Daesh kills 20 US-backed fighters in Syria

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters celebrate victory in Raqqa last year. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Daesh kills 20 US-backed fighters in Syria

  • The fighters were advancing during a sandstorm when they were surrounded
  • The US-backed SDF had been closing in on a Daesh pocket for months

BEIRUT: At least 20 fighters from a US-backed force fighting the Daesh group were killed Friday in an ambush in eastern Syria, a war monitor said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is waging an offensive around the town of Hajjin in the province of Deir Ezzor, Daesh’s last stronghold in the country’s east.
“The fighters were advancing during a sandstorm, they were surrounded, Daesh members used explosives and opened fire,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The US-backed SDF had been closing in on the Daesh pocket for months before formally launching its offensive on Monday.
Since then, 53 militants and 37 SDF fighters have been killed in fierce clashes, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
The Daesh group once held nearly all of Deir Ezzor, but separate offensives last year by the SDF and Russian-backed regime forces left the extremists clinging to a small area of territory near the Iraqi border.
The SDF estimates Daesh has some 3,000 fighters in its besieged holdout, many of them foreigners.
A senior US diplomat visited Kurdish-held territory in Syria last month and pledged Washington’s lasting support.
“We are prepared to stay here, as the president (Donald Trump) has made clear, to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh,” said Ambassador William Roebuck.
The Daesh group once held swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq but has since seen its self-declared “caliphate” collapse.
The extremists now control less than three percent of Syria and are mostly present in the vast Badiya desert, which lies between Damascus and the Iraqi border.
On Monday Daesh fighters killed 12 Syrian regime fighters in an ambush in the southern province of Sweida. Eight extremists were also killed, the Observatory said.


Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a blast in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 47 sec ago
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Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

  • The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News

BEIRUT: Pro-Hezbollah politicians in south Beirut were accused of provocation on Tuesday for naming a street after the assassin who plotted the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

To rub salt in the wound, the street is adjacent to the city’s Rafiq Hariri University Hospital. Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, described the decision by Ghobeiry municipality as “sedition.” 

Hezbollah commander and bomb-maker Mustafa Badreddine was described last week by the prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague as “the main conspirer” in the assassination of Hariri, who died when his motorcade was blown up in central Beirut in February 2005. Badreddine himself was murdered in Damascus in 2016.

The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News.

“There is no precedent for resorting to these methods in naming streets, especially when the name is the subject of political and sectarian dispute between the people of Lebanon and may pose a threat to security and public order.”

A Future Movement official said: “What has happened proves that Hezbollah has an absurd mentality. There are people in Lebanon who care about the country, and others who don’t. This group considers the murderers of Rafiq Hariri its heroes, but they are illusory heroes.”