Syria

Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field

21 Oct 2017   Syria

U.S.-backed rebel forces handed control of Syria’s largest gas field to Russian forces yesterday, following talks between Russian and Kurdish officials in northeast Syria, according to a new report by Zero Hedge. The senior officials recently met in Qamishli, possibly landing on a commercial deal for control of the major Syrian fossil fuel asset. The Conoco gas field, located near the contentious Deir Ezzor area, was liberated from Islamic State forces at the end of last month. Russian forces assisted the Syrian rebels in capturing the region, which was one of the terrorist organization’s main strongholds in Syria. The Deir Ezzor province and its natural resources provided the Islamic State with much of the cash it needed to fund its early operations and recruitment campaigns. Prior to the beginning of the post-Arab Spring civil war in 2011, the Conoco field’s output was higher than any other in the nation. […]

Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas

12 Oct 2017   Syria

The Kurds in Syria are vying for control over oil-rich areas in the country with the Syrian Arab army, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told his Russian counterpart on Wednesday. “They [the Kurds] know well that Syria will not allow its sovereignty to be violated under any conditions,” al-Moallem told Sergey Lavrov at a meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, as carried by Reuters . “They are now drunk on U.S. assistance and support. But they need to understand that this assistance won’t last forever,” the Syrian foreign minister said. Al-Moallem also said at the meeting with Lavrov that the U.S.-led coalition in Syria was “methodically destroying all except the IS.” Up to 35 million Kurds live in the mountains straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Armenia. Kurds have never had an independent state, although they are the fourth-biggest ethnic group in the Middle […]

U.S.-Backed Forces Retake Syrian Conoco Gas Plant From ISIS

26 Sep 2017   Syria

U.S.-backed Syrian forces have seized a Conoco gas plant from Islamic State in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor area, depriving the militants from an important revenue source. Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the U.S.-led coalition, said on Sunday that they were making gains in eastern Syria after seizing the Conoco plan from ISIS, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to local activist monitoring group Deir Ezzour24 , the SDF’s Deir Ezzor Military Council captured the village of Khasham in northern Deir Ezzor after advancing through the northwestern part of the Deir Ezzor Desert with the support of coalition aircraft. SDF “moved through the Conoco Gas Plant and the surrounding area in an attempt to remove any remaining pockets of Islamic State fleeing from the plant to Khasham,” according to Deir Ezzour24. The Conoco gas plant can produce nearly 50 million cubic feet of gas per day. The Islamic […]

Oil Spills From Pipeline After Syria Army Retakes Oil Field From ISIS

23 Sep 2017   Syria

Oil spilled from a pipeline at the al-Teym oil field in the oil-rich desert south of Deir al-Zor in Syria after the Syrian Arab Army and its allies had recaptured the oil site from ISIS, video footage uploaded on Friday on YouTube by Berlin-based video news agency Ruptly shows. Earlier this month, Syrian state TV reported that the Syrian army and its allies had retaken the Teym oil field as forces were advancing to clear the city of Deir al-Zor from Islamic State militants. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the army also seized part of a highway from Deir al-Zor to the city of al-Mayadeen—a move that could block possible IS reinforcements coming from al-Mayadeen. Days before that, the Syrian army had broken through Islamic State lines and reached an enclave held by the government in Deir al-Zor. At the end of August, the Syrian Arab […]

Iran, Syria Sign Energy Agreement

14 Sep 2017   Iran, Syria

Iranian and Syrian media have reported the signing, by officials from the two countries, of several agreements that would allow Iran to improve the production and distribution of electricity in war-torn Syria. One agreement reportedly includes the building of a 540-megawatt power plant in the Latakia province, while another targets the restoration of the main control center of Syria’s power grid in the capital, Damascus. A third agreement reportedly lays the groundwork for Iranian power supply to Aleppo city, which the Syrian military and its allies retook last year. Mounting talk of reconstruction comes as the Syrian army is said to be making consistent progress in recent months in wresting control of cities and towns from Islamic State (ISIS). Last week, the Syrian Arab Army staged an offensive to recapture oil-rich areas of the Al-Raqqa governorate that had fallen to ISIS. This area is home to the Jararih oilfield […]

Western forces hit more ISIS oil installations in Syria

19 Jul 2017   Syria

Coalition forces hit oil installations controlled by the group in Syria calling itself the Islamic State. U.S. Defense Department photo July 18 (UPI) — The fight against terrorism extended into the oil industry as the Western-led coalition said it hit storage tanks in Syria controlled by the Islamic State . The U.S. Defense Department said forces united under Operation Inherent Resolve struck oil installations in the 25 strikes carried out recently against fighters with the Islamic State in Syria. “Near Abu Kamal, two strikes destroyed four ISIS oil refinement stills, three oil storage tanks and three oil barrels,” the Pentagon said in a strike update . “Near Dayr Az Zawr, six strikes destroyed 12 ISIS oil refinement stills, four wellheads and two oil storage tanks.” Three years ago, consultant firm IHS estimated the oil production controlled by the terrorist group was worth $800 million per year, based on the […]

