- Fight against Daesh at stake: US vs Turkey in Syria’s Manbij
- Syrian Army eyes Al-Quneitra province in southwest Syria
- Iraqi intelligence forces kill ISIS leader near Syrian border
- Video footage of recently captured East Ghouta suburbs
- Scores of Saudi, Sudanese fighters killed in failed northern Yemen offensive (video)
- Breaking: Syrian pro-gov’t forces claim US base attacked in Raqqa
- Yemeni forces claim ballistic missile hit on Saudi base
- Breaking: Rival Islamist militias call temporary truce in northwest Syria after smashing each other senseless for 6 weeks
- VIDEO: Syrian war reporters drive their vehicle through 20 km-long rebel tunnel in east Damascus – details on how it was built
- Syrian Air Force hammers militants across east Qalamoun ahead of major offensive
- Germany’s Tornado fighters now worthless to NATO – German military report
- Confirmed: Nusra kidnaps tens of Jaysh al-Islam rebels amid evacuation from east Damascus to north Syria – details
- Breaking: Syrian Army to launch east Qalamoun offensive, Russian warplanes will assist operation
- Pictures: Syrian Army hoists national flag above toughest-ever rebel stronghold in east Damascus
- Update: Free Syrian Army fighters stranded in Damascus’ Douma city evacuated to north Syria
- Breaking: Russia claims Skripal poisoning to be false-flag operation, was done to compensate for UK’s insignificance in European affairs
- Confirmed: US, UK soldiers killed in Manbij IED attack – names
- Confirmed: Syrian Army drives back huge ISIS offensive on key city and airbase in Deir Ezzor, massive weapons loot not true
- Update: 2 high-ranking Jaysh al-Islam leaders suddenly killed in Damascus’ Douma city, reports of assassination
- Update: Many thousands of Syrian Army, civilian hostages to be released by Jaysh al-Islam – details
- Graphic: Nusra commander filled full of bullets during ambush by 5 masked gunmen in Idlib
- Breaking: Douma rebels reach agreement with Syrian government, Russian forces to enter city – details
- Map update: Syrian Army liquidates 85 percent of East Ghouta pocket and banishes three rebel force groupings in month-long offensive
- Developing: Syrian Army rushes divisions fresh from victory in east Damascus battle towards Daraa
- WATCH: Latest Houthi bomb attacks see Saudi Army soldier vaporized and vehicle literally blown off hilltop
- VIDEO: Syrian Army takes full control of strategic national highway in Damascus littered with destroyed armor
- Turkey urges France to refrain from reckless steps in Syria – Defense Minister
- Al-Qaeda offensive to seize imperative town in west Aleppo ends in abysmal failure with huge infantry, armor losses – details
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 10:05 PM PDT
The United States and Turkey have not been able to reach an agreement over the Syrian city of Manbij, which has been controlled by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who, in turn, had captured the strategic city from Daesh* with US-led coalition support in 2016.
The Syrian civil war might face a brand-new phase as the US-backed SDF and Turkish forces appear to be on opposing sides in northern Syria's Manbij, which could undermine the fight against Daesh. While Ankara considers the People's Protection Units (YPG), the leading component of the SDF, to be terrorists, and has repeatedly urged Washington to pull out the Kurdish militia from Manbij, the US has consistently argued that its forces are located in the city, and they have the right to defend themselves along with their partners.
Despite Turkey's hardline rhetoric regarding the withdrawal of the SDF from the area and its full control over Afrin, the US' stance did not change a bit. According to Nicholas Heras, a Middle East Security fellow at the Center for a New American Security, the US military are not willing to make concessions to Turkey over Manbij out of fear the US-backed SDF, consisting of Kurds and Arabs fighting Daesh, might spin out of control, as the move could be regarded as betrayal by the forces.
“Manbij for the US is more than just a territory on the map. For the US military it is the door that secures the Raqqa countryside and Raqqa is the showroom model for the US’ post-IS [post-Daesh] stability building mission,” Heras said as cited by Deutsche Welle (DW).
New Op in Sight?
