Category Archives: Syria

Syria’s Assad offers amnesty to military deserters and dodgers to encourage refugee returns

President Bashar al-Assad has made an unprecedented offer of amnesty for military deserters and draft dodgers in the hope of encouraging Syrians to return home.

In a decree issued on official social media feeds, the government said they will not receive any punishment but would still have to serve the mandatory two years of service.

Those who defected and joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or other rebel groups who fought against regime forces are blacklisted, however, and will therefore not be given clemency.

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Israel’s defense chief warns his country will seek to “destroy any Iranian military presence” in Syria,

Israel’s defense chief has warned that his country will seek to “destroy any Iranian military presence” in Syria, where Tehran has intervened to prop up its ally President Bashar al-Assad in a war that has lasted more than seven-years.

Israel has alleged that Iran plans to establish a permanent, broad military foothold in Syria, including advanced missile factories as well as air and naval bases. Tehran rejects the claim.

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Will Idlib spell the end of Syria’s war?

Syria’s north-western province of Idlib is the last major area under rebel control. Over the course of the fighting it has become home to huge numbers of internally displaced people.

Around three million are now concentrated in this largely rural region. A series of deals have allowed rebel fighters from other areas to move there too, as the Syrian government has consolidated its hold over large swathes of the country.

Now President Bashar al-Assad is turning his attention towards Idlib.

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Iran using civilian flights to smuggle arms to Hezbollah – report

An Iranian civil aviation company is suspected of smuggling arms into Lebanon, destined for the militant group Hezbollah and Iranian weapons factories — and western intelligence sources said Monday they’ve uncovered the unexpected routes that Iran apparently took to try avoiding detection.

The sources identified two rare and unusual Qeshm Fars Air flights from Tehran to the international airport in Beirut during the past two months.

The first flight, on July 9, involved a Boeing 747 that departed from an air force base in Tehran, stopped for a short layover at the international airport in Damascus, Syria, and then continued with a rather “uncharacteristic flight path” to the Beirut international airport, where it landed shortly after 4 p.m. local time.

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Moscow Says Syria Is Ready To Accept One Million Returning Refugees

On Tuesday, the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced that Syria will be ready to accept one million returning refugees, AFP reports.

Shoigu claimed that one million refugees have already returned since 2015 “when towns and villages started to be freed.” But now, he says, “Huge infrastructure reconstruction work is ongoing, the rebuilding of transport routes and security points so that Syria can begin accepting refugees.”

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Russia masses warships off Syria ahead of regime’s final assault on Idlib

Russia is massing its naval forces in the Mediterranean ahead of an expected assault by the Assad regime on the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

At least ten Russian warships and two submarines have been deployed to the eastern Mediterranean in the largest naval build up since Moscow’s intervention in Syria began in 2015, according to Russian media.

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USAID Food Support Went to Syrian Al-Qaeda via Catholic Relief Services

The USAID Inspector General (OIG) has found that food aid intended for starving civilians in northern Syria was instead diverted by a USAID contractor — Catholic Relief Services — to a group identified by the U.S. government as a front for Syrian al-Qaeda.

That food aid was part of a now-suspended $30 million USAID contract for Syria awarded to Catholic Relief Services.

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UK cuts funding for Syrian opposition group claimed to be under jihadist control

The UK will finally end its support for a Syrian opposition group which it’s claimed is under an Al-Qaeda proxy’s control, in a move which shows the UK realizes “these groups have no real future” in the Syrian conflict.

Operational funding to the Free Syrian Police Force (FSP) is to stop in September, with government sources, cited in the Guardian, admitting the Access to Justice and Community Service (AJACS) program has become too difficult to deliver.

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‘There Are No Girls Left’: Syria’s Christian Villages Hollowed Out by ISIS

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.

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Syria’s Druze vow to free women and children kidnapped by IS

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.

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Recruited by Iran to fight for Syrian regime, young Afghans bring home cash and scars

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.

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