18 killed in clashes in northwestern Syria

A heavily damaged building following Russian airstrikes and shelling on the town of Binnish in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Monday. Three members of the same family were killed in the strike. (AFP)
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Updated 04 August 2020

18 killed in clashes in northwestern Syria

  • Russian airstrikes on the town of Binnish in Idlib province killed three people from the same family on Monday, according to the Observatory. An AFP photographer saw plumes of smoke rising from the site of the attack

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM: Clashes between opposition groups and pro-Assad fighters in northwestern Syria on Monday thwarted regime’s advance and left 12 pro-regime men dead, a Britain-based war monitoring group said.
Another 17 pro-regime fighters were wounded while on the opposition-led side six fighters died, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The forces loyal to Bashar Assad had launched an attack with artillery and heavy gunfire in Syria’s last major opposition bastion, said the war monitor.
But the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) alliance, headed by ex-leaders of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, and their allies reportedly thwarted the advance.
Four HTS and two other opposition fighters were killed in the clashes in a rural area of Latakia province, the monitor said.
The HTS-led alliance also controls large areas of Idlib province and slivers of territory in neighboring Aleppo and Hama.
The region they hold is home to some 3 million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.
Syria’s 9-year-old war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population.
The opposition-held area is a regular target of attacks by regime forces and their Russian and Iranian allies.
A Russian-backed regime offensive between December and March displaced nearly a million people in the region.
A Moscow-backed cease-fire agreement in March has reduced violence in the area, but shelling and airstrikes by the regime and its backers continue.
Russian airstrikes on the town of Binnish in Idlib province killed three people from the same family on Monday, according to the Observatory. An AFP photographer saw plumes of smoke rising from the site of the attack.

Golan Heights Activity
The Israeli military said it thwarted an infiltration attempt from Syria early on Monday staged by four suspected militants it accused of trying to plant explosives.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Israeli troops earlier spotted “irregular” activity in the Golan Heights. Israeli troops opened fire on the suspected militants, some of whom were armed, after observing them placing the explosives on the ground, Conricus said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Forces loyal to Bashar Assad had launched an attack with artillery and heavy gunfire in Syria’s last major opposition bastion.

• The opposition-held area is a regular target of attacks by regime forces and their Russian and Iranian allies.

There was no official confirmation that the four suspected attackers were killed but a grainy video released by the army shows four figures walking away from barbed wire marking the frontier. The four then disappear in a large explosion that engulfs the area.
The Israeli military has not said if the four are suspected of ties to Iran or Hezbollah, two Syrian allies. However, Conricus said Israel held the Syrian regime responsible for the incident.
Addressing Likud party lawmakers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel “thwarted an attempted sabotage on the Syrian front” and would continue to “harm all those who try to harm us and all those who harm us.”
The incident comes amid heightened tension on Israel’s northern frontier following a recent Israeli airstrike that killed a Hezbollah fighter in Syria. Following the airstrike, the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights was hit by explosives fired from Syria and Israel responded by attacking Syrian military positions and beefing up its forces in the area.
Israel has been bracing for further retaliation and last week it said it thwarted an infiltration attempt from Lebanon by Hezbollah militants, setting off one of the heaviest exchanges of fire along the volatile Israel-Lebanon frontier since a 2006 war between the bitter enemies.


Israel approves law to curb protests during virus lockdown

Updated 28 sec ago

Israel approves law to curb protests during virus lockdown

  • The law allows the government to declare a special week-long state of emergency if the coronavirus spreads out of control
  • That measure is widely seen as a bid to squelch protests against Netanyahu, which have drawn thousands each week

JERUSALEM: Israel’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law that would allow the government to curtail public protests during the country’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, a measure that drew fierce opposition a day earlier.
The law allows the government to declare a special week-long state of emergency if the coronavirus spreads out of control. If such a state is declared, the government would be able to limit participation in assemblies, including protests, to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from a person’s home, effectively putting a halt to large weekly demonstrations outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.
The Knesset approved the bill 46-38 during a late-night session that stretched into the morning hours.
That measure is widely seen as a bid to squelch protests against Netanyahu, which have drawn thousands each week outside his official residence for the past several months.
They are the largest sustained demonstrations against Netanyahu in nearly a decade, and call on the longtime prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption charges and accuse him of bungling his management of the coronavirus crisis
Netanyahu has said the protests must end due to public health concerns. But protesters say he is using the crisis as a pretext to muzzle them.
Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases. He has denied any wrongdoing, accusing the media and law enforcement of an orchestrated “witch hunt” against him.
Earlier this month, Israel declared its second countrywide lockdown, and tightened restrictions further last week in a bid to rein in one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks. Schools, malls, restaurants and hundreds of businesses are shut.
The lockdown went into effect on Sept. 18, just before the Jewish New Year, and was initially slated to be lifted on Oct. 11. But Israeli officials are now saying the lockdown is expected to run longer as new COVID-19 cases continue to climb.
Israel, a country of around 9 million people, has recorded over 235,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 1,500 deaths, according to Health Ministry figures. The ministry said Tuesday the country has for the first time surpassed the US, one of the world’s worst-hit countries, in per capita daily coronavirus deaths.