Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus

Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus
A crowd gathers in front of a building and car damaged after a bomb explosion in the Mezzeh 86 area in Damascus on Monday. (Reuters/SANA)
Updated 08 January 2018

Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus

Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus

BEIRUT: Syria’s army has broken the siege of an army base encircled by opposition forces on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, state television and a war monitor reported on Sunday.
Last Sunday, rebels, mainly belonging to the Islamist Ahrar al Sham faction, widened their control of parts of the Military Vehicles Administration base in the Eastern Ghouta town of Harasta.
Army elite forces, backed by Russian jets, launched an offensive to break the siege and liberate at least 200 troops who were believed to be trapped within its sprawling, heavily defended grounds.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syrian forces had “opened a loophole” that led them into the base.
Extensive bombing and violent clashes were taking place inside and around the base late at night, while the army fought its way to recapture the compound’s buildings, the state tv reporter said during a live broadcast from a nearby location.
“Fighting is underway to expand the route that was opened into the base ... and the army will press on with its offensive beyond liberating the base,” he added, expecting the battle for the base to end in the coming few hours.
The tv station aired footage of the battles earlier in the day that showed heavy smoke billowing from the battered buildings targeted by the army fire.
Rebel fighters had stormed the base last November in a drive to relieve pressure on Eastern Ghouta’s towns and villages.
The base has long been used to strike at the densely populated Eastern Ghouta in an attempt to force the rebel enclave into submission. More than 300,000 people there have lived under siege by army troops since 2013.


Arab League hails outcome of Libya talks

Arab League hails outcome of Libya talks
Updated 8 min 50 sec ago

Arab League hails outcome of Libya talks

Arab League hails outcome of Libya talks
  • The Arab League expressed confidence that the “significant progress” made in the talks will contribute to solving the Libyan crisis

CAIRO: The Arab League has welcomed the consensus reached by the two delegations representing the Libyan House of Representatives and Libya’s High Council of State during a meeting hosted by Morocco in Bouznika.

The meeting was aimed at unifying Libyan institutions and top state posts in accordance with the framework regulated by the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat.

In a statement, the Arab League expressed confidence that the “significant progress” made in the talks will contribute to solving the Libyan crisis and pushing forward settlement paths sponsored by the UN, especially in terms of forming a new executive authority, unifying Libyan institutions, implementing ceasefire agreements and commencing preparations for presidential and legislative elections.

It added that the Arab League supports all national efforts by Libyans in order to reach a comprehensive political settlement in the country.

The statement also hailed the agreement reached by the two delegations representing the Libyan House of Representatives and Libya’s High Council of State during meetings hosted by Egypt in Hurghada. The meetings discussed constitutional arrangements to pave the way for elections to be held in the country by the end of the year.

The two delegations concluded the two rounds of dialogue on Saturday in the Moroccan city of Bouznika.

During the talks, which took place on Jan. 22 and 23, the two sides agreed on the formation and naming of “small action groups” to take charge of procedural steps regarding the filling of the country’s top positions.

According to the final communique, the action groups will design candidacy forms and invite candidates to submit applications in accordance with the agreed terms and criteria.

The groups will receive applications starting from midday on Jan. 26 until Feb. 2.

According to the statement, the state’s top posts include the Central Bank of Libya’s governor and deputy, the Administrative Control Authority head and deputy, the Court of Audit head and deputy, the Anti Corruption Authority’s head and deputy, and the High Commission for Elections head and members.