Earlier this week, the Turkish National Security Council warned that it would take the necessary measures if Kurdish forces did not withdraw from Syria's Manbij, threatening to launch another offensive in the region if the militia did not meet Ankara's demands.
“Terrorists in Manbij need to leave the region immediately; otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take its own initiative as it did in other regions. Turkey will maintain the same steadfastness against terrorist groups east of the Euphrates,” read the Council's statement issued on March 28.
Having launched the Olive Branch operation in Afrin on January 20 to "clear" its border with Syria from terrorists, Turkey has consistently stated that the military endeavor would likely expand to Manbij, where the United States has some 2,000 of its troops deployed. Ankara's "Olive Branch" has been harshly condemned by the Syrian government, which dismissed Turkey's offensive as a "violation of the country's sovereignty." As a response, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has argued that preservation of Syria's territorial integrity was the common goal of both Ankara and Damascus, stressing that Turkish forces were fighting terrorists, not government troops.
Turkey Seeks to Gain Regional Dominance?
“The Turkish objective goes beyond merely stopping the Kurds. It is to make Turkey a regional power or at least a power broker; a formidable player, on the map of Syria and also, if possible, Iraq’s, to give Turkey a stake in shaping up the future of the region,” said Cengiz Candar, a foreign policy advisor to former Turkish President Turgut Ozal, as cited by DW.
According to Candar, Turkey's moves in Syria "look like permanently establishing a Turkish presence in northern parts of Syria that will serve Ankara, hitting many birds with one stone."
Could US Deter Turkey?
“US policymakers believe Erdogan’s appetite is bigger than just Manbij and they take him at his word. When Erdogan says Manbij, he means all the way to the border of Iraq. The mood within the US military is to not withdraw from Manbij unless there is a very clear and on paper agreement with the Turks as to the limits of where Turkey will be able to operate east of the Euphrates — which is nowhere. Unless there is that kind of guarantee, the mood is not to back down in Manbij,” Heras said.
Meanwhile, Washington's policy remains quite unclear: on the one hand, President Donald Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from Syria "very soon," underscoring that Daesh has largely been defeated; on the other hand, the government has consistently ignored Turkey's appeals to leave Manbij.
Cengiz Candar believes that such mixed signals from the United States "embolden Erdogan to follow a reckless policy in Syria which might end up with unintended consequences for all the parties involved."
“Anything that would not be interpreted as appeasement could be considered as sober advice for the US policymakers in handling Turkey over northern Syria. However, I am also aware that sobriety is not a particular trait of the current American administration,” he told DW.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 09:51 PM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:30 A.M.) – With their military operations in the East Ghouta coming to an end, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been mobilizing their troops in southern Syria for what is expected to be their next major offensive.
Units from the Syrian Arab Army’s 5th, 7th, and 9th divisions have already been redeployed to the southern provinces of Dara’a and Al-Quneitra; however, several more troops are expected to head to these governorates in the coming days.
According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Army’s first target in southern Syria will be the Al-Quneitra Governorate.
The Syrian Army is already in control of the northern part of Al-Quneitra, but the remaining towns to the south, including the provincial capital, remain in possession of the jihadist rebels.
To capture Al-Quneitra, the Syrian Army may find themselves in a tough situation, as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will be within artillery range of their units.
The IDF has targeted the Syrian Army on several occasions in the past, but the military support to the Islamist rebels has only been limited in Al-Quneitra.
This southern Syria offensive by the Syrian Arab Army is expected to commence in early May.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 08:02 PM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – The Iraqi intelligence forces carried out a special operation, Sunday, that targeted one of the so-called Islamic State’s (ISIS) top leaders in Iraq.
Led by their Falcon group, the Iraqi intelligence forces killed the Islamic State’s leader of suicide bomb operations, Isma’el Mohammad ‘Abboud, while sweeping through the western part of the Al-Anbar Governorate.
‘Abboud was reportedly followed by a military drone as he was attempting to cross through the vast desert area of Al-Anbar.
