Syria, Iraq to strengthen military cooperation

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met on Thursday Faleh al-Fayad, the National Security Advisor and Envoy of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Abadi.

Al-Fayad conveyed to President al-Assad a message from al-Abadi, in which he affirmed the importance of cooperation and coordination between Syria and Iraq in their war against the terrorist organizations and the need to enhance this cooperation in the coming period.
During the meeting, stress was placed on the achievements made in the two countries in terms of the war against terrorism, with the most recent ones being the expelling of terrorists from Aleppo in Syria and the advance of Iraqi forces in Mosul.
Both sides affirmed that these achievements represent a victory for the two brotherly people of Syria and Iraq as they share the same enemy, which is terrorism and its destructive Takfiri ideology.
President al-Assad and al-Fayad also highlighted the importance of concerted efforts of all countries in the fight against terrorism as the outcome of this war will not only influence the shaping of the future of the region, but will also have its impacts on the whole world, especially that terrorism knows no boundaries, a fact that was proved through the terrorist attacks that have hit many of the countries in the region and beyond.

 

Source: almasdarnews.com

Syrian troops hold operations against terrorists in Homs governorate

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​BEIRUT, January 4. /TASS/. Units of the Syrian Armed Forces and volunteer guards on Tuesday attacked the strongholds of terrorist groupings to the north of the city of Homs, 165 km away from Damascus, Al Watan newspaper said in a report at its homepage.
Artillery of the government forces delivered strikes at the sites in the populated localities of Al Mahatta and where the terrorists affiliated with Jabhat Fater al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) had amassed their manpower.
Al Watan said eight al-Nusra field commanders had been eliminated among other terrorists.
Combat clashes with terrorist units unembraced by the current ceasefire agreements took place in the Houla area to the northwest of Homs. The Syrian Army artillery delivered fire at the positions al-Nusra and its allies held in Eth-Teybe, Kafr Laha, Taldou, Qarmus, and Maryamin.
The enemy’s ranks suffered losses in killed and wounded and its strongholds and military vehicles were destroyed, too.
Syrian Air Force attacked the Islamic State’s positions on the approaches to the ancient city of Palmyra, which is located some 240 km away from Damascus. An airstrike was made at the militants’ logistics base in al Suhna oasis in the internal area of the Syrian Desert.
Reports also spoke about clashes between government forces and militants in the vicinity of the T-4 airbase and in Jubb al Jarrah area to the west of Palmyra. Sources did not cite any data on the losses suffered by the sides.

Source:tass.com

Over 35,000 militants killed in Syria since September 2015: Russian MoD

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​BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:05 P.M.) – Over 35,000 militants have been killed in Syria since the Russian military began their aerial campaign in late September 2015, the Russian Ministry Defense stated on Wednesday morning.
In addition to the 35,000 dead militants, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that 204 jihadist commanders have been killed during this large-scale military campaign.
While Al-Masdar News is unable to verify these numbers, the Russian Ministry of Defense has remained consistent in their statistical assessment of this almost six year long Syrian conflict.
The Russian Ministry of Defense also accused the U.S. military of rarely targeting the Islamic State in Syria, despite claiming they are fighting this international terrorist group inside the country.

Source: almasdarnews.com

​Egypt’s Deployment of Troops To Syria Could Be More Significant Than Russia’s Intervention 

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​According to emerging reports from several sources on social media, Egypt will deploy troops to Syria. The troops will not engage in offensives, and will serve as a “peacekeeping” force, defending cities under the control of the Syrian government.
Since the Russian Air Force (RUAF) intervened in the conflict in September 2015, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been able to score significant gains against the armed opposition. Notable successes include the liberation of the Kuweires airbase and the entirety of Syria’s largest city, and economic hub, Aleppo.
Egypt’s deployment of troops to Syria will give pro-government forces a boost, and it could potentially be more significant than the air support provided by Russia. It should be noted that Russia has deployed a limited number of special forces on the ground, and has also heavily invested in Syria’s Armed Forces for several decades. 
Although the Egyptian soldiers won’t be actively fighting, their presence could allow for thousands of pro-government militias to be deployed to key battlefronts, such as Idlib, Latakia, Homs and Deraa. Many followers of events in Syria severely underestimate the number of fighters required to hold large cities and villages in Syria.
However, for it to have a big effect, Egypt will need to deploy a large number of fighters. At this moment in time, this sort of information is not available.

Either way, Egyptian troops on Syrian soil (in support of the SAA) will benefit President Assad’s government, as it will be a show of solidarity, and will also make the Israeli Air Force more cautious when targeting Hezbollah weapon shipments, as it won’t want to damage its ties with Egypt by accidentally targeting its soldiers.

Source: damascusinsider.com

​Syrian FM in Tehran ahead of Astana talks for a political solution in Syria

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Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem is in Tehran holding talks with senior Iranian officials ahead of political negotiations over the future of the Arab country that are to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
For the upcoming talks to succeed, armed groups would have to separate themselves from terrorists and evacuate the suburbs of Aleppo, Muallem said during a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, director of the Strategic Studies Center of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mehr news agency reported.
Velayati, for his part, praised the recent victory of the government forces in Aleppo as “the victory of victories”.