Syrian Army Set To Recapture Oil Field Near Palmyra From ISIS

6 Jul 2017   Syria

Syria’s army is advancing against ISIS militants in the central Homs province, and has encircled terrorists in the al-Hael oil field near the ancient city of Palmyra, Syrian state news agency SANA reported on Wednesday. Army units are currently less than a mile away from the al-Hael oil field, and are closing in on ISIS militants in the field from the west, south, and southeast, SANA quoted a military source as saying. Separately, Syrian Army forces have targeted ISIS hideouts west of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, killing many terrorists. Last month, the army recaptured the Ark oil field, some 25 miles northeast of Palmyra, from the Islamic State terrorists. The Ark region is of strategic importance to Syria’s economy as it has many oil wells, according to a field commander who spoke to SANA then. On the larger front, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by a […]

Missiles Hitting Producer of 0.04% of Global Oil Rocks Crude

8 Apr 2017   Syria

While Syria makes only 0.04 percent of global petroleum supplies — less than Cuba, New Zealand or Pakistan — it calls one of the world’s biggest producing regions its neighborhood. The nation borders Iraq, the second-biggest member in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, while other producing giants such as Saudi Arabia and Iran lie just beyond. The Turkish port of Ceyhan, from where shipments including those from Kurdistan are exported, is also close. Apart from its proximity to the Middle East nations, the ongoing conflict in Syria involves Russia and the U.S., two other major crude producers. Global oil prices jumped more than 2 percent on Friday on news the U.S. launched a cruise missile attack against the nation, two days after Bashar al-Assad’s regime used poison gas to kill scores of civilians. The task of military planners was made riskier by the presence of Russian forces in […]

The Latest: Syria says 98 percent of east Aleppo retaken

12 Dec 2016   Syria

The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local): 12:30 p.m. Syria’s military says it has gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, leaving only a tiny enclave packed with rebels and civilians. The military statement Monday said pro-government forces have seized control of al-Fardous, one of the largest neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, which has been held by the rebels since 2012. Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, said the fighting is ongoing in the district. Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes and militias from across the region launched a wide-scale offensive on eastern Aleppo earlier this month and are on the verge of driving the rebels from the city. Doing so would hand President Bashar Assad his greatest victory yet in the 5 ½-year civil war. — 10 a.m. Syria’s state media and an […]

Monitor says Syrian army seizes Aleppo Old City from rebels

7 Dec 2016   Syria

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday the Syrian army seized control of all parts of the Old City of Aleppo which had been held by rebels. The army began to enter the Old City on Tuesday, part of a rapid advance which has seen rebels lose around two thirds of their besieged eastern enclave over the past two weeks. (Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Thousands flee besieged Aleppo as Assad forces advance

29 Nov 2016   Syria

Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing intense fighting in the embattled rebel-held districts of Aleppo , as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad make advances into the Syrian opposition’s last major urban stronghold and look set to split the opposition areas in two. On Monday the rebels appeared to have lost about a third of their territory in Aleppo city, according to estimates by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Civilians fled several districts in the north-east as government forces advanced into some of the first areas to fall to rebel control in the summer of 2012. The rebel-held eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo, Syria’s second city, have been under a fierce two-week Russian-backed air campaign, with aircraft pounding the area night and day. About 250,000 people have been trapped with little food or medical supplies during the months-long siege. Many fled as the front lines opened escape […]

For Bashar al-Assad, Winning the Syrian War May Lead to New Troubles

29 Nov 2016   Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — With the Syrian government making large territorial gains in Aleppo on Monday, routing rebel fighters and sending thousands of people fleeing for their lives, President Bashar al-Assad is starting to look as if he may survive the uprising, even in the estimation of some of his staunchest opponents. Yet, Mr. Assad’s victory, if he should achieve it, may well be Pyrrhic: He would rule over an economic wasteland hampered by a low-level insurgency with no end in sight, diplomats and experts in the Middle East and elsewhere say.

