the militants delivered fire on the children from small arms. Now medics and psychologists are working with them [the children],” the general said.

So far, no mass outflow of local residents from the enclave is observed as illegal armed formations are not complying with the ceasefire, he added.

The hotline of the Reconciliation Centre in Damascus continues to receive a large number of messages from Eastern Ghouta residents.

Disruption of humanitarian pauses

On instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin daily humanitarian pauses were introduced in Eastern Ghouta (a suburb of Damascus) from 09:00 to 14:00 local time starting from February 27. During the first three days, the humanitarian pauses were disrupted by militants.

As the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides reported, the terrorists numerously shelled the corridor intended for the exit of civilians from that area and are also keeping hostage the population in their controlled Eastern Ghouta, threatening to punish those wishing to leave.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army captures another military base in East Ghouta region

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:13 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:05 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their rapid advance in the eastern part of the East Ghouta, today, capturing another military base that was controlled by Jaysh Al-Islam for years.

Led by their Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army launched another big assault south of Al-Shifouniyah, targeting the Battalion 274 base that was under the control of Jaysh Al-Islam militants.

Not long after launching this attack, the Syrian Arab Army was able to infiltrate Jaysh Al-Islam’s defenses at the Battalion 274 base, forcing them to retreat north towards Al-Shifouniyah in order to avoid being overrun.

With Battalion 274 under their control, the Syrian Army now has the town of Al-Shifouniyah surrounded from two different flanks.

More details to come as the battle progresses at Al-Shifouniyah…

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish attack chopper filmed in action against YPG forces in Afrin

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:06 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:55 P.M.) – The Turkish Air Force has recently increased their activity over the Afrin region of Aleppo, targeting several areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG forces.

On Friday, the Turkish Ministry of Defense released footage of their T-129 ATAK chopper striking YPG elements operating in the northern Afrin region.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense claimed that their helicopter reportedly killed at least 9 YPG fighters during the attack; however, this could not be verified.

The increased air activity over Afrin comes just days after the Turkish Army sent a large number of reinforcements to this region in order to kick start the second phase of Operation Olive Branch.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Massive HTS convoy heads to west Aleppo for war with Jabhat Tahrir Souriya (video)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 07:53 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:45 P.M.) – A large convoy of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham fighters were filmed traveling to the western countryside of Aleppo this week, as they prepare for their big battle with Jabhat Tahrir Souriya.

The massive HTS convoy consisted of dozens of heavily armored vehicles and hundreds of fighters that were previously deployed around the provincial capital of the Idlib Governorate.

These fighters were specifically filmed traveling through the town of Hazano, which is located along the road to the western countryside of Aleppo – the video of this convoy is below:

According to pro-opposition activists, HTS is preparing to attack Jabhat Tahrir Souriya at the key towns of Daret ‘Izza and Atareb; they were kicked out of the former last weekend.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS shoots down US Army spy blimp near Tirkit

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 07:43 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 P.M.) – The so-called Islamic State (ISIS) allegedly shot down a US Army spy blimp over central Iraq this week, the terrorist group’s official media channel posted today.

According to the terrorist group, their fighters spotted and downed the dirigible, a 117 foot long surveillance balloon (aerostat), as it was flying over the outskirts of Tikrit in the Salaheddine Governorate.

The terrorist group then posted photos of the spy blimp via their official media channel.

The U.S. Coalition has not commented on this latest Islamic State claim.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian statements about numerous US bases in Syria false – Coalition spokesman

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 07:25 AM PST

Russian allegations that the United States has set up military bases in Kurdish areas of northern Syria are false and the US-led coalition is focused only on defeating Daesh, a spokesperson for Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve told Sputnik on Friday.

“This latest Russian statement that the Coalition is establishing numerous new bases in Syria is false and absurd,” the spokesperson said. “We are focused on defeating Daesh, not establishing a permanent presence or on projecting regional influence in Syria.”

The spokesperson said the claim was counterproductive for the US-led coalition's effort to support Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which include Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

Russian Security Council official Alexander Venediktov said the day before that the Pentagon had positioned nearly 20 military bases in the Kurdish-held area in Syria. The official added that the move hindered efforts to bring peace and stability to the country.

The US has been operating in Syria since 2014 without having a mandate from either the Syrian government or the United Nations Security Council.

Furthermore, in January Washington announced that it would start training a 30,000-strong border security force, comprised of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which neighboring Turkey considers to be part of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

Russia has been supporting Syrian government forces in their fight against terrorism at the request of President Bashar Assad since 2015.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Elite Syrian troops on the verge of seizing two big militant strongholds in east Damascus after swift advance

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 07:02 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:01 P.M.) – After a sudden advance made just moments ago, elite Syrian forces now find themselves on the verge of seizing two large militant strongholds in Damascus’ East Ghouta region.

According to military-affiliated sources, assault units of the Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division have taken full control over the main road that connects the rebel-held towns of Ash-Shifunyah, Uataya and Beit Sawa in eastern Damascus.

By this advance, all militant supply lines between Ash-Shifunyah and Uataya have been cut and thus the latter stronghold town is now de facto isolated from the rest of the East Ghouta pocket.

According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, the town of Uataya is likely to fall to the Syrian Army in the hours to come, followed not long after by Ash-Shifunyah.

Both Ash-Shifunyah and Uataya have been under the control of Damascus-based rebel groups for many years. Their capture by the Syrian Army would not only be a big PR victory for government forces, but would also serve to tear a a major gap open in militant lines.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: Battalion of elite Syrian forces rushed towards east Damascus from Latakia

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 06:42 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:40 P.M.) – A key unit of the Syrian Military Intelligence Shield Force is en-route to Damascus as part of an ongoing of build up of Syrian Army forces near the capital’s East Ghouta region.

The Syrian Military Intelligence Shield unit in question is about the size of a battalion, comprising storming forces outfitted with machine-gun armed pickups trucks and light infantry.

The exact designation of the formation has not been disclosed.

Based in Latakia, the unit was given orders from the Syiran Army high command to move its troops and equipment towards eastern Damascus were government force are currently engaged in a major operation against militant groups.

Given the aggressive nature of the formation, it is expected to play a frontline role alongside key Syrian Army storming forces in the ongoing battle east of the Syrian capital.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army steamrolls rebel defenses in east Damascus capturing key areas

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 06:01 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:01 P.M.) – On Friday morning, the Syrian Army – led by the elite Tiger Forces Division – kicked-off a fresh assault against militant groups in Damascus’ East Ghouta region.

According to military-affiliated sources, elite Syrian troops launched their attack out of the recently reclaimed air defense base south of Hawsh ad-Dawahra, striking at rebel defeat near the large district town of Uataya.

The assault – backed up by heavy bombardment from warplanes and artillery – has so far resulted in an advance that has brought the Tiger Forces to the northern gates of Uataya; a number of factories and most of the farms near the town are now under the control of Syrian troops.

Many trenches and tunnels were destroyed after Syrian forces overran the main rebel defense line north of Uataya.

According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, the Tiger Forces plan to scare militants into abandoning Uataya and its nearby countryside by threatening to split the East Ghouta pocket into two.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Pictures: Squad of captured Syrian Army troops freed after prisoner exchange with Turkish-backed rebels

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 05:07 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:05 P.M.) – A squad of Syrian Army troops held captive by Turkish-backed rebels for almost a year has been released in very recent hours via a prisoner swap between government forces and the Ankara-led Euphrates Shield operations room.

The exchange took place Friday morning and witnessed pro-Turkish rebels hand over nine Syrian troops in return for an unspecified number of militants and their family members that were in the custody of the Syrian government.

The soldiers in question were captured about nine months ago during a raid by Turkish-backed insurgents on government checkpoint in Aleppo province’s northern countryside.

The latest reports state the the freed Syrian troops have arrived safely in Aleppo city where they will most likely be debriefed.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army repels militant assault in north Hama

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 04:36 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:36 P.M.) – Syrian troops have repelled an attack by rebel fighters against their positions at the Zilin checkpoint area in Hama province’s northern countryside.

Military-affiliated sources report that militants (faction unstated but most likely Free Syrian Army-affiliated) attempted to infiltrate government lines at the Zilin checkpoint on very early Friday morning.