Muallem arrived in Tehran December 31 at the head of a high-ranking delegation. Earlier in the day, he held talks with senior Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.
In the evening he met with President Hassan Rouhani. During the meeting, Rouhani said the Islamic Republic welcomes Syria’s nationwide ceasefire, but warned against the strengthening of terrorists during the truce time in the Arab country.
“One must watch out that no opportunity will be created during the time of ceasefire for the terrorists’ reinforcement,” Rouhani.
The ceasefire, which took effect across Syria at midnight December 30, excludes the most brutal of terror outfits operating in the Arab country, namely the Islamic State (aka IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
The truce was mediated by Russia and Turkey, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the anti-Damascus militants.
In a telephone conversation on December 31, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said the battle against terrorism and terrorist groups in Syria must continue.
The two presidents exchanged views about cooperation among Iran, Russia and Syria ahead of the peace talks due to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, between the parties to the Syrian conflict.

Source: en.trend.az

ISIL’s ​Centers in Northern Syria Hit Hard in Russian, Turkish Joint Air Raids

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Russian and Turkish warplanes carried out several joint combat flights over ISIL’s concentration centers in the town of al-Bab in Northern Aleppo, the Turkish army announced in a statement.
The statement said that the Russian fighter jets bombed ISIL’s positions in al-Bab another time to support the Euphrates Shield Operation started by Ankara in August.
Ankara’s statement went on to say that Turkish and Russian fighter jets carried out joint aerial operation against ISIL’s centers in al-Bab on the first day of 2017.
Last Monday, the Russian Air Force started targeting ISIL’s positions in the town of al-Bab to back up the Turkish Army and its militant allies for the first time since the start of the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria.
Massdar news quoted a military source in Kuweires airbase as saying that the Russian fighter jets of Su24 and Su34 bombed ISIL’s positions in al-Bab Northeast of Aleppo for the first time following improvement of relations between Ankara and Moscow.  

Source: en.farsnews.com

Russia, Turkey Agree to Wind Down the War in Syria with UN backing

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​Turkey and Russia brokered a cease-fire regime between the government and most of the rebels Thursday. Is the truce going to hold? We can not know, but the very fact Moscow and Ankara agreed to it tells us a lot about how they see Syria’s future.
Firstly by agreeing to a cease-fire Russia (once more) signals to the international community that its objective is not at all to deliver a total military victory for the Syrian government. It wants a peaceful and stable Syrian state but if that can be achieved behind a negotiating table then that is its prefered path — even if it means Damascus must grant certain concessions to the rebels.
By brokering the deal Turkey likewise sends a message — to the rebels — that indefinite Turkish backing until final victory in which they march on Damascus and overthrow Assad is no longer on the cards.
With Russia now invested in Syria and clearly making a difference, and Hillary defeated in the US Ankara has accepted that is no longer possible, while prolonging the civil war only benefits the Kurds.
So the rebels are being kindly advised to throw out their maximalist goals and start thinking about how and what they can get out of the war by making their peace with Damascus.
Can the Islamist rebels and the Syrian government actually make peace? That sounds very doubtful. It is also not at all clear that Russia and Erdogan’s proto-Islamist Turkey can find a compromise for Syria that works for them both. But the cease-fire deal is more evidence that Turkey and Russia both are willing to give it a shot. If such a middle ground exists they will try to find it.

Source: russia-insider.com

 

