Tag Archives: Assad

Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key town

Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key townBashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of Syria as his forces made significant battlefield gains and drove rebel fighters out of a strategic town he once attacked with chemical weapons. Syrian regime troops pushed rebel forces from Khan Sheikhoun, a town where Assad’s jets once dropped chemical weapons and killed nearly 100 people, prompting Donald Trump to launch retaliatory airstrikes in 2017.  The town has been under rebel control since 2014 and its fall marks a victory for Assad as his troops attempt to conquer Idlib, the last opposition-held province in the northwest of Syria.     Rebel forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, said they were retreating to an area south of the town but would continue fighting against the regime’s advancing troops. Regime troops advanced into the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun but had yet to fully occupy it. Speaking at a meeting with MPs from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, Assad hailed his forces’ progress. “The victories that were achieved prove the determination of the people and the army to defeat terrorists until the liberation of the last inch of Syrian territory,” he said.   He also accused Turkey and Western states of supporting jihadist groups in Syria. Tensions between Turkey and the Syrian regime have been rising sharply as Assad’s forces drive into Idlib, where the Turkish military has 12 military outposts. Regime jets bombed near a Turkish military convoy on Monday, killing three civilians, according to Turkey’s defence ministry. After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition  Credit: AFP The fall of Khan Sheikhoun means that one of the Turkish military outposts is now effectively surrounded by regime forces. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that his country would not withdraw from the outpost at Morek and warned the Syrian regime not to interfere with it.  “We don’t have an intention such as moving this elsewhere,” Mr Cavusoglu said. “We will do whatever is necessary for the security of our own soldiers and observation posts.” Turkey says it established the outposts to counter jihadist groups and help enforce a ceasefire it brokered alongside Russia. The Syrian regime says the outposts are a violation of Syrian sovereignty but has so far refrained from directly attacking them.  However, as the regime advances further into Idlib the chances of a direct confrontation with Turkish forces seem to be rising.  Assad’s forces launched their offensive against Idlib in April but made relatively little progress until the last few weeks, when they have advanced rapidly with the support of withering airstrikes by Russian warplanes.   Around 500 civilians have been killed since the offensive began, including more than 100 children, according to aid groups. A young girl named Jana was killed by Russian bombing on Tuesday, opposition activists said.   The fighting has displaced over 500,000 people in southern Idlib and the northern of the neighbouring province of Hama. Khain Sheikhoun was seen as important symbol of opposition to Assad by rebel supporters “One of the revolution’s castles is occupied by its destroyers,” said one Syrian man in Idlib.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said the Islamic State (Isil) remains a threat in Syria and Iraq but has lost much of its ability to carry out centrally-planned attacks on the West.  "There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago," Mr Pompeo told CBS. "But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it's been made much more difficult," he said. The jihadist group was driven from its last territorial stronghold this year but continues to mount insurgency attacks in both Iraq and Syria.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

More than 50 Syrian civilians killed in Idlib 'by Russian and Assad regime strikes'

More than 50 Syrian civilians killed in Idlib 'by Russian and Assad regime strikes'Regime and Russian air strikes killed 50 people in northwest Syria on Monday, most of them in a crowded market, a war monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the opposition bastion. In the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, men covered in blood were carried away from the market by residents and rescue workers, who used mattresses as makeshift stretchers, an AFP photographer said. He saw the corpse of one man sprawled on the ground near a motorcycle, rubble surrounding his lifeless body. With his eyes closed and his face covered in dust, another man clutched the arms of two people helping him out of the bombed area, the photographer added. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes on the vegetable market and surrounding areas in Maaret al-Numan killed 36 civilians and two unidentified persons. A member of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, rests atop an excavator after participating in a search for victims under the rubble of buildings Credit: ABDULAZIZ KETAZ/AFP/Getty Images The Britain-based monitor said Russian aircraft carried out the air raids, but Moscow denied it was responsible. "The Russian air force was not carrying out any missions in this part of Syria," said a defence ministry statement. More than 100 other people were wounded, according to the monitor, which said many of those injured were in a critical condition and people remained trapped under the rubble. The head of the local hospital, Radwan Shardub, described his horror at seeing "burnt and carbonised bodies, and body parts". "It's boundless criminality to shameful international silence," he said. The White Helmets rescue group said one of its volunteers was killed during the raids, raising the number of rescue workers killed since April to at least 6. A member of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, helps an injured Syrian child after pulling him out from under the rubble  Credit: OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images The jihadist-run Idlib region, home to some three million people, is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia since late April. The spike in violence has killed more than 690 civilians, and damaged or knocked out of service two dozen health facilities in jihadist-held territory. More than 330,000 people have fled violence in the area over the past three months, according to the United Nations.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

