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Daesh ambush kills 21 regime fighters
September 12, 2018
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DAMASCUS: Daesh militants have killed 12 Syrian regime fighters in an ambush as the group faces separate assaults on its last desert strongholds, a war monitor said Tuesday.

The attack late Monday in Syria’s southern province of Sweida came as US-backed forces advanced against the militants on the border with Iraq, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It also comes with President Bashar Al Assad’s forces poised to launch an attack on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major region in Syria still controlled by rebels and militants.

The Daesh ambush in Sweida’s volcanic plateau of Tulul Al Safa sparked fighting that killed eight militants, the Britain-based Observatory said.

State news agency SANA reported heavy clashes with Daesh in the area, which lies some 100 kilometres southeast of Damascus, adding that government aircraft and artillery “targeted hideouts and positions” held by the group.

Government forces have been fighting Daesh in Sweida since militants carried out a wave of attacks in the mainly Druze province on July 25, killing 250 people according to the Observatory.

During their rampage, which targeted the provincial capital as well as rural areas, the militants also seized around 30 hostages, mostly women and their children.

At least 27 are believed to still be held, according to Human Rights Watch, after IS said it had beheaded a 19-year-old man and announced an elderly woman had died.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the hostages were believed to be held captive in the Tulul al-Safa area.

A source in Sweida told reporters that families had had no word of their kidnapped relatives in weeks.

In that eastern pocket, a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance has for months been closing in on the town of Hajin east of the Euphrates River near the Iraqi border, and on Monday launched an assault to retake it.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance advanced inside the town, the Observatory said, with backing from the US-led coalition fighting Daesh.

“They have seized control of the northwestern part of Hajin” after residents fled, the monitor’s chief Abdel Rahman said.

An SDF commander said the offensive on Hajin aimed to oust an estimated 3,000 militants, including a large portion of foreign fighters, from the town and surrounding areas.

“Most of the frontline commanders in this pocket are Iraqi,” said Ahmad Abu Khawla, a commander with the Deir Ezzor Military Council, which is part of the SDF.

Meanwhile, Russia claimed on Tuesday that Syrian rebels had begun working on film footage that would be presented to the world as the aftermath of an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian army.

During the seven-year Syrian conflict, the West has accused Damascus on a number of occcasions of using chemical weapons against the civilian population.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad and its top backer Moscow have consistently denied those claims, pointing the finger at rebels instead.

The Russian defence ministry, citing Idlib residents, said film crews from several Middle Eastern TV channels − as well as “a regional branch of a leading US news channel” − had arrived for the shoot in the city of Jisr Al Shughur in Idlib.

“By the end of the day,” all the footage should be handed over to the TV channels which would release it through social media, the defence ministry claimed.

Agence France-Presse

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