Turkey, Russia get UN backing for Syria truce, Astana talks

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A cease-fire held across most of Syria on Jan. 1 as Russia and Turkey secured unanimous passage of a United Nations resolution backing their efforts to “jumpstart” talks aimed at ending the nearly six-year conflict.
The Security Council resolution aims to pave the way for talks next month in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, under the aegis of Turkey,Russia and Iran.
Turkey and Russia say the talks will supplement, not replace, U.N.-backed peace efforts, including negotiations set to resume Feb. 8 in Geneva.
The text of the U.N. measure “welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jumpstart a political process.” It hails the Astana talks as “an important step.”
The measure also calls for the “rapid, safe and unhindered” delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.
Russia and Turkey brokered the current cease-fire and, while backing opposing forces in the conflict, have been working increasingly closely on Syria, including allowing evacuations from the besieged city of Aleppo.
The Syrian conflict has occasionally spilled over into neighboring Turkey, with several attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and t6he Levant (ISIL) or Kurdish militants.
Turkey has launched an incursion into Syria to oust ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers a terrorist group with close links to the otlawedKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 
Washington has been conspicuously absent from the new process to end the Syrian conflict but has called the truce “positive.” Moscow has said it hoped to bring U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration on board once he takes office in January.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin had earlier voiced hope the Security Council would endorse the planned talks in Kazakhstan and back the resolution unanimously.
But several council members had demanded clarifications over the reach of the resolution, what it would mean for the U.N. talks, how it might affect rebels recently ousted from Aleppo, and what it would mean for humanitarian aid.
The French foreign ministry expressed hope the cease-fire would be “fully respected,” calling for a prompt resumption of political negotiations brokered by the U.N.
“The unanimous adoption of Resolution 2336 demonstrates how important implementing a ceasefire in Syria truly is for the international community,” the statement added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said most of Syria remained calm, despite limited clashes.
Two children were killed in the evening by regime artillery fire targeting rebel territory near Aleppo, the observatory said.
Separately, in the coastal town of Tartus two suicide bombers who were trying to join New Year festivities blew themselves up at a security roadblock, killing two members of the regime forces, it said.
The government in Damascus called the cease-fire a “real opportunity” to find a political solution to a war that has claimed more than 310,000 lives and displaced millions since it began in March 2011 with protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Clashes were reported around Wadi Barada near Damascus, and the southern city of Daraa, where one opposition fighter was killed.
The fighting in Wadi Barada has led to water shortages that have affected four million people in the capital.
Five rebel fighters and two civilians have been killed in Wadi Barada and the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus since the truce started on Friday, said Syrian Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
The Observatory said a total of 60,000 people were killed in violence across Syria in 2016, more than 13,000 of them civilians.
The forces in Wadi Barada include Fateh al-Sham Front, previously known as Al-Nusra Front. That group and ISIL are excluded from the truce.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem held talks in key ally Iran with President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani.
Rouhani said “vigilance” was needed to ensure the rebels did not reorganise.
The official IRNA news agency also quoted Shamkhani as warning that any political solution to the Syrian conflict must not lead to “the weakening” of the Damascus government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would reduce Moscow’s military contingent in Syria, which has been fighting to bolster the government since last year.
But he added Russia would continue to fight “terrorism” and maintain its support for Assad’s government.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com

Syria: SAA’s 137th Brigade Reinforced in on its Military and Air Bases in Deir Ezzor

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More than 10 helicopters carrying Syrian Arab Army soldiers landed at the Deir Ezzor 137th Brigade Base in this past weekend, a military source told Al-Masdar News on Sunday.
These soldiers were sent by the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command to reinforce the 137th Brigade Base and Deir Ezzur Military Airport, as the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) prepares to launch a massive offensive in the coming weeks.
In addition to the military personnel that arrived with the helicopters this past weekend, the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command sent large boxes of ammunition to the soldiers stationed at the 137th Brigade Base.
The last time the Syrian Arab Army sent a significant amount of reinforcements to the Deir Ezzor Governorate, a US warplane bombed their forces at Jabal Thardeh, killing over 100 soldiers before ISIS captured these mountains west of the provincial capital.

Source: 

Dissident ​Sources: Al-Nusra Readying for Battle to Drive Ahrar Al-Sham out of Idlib

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Al-Nusra Front (that recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham) is preparing war plans to force Ahrar al-Sham militant group out of Idlib after reports said the latter has signed the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and some militant groups, dissident sources said on Saturday.

Sources close to the dissident groups in Northwestern Syria said that Al-Nusra has prepared war plans to capture the entire Idlib province and force Ahrar al-Sham back across the border into Turkey after the latter militant group joined the ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the so-called moderate dissidents that tasks Ahrar al-Sham to assign a new mission to all its militants that used to fight against the Syrian government to stand against the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group and open war on the Al-Qaeda offshoot in Idlib.
Meantime, media sources reported that Turkey has warned all militant groups in Idlib that merger with al-Nusra would amount to “suicide” as Ankara has agreed to separate al-Nusra Front and extremist commanders from other groups in Northern Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday that around 51,500 militants from seven different militant groups have joined the ceasefire initiated by Moscow and Ankara to halt hostilities across Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry has released the hereunder list of militant groups which have joined the ceasefire in Syria till December 30, 2016:
1. Faylaq al-Sham with over 4,000 militants
The militant group is active in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Homs provinces.
2. Ahrar al-Sham with about 16,000 fighters
The full name is Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyah.
The militant group has been carrying out combat operations against government forces in Aleppo, Damascus, Dara’a, Idlib, Lattakia, Hama and Homs provinces.
3. Jeish al-Islam with around 12,000 fighters
The militant group has been fighting against the Syrian army in Aleppo, Damascus, Dara’a, Deir Ezzur, Lattakia, Hama and Homs provinces.
4. Thuwar al-Sham with around 2,500 militants
The militant group has been clashing with the army men in Aleppo, Idlib and Lattakia provinces.
5. Jeish al-Mujahedeen with about 8,000 militants
The militant group has been battling the army soldiers in Aleppo city and the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.
6. Jeish Idlib with more than 6,000 fighters
Jeish Idlib conducts combat actions in the Idlib province.
7. Jabhat al-Shamiyah with about 3,000 people
The militant group has been fighting government forces in Aleppo, Idlib and Damascus provinces.

Sources: en.farsnews.com