Advertisements


Syria prays for rain at President Assad s request

DAMASCUS — Imams across Syria are directing Muslims to pray for rain during this week’s congregational yesterday prayers. Source link link: Syria prays for rain at President Assad's request.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilainformer manilainformerDec 29th, 2017

Syria prays for rain at President Assad s request

DAMASCUS — Imams across Syria are directing Muslims to pray for rain during this week’s congregational yesterday prayers. Source link link: Syria prays for rain at President Assad's request.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsDec 29th, 2017

Turkish president calls Syria s Assad a terrorist

TUNIS — Syria's peace efforts cannot include President Bashar Assad, Turkey's leader said yesterday, calling him a "terrorist.".....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

Putin briefs Trump on Syria after surprise Assad talks

SOCHI, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Syria on Tuesday, November 21, with his US counterpart Donald Trump, with both speaking of the need for progress toward a peace settlement following the Russian leader's surprise summit with Bashar al-Assad. Putin's talks with Assad were part of Moscow's effort to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2017

Putin meets Assad ahead of Syria talks with Turkey and Iran

SOCHI, Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin met with embattled Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Sochi ahead of talks on Wednesday with leaders from Turkey and Iran aimed at re-booting the peace process in the conflict-torn country. The Kremlin said Monday’s (Tuesday in Manila) meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi came during a “working [...] The post Putin meets Assad ahead of Syria talks with Turkey and Iran appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

Territorial losses suffered by Islamic State in Syria, Iraq

BEIRUT --- With new losses, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 percent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a "caliphate" in the region. Syrian President Bashar Assad's military on Friday announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants' last significant urban area in Iraq. The militants are left fighting for a final stretch inside Syria and desert regions along the Iraq-Syria border. Three years ago, they had defiantly erased that line, knocking down berms marking the frontier...Keep on reading: Territorial losses suffered by Islamic State in Syria, Iraq.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 4th, 2017

Syria s Assad rejects security cooperation with the West

DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar Assad on yesterday refused any security cooperation with Western nations or the reopening of their embassies, until they c.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 20th, 2017

The World: Trump ends CIA support for anti-Assad Syria rebels

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration has decided to halt the CIA's covert program to equip and train certain rebel groups fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two US officials said, a move sought by Assad ally Russia......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 20th, 2017

