Syrian Army Gains Ground in Southwest
Syrian troops and allied fighters captured at least 19 miles (30km) of Syria’s frontier with Jordan from rebels on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Pro-government forces seized control of all checkpoints and border posts along the frontier in Sweida, after launching an attack on rebel groups in the province’s eastern countryside.
Rebel groups, some backed by Western and Arab states, are still in control of most of Syria’s southwestern frontier with Jordan and Israel.
Last month, a cease-fire brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan took effect in Syria’s southwest. According to Reuters, Sweida province is not covered by the agreement.
ISIS Encircled in Central Raqqa
U.S.-backed forces have encircled militants of the so-called Islamic State in central Raqqa after advancing in the city’s southern districts, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) moving from the east of the city joined up with their counterparts advancing from the west on Tuesday, effectively cutting off ISIS’s last remaining route to the Euphrates, south of the city.
The SDF launched an offensive to reclaim the northern city of Raqqa from ISIS in June, but its advances on the city center have been slowed by heavy fortifications, land mines and sniper fire.
“It could take another three to four months to finish Raqqa,” Haval Gabar told Reuters. The 25-year-old commander from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is directing the assault on Raqqa’s Old City, .
Since launching the offensive, the SDF has captured nearly half of the province from ISIS militants.
Government Continues Eastern Ghouta Offensive
At least three people were killed in government shelling of the eastern suburbs of Damascus on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
A woman and a young child were among those killed by the attack on the Hamouriyah district of Eastern Ghouta, according to the United Kingdom-based monitoring group.
Shelling and airstrikes on Eastern Ghouta have increased since Monday and the bombardment is at its heaviest since the government launched an offensive to reclaim the region two months ago.
The SOHR said on Thursday that at least 42 shells were dropped on the Jobar and Ain Terma districts inside 24 hours.
The daily attacks on the eastern suburbs of the capital have effectively nullified a cease-fire agreed last month between President Bashar al-Assad and Eastern Ghouta’s rebel groups.
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