Once ‘Abboud reached a certain point, the Iraqi intelligence forces fired a missile at his vehicle, killing him instantly.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 07:09 PM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:40 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) officially took control of four East Ghouta suburbs after the complete withdrawal of the Islamist rebels from the region.
According to the Syrian Ministry of Defense, the Syrian Arab Army asserted full control over the suburbs of ‘Ayn Tarma, ‘Arbeen, Zamalka, and Jobar on Saturday evening.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense released drone footage on Sunday of the recently captured suburbs – please see below:
With these suburbs captured, the Syrian Army will now turn their attention to the Jaysh Al-Islam stronghold of Douma, which is last militant pocket remaining in the East Ghouta.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 04:57 PM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 A.M.) – The Houthi forces repelled a major attack that was launched by the Saudi-led Coalition in the northern part of Yemen yesterday.
According to the official media wing of the Houthi forces, the Saudi-led Coalition launched their offensive in the northern part of the Medi Desert at approximately 6 A.M. on Sunday.
The Saudi-led Coalition’s attack would last until 3 P.M. (Sanaa Time) on Sunday, when the latter ended their offensive due to high casualties and little progress.
The Houthi forces claim that over 20 members of the Saudi-led Coalition were killed on Sunday, including several Sudanese fighters.
In addition to the loss of their personnel, the Saudi-led Coalition also lost two armored vehicles during the failed offensive.
Below is a video from the Houthi forces that shows the aftermath of the Saudi-led Coalition attack:
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 04:07 PM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 A.M.) – The Syrian People’s Resistance group claimed their forces carried out an attack on a U.S. base in rural Al-Raqqa tonight.
According to the pro-government group, their forces allegedly targeted the US-held Brigade 92 Base that is located just south of the border-town of ‘Ayn ‘Izza.
The pro-government group claimed that their forces had targeted the Brigade 92 Base with two mortar shells.
In addition to tonight’s attack, the group is vowing to continue targeting US-backed groups until they leave all of the Syrian lands they occupy.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 03:43 PM PDT
The missile and artillery force of the army and the popular committees hit gatherings of Saudi soldiers and mercenaries in a number of locations in Najran and Asir, causing direct casualties in their ranks, a military official told Saba on Friday.
The operation took place in the censorship of al- Sudais , Silah , al- Boqa camp ,in Talaa Rejla and the west of the al- Makhrooq in Najran, said the official.
the artillery shelling also fired the mercenaries gatherings in al- Boqaa desert, while Saudi soldier was gunned down in al- Shabaka site including targeting the DShK machine gun of 50 calibre in Shaja and another in al- Shabaka site.
A military kit of the enemy soldier mercenaries was burned in the desert of al- Ajasher in front of Najran, and an artillery shelling targeted their gatherings in the same area.
In Asir, the artillery force targeted the enemy soldier mercenaries troops in al- Shabaka location , Alab border crossing and beyond the crossing causing direct casualties.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 11:23 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:23 P.M.) – Rival Islamist militias Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qaeda affiliate; better known by its former name, Al-Nusra Front) and Jabhat Tahrir Souriya have called a temporary truce after six weeks of very violent infighting across northwest Syria.
The first-step ceasefire was announced for 6:00 P.M. this (Sunday) afternoon – it is not known if an indefinite time period exists for the initial halt in hostilities.
Talks between delegations from the warring rebel groups are to begin immediately; here each side will state their terms and conditions for lasting peace. It should be noted that this is not the first time a temporary truce has been called (the last one failing after two days).
Over the last month and a half, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham and Jabhat Tahrir Souriya have gutted each others’ ranks amid back and forth battles across rebel-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces.
To this effect, hundreds of fighters have been killed and hundreds more wounded again; tens of armored vehicles and trucks have also been destroyed.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 10:58 AM PDT
BEIRUT LEBANON (8:55 P.M.) – The Alikhbaria Syria news channel has released an exclusive video report (below) showing what appears the be the largest rebel tunnel ever discovered in the Syrian War.
