Posts Tagged ‘Hama province’

IS withdraws from Syria’s Aleppo province

June 30, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Syrian government forces fire artillery during a battle against the Islamic State group in Aleppo province in May 2017

BEIRUT (AFP) – The Islamic State group no longer has a presence in Syria’s Aleppo province after withdrawing from a series of villages where regime forces were advancing, a monitor said on Friday.”IS withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Regime forces had been advancing on a sliver of southeastern Aleppo province around a key highway linking Hama province to the southwest and Raqa province further east.

Abdel Rahman said regime forces seized control of the road late Thursday night, prompting the remaining IS fighters to flee.

A Syrian military source in rural Aleppo confirmed the withdrawal.

“The military operation is ongoing and Daesh withdrew from the Aleppan countryside towards rural territory in Hama and Raqa,” the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

“The Syrian army is clearing out the last few metres,” the source added.

Since early 2015, multi-front offensives against IS have eaten away at territory the group held in Aleppo province.

US-backed Kurdish and allied Arab fighters ousted the jihadists from Kobane on the Turkish border in 2015 and from the key city of Manbij last year.

Rebels backed by Turkey seized the town of Al-Bab in February, and Syrian government troops have steadily chipped away at IS towns in the south of the province.

In neighbouring Raqa province, a US-backed offensive is bearing down on the provincial capital of the same name, which has served as the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital.

Russia To Target U.S. and Coalition Aircraft Over Syria

June 19, 2017

Russia steps up rhetoric after U.S. fighter shoots down Syrian government jet

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June 19, 2017 10:33 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russia escalated tensions with the United States Monday, promising to actively track U.S. and coalition aircraft over Syria with air defense systems and warplanes, the country’s defense ministry said.

In a statement released Monday, the Russian military said it would treat U.S. and coalition operating west of the Euphrates Rivers as “aerial targets,” but stopped short of threatening a shootdown.

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Russia warns US-led coalition over downing of Syrian jet

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Defence ministry says planes flying west of Euphrates will be treated as targets and that it has suspended safety agreement with US

A US navy F/A-18 Super Hornet
The Pentagon confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. Photograph: US DoD handout/EPA

Russia’s defence ministry has said it will treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria as a potential target, after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday.

The ministry also said it was suspending a safety agreement with Washington designed to prevent collisions and dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.

According to the Pentagon the Syrian jet in question had dropped bombs near US partner forces involved in the fight to wrest Raqqa from Islamic State (Isis) control. It was the first such US attack on a Syrian air force plane since the start of the country’s civil war six years ago.

In an apparent attempt at deescalation, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defence and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described the defence ministry’s statement as a warning. “I’m sure that because of this neither the US nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov said Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft”.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the US strike “has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law.

“What is this if not an act of aggression? It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy.”

The Russian response increases the risk of an inadvertent air fight breaking out between US and Russian warplanes in the skies above Syria.

The US military confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday. The US said the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who are aligned with US forces in the fight against Isis. Damascus said its plane had been on anti-Isis mission.

Col John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, said there were no US forces in the immediate vicinity of the Syrian attack but that the SDF was under threat for more than two hours.

The growing risk of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia follows a decision by Donald Trump to grant his military chiefs untrammelled control of US military strategy in Syria.

Tensions have also been bubbling between Washington and Moscow over efforts to dislodge Isis from its Raqqa stronghold.

Russia, a staunch supporter of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been pressing the US to make the removal of Isis a joint land and air operation, but discussions over Syria’s long-term political future appear to have ground to a halt, leaving the US military to operate in a political vacuum.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters working alongside western special forces, said it would take action to defend itself from Syrian warplanes if attacks continued.

The Trump administration has promised to improve arms supplies to the SDF after it concluded that it was the force most capable of freeing Raqqa from Isis.

In a sign of how complex the Syrian peace process has become, Russian-sponsored peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, are scheduled to resume on the same day – 10 July – as talks convened by the UN in Geneva.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced the date on Monday in the knowledge that it would coincide with the UN schedule. He also said that the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, would take part.

