9 Jihadists Killed In Russian Air Strikes

File Photo: Smoke billows during reported Syrian government forces’ bombardments on the village of Sheikh Mustafa in the southern countryside of the jihadist-held Idlib province on May 27, 2019. / AFP

 

Nine jihadists were killed Saturday in Russian airstrikes on Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, a monitoring group said.

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“Russian strikes this morning targeted the Hurras al-Deen group and Ansar al-Tahwid in eastern Idlib… killing nine jihadists,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding eight others were wounded.

Four Killed As Syrian Air Strikes Hit Hospitals

 

Regime airstrikes Thursday on an anti-government bastion in northwest Syria killed four civilians, two of them children, and hit three hospitals already damaged in previous raids, a monitor said.

A fifth person, another child, was killed in a separate air raid by regime ally Russia also in the Idlib region, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime assault by a September buffer zone deal, but the area housing three million people have come under the increased regime and Russian fire since April.

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The region is administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but other jihadist and opposition factions are also present.

“Regime warplanes again targeted three hospitals in the south of Idlib,” which had been hit and damaged in raids in previous weeks, the Observatory said.

There were no casualties in these raids on the village of Hass and the town of Kafr Nabl, it added.

Obeida Dandouch, who heads a rescue group in the area, said the strike in Kafr Nabl damaged a large part of what was still standing at the local hospital.

In May, Amnesty International accused the Syrian regime and Russia of launching “deliberate and systematic” assaults on hospitals in the northwest.

At least 25 hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or damaged by air strikes and shelling since the end of April, according to the United Nations.

Five rescuers were also killed in the last two weeks of June in an air strike on the Idlib region.

Thursday’s strikes killed four civilians, two of them children, in Kafr Nabl, Hass and the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib region, the Observatory said.

A Russian air strike near Al-Bara village killed a little girl and wounded several people, it added.

Syria’s war, which started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations, has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

AFP

Fighting Displaces 45,000 Persons In Southern Syria

Civilians flee during an airstrike by Syrian regime forces in the east of the southern Syrian province of Daraa on June 24, 2018. PHOTO: MOHAMAD ABAZEED / AFP

 

Air strikes and ground fighting in southern Syria have forced at least 45,000 people to flee, the United Nations said on Tuesday, the largest displacement in the area so far.

Backed by Russia, Syrian government forces have ramped up air strikes and ground attacks on rebel positions in the south, particularly its main province of Daraa.

“Our estimates are 45,000, maybe even higher,” said Linda Tom, spokeswoman for the UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) in Syria.

The displacements have been happening increasingly fast in recent days as violence has escalated, Tom said.

“Over the last couple of days we saw a very large number of people who fled because of the ongoing hostilities, because of the shelling and fighting in that area,” she told AFP.

The majority are fleeing from the eastern parts of Daraa province south towards the sealed border with Jordan, which has said it cannot absorb any more refugees.

“We haven’t seen massive displacement in this scale in Daraa,” Tom said.

The UN had previously warned that fighting was putting 750,000 people in rebel-held areas of the south in harm’s way.

More than five million people have fled abroad since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Another six million are displaced inside the country.

AFP

Air Strikes On Syria’s Ghouta Kill 10 In One Night

FILE PHOTO: Wounded Syrians receive medical attention at a makeshift clinic following reported air strikes in the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on March 5, 2018. PHOTO: Ammar SULEIMAN / AFP

Air strikes on rebel areas of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus killed at least 10 civilians overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

The Britain-based monitoring group’s head, Rami Abdel Rahman, said the strikes were carried out by Russian warplanes on the Saqba area, in the south of the splintered enclave.

AFP

Syria Strikes Kill 28 Civilians In Rebel Area Near Damascus

Regime air strikes killed 28 civilians in a rebel enclave near Damascus on Monday as Syria’s seven-year-old conflict raged on several fronts with non-combatants paying a heavy price.

The region of Eastern Ghouta is home to an estimated 400,000 people living under a crippling government siege that has made food and medicine almost impossible to acquire.

The area has been designated as one of four de-escalation zones in Syria, but residents there have been facing escalating bombardment in recent weeks.
“Dozens of air strikes hit several areas in Eastern Ghouta,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

The deadliest raids on Monday hit a market in the town of Beit Sawa, killing 10 civilians including two children.

Another nine civilians, two of them children and one a local rescue worker, were killed in Arbin.

Nine more civilians died in strikes across the rest of the besieged region, and dozens more people were wounded, the Observatory said.

The barrage of bombardment came as the United Nations children’s agency warned of the dire risks to children in the Middle East’s war zones.

At least 83 children were killed in conflicts across the region in January — including 59 in Syria alone.

And four Syrian children were among at least 16 refugees who froze to death in a snowstorm as they tried to flee to neighbouring Lebanon.

Sobbing silently

In Arbin on Monday, an AFP correspondent saw the lifeless bodies of young children laid out on the floor in the local hospital.

