Nearly 100 dead in northwest Syria fighting: monitor

Syria’s militant-controlled region of Idlib is home to some three million people, who have been variously affected by a surge in regime attacks since April. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 June 2019

Nearly 100 dead in northwest Syria fighting: monitor

  • Damascus has since late April intensified bombardment of much of Idlib and the parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia
  • Fighting has taken place on the ground in parts of these anti-regime areas, particularly in northern Hama

BEIRUT: Nearly 100 combatants were killed on Friday in clashes between fighters loyal to Syria’s government, rebels and militants in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.
Starting at dawn on Friday morning — and after bombing by the regime — fighting in northern Hama province killed 51 government loyalists and allied militiamen, and 45 among the rebels and militants, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The clashes continued in the afternoon, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Backed by its ally Moscow, Damascus has since late April intensified bombardment of much of Idlib province and the parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia where Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) holds sway.
Fighting has meanwhile taken place on the ground in parts of these anti-regime areas, particularly in northern Hama.
Syria’s official SANA news agency also reported bombardment on Friday.
“Units of the army today carried out massive bombing at dawn.... on positions of the terrorist Al-Nusra Front in (and) around the villages of Jibine and Tal Maleh,” SANA said, referring to positions held by HTS.
The bombardment led to “the destruction of the terrorists’ fortifications and their lines of defense,” it added.
They took place in response to attacks against the villages and cities in Hama, the news agency said.
Idlib and parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces were supposed to be protected by a buffer zone under an September agreement between Russia and Turkey.
But the region has come under increased bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since HTS seized most of Idlib at the start of the year.
The Turkish defense ministry said Friday a Turkish soldier was killed and three others were wounded the day before by fire from Syrian government forces against a Turkish observation post in Idlib province.
Since late April, air strikes have killed 490 civilians, according to the Observatory, while fighting has killed 682 pro-regime forces and 821 rebels and militants.
The flare-up has also displaced 330,000 others, according to the United Nations, sparking fears of one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria’s eight-year war.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of protests against President Bashar Assad.


Houthi fire, land mines killed 70 civilians in January

Updated 1 min 19 sec ago

Houthi fire, land mines killed 70 civilians in January

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis committed 389 violations that led to the death of 70 civilians across Yemen last month, a local rights group said on Saturday.
The Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedom, a gathering of local and international rights groups that document civilian casualties in the country, said that thousands of land mines planted by Houthis killed 19 civilians while heavy artillery fire killed 51 civilians across Yemen last month. 
It added that its field teams had documented the abduction of 82 civilians, including four women, and the forcible disappearance of 24 Houthi opponents. Houthis also committed 152 violations against peoples’ properties such as raiding and torching the houses of their opponents since early last month.
The rights group said that the figures were based on interviews with victims of Houthi actions, and that some of the breaches seriously violated international humanitarian law and constituted war crimes.
Rights groups have said that Houthis have almost emptied Sanaa and other areas under their control from opponents since seizing power in late 2014.
Thousands of land mines left behind in liberated areas have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and injured thousands.
Fighting increased in Yemen’s main battlefields of Sanaa, Marib, Jawf and Taiz as government forces announced the death and injury of hundreds of Houthis since early last month. 
In the northern province of Jawf, army commanders denied media reports by Houthis that they had scored territorial gains in the province, adding that the Houthis suffered heavy losses over the last couple of weeks.
State TV quoted Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al-Dhawi, the commander of 127 Infantry Brigade in Jawf, as saying that as many as 900 Houthi fighters had been killed or injured in heavy clashes with government forces since the middle of last month, and that army troops had pushed ahead inside Houthi-controlled areas in the province.
State TV broadcast footage on Saturday showed Yemeni army troops gunning down Houthi fighters as forces stormed rebels’ rocky defenses on Jawf’s mountains.
Pro-government media also quoted Brig. Gen. Ali Mosen Al-Hadi, from the 6th Military Region in Jawf, as saying that the Yemeni army backed by local tribesmen had inflicted heavy blows to the Houthis over the last three days and that bodies of fighters were still scattered on the battlefields. He added that Houthis fabricated stories about their victories to boost morale.
“The Houthi militia has not advanced a single inch in Jawf and the battles are still continuing on the borders of the 7th Military Region in Jaresheb and Jam mountains in Nehim district,” Al-Hadi said.
In the province of Saada, the Houthi heartland, official media said that Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted a Houthi command room in Saada’s Haydan region, battering the building and killing rebels. 
Yemen’s defense minister said that the army pushed back Houthi attacks in Al-Safra district. Massive military logistics and air cover from the coalition have enabled Yemeni government forces to tilt the balance of the war in its favor and reverse territorial gains made by Houthis.