The tunnel, located in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, is twenty kilometers long. It connected rebel positions and underground bases throughout the once militant-controlled districts of Jobar, Ayn Tarma and Arbeen.
As the video shows, the tunnel is wide enough to allow the Syrian war reporters drive through it in their van.
One of the people present with the Alikhbaria Syria news team (front passenger seat) was captured by insurgents earlier in the war, only recently being released following the capitulation of rebel forces in East Ghouta. He claims that militants used civilian and Syrian Army hostages to dig the tunnel.
The tunnel allowed rebels to relocate forces throughout vast areas of East Ghouta without being detected and attacked by Syrian and Russian warplanes.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 10:29 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:27 P.M.) – On Sunday, the Syrian Air Force carried out preliminary strikes against besieged rebel forces in the eastern Qalamoun mountains amid early preparations by the Syrian Army to storm the region.
Around half a dozen airstrikes involving bombs and rockets targeted militant tactical positions and movements across insurgent-controlled areas of the region, mostly so atop Jabal (Mount) Al-Batra.
Earlier it was reported that the Syrian Army had already sent negotiation delegations to eastern Qalamoun to talk with rebel authorities and organize the evacuation and or reconciliation of anti-government fighters.
Reports state that Russian airpower will also participate in support of the Syrian Army anti-insurgency operation when it is launched.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 09:59 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – The Cold War-era Tornado fighter jets of the German Air Force are now worthless to the operational needs of the NATO alliance according to a German defense ministry report.
The report clarified that the 4th generation swing-wing fighter in Luftwaffe service is no longer able to perform in line with existing and emerging requirements demanded of it by NATO due to old equipment – overall the aircraft is ‘completely outdated.’
Among the operational deficiencies cited were insufficient tap-proofing, no system to encrypt electronic communications and, surprisingly, no IFF (friend-foe detection) system.
Furthermore, the report concluded that in their current state (of obsolescence), Germany’s Tornados should ‘no longer participate in any NATO operation.’
At least 115 Tornado aircraft (both IDS and ECR models) are believed to still be in German Air Force service as of 2018.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 09:33 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:33 P.M.) – Earlier reports that Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (better know by its former name, Al-Nusra Front) forces evacuating from Damascus’ East Ghouta region took with them tens of rival militants of the Jaysh al-Islam faction have now been confirmed.
According to reports, the hostages – a total of 21 say sources – had been captured Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham during previous infighting across East Ghouta.
During the evacuation, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham managed to sneak the hostages on buses bound for rebel-held areas of northern Syria without being detected at first. Later when it became apparent that the Al-Qaeda affiliate had Jaysh al-Islam prisoners in its possession, violence involving the use of belt bombs was threatened.
The buses carrying the militant prisoners have since arrived at Qalaat al-Mudiq after which Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham loaded them into their own trucks and disappeared to an unknown location in Idlib province (presumably).
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 09:04 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:03 P.M.) – It has become apparent that the Syrian Army intends to launch a major offensive against besieged rebel forces in the eastern Qalamoun mountains.
Moments ago, reports came through stating that the Syrian Army had, on Sunday, sent negotiation delegations to the militant-controlled towns of Ar-Rahiybeh, An-Nassiryah, Al-Atneh, Jaiyroud and Al-Mansourah in eastern Qalamoun.
Three options were offered to rebel authorities:
According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, the rebels are unlikely not to surrender given how they have virtually zero chance of surviving an attack by Syrian government forces.
Finally, reports state that Russian warplanes are to participate in the Syrian Army offensive; they have already conducted airstrikes against rebels forces in the eastern Qalamoun mountains before.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 08:30 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:30 P.M.) – Photos (below) have emerged showing Syrian Army soldiers hoisting the national flag above the eastern Damascus district of Jobar, until very recently held by rebel forces for years.
Militants defending Jobar – actually part of Damascus city proper and not the nearby East Ghouta region – resisted countless attacks by the Syrian Army from the earliest years of the Syrian conflict.
The sheer amount of tunnels and trenches connecting to Jobar from neighboring rebel-held districts meant that Syrian forces could never quite outflank the or surround it; many government troops fell during the battles for the east Damascus suburb.
