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Terror Strikes Again: Several injured in car bombing in Damascus, Syria

The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations.

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Car bombing in Damascus, several injured. Image Source: aljazeera
  • The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations
  • In another development Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government helicopter gunships dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing at least 12 people
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed trying to establish closer military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Russia to fight extremist groups in Syria

A car bomb exploded in a heavily policed area of Syria’s capital, causing several injuries as well as damage to government buildings, according to Syria’s state media.

Car bombing in Damascus. Image Source: aljazeera
Car bombing in Damascus. Image Source: aljazeera

The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence in Syria, said the blast was near an Iranian school and caused causalities, but did not give further details.

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Car bombings in the central part of Damascus are relatively rare.

In another development Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government helicopter gunships dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing at least 12 people.

Israeli missiles caused material damage. Image Source: VoaNews
Israeli missiles caused material damage. Image Source: VoaNews

Also Monday, the Israeli military said it struck a target in Syria in response to mortar fire that hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s military said the Israeli missiles caused only material damage.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said any military cooperation between the Untied States and Russia to strike targets in Syria would be transactional and not based on trust. At a news conference at the Pentagon, Carter and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said any cooperation with Russia would include measures to ensure U.S. operation security.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed trying to establish closer military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Russia to fight extremist groups in Syria.

State Secretary John Kerry. Image Source: VoaNews
State Secretary John Kerry. Image Source: VoaNews

Following a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Kerry responded to comments made by Carter and Dunford by saying that he still has some concerns about whether Russia is really prepared to step up and work with U.S. forces in Syria. That’s why, Kerry said, he didn’t publicly announce any kind of cooperation with Russia.

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“Because we’ve been disappointed in the past,” he said.

Kerry said “a lot of homework” still needs to be completed before either Russia or the U.S. makes any public announcements, but discussions will continue to be held “quietly.” He said he hopes to make a public announcement about a plan by the first week in August.

Source: VoaNews

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Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

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A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)