28 Civilians Killed In Syria

At least 28 civilians have been killed in an airstrike on an Islamic State-held area in Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

Planes hit an ice factory late on Thursday near the village of al-Soussa, in the city of al-Bu Kamal near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said while admitting that it was not immediately known if the strike was carried out by an Iraqi plane or by the U.S.-led coalition.

The state-run Syrian News Agency (SANA) accused the U.S.-led coalition of carrying what it described as a “massacre’’ against civilians.

SANA has put the death toll at more than 30, claiming the dead are mostly women and children.

Most of the province of Deir al-Zour has been controlled by Islamic state since 2014, but the extremist group has suffered military setbacks, losing most of the ground it controlled in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

The group still maintains some posts in small areas in Syria, including in Deir al-Zour.

The U.S.-led alliance intensified strikes on Islamic State posts near the Iraqi-Syrian border in May.

On April 19, the Iraqi Air Force conducted strikes against Islamic State forces near the Syrian-Iraqi border, in coordination with the Syrian government in Damascus.

2 Israeli Missiles Strike Near Damascus Airport

Syrian media has revaled that two Israeli missiles have landed near Damascus International Airport late on Monday.

Although there was no further report given, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Rahman, said early Tuesdaythe missiles hit an arms depot belonging to the Lebanese Shiite Movement Hezbollah.

Syrian opposition sources said the midnight attack targeted an Iranian cargo plane which was landing at Damascus International Airport.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Damascus residents told dpa they had heard several loud blasts shortly after midnight coming from near the airport.

Israel has said that it will not tolerate Iran, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seeking to establish permanent military bases in Syria.

Syrian state-run news agency SANA, which routinely accuses Israel of helping rebels, said the strikes came as Syrian forces made advances against rebels in the southern province of Daraa.

Israel usually does not comment on the strikes it is alleged to have carried out in Syria.

Syrian and Iranian military facilities in the war-torn country have been hit several times since April. Iran has vowed retaliation for one alleged Israeli strike on April 30 that killed a number of Iranian personnel.

Iran and their Hezbollah-backed movement have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces since the conflict started in 2011.

26 Syrian and Nine Russian Fighters Killed in Attack

At least 26 Syrian regime forces and nine Russian fighters were killed in an Islamic State group attack earlier this week in Syria’s eastern desert, a monitor said Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists had targeted a group of Syrian and allied Russian fighters near the town of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province on Wednesday.

“There were 35 pro-government forces killed, including at least nine Russians. Some of those Russian nationals were government troops, but not all of them,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The remaining 26 were all Syrian forces, he told AFP.

The Russian military is backing Syria’s army with air strikes and troops, but there are also widespread reports of private Russian mercenaries on the ground.

The defence ministry in Moscow said Sunday four Russian servicemen had been killed in clashes with militants in Deir Ezzor.

It did not give a date or precise location, but the Observatory said it was the same incident as the IS attack near Mayadeen.

Two of the servicemen were “military advisors commanding the Syrian artillery” and were killed on the spot, the defence ministry said.

It said two more Russian soldiers died later in a Russian military hospital following the fighting. Three other troops were wounded.

The ministry said the fighting lasted around an hour and left 43 militants dead.

UN Condemns Firing Of Rocket Against Israeli Forces

The UN has condemned the firing of rocket against Israeli forces and subsequent response by Israel. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, however, he noted with relief Thursday’s partial normalisation of the situation, according to a UN statement.

“The UN follows with utmost concern reports overnight of missile launches from Syria targeting Israeli positions and retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces, that followed earlier strikes in Syria on Sunday, May 6”.

Guterres urged for an immediate halt to all hostile acts and any provocative actions to avoid a new conflagration in the region already embroiled in terrible conflicts with immense suffering of civilians.

The Secretary-General reiterated the UN unwavering support to long term de-escalation efforts, and stability in the Middle East.

He said the UN would continue to advance and support all efforts aimed at further de-escalation in the region.

In this context, Guterres reiterated that the conflict in Syria should be brought to an end with a political solution through the Geneva intra-Syrian talks, as stipulated in resolution 2254 of the Security Council.

The Secretary-General called on the Security Council to remain actively seized of the matter and shoulder its responsibilities under the Charter.

The UN chief said he stood ready to work closely with all its members in this regard.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has maintained contact with the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and Israel Defense Forces,

UNDOF urged both parties to exercise maximum restraint and abide by their obligations under the Disengagement of Forces Agreement.