In the end, a powerful Syrian Army advance from the eastern direction (where defenses were never prepared) threatened to completely overrun insurgent forces and upon realizing this, militants capitulated.
On Saturday, the last rebel fighters present in Jobar along with those in Arbeen, Hazzah and Zamalka evacuated towards Idlib province; since then the Syrian Army has assumed full control over the district.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 07:47 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:47 P.M.) – Despite the fact that Faylaq al-Rahman (Free Syrian Army affiliate) rebels operated far away from Douma city in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, it has become apparent that some group’s fighters nonetheless got stranded in the Jaysh al-Islam stronghold.
In any case, as of Sunday, all Faylaq al-Rahman that found themselves besieged in Douma alongside Jaysh al-Islam militants have since been evacuated to Syria’s northern province of Idlib; hundreds of civilians departed with them.
It is unclear exactly how many Faylaq al-Rahman rebels (dozens or hundreds) left Douma, information on this may emerge later.
As for Jaysh al-Islam, evacuation of its fighters (i.e. those who have chosen not to reconcile with the Syrian government) to areas of Aleppo province under Turkish-backed rebel forces control so far only includes those who are injured; standing militants are yet to depart.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 06:41 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:40 P.M.) – The Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko, has officially accused British intelligence of carrying out the Sergei Skripal poisoning – since blamed on Russian spies.
According to the Russian ambassador, there are two motivations for the false-flag attack by British intelligence: first, that the UK is trying to cover up the fact that Brussels has dictated to London almost all the terms of the Brexit agreement (a testament to the country’s dwindling influence in European affairs) and, second, that British Prime Minister Theresa May is attempting to present herself as a strong leader by attacking Russia.
Yakovenko draws his suspicion from the fact that UK intelligence refuses to cooperate with Russian authorities on any level to investigate the poisoning of the turncoat agent.
‘This provocation has been carried out by UK secret services. We are not provided with any facts, they refuse to cooperate with us. Such a state of affairs brings us to the judgment that it is a provocation organized by secret services,’ Yakovenko said in his statement.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 06:15 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:14 P.M.) – On Thursday, two troops of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition task force in Syria were killed and another 5 wounded when a patrol hit an IED (improvised explosive device) somewhere in the area of Manbij city.
The two coalition troops killed in action have been identified as US Army soldier Master Sgt. Johnathan J. Dunbar and British SAS trooper Sgt. Matt Tonroe. It is still not clear whether the patrol that came under attack was foot-borne or vehicle-borne.
Sgt. Matt Tonroe represents the first British serviceman to be killed in the Syrian conflict (according to the Reuters news agency).
Interestingly enough, no blame or suspicion has yet been directed to any warring faction by official US military sources for the attack that took place.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 05:40 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:39 P.M.) – Reports have been circulating since the night of Saturday to Sunday that Islamic State forces in eastern Syria have launched a partially successful offensive against the Syrian Army at the Euphrates city of Abu Kamal and at the T-2 airbase.
Some reports suggested that terrorist fighters managed to infiltrate the eastern neighborhoods of Abu Kamal and that they seized sixteen trucks full of weaponry and ammunition near the T-2 military airport.
According to sources in touch with Al-Masdar News, at Abu Kamal, Islamic State jihadists attacked from the north after crossing the Euphrates to the river’s western shore. However, this assault was full repelled by Syrian pro-government forces within a matter of hours.
Furthermore, Al-Masdar News sources state that whilst ISIS did also attack the T-2 military airport, reports of government supply trucks full of weapons and ammo being nabbed by the terrorist group are not true.
Sources added that no gains by Islamic State forces around the airbase were made, this attack also being rebuffed after rather violent clashes.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 04:50 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 P.M.) – Confirmed reports have emerged stating that two rebel commanders belonging to Jaysh al-Islam have been killed in Damascus’ eastern district city of Douma.
The slain rebel leaders have been identified as Jaysh al-Islam management chief Abu Ali Idara and treasury chief Abu Omar Maliyah. At the present time, it is unclear how exactly the two militant commanders died.
