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Alternative to political process in Syria is ‘very dangerous’ – UN Special Envoy to Syria

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 05:07 PM PDT

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hussein Jaber Ansari in Tehran on Saturday to discuss the latest developments in Syria.

Ansari stated that a common objective for all parties was to “ensure the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Syria, and to ensure the country does not disintegrate” while enacting initiatives which “pave the way for the Syrian people to decide for their country's future.”

Staffan de Mistura praised Ansari’s “good advice on how we can promote a concrete, real, political process.”

“The alternative is very dangerous” he added.

The visit follows de Mistura’s Friday trip to Moscow, in which he held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and he will meet European and American officials at a conference in Brussels on April 24 and 25.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Military map of southern Syria – April 2018

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 04:08 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:50 A.M.) – The month of April has been relatively successful for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as they managed to take control of the East Ghouta, east Qalamoun, and much of southern Damascus over the course of three weeks.

Starting with the East Ghouta, the Syrian Army was able to finally get Jaysh Al-Islam to agree to leave Douma, following a short military operation earlier this month.

With Douma surrendered, the Syrian Army was able to establish full control over the East Ghouta for the first time since the start of this war.

Following the battle for the East Ghouta, the Syrian Army shifted their attention to the eastern Qalamoun region, where they were once again involved in a short fight against the Islamist rebels.

While the attack was not long, the Syrian Army was able to apply enough pressure on the rebels of Jaysh Thuwar Al-Sham and Jaysh Al-Islam to accept deal to be evacuated from the eastern Qalamoun to northern Aleppo.

Finally, there is the ongoing battle for southern Damascus, which has been the Syrian Army’s main focus for the last few days.

The Syrian Army’s assault on the Islamic State’s (ISIS) positions in the Yarmouk Camp, Al-Qadam, Al-Tadamon, and Hajar Al-Aswad has proven to be effective, as the aforementioned terrorist group has agreed to surrender the area.

However, despite an agreement from the Islamic State’s leadership in southern Damascus, several rogue terrorists have refused to surrender their positions, forcing the Syrian military and their Palestinian allies to resume their operations.

Once the Syrian Army is able to fully secure southern Damascus, they will turn their attention to the Dara’a and Al-Quneitra governorates in southern Syria.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Saudi police down drone near royal palace amid reports of gunfire in Riyadh

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 03:23 PM PDT

The Saudi police shot down a toy drone which had been flying over the Al Khuzama neighborhood in the country’s capital of Riyadh, where the royal palace is located, local media reported on Saturday.

The authorities are currently investigating into the circumstances which have lead to the drone flying near in the royal palace area, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Meanwhile, other Arabic media reported earlier on Saturday, that heavy gunfire had been heard near the palace of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Russian jets hammer ISIS terrorists as Syrian Army troops attempt to advance in southern Damascus

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 03:18 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 A.M.) – The Russian Aerospace Forces are heavily bombarding the southern districts of Damascus, tonight, targeting several areas under the control of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists that refused to surrender their positions to the Syrian military.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, the Russian Aerospace Forces are specifically targeting the Islamic State’s positions inside Yarmouk Camp, Al-Qadam, and Hajar Al-Aswad.

While the Russian Aerospace Forces pound ISIS from the air, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their Palestinian allies are attempting to advance inside the northern part of Yarmouk Camp and the western part of Al-Qadam.

Intense clashes are now ongoing inside these districts, with the Syrian Arab Army currently on the move against the Islamic State terrorists.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Chemical substance of hexamine found in Douma laboratory – Russian MoD

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 02:27 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 A.M.) – Russian broadcaster VGTRK released video on Friday showing an alleged chemical laboratory in Douma, suspected of belonging to militant group Jaish al-Islam.

According to Russian Defence Ministry’s military expert on radiation, chemical, and biological protection, Alexander Rodionov, “the specialists from radiation, chemical and biological protection's corpses conducted extra examination in the chemical laboratory discovered in Douma.”

He went on to say that “they discovered a lot of the chemical substance of hexamine that can be used for production of explosives as well as for synthesis of the poisonous substance sarin.”

Several Western powers, led by the United States, claimed chemical substances were used by Syrian government forces on April 7. The claim has been denied by Damascus and Moscow, who called the allegations a “fabrication.”

On April 14 the US, UK and France launched airstrikes against multiple government targets in Damascus as a response to the alleged chemical attack against Syrian civilians.

