Damascus: At least 50 rebels were on Sunday killed in Syrian air-strikes in the countryside of the western port city of Latakia, media reported.
The airstrikes against the rebel positions of Latakia were the latest in a series of raging battles in the region, reported Xinhua citing SANA.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battles took place in the towns of Katef Ghanameh, Markishliyeh and Jub Ahmar near the hilltop of Nabi Yunes in the northern countryside of Latakia.
Battles in the countryside of Latakia have been raging since the rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib captured areas adjacent to Latakia city.
Syria is witnessing an ongoing armed conflict that began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of Arab Spring protests, with nationwide protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The government responded with violent crackdowns and the conflict gradually morphed from prominent protests to an armed rebellion after months of military sieges. The conflict has killed over 190,000 people and displaced millions of others over a span of almost four year.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the United States Tuesday as the actual “head of global terrorism,” one day after the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.
The move was the first time the U.S. designated part of another government as a terrorist organization.
“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump declared in a statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”
The U.S. action, which takes effect next week and includes the IRGC’s elite secretive Quds Force, means it will be a federal crime to provide any type of support to the IRGC.
Rouhani said the U.S. designation would only bolster the reputation of the Revolutionary Guards and promote harmony among Iranians.
“This mistake will unite Iranians and the Guards will grow more popular in Iran and in the region,” Rouhani said. “America has used terrorists as a tool in the region while the Guards have fought against them from Iraq to Syria.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a group of guards Tuesday, describing the U.S. action as a “vicious move” that “will bear no fruit.”
After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.”
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized the U.S. decision as the “climax of stupidity and ignorance.” Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi warned without elaborating that “any unusual move by American forces in the region will be perceived as the behavior by a terrorist group.”
China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression.
“We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Minutes after the announcement from the White House on the designation Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the IRGC “organizes and executes terror campaigns around the world.”
U.S. officials, in comments to reporters, are also referring to the IRGC as a “death cult” that, they say, is the true face of Iranian foreign policy.