30 regime forces killed fighting Daesh in Syria capital: monitor

A file photo of smoke rising from buildings during regime strikes on the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and the neighboring Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad district, in southern Damascus, on May 1, 2018. (Rami Al-Sayed/AFP)
Updated 07 May 2018
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30 regime forces killed fighting Daesh in Syria capital: monitor

  • Nearly 50 civilians are estimated to have been killed since the fighting began in April
  • Scores of regime fighters are among the casualties

BEIRUT: More than 30 Syrian government troops have been killed in a southern district of the capital in a fierce counter-offensive by Daesh fighters, a monitor said Monday.
Regime forces are seeking to end Daesh’s years-long foothold in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and neighboring district of Hajjar Al-Aswad, both in southern Damascus.
Last week, troops managed to sever a route linking the two areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said, but Daesh launched a fightback at the weekend and successfully reopened it.
“Their hit-and-run operations have continued since then, killing a total of 31 regime forces, mostly in ambushes,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory.
“The regime has since been advancing slowly, taking some positions and buildings, but there hasn’t been any strategic advance since Saturday,” he told AFP.
Regime troops control 60 percent of Hajjar Al-Aswad, while Daesh still holds more than 80 percent of Yarmuk.
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad were pounding both districts with air strikes and shelling on Monday, Abdel Rahman said.
Since the start of the offensive in mid-April, more than 150 regime forces have been killed, as well as 120 Daesh fighters, the Observatory said.
Another 47 civilians also died in the fighting.
Yarmuk was once a thriving Palestinian camp that was home to around 160,000 people but only a few hundred are expected to still remain.
Syria’s government besieged the camp in 2012, and Daesh overran large swathes of it three years later.
Assad set his sights on the capital’s south after reconquering a major rebel bastion east of Damascus earlier this month.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.