Video credit: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Russia: IS militant killed in FSB raid in Stavropol

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 02:03 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:50 P.M.) – The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) released footage of the aftermath of a raid for a member of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Stavropol on Saturday.

The militant was allegedly plotting to carry out attacks on the city.

The militant was fatally wounded during the raid.

The FSB agents reportedly seized firearms, ammunition, an IS flag and a written oath to the IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The plans of the Stavropol Administration building were also reportedly found during the search of the premises.

According to an FSB press release, the militant had planned to commit high-profile attacks on the Stavropol Region Administration building and on one of the regional security units.

Video credit: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Syrian Army continues offensive against IS targets in southern Damascus (video)

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 01:51 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:40 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued its offensive against militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS, ISIL) in southern Damascus, Friday, according to media reports.

Footage shows government forces launching shell and rocket fire against militant targets in and around Yarmouk.

The fighting has taken place around the Yarmouk Camp and al-Hajar al-Aswad, an area two miles (3.21 km) from central Damascus, as part of efforts to clear the remaining pockets of IS militants south of the capital.

Video credit: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

OPCW confirms visit to site of alleged chemical attack in Syria

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 01:36 PM PDT

The OPCW confirmed that a team visited the site in Douma where an alleged chemical attack took place. The Russian Foreign Ministry has voiced concerns about the watchdog's plans to visit fewer sites and speak to fewer witnesses.

On Saturday the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed on Twitter that its fact-finding mission team "visited one of the sites" in Douma "to collect samples for analysis in connection with allegations of chemical weapons use on 7 April 2018."

The collected samples will be sent to OPCW’s laboratory in Rijswijk, Netherlands and then "dispatched for analysis to the OPCW's designated labs," the mission said in a statement.

The watchdog said it would “evaluate the situation and consider future steps including another possible visit to Douma.”

The OPCW team departed for the city in Eastern Ghouta 11 days after Damascus sent a formal request to the watchdog to inspect the area, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"Such delays in such a resonating case, regardless of the motives, are unacceptable, since not only the Syrian side but the Russian military [stationed in Syria] guaranteed the security of the OPCW team," she stated.

Moscow expects the OPCW to investigate the alleged chemical incident impartially. However, the mission's plans to visit fewer sites linked to the purported attack and interview fewer witnesses raises "serious concerns," Zakharova said. According to the spokeswoman, these plans only "demonstrate the unwillingness to shed light on yet another staged provocation with the use of chemicals, which served as a reason for the missile strike" by the US, UK, and France.

The fact-finding mission faced a series of security-related setbacks in its attempts to reach Douma. On Wednesday, the OPCW confirmed that its mission to Douma was delayed from entering the city after a UN security team came under "small arms fire." Contrary to a US claim, the watchdog didn't say that the delay was caused by Russia or Syria. Washington had previously accused Damascus and Moscow of blocking the fact-finding team from reaching the city.

The OPCW team's arrival in Douma was postponed on April 14 after the US, UK, and France unleashed a bombing campaign on Syria. The airstrikes were carried out in response to the alleged gas attack in Douma on April 7, which the West blamed on Bashar Assad's government. The operation started hours before the team was due to reach the city.

Last Saturday, Syrian defenses were scrambled to repel 103 cruise missiles and air-surface missiles launched at civilian and military targets by the Western trio. It managed to intercept at least 71 of them, the Russian Defense Ministry said at the time.

Source: RT

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Breaking: Syrian Army ejects ISIS from key location in southern Damascus

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 11:46 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 P.M.) – Amid heavy firefights in southern Damascus, the Syrian Army has just very recently scored a key advance against Islamic State forces.

According to military-affiliated sources, the Syrian Army ejected ISIS militants from the Az-Zeen Street – a heavily fortified road route that connects key residential areas between the districts of Hajjar al-Aswad and Yalda.

In the past, many bloody engagements were fought between Islamic State terrorists and rival militants (namely Jaysh al-Islam) for control of the Az-Zeen Street – weeks prior to the current government offensive, the former insurgent faction had finally managed to seize it.

At the present time, the Syrian Army’s seasoned 4th Mechanized Division – supported by allied Palestinian forces – is leading the assault in southern Damascus.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

VIDEO: Syrian Army lays claim to dozens of US-built TOW missiles hidden in cave in east Qalamoun

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 11:25 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:25 P.M.) – Amid an ongoing clean up operation in Syria’s eastern Qalamoun region following the surrender of local rebel groups, the Syrian Army has discovered a large cache of US-built TOW anti-tank missiles.

