Syrian Government Reclaims Last ISIS Stronghold in Homs
Syrian troops and allied fighters captured the last major stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Homs province on Saturday, Al Jazeera reported, citing a war monitor.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that pro-government forces had taken the militant-held town of al-Sukhna, 30 miles (50km) away from Deir Ezzor – one of the last major ISIS strongholds in Syria.
According to the Associated Press, a Syrian military media unit confirmed the taking of al-Sukhna on Sunday.
The capture of the town, which is located on the main desert highway between the ancient town of Palmyra and Deir Ezzor, will pave the way for pro-government forces to move against ISIS in eastern Syria.
Lebanon, Syria Gear up for ISIS Offensive
An assault on ISIS in a zone on the Syrian-Lebanese border will begin this week, the head of the Lebanese Hezbollah said on Friday, according to Reuters.
Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech that ISIS fighters entrenched in mountainous terrain near the Lebanese border will come under attack on both sides of the shared frontier in a matter of days. The Lebanese military would attack militants from the Lebanese side of the border, while the Syrian army and Hezbollah would launch an attack from the Syrian side.
A military source told Reuters on Saturday that there would be no direct cooperation between the Syrian and Lebanese armies.
Although it remains unclear when exactly the operation will start, the Lebanese army shelled ISIS positions in areas of northeast Lebanon on Saturday, Reuters reported.
The Lebanese army also captured a number of strategic hilltops bordering Syria from militants on Sunday and destroyed ISIS fortifications in the area, according to the Associated Press.
The assault is part of an operation launched last month by Hezbollah with the aim of clearing a section of the Lebanese-Syrian border from ISIS and al-Qaida-linked militants.
Last week, thousands of al-Qaida-linked fighters were bussed from the border to rebel-held areas in Syria. The exchange was part of a deal struck between Hezbollah and al-Qaida-linked fighters after two weeks of battles along the Lebanon-Syria frontier.
Syria Investigator Quits Over Lack of Political Backing
A prominent war crimes prosecutor announced on Sunday her resignation for the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, blaming the U.N. Security Council for a lack of political backing, Reuters reported.
“I am quitting this commission, which is not backed by any political will,” Carla del Ponte, 70, said. “I have no power as long as the Security Council does nothing.”
Del Ponte, a former prosecutor who investigated war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, had joined the three-member U.N. commission on Syria in September 2012 – almost one year after the commission was established.
Her departure means only two commissioners are now left: Karen Koning Abu Zayd from the U.S. and Brazil’s Paulo Pinheiro.
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