Syrian Army Continues Fighting Terrorists in Three Provinces

Damascus, Jun 22 ( Prensa Latina ) The Syrian Army has continued Saturday the fighting against terrorist groups in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Idleb in joint actions of artillery, own and Russian aviation and infantry units, according to military sources.

The most recent reports confirmed the destruction of an operations center of the Levant Liberation Board, formerly Al Nusra Front, near the town of Muhandissen, west of Aleppo province, 450 kilometers north of Damascus.

According to sources, three artillery vans, one armoured vehicle and an unspecified number of casualties for extremists were destroyed in response to continued attacks against Syrian-controlled populations.

On the other hand, government troops were deployed on the front of Kafer Noaboudeh, in the north of Hama province and bordering that of Latakia, where the former Al Nusra and the so-called Turkestan Party, composed of mercenaries of the Uyghur Chinese ethnicity, alternatively held positions in the Kabani region. In this area, which forms part of a demilitarized zone never respected by terrorists, fighting continued for control of the road between the towns of Saqalabiyeh and Mhardeh, these latter under the domination of government troops.

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We won’t sell out our allies or principles to strike Syria deal with US, says Putin

Russia will not reach any agreement with the United States on the future of Syria at the cost of Syria itself or Moscow’s interests and principles, President Vladimir Putin has said.

During his annual Q&A session on Thursday, a journalist asked Putin if there would be a “grand deal” with the US on Syria as the country begins to recover from years of hostilities and destruction.

“What do you mean ‘a grand deal’? Sounds like some commercial act. No. We don’t sell out our allies, our interests or our principles,” Putin said.

He said that Russia is willing to negotiate a political transition in Syria with various stakeholders. “Can it be done? I believe it can, provided there is goodwill of everyone involved in the conflict.”

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Putin highlighted Turkey and Iran as Russia’s immediate partners in resolving the Syrian crisis, but said countries like the US, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan have legitimate interests in what happens in Syria as do the European nations, which were hurt by mass migration triggered by it. “We have to work together on it,” he stressed.

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Terrorists, White Helmets Planning to Launch Chemical Attacks on Six Hama Regions

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and Jeish al-Izza as well as pro-militant White Helmets are preparing for a false-flag chemical scenario on six different locations in Northern Hama to accuse the Syrian Army later, media sources said.

The Arabic-language website of Russian Sputnik news agency quoted informed sources in Idlib province as saying that Tahrir al-Sham terrorists have transferred three chlorine capsules to Northern Hama from one of their headquarters in Jbal al-Zawiyeh in Southern Idlib.

The sources said that the chlorine gas capsules have been handed over to one of Jeish al-Izza commanders near the contact lines with the Syrian Army in Kafar Zita town.

They also said that Jeish al-Izza terrorists will probably conduct chemical attacks on residential areas in Eastern Kafar Zita, Latamin, al-Sayyad, Lahaya and the surrounding areas of the cities of Mourek and Khan Sheikhoun near the Syrian Army's contract line to be able to control the crime scene and make filming easier for them.

According to different media, security and diplomatic reports, Jeish al-Izza terrorists have several underground and secret warehouses containing different kinds of chlorine-mounted missiles in Northern and Northwestern Hama, including interconnected tunnels between Kafar Zita, al-Latamaneh and Southern Latmin farms.

Meantime, the terrorist groups intend to launch chemical attack in Idlib province in a false flag operation against the Syrian army to set the stage for military intervention by the West and the US on Syria.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Army backed by Syrian and Russian air forces warded off several attacks launched by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at in several regions to regain the regions they have already lost in Northern Hama, killing over 140 terrorists.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted a military source as saying that the Syrian Army in a coordinated military operation from the towns of al-Jobin, al-Hamamiat and Karnaz in Northern and Northwestern Hama launched counterattacks after fending off terrorists' offensives, and killed tens of militants after fully cleansing the towns of Kafar Houd and Tal al-Melh.

It pointed to the Syrian Army's continued military operations to clean up the remnants of terrorists, and said after purging the terrorists from the farms located between Tal Melh and al-Jobin town in Northern Hama, the Syrian Army liberated all the positions that it had temporarily withdrawn from.

The Syrian Army also held captive several terrorists in an ambush operation in Karnaz and Tal Melh in Northern Hama.

The Syrian and Russian fighter jets also heavily pounded the terrorists' lines of movement in different axes, including al-Zuka, al-Arbaeen, al-Latamneh and Kafar Zita, the surroundings of Mourek, Khan Sheikhoun and the town of al-Sayyad in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib. The Syrian and Russian air forces managed to cut the terrorists' movements from Idlib to Northern and Northwestern Hama.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, it was announced that the Syrian Army had seized full control of 23 villages and towns from the terrorists since the beginning of its military operations in Hama province.

The Syrian Army's massive military operations started in Hama and Idlib provinces after the terrorists violated the Sochi Agreement on April 26 and the government forces have spread their rule to Southern Idlib.

A sum of 18 towns and villages have been liberated in Northern and Western parts of Hama province and the Syrian Army has also imposed full control over five other regions in Southern Idlib, the pro-militant Anab Baladi news website reported.

In Northern and Western Idlib, the Syrian Army has earned control of Janabareh, Tal Osman, Jaberieh, Tal Hawash, Toyieh, Sheikh Idris, Kafar Naboudeh, Qala al-Maziq, al-Tavineh, al-Sharia, Bab Taqa, al-Hamreh, al-Hawiz, al-Mohajerin, al-Karkat, al-Mostariheh, al-Khaledi and al-Hardan.

In Southern Idlib, the Syrian Army started its military operations on Monday and it has already regained control of al-Qasabiyeh, al-Hardaneh, al-Hamirat, al-Qaroutiyeh and Qaraseh.

Meantime, the Syrian State television reported that the Syrian Army has kicked off new military operations in Tarmala, al-Nafir and the surrounding areas of Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib.

The Arabic-language SANA news agency also reported that the Syrian Army's artillery units has been heavily pounding the al-Nusra Front and Jeish al-Izzeh terrorists' military positions in al-Zaqoum, Qalididan and al-Zuka regions in Northwestern Hama Province in the last few days.

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Nest of terrorists in Idlib, Syria should be uprooted – Lavrov

The Russian airbase Khmeimim in Syria has been under fire from the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib recently, and the “nest of terrorists must be uprooted,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

He made the statement at a news conference with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Moscow.

Under the new name Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the terrorist group “not only controls the situation there, but also shells positions of the Syrian Army and settlements,” Lavrov said.

The head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation, Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, said on Tuesday that militants violated a ceasefire in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia over a period of 24 hours.

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Events in Venezuela are similar to what happened in Syria – Assad tells visiting FM

The war in Syria has much in common with the political crisis gripping Venezuela, where outside players try to meddle in domestic affairs and undermine sovereignty, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Venezuela’s Foreign Minister.

What is happening in Venezuela is similar to the developments in Syria,” Bashar Assad told Jorge Arreaza during his visit to Damascus, as quoted by Russian media. Those interfering in both crises seek “hegemony” over Syria’s and Venezuela’s sovereignty, Assad claimed.

Slamming the US-led “flagrant interference” in Venezuela’s domestic affairs, the Syrian president said sanctions and embargoes became playbook examples of pressuring “anyone who does not adhere to their policy.”

Arreaza visited Damascus while touring other countries in the region, including Turkey and Lebanon.

Earlier this year, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, garnering unconditional support and recognition from a series of states, including the US and other Western powers. Washington has even mulled the so-called “humanitarian intervention” in order to remove the unwanted government of Nicolas Maduro from power.

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The Syrian conflict started on the heels of anti-government demonstrations inspired by the 2011 Arab Spring unrest. Protests erupted in several major cities, with opposition protesters demanding that Assad step down. Some of the anti-government groups took up arms and the violence rapidly escalated, sending the country into civil war. Most Western countries unambiguously supported anti-Assad factions, declaring that the president has “lost” his legitimacy. Militant groups took over control of vast parts of Syria during the civil war chaos and the rise of Islamic State and other terrorists.

A large portion of these so-called “moderate rebels,” backed and funded by the West while fighting the Syrian Army, turned out to be radical Islamist militants. Even the US had to admit its training program of the Syrian opposition fighters had failed as it proved difficult to find enough “moderates,” and some of those who did receive training infamously gave up hardware and arms to terrorist groups, including an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

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Russia, Iran & Turkey talk long-term Syrian peace in Sochi as US and allies beat war drums in Warsaw

Leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran have descended on the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss ways of ending Syria’s near-eight-year civil war. Meanwhile, hostile talk is emerging from a meeting of the US and its allies in Warsaw.

Ahead of the talks, the Kremlin said the purpose of the convention would be to discuss potential “joint steps” that can be taken to bring about a “long-term settlement” in the war-torn country.

In addition to the joint forum, President Vladimir Putin is also holding separate talks with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

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Speaking at the start of his meeting with Putin, President Erdogan said there was still uncertainty over Washington’s plan to remove troops stationed with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. However, he added that Turkey was willing to move ahead with coordinating a possible ‘safe zone’ with Russia.

9th tête-à-tête in the last year. They meet ahead of 4th summit on later on Thursday. Focus on crisis

Both Iran and Russia have been key allies in helping the Syrian government to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). NATO-member Turkey also has a keen interest in Syria. In 2016, Turkish-backed Syrian militias seized two border crossings and now control a strip of Syrian land as deep as 30km. The grab was considered a bid to contain the Kurdish militias of the YPG, a group seen as terrorists by Erdogan, preventing them from expanding further along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The Sochi summit comes as countries allied to the US are in the Polish capital for two days of meetings. Organized under a similar theme of bringing “peace and stability to the Middle East,” the talks have been seen as a way for US President Donald Trump to drum up support among European and Arab allies for further action on Iran.

Meanwhile, the Israeli leader has been even more blunt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel and Arab countries are in talks “in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran,” although the translation from Hebrew was later downgraded to “struggle.”

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Syrian Army Enters Manbij as YPG Withdraws, Asks for Protection

Syria's state media reported the army has entered the city of Manbij, hours after the YPG urged the government to protect the city of a Turkish "invasion."

The Syrian army deployed forces to the city of Manbij in northwest Syria Friday, after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) retreated from the area and urged Damascus to protect the town from the threat of a Turkish “invasion.”

RELATED: Turkish Forces Bound for Kurdish-Held Territory in Syria

According to state media SANA, Syrian forces raised the national flag in Manbij, while authorities expressed their commitment to guarantee “security for all Syrian citizens and others in the area.”

The announcement was made hours after YPG forces “invited” the Syrian government to assert control over the territory that lies only 30 kilometers away from the border with Turkey.

“We invite the Syrian government forces to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion,” the YPG said via Twitter.

Russia has welcomed the move.

"Of course, this will help in stabilizing the situation. The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces ... is, without doubt, a positive trend," Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said.

With the YPG at its forefront, the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF) seized Manbij in 2016 from Islamic State, a milestone in the battle against the group.

United States President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria has alarmed the Kurdish-led fighters who played a crucial role in fighting the Islamic State group. U.S. military support for the Kurdish fighters has infuriated Turkey, a fellow member of the  North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO alliance, which sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) movement that has sought greater political autonomy within Turkey for decades.

RELATED: Syrian Anti-Aircraft Defense Repels Israeli Missiles

Turkey, which deems the YPG a threat to its own territory and has vowed to crush it. In mid-December, Turkey threatened a military operation against Manbij to remove the YPG. Turkey and its allied fighters have been amassing troops around the city in recent days.

A Turkish-backed rebel official, Major Youssef Hammoud, said the plan to attack SDF territory remained in force. "There is no Syrian soldier inside Manbij town from the regime's forces." He said his forces were waiting for Washington and Ankara to agree on how U.S. forces would leave Manbij.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan said Turkey will have no reason to be in Manbij if the "zone is purged of terrorist organizations." Erodgan also said during the same press conference that reports of Syrian troops in Manjib were unconfirmed by Turkey’s intelligence. “There is nothing certain,” he said.

Russian and Turkish authorities will discuss and evaluate the situation in Syria during a meeting in Moscow, scheduled for Saturday.

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmed, reportedly told the Associated Press that government troops have arrived but have not entered the city. According to her, Turkey-backed fighters have not withdrawn from Manbij. Ahmen added that an agreement is being worked out between the Russian and Syrian governments to allow Syrian to take over if the U.S. follows through with the announced withdrawal, for which there is no set timeline.

"The aim is to ward off a Turkish offensive," she said. "If the Turks' excuse is the (Kurdish fighters), they will leave their posts to the government."

Bashar al-Assad's government has said it welcomes the Kurdish group returning under the central government’s authority but it has also warned they will not consider the possibility of a Kurdish autonomous area.

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US-Led Coalition Strikes Kill 14 Civilians In East Syria: Monitor

Beirut: At least 14 civilians were killed Saturday in US-led coalition air strikes on the ISIS' last holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said.

"Fourteen civilians, including five children under the age of 18, were killed in the coalition air raids on the villages of Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa" in eastern Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The death toll is likely to rise due to the number of seriously wounded," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

At least 9 ISIS jihadists were killed in the raids, he added.

The coalition was not immediately available for comment.

Strikes on the area intensified following an attempted jihadist attack on a coalition base in the nearby village of Al-Bahra, the Britain-based monitor said.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

But the jihadist group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and a pocket in Deir Ezzor that contains Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa.

A Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the coalition launched an offensive in September to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket from IS.

But on Wednesday the alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, suspended its fight against the jihadists after Turkish forces fired on the group's positions.

The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin pocket.

A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria's war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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