A spokesman for de Mistura said “the subject is currently being discussed”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/russia-target-us-led-coalition-warplanes-over-syria

Russia halts US aviation cooperation over downing of Syrian jet

June 19, 2017

AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press

© Omar haj kadour, AFP | A Syrian army jet fires rockets over the village of Rahbet Khattab in Hama province on March 23, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-06-19

The Russian defence ministry said Monday that it was halting aviation cooperation with the United States after the US downed a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, a move one Russian official described as a clear “act of aggression”.

The Russian defence ministry said it was halting cooperation with Washington within the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria, effective immediately. It also accused the United States of not using the proper communication channels before shooting down the Syrian army jet.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow “ends cooperation with the American side from June 19”.

Moreover, any coalition aircraft flying to the west of the Euphrates will be treated as targets, the defence ministry said.

“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates river will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defences on and above ground.”

URGENT: Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g pic.twitter.com/w27zQsyy5y

RT

@RT_comCoalition’s airborne objects in Russian Air Force’s Syria missions areas to be tracked as targets – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g  pic.twitter.com/PHqYQjI6Yo

Voir l'image sur Twitter

Russia previously suspended the memorandum of understanding on air safety in April to protest against US airstrikes launched in response to a suspected chemical attack.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, on Monday firmly condemned the United States for shooting down the Syrian plane, calling it an “act of aggression”.

“This strike has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow on Monday, the TASS news agency reported. “What is this if not an act of aggression?”

Ryabkov said the Kremlin had also warned the United States not to use force against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.

A Syrian jet plane

The incident marked the first time an American fighter jet had taken down a Syrian warplane, which Washington accused of attacking US-backed fighters.

The tensions come as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to evict the Islamic State (IS) group from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

>> Read more: MSF says 10,000 Syrians flee Raqqa as battle for the city nears

The Syrian jet was shot down after regime forces engaged fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling IS jihadists with US support, in an area close to Raqqa. The American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down the Syrian SU-22 around 7pm as it “dropped bombs near SDF fighters” south of the town of Tabqa, the coalition said in a statement.

It said that several hours earlier, regime forces had attacked the SDF in another town near Tabqa, wounding several and driving the SDF from the town.

The coalition said the Syrian warplane had been shot down “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

Syria’s army disputed the account, saying its plane was hit while “conducting a mission against the terrorist Islamic State group”.

It warned of “the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression”.

International imbroglio

The SDF entered Raqqa for the first time earlier this month and now holds four neighbourhoods in the east and west of the city.

In a further escalation of military action in Syria, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it launched a series of missiles into Syria on Sunday in revenge for deadly attacks on its capital that were claimed by the Islamic State group. It said the missiles were “in retaliation” for a June 7 attack on the parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that killed 17 people.

Assad has focused his forces further east, to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under IS group control and where government forces are besieged in part of the provincial capital.

Outside of coalition operations, US forces have only once directly targeted the regime – when Washington launched air strikes against an airbase it said was the launchpad for an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 80 civilians in April.

The Kremlin denounced those US strikes as an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

Syria’s war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but has since spiralled into a complex and bloody conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and become a proxy war for regional powers as well as ensnaring the United States and Russia.

Interfax reported that Ryabkov and the US under secretary of state, Thomas Shannon, would meet in St Petersburg on June 23 to discuss persistent tensions in bilateral ties.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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The Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber was shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces north of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The US, which has special forces troops in the area, had earlier sent a warning to the Syrian military to stop targeting the forces and called on Russia to rein in its ally, but they were ignored.

Russia, which intervened militarily to back the Syrian regime in 2015,on Monday condemned the US action, saying it flouted international law.

“It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy,” Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said, adding it was a “dangerous escalation”.

 Image may contain: airplane

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “It is hard for me to choose any other words but these: if you [the US] can’t help you should at least not interfere. As your ‘efforts’ once again do nothing but help the militants.

“You are fighting the wrong party: it is not the Syrian army that perpetrates terror attacks in European capital cities.”

See the whole report:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/us-forces-shoot-syrian-jet-first-time-move-described-self-defence/

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Syria army retakes villages after deadly IS attack — Many of the dead had been beheaded and mutilated

May 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The IS group is one the defensive as the Syrian army battles it in Aleppo province as well as Hama

BEIRUT (AFP) – The Syrian army has regained full control of two central villages from the Islamic State group after an attack that killed dozens of people, a monitor said on Friday.