Syria forces ‘retake’ second Aleppo area

28 Nov 2016   Syria

Civilians in Aleppo have experienced intense fighting in recent days Syrian government forces have retaken a second rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, military sources say. They say the army and its allies had “fully recaptured” Jabal Badro. Hours earlier, rebel sources confirmed that neighbouring Hanano district had fallen and was now under government control. Hundreds of civilians have been fleeing into the government-controlled areas of Aleppo as troops make advances into the east of the city. The Syrian army’s offensive to retake eastern Aleppo – home to some 275,000 people – is now into its 13th day. The assault has killed 219 civilians, including 27 children, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. Syrian state media quoted unnamed military sources as saying that Jabal Badro, which lies immediate south of Hanano, had been fully recaptured. There has been no confirmation of this from the rebel side. Hanano was […]

Thousands flee besieged Aleppo as Assad forces advance

28 Nov 2016   Syria

Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing intense fighting in the embattled rebel-held districts of Aleppo , as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad make advances into the Syrian opposition’s last major urban stronghold and look set to split the opposition areas in two. On Monday the rebels appeared to have lost about a third of their territory in Aleppo city, according to estimates by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Civilians fled several districts in the north-east as government forces advanced into some of the first areas to fall to rebel control in the summer of 2012. The rebel-held eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo, Syria’s second city, have been under a fierce two-week Russian-backed air campaign, with aircraft pounding the area night and day. About 250,000 people have been trapped with little food or medical supplies during the months-long siege. Many fled as the front lines opened escape […]

Syria: Food Production Hits All-Time Low

16 Nov 2016   Syria

Food production in Syria dropped to an all-time low in 2016, a joint report from two U.N. agencies said Nov. 15, Reuters reported. According to the report from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, Syria’s 2016 wheat output has been just 1.5 million metric tons, down from an average of about 3.4 million metric tons before the country’s civil war began five years ago. Additionally, the country is now facing a wheat shortfall of nearly 840,000 metric tons, with imports taken into account. A World Food Program representative said bad weather is also to blame for the poor harvests. The report comes on the heels of a recent U.N. announcement that the last available food rations had been distributed in eastern Aleppo, where nearly a quarter of a million civilians remain trapped amid the ongoing battle for the city. Stratfor provides global awareness and guidance […]

Food production in Syria ‘at all-time low’: U.N.

15 Nov 2016   Syria

Food production in Syria has dropped to an all-time low as the country enters a sixth winter of war, U.N. agencies said on Tuesday. The study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said many farmers have been forced to abandon their crops due to rising prices for seeds and fertilisers. Wheat output dropped from an average 3.4 million metric tonnes harvested before the war began five years ago to 1.5 million this year, they said in a joint statement. “Food production in Syria has hit a record low due to fighting and insecurity but also weather conditions,” WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told a news briefing in Geneva. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by John Stonestreet)

Exclusive: Syria makes major wheat deal with Russia after dire local harvest

14 Oct 2016   Russia, Syria

Picture taken September 16, 2016. Syria’s state grain buying agency Hoboob struck a deal to purchase one million tonnes of Russian wheat from political ally Russia, covering the needs of government-controlled areas for a year. The Damascus government subsidises bread for the areas it controls ensuring the supply of flat loaves that are a staple for Syrian people. Syria often buys wheat from Russia but this was an unusually large amount for a cheap price. The source said it should cover the government’s needs for this year until the next local wheat buying season in 2017. A Syrian government source close to the matter told Reuters Hoboob purchased the wheat at 150 euros ($168) a metric ton, on a cost and freight basis, and shipment would be for a year after opening up […]

Coalition Air Strikes Wipe Out More ISIS Oil Assets In Syria

17 Sep 2016   Syria

Air Strike Coalition military forces have carried out 10 air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, destroying five supply routes, oil well heads and oil tanker trucks, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said on Friday. The latest air strikes of the CJTF-OIR forces against the Islamic State come days after coalition strikes destroyed 55 ISIS oil tankers in Syria. The coalition comprises of forces from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the latest air strikes, the combined task force also targeted ISIS in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government, and destroyed tactical and logistic units of the Islamic militants. Back to Syria, earlier this month, U.S. and coalition military forces conducted air strikes and destroyed ISIS oil pump jacks and oil tanker […]

Why Russia And China Are Intent On Salvaging Syria’s Economy

16 Sep 2016   China, Russia, Syria

An economy in ruins More than five years of armed conflict has had a catastrophic impact on the Syrian economy. National GDP has plummeted to less than 50 percent of pre-conflict output, and according to recent figures, the total economic loss to date amounts to 275 billion USD – around five times the country’s 2010 GDP. As violence continues in several parts of the country, especially in the pre-conflict commercial powerhouse of Aleppo, Syria’s economic downfall can be expected to continue. The extreme damage to the economy is due to a combination of a 25 percent drop in overall population, the displacement of half of all Syrians, a steep drop in economic activity, capital flight, massive destruction of infrastructure and productive capacity, as well as the loss of 25 million school years for Syria’s children, which will reduce labour productivity for the coming generation. Furthermore, large segments of the […]

