Syrian army advances in southwest - monitor, Hezbollah media

Syrian government forces flash the sign for victory in front of the Al-Bashir Mosque at the entrance of the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk on the southern outskirts of Damascus on May 21, 2018. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 26 June 2018
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Syrian army advances in southwest - monitor, Hezbollah media

BEIRUT: The Syrian army has seized a chunk of territory from rebels in the southwest, media run by Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday, the first major government advance in an offensive near the Jordanian border.
The capture of the area including the town of Busra al-Harir cut across an opposition-held finger of territory in northeastern Deraa province, where President Bashar al-Assad has pressed his assault despite U.S. warnings.
Syria's southwest region is strategically sensitive because of its proximity to the frontiers with both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The United States and Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, last year agreed a "de-escalation" zone in the area that has helped to contain the violence there.
The United States has told Syrian rebel factions they should not expect military support to help resist the offensive, according to a copy of a message sent by Washington to the commanders of rebel Free Syrian Army groups in the area.
The United States has repeatedly warned Assad against violating the "de-escalation" zone, saying it would have “serious repercussions” and pledging “firm and appropriate measures.”


Turkey orders arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

Updated 1 min 47 sec ago
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Turkey orders arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

  • Arrested military personnel are suspected of being supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen
  • Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown
ANKARA: Turkey has ordered the arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected links to the network accused by Ankara of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.
Police were looking for just over half of the suspects in the western coastal province of Izmir and the rest across 30 other provinces, Anadolu said.
They were suspected of being supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding the failed putsch three years ago. Gulen has denied any role.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while about 150,000 people from the civil service, military, and elsewhere have been sacked or suspended from their jobs under crackdowns since the attempted coup.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown, saying Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces, and has vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in the country.