IS kills 36 Syria troops in surprise attack on Damascus

Laverne Higgins
March 21, 2018

A Syria war monitoring group has reported looting of shops, homes and cars in Afrin since Turkey's military and allied Syrian fighters seized control of it on Sunday.

The report could not be verified, but Syrian Opposition Forces uploaded a photo to Twitter, which it claimed showed the destroyed school. Activists and monitors say, however, the death toll is much higher, with some reporting as many as 1,400 killed.

The most likely option was however the transfer of Failaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam fighters to opposition-held areas in northern and southern Syria respectively, a rebel official familiar with the situation on the ground said.

Russian Federation maintained that the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), was biased and unprofessional after it concluded in a report that Syrian government forces had used sarin in an attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in April a year ago. Despite global calls for a ceasefire, there has been no let up in the ongoing offensive by forces loyal to President Assad. Their tweet said the strike was carried out by Russian aircraft.

Met Office weather warning for ice in place this morning
Wednesday night will be mostly dry too and temperatures will be above freezing for most in light to moderate southwest winds. Temperatures dropped to around -3 °C overnight as high pressure over Scandinavia brought a blast of cold air to the west.

While the pro-government alliance seeks a full surrender, rebels want a ceasefire deal, Khodr said. Hundreds of people have been killed there in recent weeks, and tens of thousands have fled.

On Monday, Assad visited army posts in the area.

"They are now in a weak position, and are shrinking in rebel-controlled territories under heavy fire, particularly in the town of Douma ... and Arbin", she said. The so-called Islamic State killed 36 Syrian Arab Army soldiers as they entered the district of Al-Qadam, which has been a scene of fierce fighting since the early days of the seven-year conflict.

"There will be possibility for greater discussion in the matter of reconciliations in these areas to safeguard civilians and therefore the pace that we saw may slow a bit", Haidar said. More than 80 percent of the area has fallen under government control since the campaign started, AFP said.

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