Militants given 48 hours to surrender enclave near Damascus — report

A file photo of the former rebel Syrian town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018

Militants given 48 hours to surrender enclave near Damascus — report

  • Syrian regime forces shelled the last pockets in Damascus controlled by the Daesh group, preparing the ground for a possible assault on the militants stronghold
  • The Syrian army and its allies have focused their efforts on securing Damascus lately

BEIRUT: Daesh militants have been given 48 hours to agree to withdraw from an enclave they control south of Damascus, the pro-Syrian government newspaper Al-Watan reported on Thursday.
“If they refuse, the army and supporting forces are ready to launch a military operation to end the presence of the organization in the area,” it said.
The militant-controlled enclave is centered around the Palestinian Yarmouk camp and the Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad area south of Damascus. The area is much smaller than the eastern Ghouta region where the Syrian government recently defeated insurgents.
A commander in the regional military alliance that backs the Syrian government said the Syrian army had begun shelling the militant enclave on Tuesday in preparation for an assault.
Yarmouk, some 8 km (5 miles) from the center of Damascus, was home to Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee community before the Syrian war erupted in 2011. Although most residents have fled, the United Nations has said several thousand remain.
The Syrian government has recovered swathes of territory from rebels by letting them leave to other rebel-held parts of the country after years of siege and ferocious military assaults backed by Russia and Iran.


Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

Updated 14 min 57 sec ago

Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

  • Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his appreciation of the US role in supporting 'regional security and stability'
  • US is seeking coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf

DUBAI: Bahrain said Monday it would join US-led efforts to protect shipping in the Arabian Gulf amid tensions between Washington and Tehran after a series of attacks on tankers.
Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his country’s appreciation of the “US role in supporting regional security and stability” during a meeting with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie, state media said.
“The king confirmed the kingdom of Bahrain’s participation in the joint effort to preserve the safety of international maritime navigation and secure international corridors for trade and energy,” the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
The US has been seeking to form a coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
Britain, which already has warships on protection duty in the Gulf after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has said it will join the planned operation.
But other European countries have declined to join, for fear of harming European efforts to rescue a 2015 treaty with Iran over its nuclear program.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, said last month that it would co-host a conference with the US on “maritime and air navigation security,” set for October.
Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.
That came after British Royal Marines helped impound a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on July 4.
Britain suspected it was destined for Syria in defiance of European Union sanctions, which Iran denies.
The US and its Gulf allies have also accused the Islamic republic of carrying out several mysterious attacks on ships in the region, which Tehran denies.