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Executive Summary for May 8th

We review the key developments in Syria, including rebel evacuations from the last major besieged enclave in the country, Israel threatening to topple Assad if he allows Iran to launch attacks from Syrian soil and more than 40 pro-government fighters killed in battles against ISIS.

Published on May 8, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Rebels Start Evacuating Enclave Between Homs and Hama

Hundreds of rebel fighters and their families exited an enclave between the cities of Hama and Homs on Monday as part of a Russian-brokered evacuation deal, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

SANA said that 62 buses carrying fighters and their families departed from the city of Rastan toward the opposition-held town of Jarablus, located further north.

The transfers mark the first evacuations from the enclave since a Russian-mediated agreement was reached between rebel forces and the Syrian government on May 2.

Thousands more are expected to be evacuated in the coming days, according to Reuters.

The area is the last major besieged opposition enclave in the country.

Meanwhile, separate rebel evacuations from the Damascus suburbs of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem are expected to be completed within the next 24 hours, the United Kingdom-based monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Monday.

Israel Says It Will Eliminate Assad if Iran Launches Attack From Syria

An Israeli minister said on Monday that his country could topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad if Iran launches attacks on Israel from Syria, the BBC reported.

“If Assad allows Iran to turn Syria into a military base against us and attack us on Syrian soil, he must know that it is his end and the end of his regime and he will not remain ruler of Syria or president of Syria,” Yuval Steinitz, a minister in Israel’s security cabinet, said in an interview with the Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

His comments come at a time of increased tension between Israel and Iran after the former was accused of targeting Iranian-run military positions in Syria last week. The strike killed more than a dozen pro-government forces, mostly Iranians.

Israel has not confirmed or denied responsibility for the attack but Iran has vowed to retaliate, without specifying how and when it would do so.

ISIS Kills More Than 40 Government Loyalists in Southern Damascus

At least 42 pro-government fighters have been killed in clashes with the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) south of Damascus, a war monitor reported.

The SOHR said that 29 ISIS fighters had also been killed in battles in the Yarmouk Palestinian camp and adjoining districts.

The casualties bring the death toll among pro-government forces to at least 162 fighters, including 20 officers, since the government launched a campaign against ISIS in southern Damascus on April 19, according to the SOHR. It also raises the number of ISIS militants killed to 131 since the start of the offensive.

Meanwhile at least 47 people, including six women and 13 children, have also been killed during fighting, the monitoring group said.

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