Daesh counterattack kills 34 Syria regime forces in Raqqa province: monitor

A banner belonging to Daesh militants is seen during a battle with member of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa, Syria, on August 16, 2017. A counterattack by Daesh militants on Friday in Raqqa killed at least 34 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters, a monitor said. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)
Updated 30 August 2017

Daesh counterattack kills 34 Syria regime forces in Raqqa province: monitor

BEIRUT: At least 34 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters have been killed in a Daesh (Islamic State) counterattack in eastern Raqqa province, rolling back regime gains, a monitor said Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the jihadist group had recaptured large swathes of territory from government forces in the fighting on Thursday.
Syria’s army is seeking to advance through Raqqa province to reach neighboring Deir Ezzor, where jihadists have besieged government forces and civilians in the provincial capital since 2015.
Earlier this month, government troops and allied fighters arrived at the outskirts of Madan, the last Daesh-held town in the eastern Raqqa province countryside before Deir Ezzor.
But in Thursday’s counterattack, Daesh “made major progress and... expanded the area under its control along the southern bank of the Euphrates,” the Observatory said.
“Daesg has managed to push regime forces back 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the western outskirts of Madan,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The Syria army operation in the area, backed by air support from ally Russia, is separate from the battle for provincial capital Raqqa city.
The effort to oust Daesh from the city, once the jihadist group’s Syrian stronghold, is being led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.
The SDF has captured just under 60 percent of Raqqa city since it entered in June after months of fighting to encircle it.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 19 October 2019

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”