Syria ceasefire deal rife with legal, liability questions

14 Sep 2016   Syria

Latest Syria News Syrian cease-fire holds as Aleppo awaits relief Israel denies its aircraft harmed after raid in Syria As Syria truce holds. al-Qaida affiliate denounces it The deal crafted by the U.S. and Russia to halt the Syrian civil war and focus efforts on rooting out extremists in the country is rife with legal and liability questions that are fueling Pentagon skepticism about military cooperation between the two powers, senior U.S. officials said. The first hurdle is that Congress has enacted a law prohibiting any military cooperation with Moscow in the wake of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. That means the deal that Secretary of State John Kerry and […]

Russia’s Lavrov blames U.S. for holding up Syria agreement

10 Sep 2016   Russia, Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of holding up a Syrian ceasefire at talks in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday and said the negotiations may have to be reconvened next week. “We’re thinking of maybe calling it a day, maybe meeting next week,” Lavrov told reporters waiting for a potential agreement to be announced at a news conference between the two diplomats. Asked if Russia had approved a text of an agreement, Lavrov said: “We are there, I don’t know where our friends are, but I believe it’s important for them to check with Washington.” A senior U.S. administration official said Kerry was discussing the proposals with colleagues in Washington. “Those discussions are ongoing and when we have more to say we will,” he said. Earlier, the U.S. official said two sides had made progress on proposals for a nationwide […]

Russia and the United States Reach New Agreement on Syria Conflict

10 Sep 2016   Syria

Russia and the United States agreed early Saturday on a new plan to reduce violence in the Syrian conflict that, if successful, could lead for the first time to joint military targeting by the two powers against Islamic jihadists in Syria . The agreement was reached after 10 months of failed attempts to halt the fighting and of suspended efforts to reach a political settlement to an increasingly complex conflict that began more than five years ago. The conflict has left nearly half a million people dead, created the largest refugee crisis since World War II and turned Syria into a prime incubator of recruiting for the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, announced the agreement in Geneva after weeks of negotiations that were marred, in President Obama ’s words, […]

US-led Coalition Strikes Destroy More ISIS Oil Assets in Syria

8 Sep 2016   Syria

ISIS oil tank trucks U.S. and coalition military forces have conducted air strikes and destroyed ISIS oil pump jacks and oil tanker trucks in Syria, the U.S. Department of Defense said on Tuesday. The coalition strikes destroyed two oil pump jacks, an oil tank and a headquarters building near Raqqa, the Islamic State militants’ de facto capital in Syria. Three other strikes near Deir Ezzor, close to the border with Iraq, destroyed 13 ISIS oil tanker trucks and a tractor trailer, and strikes near Manbij destroyed an ISIS fighting position. The coalition forces, supported by Iraq’s government, also destroyed ISIS military equipment in Iraq, the Department of Defense said. “Other airstrikes targeted ISIS oil facilities, causing huge explosions and a state of alert among ISIS ranks,” the ARA News agency quoted media activist Omar Rihawi as saying about the Raqqa strikes. Last month, a coalition forces air strike in […]

Kurds Carve Out a Home in Syria, Testing U.S. Ties With Turkey

1 Sep 2016   Syria

Amid the chaos of Syria’s years-long civil war, the Kurds have carved out a semiautonomous region called Rojava that is home to about four million people, is as big as Belgium and stretches nearly the full length of the 565-mile border between Syria and Turkey. The emergence of Rojava also has added complexity to a region in turmoil, bringing resistance from outside and dissent from within. Rojava’s continuing territorial expansion has alarmed Turkey, which is battling Kurdish separatists within its own borders and has pushed deeper into Syria to attack Islamic State forces and rein in the Syrian Kurds. The U.S. is stuck uncomfortably in the middle because it relies on Syrian Kurds to fight Islamic State yet considers Turkey a crucial ally. And as Rojava gets mightier and realizes long-held ambitions of […]

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels aim for Manbij city, commander says

29 Aug 2016   Syria, Turkey

A rebel fighter carries a boy as civilians and rebels who were evacuated from the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, after an agreement reached on Thursday between rebels and Syria’s army, arrive in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib August 27, 2016. A Syrian rebel commander said that Turkish-backed rebels aim to capture Manbij city from Kurdish-allied forces as conflict between the sides escalated in northern Syria on Sunday. Manbij on the west bank of the Euphrates River was captured this month from Islamic State by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, including the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, in a United States-backed offensive. Colonel Ahmed Osman, head of the Sultan Murad rebel group, told Reuters that the Turkey-backed rebel force was “certainly heading in the direction Manbij” since YPG forces had fortified their positions rather than evacuate. The United States and Turkey have both demanded that the Kurdish forces withdraw […]

