Campaign Against ISIS Slows Down South of the Capital
The Syrian government’s battle against the so-called Islamic State stalled this week, with Syrian troops and allied forces making minimal advances against militants south of the capital, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Despite its firepower, the regime has been unable to achieve any significant advance on the ground for a week,” Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the United Kingdom-based monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
“I.S. is entrenched in tunnels and underground shelters and it has been conducting counterattacks since Saturday.”
Syrian troops and allied forces are fighting ISIS in the Yarmouk Palestinian camp south of Damascus as well as in the adjoining Hajar al-Aswad district. The two areas are the last near the capital that remain outside government control.
The SOHR says that at least 86 pro-government fighters were killed in clashes with ISIS this week, bringing the total number of casualties among pro-government forces to 203 since the government launched an offensive against militants on April 19.
Meanwhile, at least 159 ISIS militants have been killed since clashes started.
Syrian troops have captured 60 percent of the Hajar al-Aswad district but only managed to seize 20 percent of the nearby Yarmouk camp, which remains largely under the control of militants.
Russia Will Not Supply Syrian Government With Advanced Air Defense System: Putin Aide
Russia does not plan to supply the Syrian government with S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, an aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Friday, according to Bloomberg.
“We’re not discussing any deliveries of advanced new systems” to Syria, Vladimir Kozhin said. The comments were published on Friday by the pro-government Izvestia newspaper. He stated that the Syrian military has “everything it needs.”
His comments come days after Putin met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is staunchly opposed to Syria acquiring an air-defense system that could potentially hinder Israeli airstrikes against Iranian proxies in the country.
Kozhin’s comments also spell an apparent reversal in Russia’s position toward withholding the missile system. Last month, Russia said that it may supply the Syrian government with the anti-aircraft defense system.
Car Bombing in Idlib Kills 28
A car bombing in the northern city of Idlib killed 28 people on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The blast targeted a tribunal run by the al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), where a number of militants with the so-called Islamic State are being detained, according to the monitoring group.
At least five civilians, 10 HTS members, and eight ISIS prisoners were killed in the blast, the SOHR said. Five remaining corpses have yet to be identified.
An ambulance was believed to have carried the explosive device before it detonated, according to the monitoring group.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
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