What the Qatar crisis means for Hamas – CNN News

When Palestinian militant group Hamas announced its new charter to the world, it wasn't from Ramallah or Gaza City, but from the Sheraton hotel's gilded Salwa Ballroom in Doha. It was no surprise that Hamas chose Qatar. It's the home of outgoing Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, and much of his senior leadership. &'8220;Qatar is quite important for Hamas,&'8221; said H.A. Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. &'8220;Qatar provides strong financial aid to the occupied Palestinian territories and is a safe haven for a number of Hamas leaders.&'8221; The recent crisis in the Persian Gulf region is putting that relationship in jeopardy. Earlier this month, nine countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed financial embargoes of varying severity. The announcement was the culmination of a feud that had been simmering for years. The nine countries accused Doha of assisting terrorist organizations, providing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and of being far too cozy with Iran. Ironically perhaps, Qatar's relationship with Hamas had not been among the biggest issues dividing the region. Unlike the US, Britain, and Europe, all of which designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, Arab states &'8212; including Qatar &'8212; do not. This was something Qatar's Foreign Minister sought to remind people in an interview with Russia's RT, in response to a call from his Saudi counterpart that Qatar stop supporting Hamas. &'8220;The US views Hamas as a terror organization. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,&'8221; Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said. &'8220;Hamas' presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it's part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.&'8221; For its part, Hamas says it is being squeezed unreasonably. &'8220;The Gulf Countries are pressuring Qatar to cut relations with resistance organizations. This is unacceptable and we refuse this pressure,&'8221; Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom said in a statement to CNN. &'8220;We are a resistance movement and the whole world is a witness to this.&'8221; Hamas is seen as having been under a series of pressures for the last few years, reflected in some significant internal changes. Last month, a new leader was announced &'8212; Ismail Haniya taking over from long-time leader Meshaal &'8212; at the same time as the militant group issued its new charter. While Israel pointed to the fact the new document continued to espouse violent resistance, and a commitment to the &'8220;rejection of the Zionist entity,&'8221; others observers said the document's description of a Palestinian state with the borders existing on the eve of the Six Day War in 1967 provided evidence of a new moderation. As Hamas rank and file were digesting those changes, so the leadership was suddenly forced to pay careful attention to diplomatic developments. Hellyer sees two main reasons the nine regional allies are turning their attention towards Hamas. &'8220;First, Hamas has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood organization, which puts it in the firing line of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia,&'8221; Hellyer says. &'8220;But I think this has more to do with a western audience. The Saudi rulers took advantage of Trump's recognition of them as a powerful actor in the region and that might have encouraged them.&'8221; Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, has been a thorn in the side of regional autocrats for years. Qatar's regional influence also comes from support for Islamists, whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at one end of the spectrum, or Al Qaeda at the other. Doha has used this sway to negotiate with various groups including the Taliban, as well as to help negotiate ceasefires between Israel and Hamas. In late 2010 and into 2011, Qatar saw its influence throughout the Middle East rise sharply. Al Jazeera, already a thorn in the side of Arab autocrats, reported extensively on the Arab Spring. The Al Jazeera Arabic channel grew additional roots in Egypt after the uprising and election of Mohamed Morsy who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood. The international community praised the new Egyptian president for bringing a swift end to a war between Gaza militants and Israel that same year. In the long run, though, as it unraveled across the region, the Arab Spring proved to be disastrous for Hamas, which saw the number of countries it could call a friend whittled away. &'8220;Hamas had very strong relations with Syria, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Iran,&'8221; says Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician. &'8220;Things have changed over time so they had to diversify relations.&'8221; Before 2012, the Hamas leadership was based out of Damascus. Tensions grew between the militants and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as revolution gripped the country. Eventually, Hamas sided with the rebels and cut ties to some extent with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. &'8220;Hamas lost a lot in the uprisings,&'8221; says Hellyer. &'8220;This is one of the reasons why Qatar stepped in.&'8221; Qatar, a strong supporter of both the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas, took advantage of the situation. In the fall of 2012, the head of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited the Gaza Strip becoming the first world leader to do so under Hamas control. The emir inaugurated projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the vacuum left [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 13th, 2017

Trump advisers: US seeks to fight IS and oust Syria s Assad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's national security adviser on Sunday left open the possibility of additional U.S......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 10th, 2017

US missile strike could resonate beyond Syria

BEIRUT — President Donald Trump's 59-missile message to Syria — the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated — may well resonate with Bashar Assad......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 8th, 2017

Trump warns something should happen after Syria attack

PALM BEACH- President Donald Trump on Thursday denounced Bashar al-Assad as responsible for an "egregious" crime, suggesting the United States could be poise.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 7th, 2017

