Syria regime forces enter Daesh-held town following Russian air strikes

This frame grab provided on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, by Russian Defense Ministry press service, showing what they say is a long-range Kalibr cruise missile launched by the a Russian submarine in the Mediterranean. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Syria regime forces enter Daesh-held town following Russian air strikes

BEIRUT: Russian-backed Syrian regime forces on Friday broke into the eastern town of Mayadeen, one of the Daesh group’s last bastions in the country, a monitor said.
“With support from Russian aviation, regime forces entered Mayadeen and took control of several buildings in the west of the town” in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
Hours before that, Russian air strikes killed 14 people fleeing across the Euphrates river on rafts in Mahadeen, the monitor said.
“They were crossing the river on makeshift rafts in a village south of Mayadeen,” Abdel Rahman said, adding that three children were among those killed overnight.
Russia has in recent days intensified its air raids in support of Syrian regime forces battling jihadists across the country.
Abdel Rahman said the civilians were fleeing the village of Mahkan, south of Mayadeen, which lies about 420 kilometers (260 miles) east of Damascus and is one of the Daesh group’s main remaining bastions.
Mayadeen has been under Daesh control since 2014, when the group swept across swathes of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a “caliphate,” but regime forces have tightened the noose around the town.
The state news agency SANA said government forces advancing from desert areas northwest of Mayadeen had moved to within five kilometers (three miles) of the town.
In Deir Ezzor province, Daesh still controls Mayadeen, eastern neighborhoods of the city of Deir Ezzor further up the Euphrates Valley, the town of Albu Kamal downstream on the Iraqi border, and several other smaller towns.
Moscow has been carrying out relentless air strikes in support of its ally Damascus targeting both IS in Deir Ezzor province and rival jihadists led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate in Idlib province in the northwest.
The Daesh group, which once controlled a territory roughly the size of Britain, has seen its “caliphate” shrink steadily over the past two years and has lost all but a few of its main hubs in both Iraq and Syria.
A Kurdish-led alliance is currently fighting Daesh in Raqqa, the group’s biggest bastion since the recapture by Iraqi forces of Mosul in July.
The city, further up the Euphrates, was the de facto Syrian capital of Daesh’s now collapsing “state.”
On Wednesday, a Russian air strike killed 38 civilians trying to flee the fighting in Deir Ezzor province, according to the Observatory.
The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria, and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.
The group has reported hundreds of civilians killed in operations against Daesh in Deir Ezzor and neighboring Raqqa province. On Tuesday, it said a US-led coalition strike in Raqqa killed at least 18 civilians.
Russia has not acknowledged any civilian deaths from its strikes since it intervened in Syria in 2015, and dismisses the Observatory’s reporting as biased.
On Thursday, the Red Cross said Syria was experiencing its worst levels of violence since the battle for second city Aleppo late last year.
“For the past two weeks, we have seen an increasingly worrying spike in military operations that correlates with high levels of civilian casualties,” Marianne Gasser, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Syria, said.


Israeli settlers, police clash during outpost eviction

On Tuesday, police evicted settlers from 15 homes in a separate outpost north of the West Bank city of Hebron that was deemed illegal. (Reuters)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israeli settlers, police clash during outpost eviction

  • Israel’s supreme court had in February 2017 ruled that part of the settlement outpost must be removed since it was built on private Palestinian land
  • Honenu, a pro-settler legal advocacy group, said 40 youths were removed from the area by police

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Nearly a dozen Israeli police officers were injured in clashes on Sunday as they began evicting Jewish settlers from an outpost in the occupied West Bank, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that 11 officers were “injured lightly” during the eviction of 10 buildings in the Tapuah West outpost in the northern West Bank.

Israel’s supreme court had in February 2017 ruled that part of the settlement outpost must be removed since it was built on private Palestinian land. According to Rosenfeld, six protesters were arrested.

Honenu, a pro-settler legal advocacy group, said 40 youths were removed from the area by police. One was said to be lightly injured.

Rosenfeld said the eviction was expected to last the entire day.

On Tuesday, police evicted settlers from 15 homes in a separate outpost north of the West Bank city of Hebron that was deemed illegal.

All Israeli settlements are viewed as illegal under international law, but Israel differentiates between those it has approved and those it has not.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. Settlements there are seen as major stumbling blocks to a peace deal since they are built on land the Palestinian wants for their future state.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live among nearly 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

US peace efforts ‘doomed to fail’

US efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are “doomed to fail,” the Palestinian Authority, which has frozen contacts with Washington because of its perceived bias, said on Saturday.

PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters that a regional tour next week by White House adviser Jared Kushner and US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, would produce “no results.”

According to Israeli media, they will visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“Without respect for Arab summit resolutions and those of the UN Security Council... and especially without the accord of the Palestinian people... (US peace efforts) will be doomed to fail and will destabilize the region,” Abu Rudeina said.

The Palestinians reacted furiously to Trump’s announcement in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving his country’s embassy there from Tel Aviv.

They consider east Jerusalem their future capital, insisting the future of the disputed city is an issue to be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The US Embassy was opened on May 14, one day before the Palestinians commemorate their mass displacement in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.