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.


Daesh attack in Syria desert kills 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 22 May 2018
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Daesh attack in Syria desert kills 26 pro-regime forces

BEIRUT: More than two dozen pro-government forces based in Syria’s desert died in a surprise Daesh attack Tuesday, a day after the extremists militants were removed from the outskirts of Damascus, a monitor said.
“At least 26 regime soldiers and allied forces were killed in an Daesh attack at dawn today, against one of their posts in the Syrian Badiya,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Among them were Iranian militiamen, said the Britain-based monitor.
The Badiya is a vast desert region stretching from central Syria to the eastern border with Iraq, where Daesh still holds small pockets.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the attack hit a small base east of Palmyra, the famed ancient city that Daesh has overrun twice in Syria’s war.
“It began with a car bomb targeting regime forces that set off clashes that are still ongoing,” he said.
Five Daesh militants were also killed.
Daesh militants launched their attack from a pocket they control in the Badiya, and which was the destination for extremists evacuated from southern Damascus on Sunday and Monday,” Abdel Rahman added.
Syria’s government on Monday seized a southern pocket of the capital from Daesh, announcing that the regime was back in full control of Damascus and its outskirts.
The Observatory, as well as a military source close to the regime, said the capture came after Daesh militants were bussed out of the zone to desert territory.