US warns of unilateral Syria moves if UN fails to act – Al Jazeera

The United States has warned it could take unilateral action if the United Nations fails to respond to a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria that killed more than 80 people, including many children. &'8220;When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,&'8221; US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Wednesday. The warning came during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called by France and Britain after an early morning attack on Tuesday in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province. Britain, France and the US presented a draft resolution demanding a full investigation of the attack, which they blamed on the Syrian government. But talks ended without a vote after Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the text was &'8220;categorically unacceptable&'8221;. Syria has denied the allegations, while Russia had blamed the rebels, saying the deaths occurred when a government shell hit a rebel chemical weapons depot. Haley lashed out at Moscow for failing to rein in Damascus, standing in the council chamber to hold up photographs of victims &'' one showing a young child lying lifeless, a mask covering his face. &'8220;How many more children have to die before Russia cares?&'8221; she asked. &'8220;If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims to have, we need to see them use it,&'8221; she said. &'8220;We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts.&'8221; The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 86 people, including 30 children, were killed in the raid on Khan Sheikhoun. Dozens more were left gasping for air, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth, doctors said. If confirmed, it will be be the worst chemical weapons attack in Syria since 2013, when sarin gas was used on a rebel-held area of Damascus. &'8220;If we are not prepared to act, then this council will keep meeting, month after month to express outrage at the continuing use of chemical weapons and it will not end,&'8221; Haley said. &'8220;We will see more conflict in Syria. We will see more pictures that we can never unsee.&'8221; The draft resolution backs a probe by the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and demands that Syria cooperate to provide information on its military operations on the day of the assault. Russia's Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council the proposed measure was hastily prepared and unnecessary, but voiced support for an investigation. &'8220;The main task now is to have an objective inquiry into what happened,&'8221; he said. Negotiations continued on the proposed resolutions throughout most of Wednesday. Diplomats said it could come up for a vote at the council as early as Thursday. In a press conference at the White House later in the day, US President Donald Trump said the chemical attack had crossed &'8220;many, many lines&'8221; and had abruptly changed his thinking about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. &'160; Only days earlier multiple members of Trump's administration had said Assad's ouster was no longer a US priority, drawing outrage from Assad critics in the United States and abroad. But Trump said Tuesday's attack &'8220;had a big impact on me &'' big impact&'8221;. &'8220;My attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much,&'8221; he said, but refused to telegraph any potential US military retaliation. Since the attack, Trump has been under increasing pressure to explain whether it was egregious enough to force a US response. Robert Ford, former US ambassador to Syria, expressed scepticism that Trump would resort to military action. &'8220;As a presidential candidate he could not have been more clear that he wanted to avoid military involvement in the Syrian civil war,&'8221; he told Al Jazeera. &'8220;For him to order military strikes, even limited military strikes, in response to the chemical attack in Idlib, would be a gigantic change and not one that I'm at all sure that the administration is actually going to do.&'8221; Ford said all fingers point to the Syrian government as the culprit of the attack. &'8220;I find it laughable that governments such as Russia would suggest that rebels have a chemical weapons capacity but they always seem to use it on their own people and never on the Syrian army,&'8221; he added. Idlib hospitals overwhelmed after suspected gas attack Trump's first reaction to the attack was to blame former president Barack Obama's &'8220;weakness&'8221; in earlier years for enabling Assad. Obama had put Assad on notice that using chemical weapons would cross a &'8220;red line&'8221; necessitating a US response, but then failed to follow through, pulling back from planned air strikes on Assad's forces after Congress would not vote to approve them. Trump and other critics have cited that as a key moment the US lost much global credibility. &'8220;I now have responsibility,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;That responsibility could be made a lot easier if it was handled years ago.&'8221; Joshua Landis, director for the Centre of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that the US would likely warn Moscow if it was to resort to using military might in Syria. &'8220;They have to disambiguate and they have to make sure that they don’t hurt any Russian soldiers,&'8221; he said. &'8220;But there’s a wide palette of things they can do. They can bomb airports and destroy the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 6th, 2017