Troops and allied militiamen retook the Hama province villages of Aqareb and Al-Mabujeh a day after the jihadist assault, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The IS attack killed 25 civilians, including five children, and 27 pro-government fighters, the Britain-based monitor said.

At least three of the civilians, a man and his two children, were executed with knives, it added.

The Observatory reported 10 IS fighters killed in the assault, which began at dawn on Thursday and saw jihadists briefly seize all of Aqareb and parts of Al-Mabujeh.

State news agency SANA said 52 people had been killed, among them 15 children, adding that many of the dead had been beheaded and mutilated.

The two villages are home to members of several religious minority sects, and Al-Mabujeh has been targeted by IS before.

In March 2015, the group killed dozens of people and kidnapped some 50 civilians in an attack there.

IS is on the defensive across most of the territory it still holds in Syria, with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters pressing towards its most important bastion, Raqa in the north.

The army is also battling the jihadist group in the eastern part of Aleppo province.

The Observatory said at least 22 government troops and allied militiamen and 40 IS fighters had been killed in clashes in the area in the past 24 hours.

And in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under IS control, jihadist shelling of a government-held neighbourhood killed at least 14 people, the monitor said.

A dozen people were also wounded by the artillery fire, which hit a wedding party.

Syrian opposition fighters make gains in major Hama offensive

September 1, 2016

AFP

© AFP | Syrian Civil Defence volunteers search for survivors after people fleeing the town of Souran, in Hama province, were reportedly targeted by a regime air strike, on September 1, 2016

BEIRUT (AFP) – Syrian opposition fighters have seized several areas in a rapid advance against government forces in central Hama province, prompting a wave of regime air strikes, a monitor said Thursday.

At least 25 civilians, including children, were killed in the strikes early Thursday as fighting raged in parts of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based monitoring group said an alliance of rebel and jihadist forces had launched an offensive on Monday in Hama, which is south of the opposition-held Idlib province.

The alliance, which includes the jihadist Jund Al-Aqsa force, is aiming to take control of the airport in Hama, from which regime helicopters fly regular sorties against opposition fighters.

“They are about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the airport” in Hama, Syria’s fourth-largest city, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, whose group relies on a broad network of sources inside Syria.

The rebels are also likely seeking to ease pressure on opposition fighters in the battleground northern city of Aleppo by distracting regime forces.

In three days the rebel alliance seized control of 13 populated areas, mainly in the north of Hama province, including the towns of Halfaya and Suran.

They were also threatening the historic Christian town of Mahrada to the west along the road.

Hama province is of vital strategic importance to President Bashar al-Assad, separating opposition forces in Idlib from Damascus to the south and the regime’s coastal heartlands to the west.

Major demonstrations erupted in Hama in 2011 during the outbreak of Syria’s civil conflict but were suppressed in a deadly government crackdown.

Assad’s father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad brutally put down a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama city in 1982, killing thousands of people.

Russian jets bombing Syria’s Homs, Hama province, killing U.S. coalition allies

October 4, 2015

Reuters

A civil defence member walks on the rubble of a damaged building next to a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force at Ehsim town in the southern countryside of Idlib, Syria October 3, 2015.
REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

Air strikes by suspected Russian jets hit targets around the town of Talbiseh in western Syria on Sunday, residents and a group which monitors the civil war in Syria said, a day after Russia promised to step up its air campaign.

Ambulances rushed wounded people to hospital in Talbiseh, north of the city of Homs, and one resident said at least five bodies had been recovered from the western part of the town.

“So far there are seven or six raids in the town,” said Abdul Ghafar al Dweik, a former government employee and volunteer rescue worker.

He said he believed the raid was carried out by Russian jets. “They come suddenly… With the Syrian planes, we would get a warning but now all of a sudden we see it over our heads,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria’s four-year-old civil war through a network of sources, said Russian planes struck on Sunday in Homs province and also in neighboring Hama.

Russia launched air strikes in Syria on Wednesday, saying they targeted the hardline Islamic State militants who control large parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq. But some of the areas it has struck have little or no Islamic State presence.

Smoke rises after what activists said were Russian airstrikes in the southern countryside of Idlib, Syria October 2, 2015.
REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

Several rebel groups around Talbiseh operate under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, and some have received military support from Western and Gulf Arab states that oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

The air strikes in Hama targeted a region in the east of the province controlled by Islamic State fighters, the Observatory said.

A senior Russian military officer said on Saturday Russian jets based in western Syria had carried out more than 60 sorties in 72 hours. “We will not only continue strikes… We will also increase their intensity,” said Andrei Kartapolov from the Russian army General Staff.

(Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi and Dominic Evans; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Syrian forces accused of chlorine gas attack — France’s President François Hollande said he has no clear proof

April 21, 2014
  • France’s President François Hollande said he has no clear proof that Assad’s regime used chlorine
  • But he said Western officials found ‘credible evidence’ of use in 3 locations
  • Comes after both Assad’s and rebel forces reported a poison gas attack
  • But both sides have blamed each other for the use of chemical weapons

Syrian forces have been accused of chlorine gas attacks on rebels by French President François Hollande.

Mr Hollande said he has no clear proof that Bashar al-Assad’s regime had used the chlorine weapons, but he said Western officials have found ‘credible evidence’ of the gas being used in at least three locations in the past week and earlier in the month.

On April 11, both Assad’s government and rebels reported a poison gas attack in the opposition-held village Kfar Zeita, in Hama province 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Damascus.

Both sides blamed each other for the attack.

French President Francois Hollande  and French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius welcome French journalists Edouard Elias and Didier Francois taken hostage in Syria last year and freed on Saturday. Hollande has accused Syrian forces of chlorine gas attacks on rebels

French President Francois Hollande and French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius welcome French journalists Edouard Elias and Didier Francois taken hostage in Syria last year and freed on Saturday. Hollande has accused Syrian forces of chlorine gas attacks on rebels

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2609265/Syrian-forces-accused-chlorine-gas-attack-rebels-Francois-Hollande-says-chemical-weapons-used-Bashar-Al-Assads-regime.html#ixzz2zV0AwJdf
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On Sunday, in an interview with Europe 1 radio station, the French President said that he has ‘several elements’ suggesting recent use of chemical weapons in Syria, but no definitive proof.

Mr Hollande said. ‘What I do know is what we have seen from this regime is the horrific methods it is capable of using and the rejection of any political transition,’ The Independent reports.

And Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there were ‘indications’ of potential chemical weapons attacks that need to be verified.

 

More…

The claims come ahead of the April 27 deadline for Assad’s government to hand over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction.

On Saturday, the head of the international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons said the government had removed or destroyed around 80 percent of its chemical weapons material.

While chlorine is not a banned chemical agent, its use in weapons is banned under the 1925 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad marked Easter by visiting a Christian town near Damascus recently recaptured by his forces, state media reported. The claims come days ahead of an April 27 deadline for Assad's government to have handed over Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad marked Easter by visiting a Christian town near Damascus recently recaptured by his forces, state media reported. The claims come days ahead of an April 27 deadline for Assad’s government to have handed over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2609265/Syrian-forces-accused-chlorine-gas-attack-rebels-Francois-Hollande-says-chemical-weapons-used-Bashar-Al-Assads-regime.html#ixzz2zV0Qn1Wp
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It was first used in war during the second Battle of Ypres in 1915 by the Germans.

It was responsible for the killing at least 30,000 British and French soldiers.

On Sunday, Syria’s president toured an ancient Christian village recently recaptured by his forces to mark Easter.

His visit to Maaloula, 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Damascus, has been seen as a propaganda victory for his government in its quest to be seen as protector of religious minorities as its civil war grinds on.

Assad told Syrian state television: ‘Maaloula will remain steadfast in the face of barbarism of all those who are targeting the homeland.’

‘Nobody, regardless of the extent of their terror, can erase our cultural and human history.’

A boy carries a girl after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr on April 18

A boy carries a girl after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo’s Bustan al-Qasr on April 18

Syrians walk out of a damaged building following a reported barrel bombing on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 18

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2609265/Syrian-forces-accused-chlorine-gas-attack-rebels-Francois-Hollande-says-chemical-weapons-used-Bashar-Al-Assads-regime.html#ixzz2zV0ijjs7
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