Daesh tightens grip on village near Mosul after defeat

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces victory over Daesh in Mosul, Iraq July 10, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 July 2017
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Daesh tightens grip on village near Mosul after defeat

TIKRIT: Daesh has captured most of a village south of Mosul despite losing control of its stronghold in the city, an Iraqi army officer and residents said, deploying guerrilla-style tactics as its self-proclaimed caliphate crumbles.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared victory over Daesh in Mosul on Monday, marking the biggest defeat for the hard-line Sunni group since its lightning sweep through northern Iraq three years ago.
But the militants, armed with machine guns and mortars, have now seized more than 75 percent of Imam Gharbi, a village on the western bank of the Tigris river some 70 km (44 miles) south of Mosul, and reinforcements are expected, the Iraqi army officer said.
Daesh launched its attack on Imam Gharbi last week, in the kind of strike it is expected to deploy now as US-backed Iraqi forces regain control over cities the group captured during its shock 2014 offensive.
Stripped of Mosul, Daesh’s dominion in Iraq will be reduced to mainly rural, desert areas west and south of the city.
Islamic State also faces pressure in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where US-backed Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces have seized territory on three sides of the city.
The campaign to retake Mosul from the militants was launched last October by a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militias, with a US-led coalition providing key air and ground support.
Abadi’s government in Iraq now faces a difficult task managing the sectarian tensions which enabled Daesh to gain supporters in the country among fellow Sunnis who say they were marginalized by the Shiite-led government.
The US-led coalition warned that victory in Mosul did not mark the end of the group’s global threat.
“Now it is time for all Iraqis to unite to ensure Daesh is defeated across the rest of Iraq and that the conditions that led to the rise of Daesh in Iraq are not allowed to return again,” Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said in a statement.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.