Russia says deadly Syrian airstrike targeted chemical weapons factory – CNN News

Russia's defense ministry is blaming a Syrian airstrike on a &'8220;terrorist&'8221; ammunition depot for the deaths of dozens of people in what has been described as a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria's Idlib province. At least 70 people, including many children, died Tuesday after suffering symptoms of chemical poisoning, including foaming at the mouth and suffocation. According to a statement posted Wednesday on the Russian ministry's Facebook page, the strike hit &'8220;workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions&'8221; in the eastern outskirts of the Khan Sheikhoun town. Activists said the Syrian regime dropped a chemical bomb and was responsible for the killings, leading the United Nations to replace a scheduled Security Council session for Wednesday morning with an emergency meeting. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military denied using chemical weapons and blamed rebels for the carnage. Eyewitnesses said the attack's aftermath was nightmarish and unlike anything that they had previously seen. Feras al-Jundi, a physician who was an early responder in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib told CNN that, upon entering the hospital where many victims were taken, &'8220;there were many, many atrocious things to see.&'8221; He described seeing whole families who had died, corpses of those who had perished instantly in the attack, and also the dying breaths of those who the medical teams were unable to save. &'8220;I have never in my life seen anything like that,&'8221; he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. &'8220;The view was heartbreaking. It makes you (cry) blood.&'8221; He added he didn't see anyone who looked like a combatant among the dead. As an EU-UN chaired conference on Syria's future got underway in Brussels, the United States, Great Britain and France circulated a resolution to be presented at an emergency session at the United Nations Security Council condemning a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. If the resolution goes to a vote, it is likely to face a veto threat from Russia. The move is seen as forcing Moscow to be shamed by supporting the Assad regime even as it's again suspected of a chemical weapons attack. Arriving at the EU-brokered conference in Belgium, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of the suspected gas attack in Syria that he has &'8220;seen absolutely nothing to lead us to think that it is anything but the regime.&'8221; France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, will use the Brussels meeting to &'8220;reaffirm that the international community must remain mobilized in the face of the tragic situation in Syria after six years of war,&'8221; according to a statement from his ministry. At the conference, which runs from April 4 &'' 5, he will &'8220;underscore the urgent need to implement a political transition in Syria,&'8221; the statement says. But Feras, the doctor who witnessed the aftermath of the attack, says the mood on the ground in some parts of Syria is frustration that the international community is not holding the Syrian regime to account for its atrocities. &'8220;I feel frustrated, because of the international community and the UN that have not forced the regime to abide by the Security Council resolution but&' has been watching and doing nothing, which has allowed the regime to keep bombing the people with cluster bombs, scud missiles and now gas.&'8221; US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemned the attack but previously had said that Assad's ouster was not a priority for the Trump administration. &'8220;Do we think he's a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,&'8221; she said last week. The Syrian Coalition, an umbrella opposition group, referred to the suspected chemical attack as a &'8220;crime similar to that in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 that the international community allowed to pass without accountability or punishment.&'8221; That attack tested the resolve of then-President Barack Obama in the face of atrocities committed by the Assad regime. Referring to the 2013 attack, McCain told CNN: &'8220;We've seen this movie before, it was when Barack Obama said they would have a red line, they crossed it and he did nothing. Bashar Assad and his friends, the Russians, take note of what Americans say.&'8221; The Ghouta attack prompted Obama to ask Congress to authorize military action against Syria in 2013. Shortly after, Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to give up control of its chemical weapons, leading Obama to retreat from threats of military action. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday that the attack is a &'8220;consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution.&'8221; Khaula Sawah, board member and former CEO of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (OUSSM), another umbrella organization, said that her field team in Idlib had received reports of whole families discovered dead, and were expecting the body count to rise. She said that her field team had reported that, while nerve gas cannot be confirmed at this time, based on the symptoms of the patients, doctors believe that this is some form of organophosphate nerve agent. &'8220;The symptoms rapidly developed within minutes, including redness of eyes, foaming at the mouth, contracted pupils, severe dyspnoea (labored breathing) or shortness of breath and suffocation,&'8221; she told CNN. &'8220;The symptoms progressed so rapid that fatality occurred within 10 minutes. If there were no supportive care or ICU, people were dying.&'8221; She said that a decontamination point had been set up for victims before taking them to Turkey to receive [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