Turkish warplanes, artillery hit targets in north Syria: sources

29 Aug 2016   Syria, Turkey

Turkish warplanes and artillery struck targets held by the Kurdish YPG militia in north Syria on Sunday, security sources said, as Turkey pressed on with a cross-border campaign launched last week with its Syrian rebel allies. There was no immediate comment from the YPG militia, but forces aligned with the Kurdish group had said on Saturday that no Kurdish militia had been in areas being targeted by Turkish troops or its allies. Turkey has said its campaign is against Islamic State and also aims at stopping Kurdish forces extending territory they control. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday Turkish warplanes had struck areas north of Manbij, a city south of Jarablus captured by Kurdish-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces this month in a U.S.-backed operation. (Reporting by Umit Bektas in Karkamis, Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Tom Perry in Beirut; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland) […]

Turkish Military Begins Major Offensive Into Syria in Fight Against ISIS

24 Aug 2016   Syria, Turkey

Turkey mounted on Wednesday its largest military effort yet in the Syrian conflict, sending tanks, warplanes and special operations forces over the border in a United States-backed drive to capture an Islamic State stronghold in Syria . The offensive on the city of Jarabulus began hours before Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara to discuss tensions raised by the failed coup in Turkey last month. The joint operation in Syria seemed intended to send a message that the countries are still cooperating in the fight against the militant group. Turkish officials said the operation started at 4 a.m. with Turkish and United States warplanes pounding Islamic State positions in Jarabulus. The special operations troops entered Syria to clear a passage for a ground operation by Turkish-backed rebel groups, the state broadcaster TRT reported. The assault comes […]

U.N. Relief Official Calls Crisis in Aleppo the ‘Apex of Horror’

23 Aug 2016   Syria

The top aid official at the United Nations gave a gloomy assessment of the Syria relief effort on Monday, saying no convoy deliveries had been made to besieged areas this month and that the suffering in Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial epicenter, was the “apex of horror.” In a briefing to the Security Council, the official, Stephen O’Brien, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said that while he welcomed Russia ’s support last week for a 48-hour cease-fire in Aleppo — as he had proposed earlier in the month — there had been no assurances from other combatants. “This cannot be a one-sided offer,” Mr. O’Brien said. “Plans are in place, but we need the agreement of all parties to let us do our job.” United Nations officials have said that the fighting in Aleppo — pitting Syrian government forces and their Russian backers against an array of insurgents, […]

U.S. assessing if Russian use of Iran base violates U.N. resolution

18 Aug 2016   Iran, Russia, Syria

A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia’s Defence Ministry on August 16, 2016, shows a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber based in Iran dropping off bombs at an unknown location in Syria. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via… The United States is looking at whether Russia has violated a U.N. Security Council resolution on military dealings with Tehran by using an Iranian air base to carry out strikes inside Syria, the State Department said on Wednesday. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said U.S. government attorneys had not yet decided whether they think Russia’s use of the Iranian base is a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which was passed as part of the Iran nuclear deal. The resolution governs some military interactions between Iran and other countries, including the supply, sale or transfer of military technologies or the provision of training or […]

Syrian Government and Russia Are Accused of Using Napalm-Like Bombs

18 Aug 2016   Russia, Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian government aircraft hit the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Daraya with incendiary bombs for the third straight day on Wednesday, according to local council members, who said the weapons were packed with substances akin to napalm. Incendiary bombs emit bright light that resembles fireworks and ignite persistent fires, heating to temperatures up to 10 times the boiling point of water. Usually armed with thermite or phosphorus, which can cause horrific burns like those inflicted by napalm in American bombardments during the Vietnam War, the weapons are increasingly being used in attacks on rebel-held areas, especially in the contested northern city of Aleppo , according to Syrian opposition activists and human rights groups that are calling for an end to the practice. And the Syrian government’s most powerful ally, Russia , may also be using the weapons in its own airstrikes, Human Rights Watch contends, citing footage […]

Russia bombs Syrian militants from Iran base for first time

16 Aug 2016   Iran, Russia, Syria

A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia’s Defence Ministry on August 11, 2016, shows a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber dropping off bombs at an unknown location in Syria. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS Russian bombers based in Iran on Tuesday struck militant targets inside Syria, the Russian Defence Ministry said, after Moscow deployed Russian aircraft to an Iranian air force base to widen its campaign in Syria. The ministry said the strikes, by Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers, were launched from Iran’s Hamadan air base. It is thought to be the first time that Russia has struck targets inside Syria from Iran since it launched a bombing campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September last year. The move shows Russia is expanding its role and presence in the Middle East and comes amid Russian media reports […]