One of the dead was a member of a volunteer rescue force in the town, and a group of his colleagues could be seen crying over him.

Outside, a man sat sobbing silently atop a pile of rubble after having lost two of his family members in the raids.

AFP correspondents reported that air strikes began at around 10:00 am (0800 GMT) on Monday, and airplanes could still be heard circling above in the afternoon.

In apparent retaliation, rockets and mortars rained down on government-controlled districts of Damascus, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

One woman was killed and four people were wounded in mortar fire on the Bab Touma neighbourhood and the capital’s Mariamite Cathedral, a Greek Orthodox church, a police source told the agency.

Another person was killed and nine people wounded in rocket fire on the regime-held part of Harasta district.

Syria’s war has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Chlorine accusations

Eastern Ghouta is supposed to be one of four de-escalation zones agreed last year by rebel ally Turkey and government supporters Iran and Russia.

But violence has ramped up there in recent weeks, with at least 11 civilians killed in raids on the district on Friday.

This month alone, chlorine is suspected of having been used on two occasions in munitions launched by the regime on Eastern Ghouta, causing respiratory problems among civilians.

Accusations of toxic gas use have also come from Idlib, an opposition-controlled province in the country’s northwest that also falls in a de-escalation zone.
Syrian troops have pressed a fierce offensive on Idlib for more than a month with air cover from Russian warplanes.

Nearly a dozen people were treated for breathing difficulties on Sunday after Syrian government raids on the town of Saraqeb, the Observatory said.
Mohammad Ghaleb Tannari, a doctor in a nearby town, said his hospital had treated 11 people.

“All the cases we received had symptoms consistent with inhaling the toxic gas chlorine, including exhaustion, difficulty breathing, and coughing,” he told AFP.

The United Nations has found that Syria’s government carried out chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and also used sarin against a town in Idlib last year.

Syria’s government has vehemently denied ever using chemical weapons.

Another 16 civilians were killed across southern parts of Idlib on Sunday, the Observatory said in an updated toll.

Israeli Air Strikes, Rockets Hit Syria

 

The Israeli army overnight carried out air strikes and fired rockets at targets in Syria, causing damage near a “military position”, the Syrian army said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Israeli air force carried out strikes on the Qutayfeh area northeast of Damascus, hitting near the military position and causing the Syrian army to retaliate and “hit one of its planes”, the army said.

Israel also launched land-to-land missiles into Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but the Syrian army intercepted them, it said.

Israel’s army has carried out several attacks on the Syrian army and its ally Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Syria and Israel remain technically at war, and the Jewish state fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in 2006.

AFP

US Hits Taliban ‘Where It Hurts’

 

File photo

United States Forces have launched airstrikes on drug-making laboratories in Afghanistan as part a new joint strategy with the Afghan military to cut off funding for the Taliban, authorities said Monday.

Numerous drug labs were decimated in a series of aerial bombardments in the poppy-rich southern province of Helmand — a Taliban stronghold — on Sunday night, US and Afghan officials said.

The joint operation came days after a UN report showed opium production in Afghanistan — a key source of funding for the Taliban’s 16-year insurgency — soared 87 percent this year as the area under poppy cultivation hit a record high.

General John Nicholson, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said targeting the drug labs would “hit the Taliban where it hurts” and warned more airstrikes would follow.

“The strikes that were prosecuted last night will continue,” Nicholson told a news conference in Kabul, stressing that poppy farmers would not be targeted.

“We hit the labs where they turned poppy into heroin. We hit their storage facilities where they kept their final products, where they stockpiled their money and their command and control.”

The Taliban profits from the illegal drug trade by taxing poppy farmers and traffickers across the war-torn country, pocketing an estimated $200 million a year, official data shows.

Several videos showing the airstrikes involving B-52 bombers and an F-22 fighter jet were played for reporters.

Nicholson said US Forces began identifying drug labs to hit after President Donald Trump’s strategy announcement in August made it easier for American air power to proactively target the Taliban and its sources of revenue and infrastructure.

The Taliban issued a statement denying the existence of the drug-making facilities.

The US-Afghan operation comes as around 3,000 additional American troops promised by Trump are deployed to help train and assist beleaguered Afghan security forces who have been struggling to beat back Taliban and Islamic State insurgents.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime warned last week that the “significant levels” of opium cultivation and trafficking in Afghanistan would fuel the insurgency and boost funding for militants.

The area under poppy cultivation has expanded by 63 percent to a record 328,000 hectares (810,500 acres) this year — topping the previous record of 224,000 hectares in 2014 — with the number of poppy-growing provinces jumping to 24.

Only 10 Afghan provinces are now considered poppy free.

Nicholson said the Taliban had evolved into a “narco insurgency” fighting to protect earnings from drug trafficking, illegal mining, kidnapping and murder for hire.

“The fighting that they’re doing is to control the means of production, to control the poppy fields, to force farmers into growing poppy and then be able to process this opium into heroin in the relative safety of these areas,” he said.