The rebel raiding party – advancing under the cover of night – was sprung by Syrian sentry forces equipped with night vision who promptly directed artillery onto the attackers, breaking up their ranks and pushing them to retreat.

In all probability, the insurgent fighters were looking from a cheap tactical victory in the form of killing and capturing a small number of Syrian sentry troops near the front-line as well as seizing some weapons.

The engagement on early Friday morning is by no means the first time rebel forces have attempted to infiltrate government positions at and nearby to the Zilin checkpoint.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Turkey-led forces snatch 3 more towns in Afrin as elite troops prepare to storm Kurdish stronghold

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 04:04 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:03 P.M.) – Amid what appears to be a new phase of Ankara’s still ongoing Olive Branch operation, the Turkish Army and Free Syrian Army militias under its command have snatched three more villages from Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin region.

On Friday morning, Turkey-led forces renewed their assault towards the Kurdish-held fortress town of Raju in northwest Afrin, taking control of Maskanli, Utmanli and the duel-settlement of Mamali.

The new push has brought Olive Branch forces to within about one or two kilometers of Raju via the northwestern direction.

The advance to Raju’s gates by Ankara-backed rebel groups comes amid reports that the Turkish Army has deployed elite troops near the Kurdish stronghold.

The elite Turkish Army soldiers in question are specialist light infantry – reportedly equipped for and training in the storming of urban areas.

If the reports are true, there can be almost no doubt that Turkish troops plan to storm and capture the stronghold of Raju from Kurdish fighters.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Thousands more US-backed fighters readied for war in Syria’s Hasakah

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 03:13 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:10 P.M.) – Thousands of US-backed fighters from the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli have recently been commissioned into service after completing their Pentagon-assisted training program.

The fighters – a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians and various other ethnicities – are tasked with the protection of Qamishli and its surrounding countryside. Most are locals to the area.

According to reports by the pro-Kurdish ANHA news agency, some 3,500 new fighters officially entered service with the US-backed Self-Defense Forces (HXP) – an extension of the better known Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

So large was the number of new recruits being commissioned that several separate ceremonies were required.

The addition of thousands more ranks into HXP comes at a time when Ankara is threatening additional operations against Pentagon-led Syrian forces, including in the province of Hasakah where Qamishli is located.

The HXP serves as an auxiliary force which defends the gains made by SDF, allowing the later to maintain its full strength for offensive operations.

Almost always, HXP fighters are assigned to defend areas of SDF-held Syria where they themselves originate from as individuals.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army scores unexpected advance in north Homs against Rastan rebels – reports

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:09 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:09 P.M.) – Troops of the Syrian Army have scored a sudden and unexpected advance against rebel forces in the Rastan pocket area of northern Homs province according to some military-affiliated sources.

Reports state that the Syrian Army struck militant defenses on the Amiriyah axis (near the government-held town of Al-Mashrafah), swiftly taking control of the Kufa Farms area in a pencil-like penetration.

If true, it is unclear whether the advance is part of a renewed general offensive against insurgent factions based in Rastan countryside region of northern Homs or just the result of an opportunistic snatch operation carried out at the initiative of a local government unit.

Recently, the Syrian Army’s patience with rebel groups in the Rastan pocket came to an end after negotiations to organize the departure of hard-line jihadist fighters – who often carry out raids and shellings against nearby government-held towns – from the area failed to produce any result.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Botched airstrike by US coalition warplanes kills dozens of civilians – mostly women, children – in east Syria

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 01:30 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:30 A.M.) – Warplanes of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition have killed dozens of civilians in eastern Syria during an ill-executed strike.

The bombing by coalition airpower took place on Thursday afternoon at the town of Ad-Dashisha Abu Hamda which located in the southeast Hasakah province near the Iraqi border.

The town is currently under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Coalition jets targeted the town’s main market area whilst it was busy with commercial activity.

The latest reports about the deadly results of the botched airstrike state that at least thirty civilians were killed, most of them women and children.

Furthermore, dozens more civilians sustained injuries with many still burred under the rubble of collapsed buildings and turned-up road.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز