Syrian army takes last insurgent area near Damascus

Syrian army takes last insurgent area near DamascusThe Syrian army has restored control over all areas surrounding the capital Damascus, it said on Monday, for the first time since early in the seven-year war, after pushing Islamic State militants out of a south Damascus pocket. Pro-Syrian government forces have been battling for weeks to recover al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp from Islamic State since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April. In a televised statement Syria’s army high command said al-Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk had been cleared of militants.


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Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western Syria

Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western SyriaA war monitor said buses evacuated Islamic State fighters from an enclave south of Damascus on Sunday in a withdrawal deal, though state media denied the report and said the Syrian army was fighting to finish off the insurgents. The recovery of the enclave south of Damascus will mark another milestone in President Bashar al-Assad’s war effort, crushing the last besieged rebel enclave in western Syria. Swathes of territory at the borders with Iraq, Turkey and Jordan, however, remain outside state control. Syrian government forces and their allies have been battling to recover the enclave south of Damascus since defeating rebels in eastern Ghouta, also near the capital, in April. The area is centred around the al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjoining Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. In a live broadcast, a reporter with Syrian state TV said the Syrian army operations in the Hajar al-Aswad area were nearing their end and insurgent lines were collapsing as columns of smoke rose from the area behind him. Smoke billowing from the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk during regime strikes targeting the Islamic State group in the camp Credit: Stringer/AFP The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said buses had entered the enclave after midnight to take out fighters and their families. They had left towards the Syrian Badia, a sparsely populated expanse of territory east of the capital that extends to the border with Jordan and Iraq, it said. Islamic State militants had torched their offices in the Yarmouk enclave, the Observatory said. Negotiated withdrawals have been a common feature of the Syrian war in recent years as the government, aided by the Russian military and Iran-backed forces, has steadily clawed back territory. The rebels have mostly been given safe passage to northwestern Syria. In the last two months alone, the United Nations says 110,000 people have been evacuated to northwestern Syria and rebel-held areas north of Aleppo. Syrian president Bashar Assad meets Vladimir Putin for talks in Sochi on May 17 Credit: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP The opposition has called it a policy of forced displacement amounting to demographic change to drive out Assad’s opponents. The Syrian government has said nobody is forced to leave and those who stay must accept state rule. While Assad has vowed to win back “every inch” of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a more complicated time ahead from now on. The U.S. military is in much of the east and northeast, which is controlled by Kurdish groups that want autonomy from Damascus. It has used force to defend the territory from pro-Assad forces. Turkey has sent forces into the northwest to counter those same Kurdish groups, carving out a buffer zone where anti-Assad rebels have regrouped. In the southwest, where rebels hold territory at the Israeli and Jordanian border, Assad faces the risk of conflict with Israel, which wants his Iranian-backed allies kept well away from the frontier and has mounted air strikes in Syria.


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In Damascus, a Mix of Resignation and Defiance as Israel Strikes

  1. In Damascus, a Mix of Resignation and Defiance as Israel Strikes  Wall Street Journal
  2. Obama’s Iran deal is finally where it should be — dead  The Hill
  3. Russia Balks at Arming Syria With Missiles After Netanyahu Talks  Bloomberg
  4. America must respond to Iran’s attack on Israel to prevent a regional war  Fox News
  5. The Latest: UN urges restraint to avoid Mideast flare up  Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Syria blames Israel for air strike near Damascus

  1. Syria blames Israel for air strike near Damascus  BBC News
  2. Syria Accuses Israel of Striking Iran-Linked Army Base  Wall Street Journal
  3. Israel reportedly launches airstrikes in Syria immediately after Trump withdraws from Iran deal  Business Insider
  4. Trump and Netanyahu Are Triggering a Risky, Unnecessary War of Choice in the Middle East  Haaretz
  5. For Netanyahu, Vindication and New Risk After Trump’s Iran Decision  New York Times
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Syrian media report Israeli attack near capital Damascus

Syrian media report Israeli attack near capital DamascusBEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital Damascus on Tuesday, saying its air defenses intercepted and destroyed two of the incoming missiles. The reported attack came an hour after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, calling Tehran a main exporter of terrorism in the region.


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Syria accuses Israel of attacking army base near Damascus

Syria accuses Israel of attacking army base near DamascusSyria accused Israel of launching missiles at an army position near the capital Damascus on Tuesday. The attack was said to have taken place shortly after Donald Trump announced he was quitting the Iranian nuclear deal. Syrian state news agency SANA reported the sound of explosions, and said Syrian air defences fired at and destroyed two Israeli missiles. A commander in the regional alliance supporting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, told Reuters that Israel’s air force had struck an army base without causing casualties. There was no immediate comment from Israel, which almost never confirms or denies airstrikes in Syria. Iran has vowed to retaliate to recent Israeli strikes in Syria targeting Iranian outposts in the country. An April 9 strike killed seven Iranian military personnel at a Syrian airbase. Iran blamed Israel and vowed to retaliate. Israel’s military said it was seeing signs of “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria” and ordered Israeli civilians in the Golan Heights to ready their bomb shelters. “Defence systems have been deployed and Israel Defense Forces troops are on high alert for an attack,” a military spokesman said.  “The IDF is prepared for various scenarios and warns that any aggression against Israel will be met with a severe response.”  Some reserve troops from military intelligence, air defence, and the home front units were called up, according to Israeli media, but the military stopped of a full scale mobilisation of reserves. The Israeli education ministry also cancelled all school trips to the Golan Heights scheduled for Wednesday. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and a leading critic of the Iran deal, said Mr Trump had made a “brave and correct decision” to withdraw from the agreement. “Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal,” Mr Netanyahu said in a speech moments after Mr Trump’s address.  The Israeli leader has consistently warned that the deal would pave the way for Iran to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons and called the agreement a “recipe for disaster”.


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Syrian media report Israeli attack near capital Damascus

  1. Syrian media report Israeli attack near capital Damascus  Washington Post
  2. US officials growing increasingly concerned Iran could attack Israel  CNN
  3. Israel goes on high alert over Syria as Trump quits Iran deal  CNBC
  4. Can the Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis Prevent All-out War Between Israel and Iran?  Haaretz
  5. How the US Should Wish Israel a Happy 70th Birthday  Bloomberg
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Syrian TV reports Israeli attack near capital Damascus

  1. Syrian TV reports Israeli attack near capital Damascus  Chicago Tribune
  2. Israel goes on high alert over Syria as Trump quits Iran deal  CNBC
  3. Israel Golan Heights alert over Iran ‘irregular activity’ in Syria  BBC News
  4. Wag the Donald: Netanyahu builds shaky case against Iran  RT
  5. How the US Should Wish Israel a Happy 70th Birthday  Bloomberg
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