White House blames Obama admin for suspected Syria chemical attack – ABC News

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that a suspected chemical attack in a Syrian town was a &'8220;consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution.&'8221; &'8220;Today's attack is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,&'8221; Spicer told reporters. &'8220;These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he'd establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The U.S. stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.&'8221; U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the State Department in Washington, ignored questions from reporters about the chemical weapons attack. The Department of State later released an official statement condemning it. &'8220;While we continue to monitor the terrible situation, it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism,&'8221; Tillerson said in the statement. &'8220;Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions. Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable.&'8221; Tillerson also called upon Russia and Iran to &'8220;exercise their influence over the Syrian regime and to guarantee that this sort of horrific attack never happens again.&'8221; And Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., tweeted that the Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday morning. &'8220;Assad must be held accountable for these barbaric attacks against his own people,&'8221; she wrote. The alleged Syrian government airstrike, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria, killed at least 58 civilians, including 19 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group. The Syria Civil Defense and the Health Directorate in Idlib said that more than 50 people were killed and 300 injured. Syria's military denied using chemical weapons against civilians, saying it is too &'8220;honorable&'8221; to carry out such &'8220;heinous&'8221; crimes while the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Damascus is committed to its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention it joined in 2013, denying its military has used such agents in today’s attack. If confirmed the incident would be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since sarin gas killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta in August 2013. Today's attack appeared to involve a gas that caused victims to choke and faint, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria Civil Defense, medics and residents. Warplanes later struck the town again, hitting a hospital where some of the victims were being treated and a Syria Civil Defense center. &'8220;What moved us most was when we entered a house and saw a whole family — a father, a mother and four children — killed because of the chemical attack,&'8221; Abdullah al-Hussein, a Syria Civil Defense volunteer who was at the scene, told ABC News in a voice recording in Arabic. &'8220;They had been asleep. They were in their beds. The truth is that what happened today was painful in all meanings of the word.&'8221; He said that many residents were still asleep when the attack happened in the early morning. He saw more than 100 injured people and at least 20 bodies of children, women and men at one of the hospitals tasked with treating victims, he said. US reviewing airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that may have killed 100s of civilians Syria struggles with shortage of drugs for young cancer patients Muneer, a schoolteacher who lives in Khan Sheikhoun, said he was alone at home when he heard the attack. &'8220;I hid in the corner of the room,&'8221; Muneer, who asked that his last name not be published, out of security concerns, told ABC News via a messaging app in Arabic. He said he lives in the center of the town and the attack took place in the northern part. When he later tried to approach the area that was struck, people told him not to go any farther. &'8220;They warned me that I would faint if I came close,&'8221; he said, &'8220;so I stopped walking.&'8221; He said schools were closed today. Doctors in Syria who treated some of the victims told ABC News that they saw patients with pinpoint pupils, foaming at the mouth, loss of consciousness, slow breathing, running noses and other neurological symptoms consistent with chemical weapons. &'8220;The hospital in Khan Sheikhoun was filled with injured children, women and men, and a smell of chlorine was filling the place,&'8221; Mohammad Alshagel, a media activist with the Aleppo Media Center who visited the hospital, told ABC News. &'8220;The injured had heavy choking symptoms, and some of them died five minutes after arriving, even though medical staff tried to help them.&'8221; He said the hospital was attacked after he left. He has witnessed the aftermath of several chemical attacks in Aleppo and they were not as bad as this one, he said. &'8220;It was a horrible scene. Children were crying, asking for their parents who had died, and women were screaming,&'8221; he said. Raed al-Saleh, the head of the volunteer Syria Civil Defense, or White Helmets, told ABC News that five rockets hit the group's center in the town, destroying equipment. The attack comes as world leaders and diplomats gather in Brussels for talks [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

Trump blames Assad and Obama for chemical attack in Syria

WASHINGTON — Confronted by one of his first foreign crises, President Donald Trump on Tuesday split the blame for Syria's worst chemical weapons attack in ye.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 5th, 2017

EU says it s unrealistic to imagine Syria s Assad can stay

BRUSSELS — The European Union's top diplomat says it is unrealistic to think that President Bashar Assad could retain power over any future government in a p.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2017

