BEIRUT: At least 26 Syrian regime forces and nine Russian fighters were killed in an Islamic State group attack earlier this week in Syria’s eastern desert today.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists had targeted a group of Syrian and allied Russian troops in Deir Ezzor province on Wednesday.
Russia’s defense ministry said today four Russian servicemen had been killed in an incident in Deir Ezzor but did not give a date. Certain quarters insinuate that there are some 4,000 or 5,000 Russian military servicemen stationed in Syria.
Observatory chief informed: “There were 35 pro-government forces killed, including at least nine Russians. Some of those Russian nationals were government troops, but not all of them.”
Relevant pieces published earlier:
i) Lebanon’s top diplomat warned Saturday that a recent Syrian property law could dispossess hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees from their land back home, leaving them permanently displaced in Lebanon. The law, known as Decree 10, allows Syria’s government to seize private property for zoned developments and compensate proven owners with shares in the new projects. But rights groups and lawyers fear that millions of Syrians who have sought safety abroad do not have the right paperwork or enough time to claim their land. On Saturday, Lebanon’s foreign minister Gebran Bassil said Decree 10 could adversely impact the nearly one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
In a letter to his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem, Bassil expressed “Lebanon’s fear that the conditions imposed by this law will hinder the return of a not-insignificant number of displaced to their hometowns.” Once an area is declared a new development zone under Decree 10, owners inevitably lose their property. They can, however, get shares in the new project by proving they owned land there within 30 days of the decision being publicly announced. “The inability for displaced to prove ownership in the provided time-frame could cause them to lose their property… and dispossess them of one of their main incentives to return to Syria,” said Bassil. (27th of May, 2018).
ii) US warns Syria of ‘firm’ action, The US has warned Damascus it will take “firm” action if the regime of Bashar al-Assad violates a ceasefire deal after Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on a southern province ahead of an expected offensive. Residents of Daraa told Media Friday that several different leaflets were scattered across the province, which has borders with Israel and Jordan and is expected to be among the next targets in the resurgent regime’s reconquest. One of them, seen by a journalist contributing to AFP in the city of Daraa, includes a picture showing lined up bodies, presumably of anti-government fighters. “This is the inevitable fate of anyone who insists on carrying arms,” reads the leaflet. The US State Department issued a statement late Friday saying it was “concerned” by the reports and that the area in question was within the boundaries of a de-escalation zone it had negotiated with Russia and Jordan last year.
“We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardize the ceasefire,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert, adding that the ceasefire had been re-affirmed by President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Vietnam in November. “As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” she added. The Syrian regime and allied forces on Monday retook the Yarmuk area in southern Damascus, giving President Bashar al-Assad full control of the capital and its surroundings for the first time since 2012. (26th of May, 2018).
iii) Syrian army declared Monday it is in complete control of Damascus and its outskirts after a devastating battle that forced Islamic State group jihadists to flee their last pocket of resistance in the capital. It marked a major milestone in the protracted war, which began in 2011 and saw parts of Damascus fall to armed rebels the following year. In recent months, President Bashar al-Assad has used a blend of military pressure and negotiated withdrawals to steadily flush rebels out of territory around Damascus. But as a small IS holdout remained in the capital’s south, troops and allied Palestinian militia launched an offensive last month to recapture the area covering the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and adjacent districts of Qadam, Tadamun and Hajar al-Aswad.
On Monday, the army declared it had ousted IS from that zone, sealing its control of the capital. “The Syrian army announces today that Damascus, its outskirts, and surrounding towns are completely secure,” it said in a statement carried on official media. “The wheel of our progress on the battlefield will not stop until all Syrian land is purified.” Standing on Route 30, the main street in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk, a Lieutenant Mohsen Ismail, 22, sighed: “This was the last battle in Damascus. I’m extremely happy.” (22nd of May 2018).