Heavy fighting in Aleppo as Syrian rebels renew their assault: monitor

15 Aug 2016   Syria

Heavy fighting took place in different sectors of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday as rebels assaulted two government strongholds in the city’s northwest and south, a monitor of the war said. Fighting for control of Aleppo, split between its government-held west and rebel-held eastern neighborhoods, has intensified in recent weeks causing hundreds of deaths and depriving many civilians of power, water and vital supplies. Insurgents including Islamist militant groups detonated car bombs before launching an attack on the Jamiat al-Zahraa district, an army base and residential district, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rebel groups then attacked the army’s positions in a cement factory on the city’s southwest, adjacent to the mouth of a corridor into opposition-held east Aleppo that insurgents had opened up […]

Islamic State oil commander dead

13 Aug 2016   Syria

A commander in charge of oil for the Islamic State was killed in operations led by multilateral forces near the Syrian border, the Kurdish government said. The Security Council for the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said its counter-terrorism forces, with the help of U.S. Special Forces, conducted an operation near the Iraqi border with Syria that left Sami Jassim Mohammed al-Jabouri, known also as Haji Hamad, dead. The Kurdish government identified him as a senior member of the group calling itself the Islamic State — also identified as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS. “Hamad was responsible for ISIL’s natural resources in Iraq and Syria,” the statement read. “He and an aide were killed in the operation.” Joint op […]

Syrian rebels vow to take Aleppo after breaking siege

8 Aug 2016   Syria

Syrian opposition fighters vowed to capture all of Aleppo after breaking a weeks-long siege of the northern city that has become a critical battleground of the country’s five-year civil war.  Fierce battles raged in several parts of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its economic hub before the war, after rebels made advances against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.   Rebels are trying to push from the south-west further into regime-held areas of the city as they attempt to reverse a government offensive that began last week and was backed by Russian air power.  “The other half of Aleppo — the occupied half — will be liberated soon, God willing,” said Ezzedin Salama, a spokesman for Fastaqem Kama Umirt, a US-backed rebel group that took part in the offensive.  It is still not clear that the campaign, which was by jihadi forces, can maintain its momentum.  If Russia increases military support to Mr Assad’s troops in Aleppo, the rebels could struggle to retain their grip on territory secured at the weekend.

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Islamic State ‘almost completely’ ousted from Syria’s Manbij city: Observatory

6 Aug 2016   Syria

U.S.-backed forces trying to oust Islamic State militants from the Syrian city of Manbij took “almost complete control” of the city on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and Arab fighters, launched its campaign two months ago with the backing of U.S. special forces to drive Islamic State from a last stretch of the Syrian-Turkish frontier. The official spokesman of the SDF-allied Manbij military council, Sharfan Darwish, told Reuters that battles were continuing but that around 90 percent of the city had now been cleared of Islamic State. Pockets of militants are still present in the center of the city, the Britain-based Observatory said. (Reporting by Lisa […]

ISIL digging hundreds of small pits to store oil in lieu of destroyed refineries

9 Jul 2016   Syria

Satellite images provided to the Washington Post by Stratfor, a U.S. geospatial research firm, show tiny, makeshift refineries popping up in Mosul oil fields controlled by ISIL. With its refineries mostly destroyed and its tanker fleet under constant attack, ISIL is increasingly turning to low-tech alternatives for processing oil, a vital source of revenue for the terrorist group, new satellite images reveal. Aerial photos taken near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul show scores of tiny, makeshift refineries popping up in oil fields controlled by the Islamic State, evidence the jihadists are finding workarounds after losing much of their oil infrastructure to airstrikes. The micro-refineries — sometimes called “teapots” — consist of little more than a ditch or pit for storing crude and a portable metal furnace used to distill raw petroleum into fuel. Thousands of such systems have long been in operation in ISIL’s Syrian strongholds, but now […]

Suicide, car bomb blasts hit Damascus suburb, at least eight dead: state media

11 Jun 2016   Syria

At least eight people were killed and scores wounded in twin suicide and car bomb blasts on Saturday in a Damascus suburb that contains Syria’s holiest Shi’ite Muslim shrine, state television said. State media, which flashed the news, did not give further details about the bombings in the Sayeda Zeinab area, where at least three bomb attacks claimed by Islamic State militants have killed and injured scores of people this year. A Shi’ite religious cleric on the state-run Ikhbariyah TV channel said the car bomb blast was not far from the shrine area in the main al-Taen street. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll was at least nine. The heavily garrisoned area is a well known stronghold of Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite Hezbollah group, a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands of Iraqi and Afghan Shi’ite militia recruits who volunteer to fight against […]

Islamic State loses ground on fronts in Syria, Iraq

9 Jun 2016   Syria

Islamic State’s far-flung enemies in Syria and Iraq pressed ahead on Wednesday with major advances on multiple fronts that have put some of the greatest pressure on the ultra-hardline Islamists since they declared their caliphate two years ago. A spokesman for a U.S.-backed alliance in northern Syria said it was poised to enter the city of Manbij, a week after launching an assault with the aim of cutting off the last stretch of Turkish frontier still under Islamic State control. A short distance further west, rebels fighting against both Islamic State and the government of President Bashar al-Assad said Islamic State fighters had pulled out of an area near the border. Assad’s forces, backed by Russian airpower, also launched an offensive against Islamic State last week and have advanced in territory further south. And at the opposite end of the self-proclaimed caliphate, 750 km down the Euphrates River, Iraqi […]

U.S.-backed Syria force closes in on Islamic State-held city; slow Iraq advance causes rift

7 Jun 2016   Syria

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have surrounded the Islamic State-held city of Manbij from three sides as they press a major new offensive against the jihadists near the Turkish border, a spokesman for the fighters said on Monday. But in a sign of the difficulty world powers have faced in building a coalition to take on the self-declared caliphate, the slow pace of a separate assault by the Iraqi army on a militant bastion near Baghdad caused a rift between the Shi’ite-led government and powerful Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia. The simultaneous assaults on Manbij in Syria and Falluja in Iraq, at opposite ends of Islamic State territory, are two of the biggest operations yet against Islamic State in what Washington says is the year it hopes to […]

Blasts kill more than 100 in Syrian government stronghold: monitor

23 May 2016   Syria

A Syrian army soldier and civilians inspect the damage after explosions hit the Syrian city of Tartous, in this handout picture provided by SANA on May 23, 2016. SANA/Handout via Bomb blasts killed more than 100 people in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous on Monday, monitors said, in a government-controlled area that hosts Russian forces. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Mediterranean cites that have up to now escaped the worst of the conflict, saying it was targeting supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Scores were wounded in at least five suicide attacks and two car bombs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, the first assaults of their kind in Tartous, where government ally Russia maintains a naval facility, and Jableh. State media confirmed the attacks but gave a lower toll. Fighting has increased in other parts of Syria in recent weeks as […]

Wave of bombings kills at least 65 on Syria’s loyalist coast

23 May 2016   Syria

A wave of bombings in Syria killed at least 65 people Monday in a coastal area where Russian troops are based, Syrian state media reported. The attacks struck at one of the key strongholds for President Bashar al-Assad outside Damascus and the hub for Russian military operations backing his government. Three explosions struck the port city of Tartous, where Russia has long maintained a naval base and four more hit the town of Jabla, not far from a new Russian air base established for the purpose of intervening in Syria’s war late last year, according to the state news agency SANA. The attacks targeted bus stations and a hospital and at least two of them were suicide bombings, the […]

Wartime Damascus Preserves Tenuous Air of Normalcy Amid Syria’s Ruin

3 May 2016   Syria

Adnan Gimaah was perhaps the sourest purveyor of sweets in the old souk of Damascus. If a customer questioned the quality of his wares, he snorted impatiently. If they haggled too hard, he invited them to leave. His idea of small talk was to grumble about the phone bill his wife incurred in nightly calls to their son, a homesick refugee in Germany. “Costing me a fortune,” he said. Still, it was impossible to miss the humor that undergirded his gruff manner, and the customers seemed to like it. It matched the mood of the city: a fatigued capital with an increasingly threadbare air, trapped in an interminable season of war. Damascus is shielded […]

Partial Truce Said to Be Restored in Syria, but Not Yet in Aleppo

30 Apr 2016   Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — As Syria convulsed from the bloodiest week there in months, the United States and Russia declared on Friday that they had won agreement for a new partial truce in several strategic areas, but that it would not immediately include Aleppo, the divided city where recent attacks killed more than 200 people. State Department officials insisted that Aleppo would eventually be included and that they would be working with Russia to ensure that the truce’s geographic reach would extend to the city. Fighting in Aleppo over the past week shattered a respite created by the cease-fire that had prevailed for the past two months. But it was hard to escape the conclusion that Russia, which is supporting the Syrian government, had not agreed to include Aleppo in what the United States called a reaffirmation of the original truce. Official Russian and Syrian government news media announced that […]

