Daesh fighters move to Syria’s Idlib, clash with factions — sources

A phoo taken on February 9, 2018 in the countryside of Idlib, where Syrian government forces are conducting a major offensive. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Daesh fighters move to Syria’s Idlib, clash with factions — sources

BEIRUT: Daesh fighters clashed with Syrian insurgents in the northwestern province of Idlib on Friday, a monitoring group and a rebel commander said, accusing pro-government forces of opening a corridor for the extremists to reach the region.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had allowed Daesh fighters to leave a besieged pocket of territory at the intersection of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama provinces, and then go to southern Idlib.
A military news outlet run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is fighting on the Syrian government side, reported gains for the army and its allies against Daesh in that pocket, but made no mention of the militants being allowed to leave.
A commander in the alliance fighting alongside Syria’s army said the Daesh militants left the enclave. “The pocket is finished. A crossing was opened till they exited, and then it was closed,” the commander said.
The Syrian military could not be reached for comment.
“The regime started the operation against this pocket seven days ago, suddenly they were able to take 80 villages and towns after giving them a corridor,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory, a Britain-based war monitoring group.
Hasan Hajj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, confirmed the report. Ali said his fighters were taking part in clashes against some 200 Islamic State fighters who had arrived in southern Idlib early on Friday.
“This morning at dawn we were surprised by the joint treachery by the regime and Daesh,” he told Reuters. Clashes were under way in the village of Lweibdeh, he said. “They have six armored vehicles with them.”
A source in the Ahrar Al-Sham faction said Daesh fighters had pushed into south Idlib from government territory.
“The rebel factions are repelling Daesh attempts to advance,” the source said. “The regime’s militias opened a gap helping the besieged Daesh forces pass.”
Idlib is the largest chunk of Syrian territory held by insuirgent factions opposed to President Bashar Assad’s government. Extremist factions including Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in the Syrian war dominate the province.


Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected over West Bank shooting

Sunday’s shooting north of Jerusalem was the most serious attack in the West Bank since October 7. (AP)
Updated 30 min 37 sec ago
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Israeli forces kill Palestinian suspected over West Bank shooting

  • The statement did not say if Barghouti was suspected of being the gunman or an accomplice

JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces on Wednesday shot dead a Palestinian suspected in the shooting of seven Israelis including a pregnant woman whose baby later died.
The Shin Bet security service said in a statement that a suspect named as Salah Omar Barghouti, 29, who tried to evade capture during a raid on a West Bank village was shot and killed.
The statement did not say if Barghouti was suspected of being the gunman or an accomplice. It said an unspecified number of other suspects were arrested.
The Shin Bet announcement came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that those who carried out Sunday’s drive-by shooting near a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West bank would be found and brought to justice.
He spoke shortly after a Jerusalem hospital announced the death of the baby boy, delivered by emergency caesarean section after his mother was shot. She was 30-weeks pregnant.
“We lost a few hours ago a newborn baby, four days old,” Netanyahu said in an address to foreign media.
“We will find the killers, we haven’t stopped searching. We will find them and bring them to justice,” he said.
The newborn was buried late Wednesday on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, opposite the walled Old City.
US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a Twitter message that the death was “absolutely heart-breaking.”
“My thoughts & prayers are with the family of the baby who died today as a result of the despicable terror attack on Sunday,” he wrote. “This is an attack Hamas praised as ‘heroic’.”
“The world must strongly condemn this terror and not remain silent,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said in a statement.
The Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, saluted the shooting and in a statement said it proved “resistance” was still alive in the West Bank.
Following the attack the 21-year-old mother was reported as stable, but the Shaare Zedek hospital said Monday that her baby had taken a turn for the worse.
The child died “despite the medical efforts of the premature baby unit to save him,” the hospital said on Wednesday.
Palestinian attacks against Israelis occur sporadically in the West Bank.
Sunday’s shooting north of Jerusalem was the most serious attack in the West Bank since October 7, when Palestinian Ashraf Naalwa shot two Israelis dead in an industrial zone for a nearby settlement.