In an official statement, Jaysh al-Islam claimed they were killed in a Syrian Army artillery strike, however local opposition sources are claiming they were assassinated by their own ranks.
If the claims by Douma-based activists are true, then it is possible that a dispute over the recent agreement reached between Jaysh al-Islam and the Syrian government may have been the reason for the assassination of the rebel commanders; however, this is only speculation for now.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 04:28 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:27 P.M.) – With an agreement finally reached between the Syrian government and Jaysh al-Islam fighters holding out in the East Ghouta city of Douma, many thousands of Syrian Army and civilian hostages being held by the rebel group are expected to be released soon.
According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, Jaysh al-Islam currently holds at least 5,000 captured Syrian troops and civilians inside the city of Douma – something it has always used as a bargaining chip during negotiations with the Syrian government.
Many of the prisoners currently detained came into Jaysh al-Islam’s custody in 2013 during an operation by the militant faction against the Syrian Army at the district town of Al-Adra. Since then they have been used as human shields to prevent government airstrikes against key bases and headquarters of Jaysh al-Islam in and around Douma.
The release of the hostages will signify one of the most important moments in the entire Syrian conflict.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 03:57 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:55 P.M.) – A commander of Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate group Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (better known by its former name, Al-Nusra Front) has been gruesomely assassinated by unknown assailants in Idlib province.
The Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham official, identified as Harb Abu Sa’eed, was both a commander and the militant group’s treasury chief for financial affairs in Hama province. Two of his bodyguards were killed along with him in the attack.
Reports state that Harb Abu Sa’eed and his attache where gunned down by five masked assassins in the countryside east of the town of Maraat Al-Numan.
No information exists on the allegiance of the armed attackers or their motives – all escaped from the scene of the assassination without being caught or identified. Often it is the case with such instances that a rival militant group or a government sleeper cell was involved.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 03:28 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:27 P.M.) – Rebel forces holding out in the district city of Douma in Damascus’ East Ghouta region have reached a Russian-mediated agreement with the Syrian government after a week of back-and-forth bickering.
According to reports, some Jaysh al-Islam militants from Douma will be evacuated to the town of Jarablus (under the control of Turkish-backed rebels) in northeast Aleppo province whilst other fighters will reconcile with the Syrian government.
Russian military police are poised to soon enter Douma where they will establish evacuation corridors, monitor the insurgent withdrawal and host temporary humanitarian infrastructures.
Furthermore, Jaysh al-Islam is to hand over all hostages (civilians and troops) to the Syrian Army as well as the corpses of fallen government ranks.
Whilst it is unknown whether or not the Syrian Army will enter Douma anytime soon, all government institutions once housed in the small district city are to be immediately reinstated; civil servants are to return to their jobs at these places.
Updates to follow as more information becomes available.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 03:08 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:07 P.M.) – With the Syrian Army now in control of the districts of Jobar, Zamalka, Arbeen and Hazzah in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, some 85 percent of what was rebel-controlled territory east of the Syrian capital just over one month ago has since fallen to government forces.
The Syrian Army ‘Damascus Steel’ offensive has seen the capitulation of three major rebel force groupings – represented by Faylaq al-Rahman, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham – that once seemed unbreakable in their resolve to never leave their positions east of Damascus.
Now the East Ghouta pocket consists of just one stronghold, the city of Douma. After a week of negotiations it appears that some agreement has finally been reached with the bastion’s defenders (Jaysh al-Islam) which will involve a combination of reconciliation and evacuation (details here).
Finally, it has become apparent that the Syrian Army is already relocating key offensive formations for a new operation against armed rebel groups in the province of Daraa and Quneitra.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 02:30 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:29 P.M.) – Following the Syrian Army’s virtual defeat of armed rebel groups in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, key divisions are now rushing towards Daraa province for a looming operation against militant factions there.
According to Al-Masdar News journalist Ibrahim Joudeh, main elements of Syrian Army formations which participated in the East Ghouta offensive are already arriving at key launching-off points inside the city of Daraa and the countryside around it.