According to reports (somewhat backed up by video evidence show below) government forces seized dozens of TOW missiles as well as several TOW launcher systems.

The missiles and launchers were discovered at a makeshift ammunition storage site that has been built into cave within the Al-Batra mountain chain.

In the past, rebel forces in eastern Qalamoun received weapons – including American designs like the TOW – from arms smugglers (undoubtedly contracted by the intelligence agencies of surrounding nations) operating out of southern Syria.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Update: ISIS suffers massive losses in southern Damascus as Syrian Army muscles its way forward – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 10:58 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:59 P.M.) – Islamic State forces operating in southern Damascus have suffered massive losses since the Syrian Army commenced its ground offensive two days ago.

According to sources, the terrorist group has lost at least 100 fighters killed in action – among them two emirs and five field commanders – over the last 48 hours. No one is yet quite sure just how many have been wounded.

Apparently most of the losses are due to very intense non-stop artillery (including rocket forces) bombardment the Syrian Army and airstrikes by Russian and Syrian warplanes.

Furthermore, the Syrian Army – supported by allied Palestinian forces – has managed to advance in southern Damascus, so far capturing the Imam Ali Mosque and all building blocks to its west between the Tadamon and Sidi Maqdad districts as well as the Al-Mudjahadeen Mosque in Hajjar al-Aswad district.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Breaking: Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces officially conclude east Qalamoun offensive, redeploy to pressing front – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 10:38 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:37 P.M.) – The Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division has officially concluded its operation in Syria’s eastern Qalamoun region and is now relocating towards a new and rather pressed front.

According to Al-Masdar News sources, the seasoned division is being redeployed to southern Damascus to lead other Syrian Army formations – including 4th Mechanized Division and the Republican Guard – in fighting Islamic State forces there.

More specifically, it appears that the Tiger Forces Division will strike ISIS militants from the Yarmouk Camp axis.

Past and current reports all indicate that Islamic State defenses in southern Damascus are at their densest around the district of Yarmouk Camp – thus it appears to be the case that the Tiger Forces Division intends to break ISIS at its strongest point.

Updates to follow.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Breaking: Huge massacre burial site discovered in Syria’s Raqqa containing many hundreds of fallen soldiers, civilians

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 10:21 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:20 P.M.) – A huge massacre burial site containing many hundreds of bodies of fallen Syrian Army soldiers and civilians has been unearthed inside Syria’s northern city of Raqqa.

The discovery, made by Raqqa’s local council, is located at the Ar-Rasheed Football Stadium in the city center.

According to preliminary reports, the remains of at least 500 soldiers and civilians have been excavated so far by recovery teams – more may yet be found.

According to sources, most of the many hundreds of bodies are those of Syrian Army troops who were captured and later executed by Islamic State forces with the fall of the Division 17 base (north of Raqqa city) in 2014.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Update: Leading military commander of Qalamoun-based rebel group joins Syrian Army to fight ISIS

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 10:06 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:05 P.M.) – A leading military commander of the Ahmad Abdo Martyrs Brigade (Free Syrian Army affiliate) has defected to government forces following the rebel group’s surrender in eastern Qalamoun.

The commander in question is Ali al-Sheikh. His defection has been mimicked by dozens of other fighters and NCO-rank field leaders belonging to the Ahmad Abdo Martyrs Brigade.

According to sources, Ali al-Sheikh and fellow defectors represent Qalamoun-based rebels who have refused to be evacuated to northwestern Syria, instead choosing to settle their situation with the Syrian government and fight alongside the Syrian Army against Islamic State forces.

It is expected that many other militant commanders and fighters from eastern Qalamoun will also follow this same example for the exact same reason in the days to come.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

VIDEO: Syrian Army seizes an entire brigade of tanks and other armored vehicles from rebels in east Qalamoun – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 09:47 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:45 P.M.) – Following the complete capitulation of rebel forces in Syria’s eastern Qalamoun region, the Syrian Army has come into possession of an entire brigade worth of main battle tanks and other armored vehicles.

Virtually all of the captured armor comes from the Brigade 559 base which was taken over by militant groups in 2014.

Unfortunately for the rebels, they simply did not have enough men and technical specialists to maintain anymore than a fraction of the entire mechanized loot in frontline service at any one period in time.