Similarly, the UK has condemned Iran for the firing of missiles against Israel, saying it supported Israel’s retaliatory response.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a statement, responding to Iranian airstrikes against Israeli forces said: “We strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself”.

The UK envoy added: “We urge Iran to refrain from further actions which will only lead to increased instability in the region.

“It is crucial to avoid any further escalations, which would be in no one’s interest.

“We also continue to call on Russia to use its influence to press those in Syria to cease their destabilising activity and work towards a broader political settlement”.

Trump Gets Reactions for Syria Blast

U.S. President Donald Trump will not find things easy for now as Congressional Democrats have attacked him for not seeking Congress authorisation before striking Syria on Friday.

While the Democrats call the strikes “unconstitutional” and questioning the strategy, many Republicans, applauded the president’s move.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, who has pushed Congress to pass a new authorisation for the use of military force, deemed the president’s action “illegal” because he proceeded without approval from lawmakers.

“President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and — absent a broader strategy — it’s reckless,” Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, said in a statement.

“Today, it’s a strike on Syria — what’s going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next? The last thing Congress should be doing is giving this president a blank check to wage war against anyone, anywhere.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat representing San Francisco, California, said in a statement that the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack was a “brutally inhumane war crime that demands a strong, smart and calculated response.” However, she said Trump must present a more comprehensive strategy on Syria to Congress and seek lawmakers’ approval.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, also representing part of California, tweeted that it was the same as when Trump struck Syria last year without congressional approval.

“What changed? Zero,” Swalwell tweeted. “They’re still using chemical weapons. This is the result of a failure to have a strategy and engage Middle East countries to solve this problem.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, from New York, said “A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.”

The president announced in an address to the nation from the White House that U.S. airstrikes, in tandem with the United Kingdom and France, were underway in Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus last weekend.

At a later Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the president had the authority to launch the strikes under Article II of the Constitution because Mattis said Trump was defending U.S. interests.

Key Republicans on Capitol Hill said Friday night that they supported Trump’s decision.

“The United States has taken decisive action in coordination with our allies,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican representing Wisconsin.

Ryan had said at his weekly news conference Thursday that he believed that Trump had authority to act against Syria with any new congressional approval.

“We are united in our resolve that Assad’s barbaric use of chemical weapons cannot go unanswered. His regime’s unconscionable brutality against innocent civilians cannot be tolerated.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator from Kentucky, said he supports “both the action and the objective.”

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican Senator who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “I applaud the president for taking military action against the Assad regime for its latest use of chemical weapons, and for signaling his resolve to do so again if these heinous attacks continue.”

Of note was Florida Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, who faces a tough re-election fight against Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and who backed Trump’s response to Syria, tweeting, “I support the attack because Assad must be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons.”

Syrian Government Shipped Hundreds Of New Fighters- Monitoring Groups

The Syrian government has been accused of shipping in hundreds of new fighters to take part in its plan to capture the last rebel-held stronghold outside the capital Damascus.

This allegation was made by monitoring groups on Wednesday. Recall that the UN and Red Cross, which delivered a small aid shipment this week to Eastern Ghouta, have reported a desperate humanitarian situation, including hunger and shortages of medicines. People are living underground to avoid airstrikes.

“No fewer than 700 fighters from the Syrian government’s allied militias took new positions on the Eastern Ghouta fronts,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The regime is preparing to continue its offensive hoping for new advances in the area,” Rami Rahman, head of the Observatory, told dpa.

According to the Observatory 805 civilians, among them 178 children, were killed in Eastern Ghouta since Feb. 18.

The UN Security Council in February voted for a nationwide ceasefire which specifically urged parties to the conflict to allow aid into Eastern Ghouta.

However, nearly half the enclave has been taken by government forces in recent weeks.

The aid shipments made this week were not sufficient for even 10 per cent of the population and the government reportedly removed vital supplies, including medical goods.

Many of the trucks were unable to fully unload their contents due to violence.

Russia pledged to let the insurgents and their families leave Eastern Ghouta, but rebels have been sceptical of the offer from Moscow, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian airstrikes are hitting Eastern Ghouta.

 

Air Strike Kills 33 Civilians In Syria

A monitor has revealed that regime air strikes have killed 33 civilians in the past 24 hours in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib where government forces are fighting jihadists, a monitor said on Monday.

On Monday, strikes killed 16 civilians alone including 11 in a vegetable market in the town of Saraqeb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The 17 others were killed on Sunday in raids on various areas of the province, large parts of which are controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is dominated by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate.

