Jihadist kills almost 50 regime fighters across Syria

Agence France-Presse . Beirut | Published: 00:00, Apr 21,2019 | Updated: 22:59, Apr 20,2019

 
 

Women displaced from Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province, are pictured inside al-Hol camp for displaced people, in al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria Thursday. — AFP photo

Jihadists have killed almost 50 Syrian regime fighters in 48 hours, a monitor said Saturday, in some of the deadliest attacks on pro-Damascus forces in recent weeks.
Kurdish-led forces in March announced the defeat of the Islamic State group’s ‘caliphate’ in eastern Syria, but the jihadists have retained hideouts there and in other parts of the country as well as the ability to carry out deadly assaults.
Since Thursday, IS jihadists have killed 35 pro-Damascus fighters in regime-held parts of central and eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman described those attacks as producing ‘the highest death toll among regime forces since the caliphate was declared defeated’ in the eastern village of Baghouz last month.
Meanwhile, regime fighters also came under attack on another front of Syria’s grinding eight-year war, the Britain-based monitor added.
On Saturday, jihadists linked to Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate attacked loyalist checkpoints and positions on the western edges of the northern city of Aleppo, killing 13 more pro-Assad fighters, it said.
It was the latest death tally in a civil war that has killed more than 370,000 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
President Bashar al-Assad has managed to claw back around 60 per cent of the country with Russian military backing since 2015, but several regions remain beyond its control.
These include a large swathe of northeastern Syria held by Kurdish-led forces who have been fighting IS with the support of a US-led coalition, as well as the jihadist-held region of Idlib west of Aleppo city.
Regime forces in theory control the vast desert that stretches from the capital Damascus to the Iraqi border, but IS is still present there.
Attacks by the jihadists have killed 27 troops and allied militiamen, including four senior Syrian army officers, in the desert east of Homs province since Thursday, the Observatory said.
The propaganda arm of IS said its fighters carried out the operation.
The Observatory also said IS fighters killed another eight soldiers and militiamen, including two officers, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on Thursday night.
That attack targeted a desert village south of the city of Mayadeen on the Euphrates River, upstream from the village of Baghouz where IS made a desperate last stand in March.
IS swept across a large swathe of Syria and Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border ‘caliphate’ in areas it controlled.
At the height of its rule, the extremist group imposed its brutal ideology on millions in territory roughly the size of the United Kingdom.
But after various military operations in both countries, IS lost the last shred of its proto-state on the eastern banks of the Euphrates last month.
The US-led coalition has however warned repeatedly that the jihadists’ loss of their last piece of territory does not mean their elimination as a fighting force.
Earlier this month, IS claimed responsibility for a twin attack on April 9 in the northern city of Raqa held by Kurdish-led forces, which the Observatory said killed 13 people, mostly civilians.
In the north of Syria, regime forces face another jihadist group.
Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, control the northwestern region of Idlib, which remains beyond regime control.
Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive regime military offensive by a deal inked in September by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
But the accord has unwound as HTS took full control of the region in January, and the area has come under increasing bombardment.
The Observatory said Saturday’s attack by the HTS-linked Abu Bakr Al-Sadeeq Army on the western edges of Aleppo city came after regime bombardment overnight hit eastern and southeastern parts of the Idlib region.
A planned buffer zone around the region was never fully implemented as jihadists refused to withdraw from it.
On Friday, Assad insisted the main aim of the Idlib deal was to ‘eliminate terrorists’, after they failed to pull out from the planned demilitarised cordon.
He urged progress on removing ‘obstacles’ to the stalled deal ahead of talks to be attended by Russia, fellow ally Iran, and Turkey next week in Kazakhstan.
Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to end Syria’s war, and the parallel track backed by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara has gained momentum.


