Syrian army encircles Daesh militants in desert: monitor

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Updated 24 August 2017

Syrian army encircles Daesh militants in desert: monitor

BEIRUT: Syrian troops backed by Russian warplanes completely surrounded fighters of the Daesh group in a vast central desert region on Thursday, a monitoring group said.
Advancing overnight, troops north and south of the Badiya desert area met up and seized Jabal Dahek, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
By encircling them, the government forces dealt a “strategic” blow to the Daesh jihadists, said the Britain-based Observatory.
They have been battling for months to retake the Badiya, which stretches from the country’s center to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders and has been held by Daesh since 2014.
Fighting was still raging between the two sides near Sukhnah, one of the main towns in the desert area.
Victory over Daesh in the region is seen as key to the army’s hopes of retaking Deir Ezzor, the last Syrian province that remains nearly completely under Daesh control.
The jihadists have long surrounded government forces in the province’s capital city, also named Deir Ezzor.
Analysts say the Syrian army needs to completely eliminate Daesh from the central part of the desert before it can attack Deir Ezzor, otherwise its troops would be exposed.
According to Fabrice Balanche, an expert on Syrian geography, the regime would have more than half of the country’s territory under its control if it can drive Daesh out of the Badiya.
More than 330,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar Assad.


Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

Updated 15 November 2019

Israel says it has completed Gaza strikes after rocket fire

JERUSALEM: Israel says it has completed a series of airstrikes on targets linked to the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza after rocket fire that rattled a day-old truce.
The military statement early on Friday indicates that Israel is willing to abide by the cease-fire if there are no additional rocket attacks.
The statement says Israel struck a military compound, a rocket-manufacturing site and a militant headquarters in the town of Khan Younis.
The airstrikes came after a barrage of rockets late Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.
It’s unclear whether the fighting would continue. The unofficial cease-fire that began early Thursday ended a two-day escalation triggered by Israel’s targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander.
The fighting killed 34 Palestinians, including 16 civilians.