Clashes in Syria’s Damascus after surprise rebel attack – Al Jazeera

Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital on Sunday after rebel fighters launched a surprise assault on government forces, a monitor and state television said. Steady shelling and sniper fire could be heard across Damascus on Sunday as rebel factions allied with former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham launched an attack on government positions in the city's east. The clashes centered on a government-held gap between two besieged opposition enclaves, the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods. The Ahrar al-Sham rebel group said fighters had &'8220;liberated&'8221; the area. Tahrir al-Sham &'' a umbrella group of rebels formed by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham last month &'' and the independent Failaq al-Rahman group also participated in the attack. Syrian state media said the military had repelled an attack by one group after &'8220;terrorists&'8221; infiltrated through tunnels in the middle of the night. Rebels detonated two large car bombs at 5:20am on Sunday close to the Jobar neighborhood. Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility for the attack. Rebels then advanced into the nearby Abbasiyn Square area, seizing several buildings and firing a barrage of rockets into multiple Damascus neighbourhoods, according to Rami Abdelrahman of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Government forces responded with nearly a dozen air strikes on Jobar, he added. Al Jazeera's Mohamed Al Jazaeri, reporting from near Damascus, said that at least 15 civilians had been killed after government forces shelled residential neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta, but that the fighting had since become less intense. &'8220;This advance is the largest for opposition groups in over a year and a half,&'8221; Al Jazaeri said. &'8220;Military operations have not stopped in the area but it has calmed down. There remains sniper shooting from both sides and regime forces are shelling Jobar neighborhood, as well as other areas controlled recently by the opposition.&'8221; Control of Jobar &'' which has been a battleground district for more than two years &'' is divided between rebels and allied fighters on one side, and government forces on the other. It is one of three pockets in the Syrian capital still in opposition hands. The recent fighting has resulted in rebel control of industrial areas in Al-Qaboun in addition to parts of Abbasiyn breaking a siege on the area and linking it to Jobar neighborhood, which is connected to Eastern Ghouta, Al Jazaeri said. Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that the offensive had taken the government by surprise and that its response was likely to be very significant. &'8220;I don't think it's going to change the trajectory of the war, which has been seeing the regime make important gains and the opposition getting increasingly restricted. But it shows the opposition is far from dead. It shows also that this new combination led by [Tahrir al-Sham] is very potent,&'8221; Landis said. &'8220;The regime is going to realise that it cannot allow these two areas to linger there because they are beachheads for this Tahrir a-Sham group to make inroads into the Damascus area,&'8221; he said, adding the government would likely withdraw some forces from areas such as Homs and Hama to refocus on Damascus. &'8220;It means that the fight is still on, there are many fronts to this war, and the opposition remains powerful.&'8221; Syrian state TV aired footage from Abbasiyn Square, typically buzzing with activity but now empty except for the sound of shelling. Residents said artillery shells and rockets were landing in the heart of the city. The Observatory said rebel shells hit several nearby districts in Damascus, including Bab Touma, Rukn al-Din and the Abbasiyin area. Several schools announced they would close through Monday, and many civilians cowered inside in fear of stray bullets and shelling. According to the Observatory, the Faylaq al-Rahman group and the Fateh al-Sham Front &'' known as al-Nusra Front before it broke ties with al-Qaeda &'' were present in Jobar. &'8220;This neighbourhood is the most important front line because it's the closest rebel position to the heart of the capital,&'8221; said Abdel Rahman. Government forces have long sought to push the rebels out of the district because of its proximity to the city centre in Damascus. But with Sunday's attack, Abdel Rahman said, &'8220;rebels have shifted from a defensive position in Jobar to an offensive one&'8221;. &'8220;These are not intermittent clashes &'' these are ongoing attempts to advance,&'8221; he said. One rebel commander told the Associated Press news agency they launched the assualt from Jobar as a way to relieve allied fighters in the nearby districts of Barzeh, Tishreen, and Qabun from government attacks. &'8220;This is to relieve the pressure on rebels with the regime not stopping its bombardment and artillery shelling,&'8221; said Abu Abdo, a commander from Failaq al Rahman. The attack on Damascus comes just days before a fresh round of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva aiming to put an end to Syria's six-year war. Rebels and government troops agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities in December, but fighting has continued across much of the country, including in the capital. Rebels said the army had advanced in the last two days after weeks of bombardment and aerial strikes aimed at regaining control of strategic areas inside the capital, a few kms away from President Bashar al Assad's seat of power. The army had advanced towards a road between Qaboun and Barza, whose capture severed the links between the two besieged rebel districts where tens of thousands of [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 20th, 2017

Syrian rebels and insurgents battle in split over peace push

BEIRUT — Syria's ragtag rebel groups and insurgents trying to oust President Bashar Assad have turned their guns on each other in some of the worst infightin.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 7th, 2017

5 things to know about Syria s Aleppo

BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and years of fighting have laid waste to much of the city of Aleppo, but he has won it back after nearly six.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2016

Kremlin: demands for Assad s departure 'thoughtless'

MOSCOW — The entire territory of Syria must be "liberated," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said in remarks televised yesterday, dismissing dema.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2016