Jihadist kills almost 50 regime fighters across Syria
Agence France-Presse . Beirut
Jihadists have killed almost 50 Syrian regime fighters in 48 hours, a monitor said Saturday, in some of the deadliest attacks on pro-Damascus forces in recent weeks.
Kurdish-led forces in March announced the defeat of the Islamic State group’s ‘caliphate’ in eastern Syria, but the jihadists have retained hideouts there and in other parts of the country as well as the ability to carry out deadly assaults.
Since Thursday, IS jihadists have killed 35 pro-Damascus fighters in regime-held parts of central and eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman described those attacks as producing ‘the highest death toll among regime forces since the caliphate was declared defeated’ in the eastern village of Baghouz last month.
Meanwhile, regime fighters also came under attack on another front of Syria’s grinding eight-year war, the Britain-based monitor added.
On Saturday, jihadists linked to Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate attacked loyalist checkpoints and positions on the western edges of the northern city of Aleppo, killing 13 more pro-Assad fighters, it said.
It was the latest death tally in a civil war that has killed more than 370,000 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
President Bashar al-Assad has managed to claw back around 60 per cent of the country with Russian military backing since 2015, but several regions remain beyond its control.
These include a large swathe of northeastern Syria held by Kurdish-led forces who have been fighting IS with the support of a US-led coalition, as well as the jihadist-held region of Idlib west of Aleppo city.
Regime forces in theory control the vast desert that stretches from the capital Damascus to the Iraqi border, but IS is still present there.
Attacks by the jihadists have killed 27 troops and allied militiamen, including four senior Syrian army officers, in the desert east of Homs province since Thursday, the Observatory said.
The propaganda arm of IS said its fighters carried out the operation.
The Observatory also said IS fighters killed another eight soldiers and militiamen, including two officers, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on Thursday night.
That attack targeted a desert village south of the city of Mayadeen on the Euphrates River, upstream from the village of Baghouz where IS made a desperate last stand in March.
IS swept across a large swathe of Syria and Iraq in 2014, declaring a cross-border ‘caliphate’ in areas it controlled.
At the height of its rule, the extremist group imposed its brutal ideology on millions in territory roughly the size of the United Kingdom.
But after various military operations in both countries, IS lost the last shred of its proto-state on the eastern banks of the Euphrates last month.
The US-led coalition has however warned repeatedly that the jihadists’ loss of their last piece of territory does not mean their elimination as a fighting force.
Earlier this month, IS claimed responsibility for a twin attack on April 9 in the northern city of Raqa held by Kurdish-led forces, which the Observatory said killed 13 people, mostly civilians.
In the north of Syria, regime forces face another jihadist group.
Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, control the northwestern region of Idlib, which remains beyond regime control.
Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive regime military offensive by a deal inked in September by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
But the accord has unwound as HTS took full control of the region in January, and the area has come under increasing bombardment.
The Observatory said Saturday’s attack by the HTS-linked Abu Bakr Al-Sadeeq Army on the western edges of Aleppo city came after regime bombardment overnight hit eastern and southeastern parts of the Idlib region.
A planned buffer zone around the region was never fully implemented as jihadists refused to withdraw from it.
On Friday, Assad insisted the main aim of the Idlib deal was to ‘eliminate terrorists’, after they failed to pull out from the planned demilitarised cordon.
He urged progress on removing ‘obstacles’ to the stalled deal ahead of talks to be attended by Russia, fellow ally Iran, and Turkey next week in Kazakhstan.
Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to end Syria’s war, and the parallel track backed by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara has gained momentum.

 


IS hits Syria army with deadliest attacks since ‘caliphate’
Agence France-Presse . Beirut
Islamic State group jihadists have killed 35 pro-Damascus fighters in Syria, in what a monitoring group described Saturday as their deadliest operation since the fall of the ‘caliphate’.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four senior Syrian army officers were among the troops and allied militiamen killed in the desert east of Homs province over the past 48 hours.
The Amaq propaganda arm of IS, which lost the last vestige of its ‘caliphate’ to Kurdish-led forces last month but retains desert and mountain hideouts in both Syria and Iraq, said its fighters carried out the operation.
Another eight soldiers and militiamen, including two officers, were killed in a separate attack in neighbouring Deir Ezzor province on Thursday night, the Observatory said.
The attack targeted a desert village south of the city of Mayadeen, upstream from the stretch of the Euphrates Valley where IS made a desperate last stand for its ‘caliphate’, the Britain-based war monitor said.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman described it as the ‘biggest attack and the highest death toll among regime forces since the caliphate was declared defeated’.
Six IS fighters were killed in the clashes, the Observatory said.
Amaq said that IS had launched its assault on Thursday evening after government forces tried to track down its fighters.
The vast Syrian desert, known in Arabic as the Badia, stretches all the way from the capital Damascus and the cities of Homs and Hama to its north to the Euphrates Valley near the Iraq border, where the ‘caliphate’ was defeated in the village of Baghouz last month.
Commanders of the US-led coalition, which provided air and artillery support for the Kurdish-led operation, have warned repeatedly that the jihadists’ loss of their last piece of territory did not mean their elimination as a fighting force.
Analysts have said that continuing search and destroy operations by the multiple alliances lined up against the jihadists would be necessary to prevent them mounting a comeback from their desert hideouts.

 

Jihadist attack kills 13 regime fighters in north Syria
Agence France-Presse . Beirut
An attack Saturday by jihadists linked to Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate killed 13 regime fighters on the outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, a war monitor said.
A faction linked to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham ‘early Saturday attacked checkpoints and positions of regime forces on the western outskirts of Aleppo city’, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Heavy fighting and shelling broke out between both sides, so far ‘killing at least 13 regime troops and allies fighters’, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
The ongoing clashes have also taken the lives of at least eight members of the Abu Bakr Al-Sadeeq Army jihadist faction, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman added.
Islamist and jihadist factions control the countryside to the west of Aleppo, which is part of the broader Idlib region under administrative control of HTS.
That region is in theory protected from a massive regime military offensive by a deal inked in September by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
But the accord has unwound as HTS took full control of the region in January after defeating rival rebels, and the area has come under increasing bombardment.
The Observatory said Saturday’s attack came after regime bombardment overnight hit the western part of Aleppo province and the southeastern part of Idlib province.
A planned buffer zone around the region was never fully implemented as jihadists refused to withdraw from it.
President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have managed to claw back some two thirds of the country since Russia intervened militarily in 2015, but Idlib remains beyond regime control.
On Friday, Assad insisted the main aim of the Idlib deal was to ‘eliminate terrorists’, after they failed to pull out from the planned demilitarised area.
He urged progress on removing ‘obstacles’ to the stalled deal ahead of talks to be attended by Russia, fellow ally Iran, and Turkey next week in Kazakhstan.
Saturday’s attack comes after the Observatory reported that the Islamic State group had killed at least 35 regime fighters in 48 hours in the country’s Badia desert further south.
They were the deadliest attacks since US-backed forces announced the defeat of that jihadist group’s ‘caliphate’ on the border with Iraq last month.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the conflict began with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

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