“Regime war planes have intensified their strikes over the past 24 hours after relative calm due to bad weather,” Observatory chief Rami Abdul Rahman said.

Syrian troops had been advancing on Idlib as part of a fierce offensive launched in late December with Russian backing.

At the market in Saraqeb, an AFP correspondent saw pools of blood on the ground. Small trucks loaded with sacks of potatoes stood abandoned after their windows were blasted from their frames.

In front of a hospital in the town, a motorbike and a car were trapped below the rubble and twisted metal.

An alliance of jihadists and rebels overran the vast majority of Idlib province in 2015.

On January 21, Syria’s army said it had captured the vital military airport of Abu Duhur on the edge of Idlib province, in a breakthrough for the government in the last Syrian province beyond its control.

 

Seven Civilians Killed In Syria Air Strike

Seven civilians including five children have been killed by an air strike in Syria’s north western Idlib province.

Government and allied forces backed by Russian warplanes have been battling jihadist fighters and rebels for over a week in an area straddling the border between Idlib and Hama provinces.

The air strikes targeted the town of Khan Subul in the centre of Idlib province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There were at least seven dead, five children and two women,” an Observatory said.

“We do not know if these were air strikes by the Syrian regime or the Russians,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The government push on the edge of Idlib province follows two months of sporadic fighting that the United Nations says has displaced more than 60,000 people.

“Displacement sites are reportedly overwhelmed. Some services are 400 per cent above their planned capacity to serve,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

An AFP correspondent said there were fresh clashes Tuesday.

 

UN Accuses Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad of Mass Murder

The United Nations has accused Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible for the  Sarin attack at Khan Sheikhun, Syria, on the 4th of April this year that killed close to 100 people with spine-chilling videos showing even children gasping for air while foaming in their mouth. This was revealed in a report, Thursday, six months after the attack.

 

Assad has been accused of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.N, which his regime backed by Russia, has continued to deny, saying they don’t have chemical weapons claiming an airstrike hit a chemical weapons depot in the region.

 

Donald Trump, angered by the Syrian attack, which he said ‘no child of God’ should experience, ordered the U.S Military to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.

 

“‎Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. And in spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now,”  Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement, Thursday night.

 

“The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of Sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017,” the UN report says. The report released Thursday was compiled by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations’ Joint Investigative Mechanism, the investigative panel probing the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

 

Israeli Defence Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria After Air Strike

Israel’s defense minister on Thursday issued a veiled warning to Syria, without confirming or denying what Damascus said was an Israeli air strike on its territory.

Syria’s army accused Israel of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack earlier the same day that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.

“We are determined to prevent our enemies harming, or even creating an opportunity to harm, the security of Israeli citizens,” Avigdor Lieberman said in Hebrew, in remarks broadcast on Israeli television.

“We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus.”

The site struck near Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria’s allies Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

Israeli planes have previously carried out strikes believed to have targeted the transfer of weapons to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with the Jewish state in 2006.

Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and has accused Iran of building sites to produce “precision-guided missiles” in both Syria and Lebanon.

In comments made earlier, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major-General Herzl Halevi, did not mention Thursday’s strike directly but warned his country’s enemies “near and far”.

“Serious security threats to Israel are presented by armed organizations most of them financed and aided by Iran,” he said in a public address.

“We are dealing with these threats, both near and far, with determination and our enemies in every arena know very well the combination of (our) precise intelligence and operational capabilities.”

 

 

Source: The Guardian

ISIS Beheads Russian Officer In Syria

The Russian Defence Ministry and the FSB security service have not been immediately available for comment concerning the reports that an Islamic State has issued a video showing the beheading of a Russian intelligence officer captured in Syria, the U.S.-based SITE monitoring website reported on Tuesday.

The 12-minute Russian-language video, released on the day Russia celebrates the anniversary of the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany with military parades, showed the man dressed in a black jumpsuit kneeling in a desert scene and urging other Russian agents to surrender.

“This idiot believed the promises of his state not to abandon him if he was captured,” he said before a bearded man beheaded him with a knife. The authenticity of the recording and the identity of the man could not immediately be verified, nor was it clear when the killing occurred. Russian forces are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels and militants seeking to oust him.

The video showed scenes of what it described as the aftermath of Russian bombing raids in Syria. The Russian defense ministry says about 30 Russian servicemen have been killed since the start of the Kremlin’s operation there in September 2015.