US warns Syria of ‘firm’ measures for cease-fire violations

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Syrian civil defense members conduct search and rescue operations and rescue a baby after an explosion was carried out with a bomb-laden vehicle in Idlib, on Saturday. Getty Images
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A Syrian youth plants his national flag on top of a bullet-riddled water container on the destroyed Thalateen Street in the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the capital Damascus on May 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 26 May 2018

US warns Syria of ‘firm’ measures for cease-fire violations

  • The government is now in its strongest position since the early months of the war in 2011
  • Anti-Assad fighters still control two large contiguous areas of territory in the northwest and southwest

The US warned Syria on Friday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to cease-fire violations, saying it was concerned about reports of an impending military operation in a de-escalation zone in the country’s southwest.
Washington also cautioned Syria’s Bashar Assad against broadening the conflict.
“As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the US will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.
A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces fresh from their victory this week against a Daesh pocket in south Damascus were moving into the southern province of Daraa.
Syrian state-run media have reported that government aircraft have dropped leaflets on opposition-held areas in Daraa urging fighters to disarm.
The US warning comes weeks after a similar attack on a de-escalation zone in northeastern Syria held by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. US ground and air forces repelled the more than four-hour attack, killing perhaps as many as 300 pro-Assad militia members, many of them Russian mercenaries.
Backed by Russian warplanes, ground forces from Iran and allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have helped Assad drive opposition fighters from Syria’s biggest cities, putting him in an unassailable military position.
They have recaptured all remaining insurgent areas near Damascus in recent weeks, including the densely populated eastern Ghouta area, as well as big enclaves in central Syria.
The government is now in its strongest position since the early months of the war in 2011, although still a long way from achieving Assad’s aim of reasserting sway over all of Syria.
Anti-Assad fighters still control two large contiguous areas of territory in the northwest and southwest. Kurdish and allied Arab militia backed by the US hold the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates.
The government’s gains have brought it to a point where any new military campaign risks putting it in conflict with foreign powers.

Pre-2011 conscripts return
Meanwhile, the regime forces have issued orders to return home for men conscripted for compulsory service in 2010, the year before war broke out, fighters and local media said on Saturday.
The decision ends the drawn-out deployment of thousands of Syrians who enlisted for the mandatory 18 months of military service in 2010, but who ended up serving for eight years because of the war.
Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, reported that the army had “issued a decision to demobilize the officers and reservists of Recruitment Class 102 as of June 1, 2018”.
The decision comes in the wake of a string of military gains around the capital Damascus and in the central province of Homs.
Mohammad, 27, has been serving for eight consecutive years after enlisting in 2010, but will finally go home next month.
Before Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011, men 18 and older had to serve between 18 months and two years in the armed forces, after which they remained part of the reserves.
But when war broke out, anyone enlisted remained deployed on active duty.

 


Let militants return home, French anti-terror magistrate urges

In this file photo taken on July 22, 2019 French antiterrorist judge David De Pas poses during a photo session in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 16 min 44 sec ago

Let militants return home, French anti-terror magistrate urges

  • Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 militants, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape

PARIS: The refusal of the French government to take back Daesh militants from Syria could fuel a new militant recruitment drive in France, threatening public safety, a leading anti-terrorism investigator has told AFP.
David De Pas, coordinator of France’s 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said it would be “better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary” in France “than let them roam free.”
Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 militants, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape.
Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French fighters are among those held, with around 200 adults, including militants’ wives, being held in total, along with some 300 children.

SPEEDREAD

France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans.

France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans.
This week, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to Iraq to try convince Baghdad to take in and try French militants being held in northern Syria. On Friday, in a rare interview, De Pas argued that instability in the region and the “porous nature” of the Syrian Kurdish prison camps risked triggering “uncontrolled migration of jihadists to Europe, with the risk of attacks by very ideological people.”
The Turkish offensive, which has detracted the Kurds’ attention from fighting Daesh, could also facilitate the “re-emergence of battle-hardened, determined terrorist groups.”