UPDATE 2-Syria's Assad discusses peace talks, Tartus port with Russians

UPDATE 2-Syria's Assad discusses peace talks, Tartus port with RussiansBEIRUT/MOSCOW, April 20 (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met senior officials from his strongest ally Russia in Damascus on Friday and Saturday to discuss upcoming peace talks, renting out Tartus port and trade between the two countries, state media in Syria reported. Russia has helped Assad’s forces to take back most of the country but the eight-year-long war continues. Swathes of the northeast and northwest are out of his control, while sanctions and a fuel shortage are constricting the economy.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Assad urges progress on Idlib deal ahead of Syria talks

Assad urges progress on Idlib deal ahead of Syria talksSyrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday called for progress on a stalled buffer zone deal around jihadist-dominated Idlib region ahead of fresh talks aimed at ending his country’s eight-year war. Assad met envoy Alexander Lavrentiev from key ally Russia in Damascus to discuss the negotiations due April 25-26 in Kazakhstan. Iran and Russia are the major supporters of the Syrian regime, and along with rebel backer Turkey have sponsored repeated rounds of talks in the Central Asian nation.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Assad says Syria facing 'economic siege'

Assad says Syria facing 'economic siege'President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday Syria was suffering an “economic siege” as his regime faces a raft of international sanctions over the eight-year civil war. “The war on Syria has taken on a new form that is basically siege and economic war,” he said, according to a statement released by the presidency. “International political tools have changed,” he said, as he met Chinese assistant foreign minister Chen Xiaodong in Damascus.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Syria's Assad pledges no bargaining over constitution

Syria's Assad pledges no bargaining over constitutionSyrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday his government would not bargain over the country’s constitution with the Turkey-backed opposition, lambasting a U.N. peace process that aims to rewrite its terms. A congress convened by Russia, Assad’s key ally, last year tasked the U.N. envoy for Syria with forming a committee to draft a new constitution, after many rounds of talks to end the war had failed. “The constitution is the fate of the country and as a result, it does not succumb to any bargains that could have a bigger price than the war itself,” Assad said in a televised speech.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Assad Is Close to Victory, But New Conflicts Are Bubbling Up in Syria

Assad Is Close to Victory, But New Conflicts Are Bubbling Up in SyriaPresident Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops has fanned much of the flames. While it would leave the field to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies, it has also emboldened Israel to advertise that it’s pummeling Iranian positions, practically taunting Tehran to respond. Some analysts warn of a confrontation between them that could spark a regional war also drawing in Lebanon and Iraq.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Syria opposition urges Arab states not to mend ties with Assad

Syria opposition urges Arab states not to mend ties with AssadSyria’s opposition chief on Sunday urged Arab leaders not to rebuild relations with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, voicing frustration amid apparent efforts to bring the Damascus regime back into the Arab fold. After years of frosty ties, the United Arab Emirates last month reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital, and fellow Gulf state Bahrain has followed suit. “We hope that our brothers, the leaders of Arab nations, will not abandon the Syrian people,” he added, urging them to reconsider their decisions.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

UK foreign minister Hunt: Syria's Assad will be around for a while

UK foreign minister Hunt: Syria's Assad will be around for a whileBritish foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will remain in place for “a while” thanks to support from Russia, even though Britain’s position was still that he remains a block to lasting peace. “The British long-standing position is that we won’t have lasting peace in Syria with that (Assad-led) regime, but regretfully, we do think he’s going to be around for a while,” Hunt told Sky News. Nearly eight years into a war that has displaced millions of Syrians, Assad has recovered control of most of the country with support from Russia, Iran, and Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Syria's Assad authorizes Iraqi forces to strike IS in Syria

Syria's Assad authorizes Iraqi forces to strike IS in SyriaDAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad authorized Iraqi forces on Sunday to attack the Islamic State group inside Syria without waiting for permission from authorities in Damascus, the state news agency SANA said, as the two allies coordinate their fight against extremists ahead of a planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines