TEL TAL, Syria — The memories of the retired oilman dot the village in Syria where he grew up. The mud chapel he got married in. The concrete church he helped build that would overflow with worshipers on holidays. The tight community of Assyrian Christian families who had lived together in this area for generations.
Now it’s a village of ghosts.
One religious minority has been largely spared the horrors of Syria’s seven-year civil war: the Druze.
Most live in the rugged Jabal al-Druze region, in the south-western province of Suweida. It has been mostly calm except for some isolated attacks. However, that all changed two weeks ago.
On the night of 25 July, a highly co-ordinated assault by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) left more than 200 dead, most of them civilians.
IS militants also kidnapped 13 women, 17 children and a 19-year-old man, who was later killed.
HERAT, Afghanistan — Over the past four years, thousands of young Afghan Shiite men have been drawn into the war in Syria by Iran, part of a well-financed system of recruitment, training and incentives that funnels Afghan recruits to fight for a repressive Arab government.
The Afghans are soldiers in someone else’s war, propelled by economic woes and religious loyalty to join a foreign fight. Some have lost friends and relatives in battle or sustained severe injuries themselves. As many as 840 have been killed, according to researchers. Survivors can recount hard-fought battles near Aleppo or Damascus, and some believe they are helping to protect sacred Shiite shrines in those areas.
Islamic State militants have killed more than 150 people in a series of gun attacks and suicide blasts on government-held parts of southwestern Syria.
Raids and suicide bombings carried out today in Syria’s southern Sweida province have killed 156 people including 62 civilians, a war monitor group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring watchdog, said they were killed following seemingly coordinated attacks, including multiple suicide blasts in Sweida city itself.
Israel’s military says it has shot down a Syrian warplane that entered its airspace, and that the plane crashed on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights.
The military said in a statement that two Patriot missiles were launched at a Sukhoi fighter jet, which it said had flown about more than a mile into skies above Israel.
“It was shot down and it crashed,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters. “We do not have any information so far about the pilots. I do not know of any reports of parachutes being spotted, and we do not know if any pilots have been retrieved.”
The UK is to offer asylum to members of western-backed White Helmets group, that operates in Jihadists-held areas in Syria. The move has prompted dire warnings about who exactly Britain might be admitting.
A new report analyzing Syrian school books found many references of hatred of other nations, and of Israel in particular.
The study of more than 50 children’s textbooks in the Assad-controlled regime found passages preaching jihad (holy war) to twelfth graders and proclaimed itself as a national leader of the Palestinian cause.
So nothing has changed, unleash ISIS.
After weeks of shuttle diplomacy allegedly carried out by Russia and Israel, Iranian forces and allied militias — including the so-called “military wing” of the Lebanon-based organization Hezbollah, all of which has been designated as a terrorist group by the US — reportedly began to withdraw from parts of southern Syria, near Israel’s border. According to other reports, however, many Hezbollah fighters, disguised as members of the Syrian army, have simply remained on their bases to escape being targeted by the Israel Air Force. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel’s air force has carried out sporadic strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah bases and convoys across its neighbor on the north. After more than seven years of fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is highly unlikely to make an easy exit from the war-torn territory, no matter what supposed agreements are reached or promises made.
Israel is preparing for the possibility that an onslaught by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad could see tens of thousands of Syrian refugees heading for the Israel border. The IDF is gearing up to prevent a mass breach of the frontier, but also to provide humanitarian aid to the displaced, military sources said Thursday.
With Russia’s help, Assad’s army has battered the south for more than a week with air strikes, rocket fire and crude barrel bombs, forcing more than 50,000 people to flee in search of safety. Many of them have fled toward the border with Israel, saying it was the safest since the regime wouldn’t dare strike in that area to avoid angering Jerusalem.
Israel sends aid to Syrian refugees but will not allow them to cross the border Gee I wonder why…
…Many Syrians would be deeply reluctant to take shelter in Israeli-controlled territory, even in a desperate situation.
Israel is widely thought of as an enemy by most people in Syria, although perceptions have become more mixed among supporters of the opposition as Israel has fought against the Assad regime and delivered aid.
ARSAL, Lebanon — Women and children crammed in the back of pick-up trucks piled high with mattresses and blankets, as dozens of Syrian refugees in Lebanon began crossing the border on Thursday, heading back home to an uncertain future in war-torn Syria.
The small exodus is part of a repatriation program that the government says is voluntary — the first batch of refugees to return to Syria from the Lebanese border town of Arsal this year. About 470 Syrians are expected to make the crossing on Thursday, after having requested permission from the Lebanese and Syrian governments.
Syrian pro-government Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast from the border crossing, showing vehicles and civilians crossing over, and some of who were interviewed praised the Syrian army.
According to reports, two Israeli missles landed in Damascus International Airport in Syria late Monday afternoon.
Syrian and Russian forces have launched a large-scale attack on a Palestinian refugee camp under the control of Islamic State, as the regime closed in on the last rebel-held territory in the Syrian capital.
Pro-government troops fired a barrage of air strikes and surface-to-surface missiles into Yarmouk camp in southeast Damascus on Wednesday morning, as they looked to rid the areas of holdout jihadists.
Rebels with the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) agreed to an evacuation deal after the government launched its offensive on April 19, however Isil militants refused to give up their fight.
Avigdor Lieberman says Thursday Israel responded fiercely to an unprecedented rocket attack by Iranian forces in Syria against Israel. He says no one was harmed in Israel and all the rockets were either intercepted or fell short.
When the Revolutionary Guard offered Mahdi a choice — fight in Syria or be shipped to the border with Afghanistan, rife with Taliban fighters — it seemed a no-brainer: It was 2014 and Mahdi, a teenager who’d never finished school and had fled from Kabul to Iran hoping to find a better life, had never heard of Syria, let alone of the brutal war that had been raging there for over three years.
“I was afraid to die and so I chose Syria”, he told DW. Returning to war-torn Afghanistan wasn’t an option. And, he added, the money was almost too good to be true: $700 (€585) a month, a fortune for Mahdi who was working as a tailor in an Iranian factory and who was picked up by the Iranian police in a crackdown on undocumented Afghan migrants.