As mentioned earlier, government forces have already started to send reconciliation delegations into rebel-held areas of Daraa to try negotiate a bloodless hand-over of various towns and villages to the Syrian Army; it is yet to be seen what becomes of such talks.
The details on exactly which Syrian Army divisions will be involved in the upcoming Daraa offensive have still not disclosed; nonetheless, 5th Mechanized Division, 7th Mechanized Division, 9th Armored Division and elements of 4th Mechanized Division are expected to participate.
Updates to follow as more information becomes available.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 01:33 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:30 A.M.) – Houthi rebels have targeted and destroyed a Saudi Army vehicle with a roadside bomb during an ambush operation carried out in the high-hills of the Arab kingdom’s southern Jizan region.
According to sources, all Saudi military personnel present inside the army vehicle were killed either by the blast or as a result of the truck rolling down the face of a steep mountain after the explosion.
The attack was later followed by another roadside bombing which hit a grouping of Saudi troops – at least one soldier (based on video evidence shown below) appears to have been completely blown up.
Recently, Houthi fighters have stepped up their insurgency operations across southern Saudi Arabia, targeting Saudi forces with text-book rebel methods including roadside bombings, sniper attacks and raids on military outposts.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 12:58 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:55 A.M.) – Following its take over of the districts of Jobar, Zamalka and Arbeen from rebel forces (since evacuated to northwest Syria) on Saturday, the Syrian Army has now assumed full control of the entire section of M-5 national highway that runs through Damascus.
For years, Syrian government forces controlled most of the M-5 highway in Damascus, however, a several kilometer long strip of it running throughout militant-held Jobar district could never quite be attained – until yesterday that is.
The scars of years of war can be seen on the highway; in addition to minor damage to the road (compared to nearby buildings which are absolutely ruined), scores of charred carcasses of vehicles and government armor knocked-out in past battles litter it.
Alikhbaria Syria (Syrian News Channel) recently released a video report (below) showing the M-5 highway from its junction point linking the district of Jobar and Zamalka.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 12:58 AM PDT
Ankara calls on France not to take reckless steps in Syria, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said.
“We hope that France would not take such a reckless step,” Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said as quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
According to the minister, at the moment there is no need to deploy foreign troops in Syria because the threat posed by the Daesh terrorist group has significantly decreased.
“In other words, if France tries to deploy their troops in northern Syria, it will violate international law. The activities of France could be considered as an attempt to occupy the Syrian territories,” the Turkish official stated.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met with a Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) delegation and proclaimed support for them. The French president also expressed hope for a dialogue between Turkey and SDF mediated by France and the international community. French media reported that Paris had decided to help the Kurdish militia protect the Syrian city of Manbij.
On March 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara had established full control over Afrin. The Turkish leader, however, has said on multiple occasions that the Turkish operation in northern Syria would not end with the seizure of Afrin and the campaign would be expanded to other parts of the war-torn country, including Manbij.
On January 20, Ankara, jointly with the opposition Free Syrian Army forces, launched Operation Olive Branch in Syrian northern district of Afrin in order to “clear” Turkey’s border from Kurdish armed groups, which are viewed as a terrorist threat.
Posted: 01 Apr 2018 12:22 AM PDT
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 A.M.) – Forces of Al-Qaeda affiliate militia Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (better known by its former name, Al-Nusra Front) have suffered a major defeat at the hands of rival Islamist group Jabhat Tahrir Souriya near the town of Maklabes in western Aleppo province.
According to opposition sources, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham has endured many dozens dead and wounded among its ranks after multiple assaults aimed at trying to take Maklabes over four days.
In addition to this, it seems that around half a dozen battle tanks and BMP infantry fighting vehicles belonging the Al-Qaeda affiliate were knocked out in the engagement.
After all this, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham appears to have now given up on trying to take Maklabes – the gateway to key Jabhat Tahrir Souriya strongholds in western Aleppo – meaning that the battle for the small town has, for all intents and purposes, come to an end.
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