US says some withdrawal of militants from Syria’s Idlib -pool report

Militants in Syria’s Idlib failed to meet a deadline to leave a planned buffer zone ringing the country’s last rebel bastion. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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US says some withdrawal of militants from Syria’s Idlib -pool report

  • Russia and Turkey reached a deal to set up a buffer zone running 15-20 km deep into rebel territory

ISTANBUL: There has been some withdrawal of militants from the demilitarization zone in Idlib following the Russia-Turkey deal on the northwestern Syrian region, the US special representative for Syria engagement told reporters in Ankara.
The two countries reached a deal to set up a buffer zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory and evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militants by Monday. Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a militant alliance spearheaded by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, is the most powerful militant alliance in Idlib.
“The withdrawal of heavy weapons is complete by all accounts,” James Jeffrey said. “There is some question as to whether everybody from (Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham) has left.”


Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

Updated 40 min 21 sec ago
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Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

  • Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border
  • Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters

BEIRUT: Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a Daesh holdout in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.
Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters, it said.
The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the extremists from the pocket around Abu Husn.
"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket" in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.
"The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions," spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP this week.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.
The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.