Syria clashes kill 45 fighters: monitor

A fighters with the Syrian regime forces holds a position in Syria’s Hama governorate during clashes with militants earlier on June 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019

Syria clashes kill 45 fighters: monitor

  • The fighting flared on the edge of Hama province in Syria’s northwest
  • More than 400 civilians died since the flare-up of bombardments started in April

BEIRUT: Clashes between pro-government forces and extremist-led groups that control Syria’s northwest killed at least 45 combatants on Tuesday, a war monitor said.

The fighting flared on the edge of Hama province when extremist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham launched a dawn attack on regime positions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 14 pro-government forces died in ensuing clashes, said the Britain-based monitor.

“Regime forces foiled the attack,” Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP.

State news agency SANA also said the offensive had been thwarted.

Hama’s northern countryside lies on the edge of an extremist-controlled region including most of Idlib province.

The frontline had been relatively calm since clashes on Saturday killed more than 35 combatants, including extremists and regime forces, Abdul Rahman said.

Regime airstrikes on northern Hama and neighboring Idlib had also paused for more than 24 hours, before resuming Tuesday following the latest bout of fighting, according to the monitor.

The bombardment killed one civilian in southern Idlib, it said.

The latest battles come after rocket fire by HTS — led by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate — and allied rebels killed more than 12 civilians in a regime-held village in Aleppo province late Sunday.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as extremists refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarised zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing more than 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.


German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

Updated 30 min 1 sec ago

German frigate and 250 soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo

  • The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start an EU five-month mission
  • The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on illegal oil exports, and tackle migrant crisis

CAIRO: A German navy frigate carrying 250 soldiers headed to the Mediterranean on Tuesday to join an EU mission aimed at enforcing a UN arms embargo on Libya. 
The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start a five-month mission tasked with preventing the flow of weapons into war-torn Libya.
The EU mission Operation Irini, launched in May, was hampered by escalating fighting across the country, which saw Turkey intervene in recent months. 
The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on Libya’s illegal oil exports as well as its migrant smuggling crisis.  
The crew members are set to return on Dec. 20, DPA, an international German news agency reported. They may not land until the mentioned date due to coronavirus fears, the report added. 
Turkey has been accused of exacerbating the war in Libya, providing drones, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help Libya’s government based in the capital, Tripoli.
That administration, which is backed by an array of militias, has been fighting the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar, who is loyal to a rival administration in the east of the country.
Libya has been torn by violence since long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.