‘Monstrous’ violence in Syria as government excludes Aleppo from truce

30 Apr 2016   Syria

Syria called local truces near Damascus and in a northern province on Friday but no halt to combat on the main battlefield in Aleppo, after a surge in fighting the United Nations said showed “monstrous disregard” for civilian lives. A new “regime of calm” would begin from 1:00 a.m. on Saturday and last one day in the capital’s eastern Ghouta suburb and three days in the northern countryside of the coastal province of Latakia, the army said in a statement. But by excluding the city of Aleppo, scene of the worst recent violence, the narrow truces were unlikely to resurrect a ceasefire and peace talks that have collapsed this week. In the worst recent attack, an air strike destroyed a hospital in a rebel-held area overnight on Wednesday-Thursday. The French charity Medecins sans Frontieres, which supported the hospital, said on Friday the death toll had risen to at least […]

Syrian food crisis deepens as war chokes farming

26 Apr 2016   Syria

Syria’s war has destroyed agricultural infrastructure and fractured the state system that provides farmers with seeds and buys their crops, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a country struggling to produce enough grain to feed its people. The country’s shortage of its main staple wheat is worsening. The area of land sown with the cereal – used to make bread – and with barley has fallen again this year, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told Reuters. The northeast province of Hasaka, which accounts for almost half the country’s wheat production has seen heavy fighting between the Kurdish YPG militia, backed by the U.S.-led air strikes, and Islamic State militants. Farming infrastructure, including irrigation canals and grain depots, has been destroyed, according to the FAO. It said the storage facilities of the state seeds […]

Activists: Car bomb kills 6 in Syrian capital

25 Apr 2016   Syria

An activist-run monitoring group says a car bomb has exploded in a suburb of Damascus that is home to one of the holiest Shiite shrines in Syria, killing six people. Syrian state TV confirmed the car bomb attack in the government-held Sayyida Zeinab district, but did not provide details on casualties. Shiite fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran who have flocked to Syria to fight alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces often say they are there to defend the Sayyida Zeinab shrine. The shrine is heavily guarded. A previous blast in the suburb, claimed by the Islamic State group, killed some 130 people in February.

Oil finances nearly severed for Islamic State

15 Apr 2016   Iraq, Syria

Military strikes on oil lines controlled by terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria cutting into their financial life line, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says. Pictured, a pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq early in the morning of September 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria. Photo by Matthew Bruch/USAF/UPI WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) — Thousands of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria have curbed the group’s ability to fund operations through oil, the White House said. As the president spoke before the Central Intelligence Agency, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States and its regional strategic partners have carried out more than 11,500 strikes on the Islamic State to date. The terrorist group is said to generate anywhere between several hundred thousand dollars to as much as $2 billion in illicit oil trade. […]

Syria’s Partial Cease-Fire Shows Signs of Crumbling

13 Apr 2016   Syria

A fragile and partial cease-fire in Syria is coming under new strains, with ground clashes and airstrikes intensifying as the government promises a new offensive and prepares to hold controversial parliamentary elections on Wednesday. France, one of the most outspoken international opponents of Syria ’s president, Bashar al-Assad , and Iran, his closest ally, both issued warnings that the partial cease-fire, which has lasted far longer than any other and has reduced the daily death toll significantly since Feb. 27, faced the threat of collapse. A day before the next round of peace talks is set to start, France, along with opposition negotiators, blamed new government attacks in the northern province of Aleppo and the eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus, for endangering the agreement, while Iran blamed “armed groups” fighting the […]

Opinion: Why is Iran “Openly” Announcing its Presence in Syria?

8 Apr 2016   Iran, Syria

The deputy coordinator of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces General Amir-Ali Arasteh announced that his country will send “special forces from Brigade 65 and other units to Syria to work as advisers” and added that Iran may decide at some point to use special forces and snipers as military advisers in Iraq and Syria. So why is Iran “openly” admitting its involvement in Syria now? It is known that Tehran has mercenaries and militias working for it. These include Hezbollah terrorists and forces of the Revolutionary Guards’ units that fight in support of the criminal Bashar Al-Assad. However, Iran has always denied this and its role in Syria has been shamefully overlooked by western media. The Obama administration has also overlooked Tehran’s villainous role in supporting the criminal of Damascus, and before that its supporters in Iraq. So why is Iran publicly announcing its deployment of troops to Syria? […]

Russia and US pledge renewed effort for Syria peace

25 Mar 2016   Russia, Syria, USA

Russia and the US pledged on Thursday to push for a faster political resolution to the Syrian crisis and broaden their efforts to secure a continuation of a month-old ceasefire.  It was unclear, however, whether John Kerry, the US secretary of state, extracted any commitments from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the fate of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president.  “We agreed on a target schedule for establishing a framework for a political transition and also for a new constitution by August,” Mr Kerry said late on Thursday after marathon talks with Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, and Mr Putin in Moscow.  Moscow’s intentions for the future of the Syrian regime was at the heart of Mr Kerry’s mission for the trip. The question of whether, when and how Mr Assad will go is expected to determine whether any political deal can be reached with the Syrian opposition.

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