Much of the armor was hidden in caves and makeshift storage sights within the mountains of eastern Qalamoun.

In line with the surrender deal for eastern Qalamoun, over fifty armored vehicles – mostly T-55, T-62 and T-72 main battle tanks but also including support vehicles like Shilkas – have now been returned to Syrian government forces; even more amazingly, this includes plenty of spare parts and ammunition, which was also preserved.

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Update: Large number of rebels and their families evacuated from Ar-Ruhaybah city in east Qalamoun – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 05:32 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:30 P.M.) – A large number of rebel fighters and their family members have been evacuated from the city of Ar-Ruhaybah in Syria’s eastern Qalamoun region during the last several hours.

According to sources, this very first evacuation wave was transferred out of Ar-Ruhaybah on seventeen buses. The exact number of militants that left is not yet known.

Addition evacuation waves will see the relocation of rebel forces not only from Ar-Ruhaybah, but also from the settlements of Jayrud and An-Nassiryah.

Per an agreement reached with the Syrian Army, those insurgents in eastern Qalamoun unwilling to reconcile withe the government are to be transferred to northwestern Syria where they will be received by allied rebel groups.

More updates to come.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

VIDEO: Syrian Army armor, artillery and shock troops pulverize ISIL’s first line of defense in south Damascus

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 05:08 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:05 P.M.) – More video footage (below) has emerged of the Syrian Army’s ongoing offensive operation against Islamic State forces in southern Damascus.

The footage shows the Syrian Army employing a tremendous amount of artillery (including rocket forces), armor and shock troops against ISIL in the districts of Yarmouk Camp and Hajjar al-Aswad.

Despite the general surrender of most ISIL militants within southern Damascus already, yet hundreds more insurgents have refused to surrender; thus government forces have to physically remove them.

According to some sources, whilst Syrian troops are yet to commit to a proper ground advance against resisting Islamic State elements, the terrorist group’s first line of defense around Hajjar al-Aswad appears to have been mostly broken.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Two Russian guided-missile warships head towards Syria – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 04:41 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:40 P.M.) – The Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet is deploying two additional guided-missile warships to reinforce its grouping based at Syria’s port city of Tartus.

According to observer sources based in the Bosphorus Strait, the two Russian warships have been identified as the 868 Pytilvyy Krivak-class frigate and the 870 Smetlivyy Kashin-class  destroyer.

Whilst the 868 Pytilvyy specializes in anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare, possessing a relevant weapons for such tasks, the 870 Smetlivyy is a an all-round attack ship with the means to carry out land, air and sea strikes with equal efficiency.

As hinted at earlier, both ships, traveling in formation, have now transited the Bosphorus Strait from the Black Sea into the eastern Mediterranean. They should arrive in Syrian waters within a week.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

WATCH: Russian airstrikes light up ISIS positions all across southern Damascus

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 04:23 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:20 P.M.) – Video footage (below) captured by military reconnaissance drones has been released showing the aerial bombardment of Islamic State positions across southern Damascus by Russian jets.

Russian airstrikes against ISIS have targeted not just known tactical positions, but also mobilization areas, bases as well as troop and vehicle movements.

The operation of Russian warplanes over southern Damascus during the last several days has mostly been at night, at time when Syrian aircraft are less effective due to a general lack of modern target acquisition and night-flying equipment.

Overall, the participation of Russian combat aviation in the south Damascus battle has ensured that even after an entire day of being struck by Syrian warplanes and artillery, Islamic State forces receive no respite with the fall of night.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Update: Syrian Army captures 15 tanks from east Qalamoun rebels, likely to seize dozens more – details

Posted: 21 Apr 2018 04:06 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:05 P.M.) – Since beginning its operation in eastern Qalamoun, the Syrian Army has now seized at least fifteen battle tanks from surrendering rebel forces. Despite this already great number, dozens more are expected to be captured.

According to military sources, at least fifty (50) tanks and other armored vehicles were claimed by rebel forces when they seized the Syrian military’s Brigade 559 base back in 2014.

The vast majority of the captured armored vehicles never really entered service with militant groups who preferred to keep them in underground storage sites located within the Batra and Afayii mountain chains.

With the official surrender of all organized rebel elements within eastern Qalamoun, more armored vehicles and other heavy equipment (such as artillery) is expected to be gradually handed over the Syrian Army as insurgents withdraw from their positions around Jayrud and Ar-Ruhaybah.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source