Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their project in the region. The army and its allies are still fighting Islamic State in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria, near the border with Iraq, the army said. But the capture of the town ends Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria and in which millions suffered under its hardline, repressive strictures.
The top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said he expects the Syrian army to soon recapture rebel-held Idlib province, as well as eastern Syria, an area where U.S.-backed militias hold swathes of territory. Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, was speaking in Aleppo, from which the Syrian army drove rebels after a siege last year with help from Tehran. The military alliance backing Assad, which also includes Russia and Shi‘ite Muslim militias, has this year focused on the war in central and eastern Syria against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said the victories of the Syrian army and its allies against terrorist organizations do not end in Deir al-Zor province where Islamic State has its last significant stronghold, his office reported on Tuesday. He also indicated that he might take the war to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls more than a quarter of Syria, by saying the war targeted those who seek to “divide and weaken states”.
A Hezbollah-run news outlet said on Friday that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported present in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal during the Syrian army and its allies’ operation to clear it. The military unit did not say what had happened to Baghdadi, give further details or identify its sources. The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said on Friday it had no “releasable information” on Baghdadi’s whereabouts.
The Syrian army stepped up shelling and air strikes on the last rebel-held enclaves in the Syrian capital on Monday, its heaviest bombardment in a two-month campaign, rebels and witnesses said. From the strategic Qasyoun Heights that overlooks Damascus, elite units of the army pounded Jobar district, some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the […]
Russia is seeking to convince the U.S. to accept an Iranian role in a plan for foreign troops to police safe zones in Syria as a step toward ending the six-year war. The U.S. and Iran must show “compromise and flexibility” in helping to secure the so-called de-escalation zones proposed by Russia to shore up […]
President Trump has approved a plan to arm Syrian Kurds so they can participate in the battle to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State, a strategy that has drawn deep opposition from Turkey, a NATO ally. American military commanders have long argued that arming the Y.P.G., a Kurdish militia fighting alongside Syrian Arab forces against […]
The U.S.-led coalition will accelerate its campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today in a joint press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen. “We will further accelerate this fight to free people from ISIS’ crushing occupation and [the] enemy’s terror threat to […]
The Syrian army seized control of the village of al-Zalakiyat north of Hama on Sunday amid a heavy bombardment, a war monitor reported, despite a deal brokered by Russia, Syria’s main foreign backer, to reduce fighting. Violence has raged in the countryside north of Hama for over a month, since rebels there launched an assault […]
Russia, Iran and Turkey said Thursday that they have agreed to create “de-escalation zones” across four areas in Syria, renewing diplomatic efforts to bring warring parties in the country to heel after six years of fighting. Meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, the three powers said the cease-fire deal would come into force Saturday and would apply to […]