AFP

Syrian War: School Children Killed In Idlib Air Strikes

syrian war, school children, air strikesActivists say more than 20 people, mostly children, have been killed in air strikes on a rebel-held village in north-western Syria.

A school complex was reportedly among several locations targeted in the village of Haas, in Idlib province.

The Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are known as the White Helmets, confirmed that a complex containing three schools was targeted.

Although it was not immediately clear if the raids were carried out by Syrian government or Russian warplanes, the state media quoted a military source as saying several “terrorists” had been killed when their positions were hit.

The incident comes as the government and its ally, Russia, said they would continue a moratorium on the aerial bombardment of besieged, rebel-held eastern districts of the city of Aleppo.

Idlib is considered one of the last strongholds of the Syrian oppositions and according to BBC reports, the attack on Haas, about 75km (46 miles) south-west of Aleppo, appeared to have been intense.

The Syria Civil Defence said initial reports were of more than 20 people being killed, while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 22, including 14 children and a teacher.

 

Saudi To Probe Deadly Air Strikes On Yemen Funeral House

Yemen Blast, Saudi Arabia, US, Houthi Rebels
Since 2014, thousands have been killed in the conflict between the Houthi Rebels and the Saudi led coalition

The coalition fighting Yemeni rebels led by Saudi Arabia says it will investigate how more than 140 people died in air strikes at a funeral in Sanaa, the country’s capital.

The investigation as announced by Saudi authorities will start immediately and would involve American forensic experts.

Earlier, the Saudi Arabian government debunked the allegations made by the rebel Houthi-run government that the coalition was responsible for the deaths following its air strikes.

The air strikes targeted the funeral of the father of country’s Minister for Interior, Galal al-Rawishan.

In a statement released by the Saudi-led coalition, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen and experts from the United States will lead the investigations.

It added that though the situation is regrettable, its troops have been instructed not to target civilian populations.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to carry out its own independent investigation into the air strikes.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Ned Price said the collaboration of the US with Saudi Arabia over investigations is “not a blank cheque”.

Allegations of Genocide

The spokesman of the Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said an attack of such magnitude amounts to “genocide”.yemen bomb expolsionjpg

Mr Abdul-Salam also revealed the aid workers who were first responders at the scene of the air strikes were “shocked and outraged”.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral as a “horrific attack”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that it had prepared 300 body bags, adding that there were a lot of people in the building before the strikes.

Thousands of people, especially civilians, have been killed in clashes since 2014 when the Saudi-led coalition gave its backing to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia Ends Air Strikes Against Houthi Rebels, Seeks Political Solution

saudi arabia-air strikeSaudi Arabia has announced on Tuesday that it was ending a month-long campaign of air strikes against the Houthi rebels, who seized large areas of Yemen to back a political solution which will bring peace to its war-ravaged neighbour.

The ceasefire, which followed months of factional fighting between the militant group and forces loyal to the government, which was driven out of the capital Sanaa, was welcomed by Iran.

“Operation Decisive Storm has achieved its goals including removing the threat to Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries, especially in terms of heavy weapons,” said a statement carried by Saudi State News Agency.

The report says a new phase called “Operation Restoring Hope” was beginning. It would combine political, diplomatic and military action but would focus on “the political process that would lead to a stable and secure future for Yemen”.

Saudi spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, said the alliance may still target Houthis. “The coalition will continue to prevent the Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen.”

The White House on Tuesday, also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement.

“The United States welcomes Tuesday’s announcement by the government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners of the conclusion of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Alistair Baskey, said.

ICRC Set To Make Emergency Aid Flights To Yemen

yemenThe International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is set to make emergency aid flights into Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The ICRC has been given permission to land planes carrying staff and medical supplies in Yemen, which it said was facing a humanitarian emergency.

Fighting had intensified in the southern port of Aden, as government troops battle the Houthis.

About 500 people had been killed over the past two weeks in Yemen.

However, the ICRC is sending a cargo plane carrying vital medical supplies, and a small passenger plane of aid workers.

Eight Houthi fighters were killed in an air strike before dawn in the suburbs of the northern city of Saadah, home of the Shi’ite Muslim movement which spread from its mountain stronghold to take over the capital Sanaa six months ago.

Local officials said strikes also hit air defense and coastal military units near the Red Sea port of Hodaida, and targets on the outskirts of Aden. They also hit a bridge on the road south to Aden, apparently trying to block the Houthis from sending reinforcements to their fighters in the city.

Meanwhile, the cargo plane is still awaiting approval to send a surgical team by boat to Aden.

The ICRC has, however, called for a 24-hour ceasefire in Aden, while Russia has also urged the UN Security Council to support a “humanitarian pause” in the air strikes.

Pakistan’s parliament is debating whether to join the Saudi-led coalition after a Pakistani aircraft rescued 170 people from Sanaa on Sunday.