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Syrian army recaptures falling military positions in Aleppo

Large numbers of the rebels were killed, while the rest were from positions they stormed an adjacent military college near the artillery base

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The Syrian army recaptured military positions in southern Aleppo province. Image Source: sputniknews.com
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  • Large numbers of the rebels were killed, while the rest were from positions they stormed an adjacent military college near the artillery base
  • Meanwhile, pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV cited its reporter in Aleppo as confirming that the rebel was no longer in control of any part of the military colleges
  • The aim of the rebels was to open a route from the al-Ramuseh town in south-west Aleppo into the besieged rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo

The Syrian army recaptured military positions the rebels had stormed earlier on Saturday in southern Aleppo province in northern Syria, according to pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV and a military source.

A military source told Xinhua on condition of annoying that the Syrian army restored positions the rebels stormed earlier in the day at the Artillery College base in the southern countryside of Aleppo.

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He added that large numbers of the rebels were killed, while the rest were from positions they stormed an adjacent military college near the artillery base.

The source said the Syrian forces and allied fighters are targeting the withdrawing rebels with heavy artillery.

Syrian army restored positions. Image Source: www.france24.com
Syrian army restored positions. Image Source: www.france24.com

Meanwhile, pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV cited its reporter in Aleppo as confirming that the rebel was no longer in control of any part of the military colleges.

The TV also stated that the rebels could not take control over the al-Ramuseh town, whose control would enable them to break the government forces’ siege on the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo.

Still, battles are still raging back and forth and the decisive results are yet to appear clearly.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian air force intensified airstrikes on the areas the rebels stormed inside the artillery collage, also cutting all routes the rebels could possibly open into Aleppo city, the national Syrian TV said.

The airstrikes destroyed tens of vehicles with their occupants on several routes that could lead the rebels into breaking the government siege on the eastern part of Aleppo city.

The report said the airstrikes isolated the battle sites in the vicinity of the military colleges in southern Aleppo, supporting the ground operations fought by the Syrian army against the sites infiltrated by the rebel groups in parts of the artillery college base.

“The airstrikes paralysed the movement of the terrorist groups south-west of Aleppo, cutting by fire all routes into the city,” said the TV.

 Syrian army intensified battles against the rebels in Aleppo. Image Source: Reuters
Syrian army intensified battles against the rebels in Aleppo. Image Source: Reuters

The fresh development came after an array of extremist groups, mainly the Fateh Army, succeeded to storm parts of the artillery college base in southern Aleppo, engaging in intense battles with the Syrian army in that base and the adjacent military colleges.

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The aim of the rebels was to open a route from the al-Ramuseh town in south-west Aleppo into the besieged rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo.

Last month, the Syrian army intensified battles against the rebels in Aleppo, cutting their last supply route into the eastern part of that city, in a bid to force them to surrender.

But battles flared as several rebel groups in Aleppo unleashed repeated attacks to break that siege. (IANS)

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Civilians Who Fled Afrin Suffer from Dire Humanitarian Conditions

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People sit in a truck with their belongings in the north east of Afrin, Syria, March 15, 2018. VOA

Thousands of civilians who fled the city of Afrin are enduring dire conditions after they reached Syrian-controlled areas south of the Afrin district.

“More than 2,000 people reached the towns of Nubl and Zahraa from Afrin in the past 24 hours, raising the number of total civilians in the two towns to 16,000. Many are suffering from tragic conditions,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights website.

Turkish media announced the control of Afrin on Sunday, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) withdrew from the city and thousands of civilians were evacuated — 59 days after the launch of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military operation in Afrin.

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The Observatory said Nubl and Zahraa were struggling to provide shelter and food for the large numbers of displaced people pouring into the towns.

Sumama Al-Ashkar, a journalist in Nubl and Zahraa, told VOA that people were residing in houses, mosques, schools, public halls and warehouses.

“The civilians in Nubl and Zahraa are able to get some aid and services, but those who went to Tal Rifat in northern Aleppo are struggling to survive,” he said.

ALSO READ: Gulf, West grapple with Syrian refugee crisis

The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Monday expressing deep concern about reports coming from the predominantly Kurdish city in the past 48 hours.

“It appears the majority of the population of the city … evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces. This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” the statement said.

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Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers walk in city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 18, 2018. VOA

Destruction and looting

A number of reports circulated in the media said Turkish-backed forces were destroying and looting public and private properties after they entered the city.

The Afrin media center said once the Turkish-backed fighters reached the town center, they destroyed a statue placed in the center of the city that represents Kurdish cultural figure Kawa the Ironsmith.

“Kawa the Ironsmith is a major historical symbol for the Kurdish people, as it is linked to the most important Middle Eastern holiday, the Nawruz,” Afrin Media Center said.

Footage coming from Afrin also showed Turkish-backed fighters pillaging homes, shops and military sites amidst chaos. They were seen carrying food, electronic devices, civilian cars, farmers’ tractors and livestock.

Members of the Syrian opposition condemned the looting and destruction of the city and called for holding the looters responsible for their acts.

The General Military Staff of the Syrian Interim Government, an alternative government of the Syrian opposition, issued a statement Monday calling for the Turkey-backed Syrian rebels to protect civilians and their properties, and to respect religious and ethnic installations in Afrin.

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Turkish soldiers, positioned in the city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, March 19, 2018, a day after they took the control of the area. VOA

In a comment to CNN, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, did not deny the reports of looting but said the actions were committed by some groups who disobeyed their commanders. He said reports were being investigated.

Guerilla war

On Sunday, Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told ANF, the Kurdish News Agency, that the fight in Afrin entered a new phase, where the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) will continue to resist in the district.

Muslim added that the civilians had to leave the city for their own protection and vowed to step up the fight.

“The existence of civilians in the city will impose a challenge for our fighters. Our enemy kills civilians and strikes hospitals, and since the Turkish offensive started, civilians were targeted. Now, the war will continue in a different way after civilians left the city,” Muslim said.

A number of humanitarian organizations and civil society groups working north and east of Syria, including the Kurdish Red Crescent, issued a joint statement calling on the international community to act.

“We plea to the international community to intervene immediately to stop these attacks and let the refugees return to their homes, protect their possessions and civil rights, and deliver aid to thousands of people [who] fled this war,” the statement said Monday. VOA