Government Enters Three Damascus Suburbs After Evacuations Completed
Rebel evacuations from three towns south of Damascus were completed on Thursday, bringing the area under government control for the first time in years, the Associated Press reported.
A total of 8,400 fighters and their families have left the suburbs of Babila, Beit Sahem and Yalda since a Russian-backed evacuation deal went into effect on May 3, the AP said, citing the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
According to the monitoring group, Russian military police and Syrian security forces have already started deploying in the three towns.
The evacuations come as part of a wider effort by the Syrian government to consolidate complete control over the Damascus region.
Territory held by the so-called Islamic State in the nearby Yarmouk Palestinian camp and adjoining districts are the only parts of Damascus currently not under the control of government forces.
Iran Condemns Israeli Attack on Syria
Iran on Friday condemned Israel’s attack on Syria, saying that Syria has every right to defend itself against Israeli aggression, Reuters reported.
The comments by foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi were the first official comments from Iran since Israel on Thursday launched its largest attack on Syria since the start of the war.
“Iran strongly condemns … (Israel’s) attacks on Syria. The international community’s silence encourages Israel’s aggression. Syria has every right to defend itself,” Qasemi was quoted as saying.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani told German chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call on Thursday that he did not want “new tensions” in the Middle East, according to Agence France-Presse. But he did not directly mention Israel’s strikes in Syria.
The chairman of Iran’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs Allaeddine Boroujerdi warned that “Israel had entered a dangerous game,” following Thursday’s strikes.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate halt to “all hostile acts” to avoid “a new conflagration” in the region after Thursday’s strikes, according to the AP.
- The New York Times: Why Iran and Israel Are Clashing in Syria
- Al Jazeera: Has Israel Opened a New Front in Syria’s war?
- The Guardian: U.K. May Increase Aid to Syrian White Helmets After Trump Pulls Funding
- The Jerusalem Post: Putin Is Now Key to Restraining Iran in Syria
- Deutsche Welle: Syria’s Bashar Assad Talks ‘World War,’ Chemical Weapons and Political Solution in New Interview