Syrian Observatory: One third of Syria's Ghouta enclave taken by govt

A general view shows a Syrian air force Su-17 fighter plane flying over the besieged rebel-held town of Hamouria in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Syrian Observatory: One third of Syria's Ghouta enclave taken by govt

BEIRUT:The Syrian army and its allies have captured more than a third of the rebel enclave in eastern Ghouta near Damascus since starting a ground offensive there a week ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.
The Britain-based war monitor said more than 700 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta in the past two weeks, since the government and its allies began a massive bombardment of the area on Feb. 18 in preparation for the attack. 
Fresh air raids by the Syrian regime on the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta killed at least 14 civilians overnight, a monitor said Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said barrel bombs -- crude, improvised munitions that cause indiscriminate damage -- were used, including on the town of Hammuriyeh, where 10 people were killed.
The latest deaths brought to 709 the number of civilians killed since regime and allied Russian forces intensified their campaign against Eastern Ghouta in February.
According to Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory, at least 166 of them were children.
The deadly raids, as well as other strikes and rocket fire elsewhere in Eastern Ghouta Monday, came as the battered enclave awaited a convoy of humanitarian aid from the United Nations.


Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters: Erdogan

Updated 14 December 2018
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Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters: Erdogan

  • Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
  • Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria, where the US has backed YPG

ISTANBUL: Turkish forces will enter the Syrian town of Manbij if the United States does not remove YPG Kurdish fighters, and it will also target Kurdish-controlled areas further east, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Erdogan said this week that Turkey would launch a new operation within days against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia which controls swathes of Syria’s northern border region, in what will be Turkey’s third military campaign in Syria in two years.
Ankara and Washington have long been at odds in Syria, where the United States has backed the YPG in the fight against the Daesh group. Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish fighters out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.
“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization,” Erdogan told members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a speech in Istanbul. “Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly.”
Erdogan said Turkey was also determined to bring “peace and security” to areas east of the Euphrates, where the YPG controls an area stretching more than 400 km (250 miles) along the border toward Iraq.
He compared the promised military campaign to an incursion into northern Syria in 2016 and one earlier this year by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, who still hold territory there seized from YPG and Islamic State fighters.
A spokesman for the Syrian rebels said on Thursday that up to 15,000 fighters are prepared to support Turkey’s latest operation.
The United States, which has set up observation posts on the Syrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and said the newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat against Turkey coming from Syria.
Erdogan, however, said Turkey had waited long enough to act against the YPG militia, which it says is indistinguishable from PKK militants who have waged an insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey for 34 years.
“We are not only providing security for our country when taking steps in Syria but we are also protecting the honor of people,” he said.
Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobanin said on Thursday the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are spearheaded by the YPG, will respond strongly to any attack.