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Twin Bombings in Syria, 8 lives lost

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Damascus: Twin explosions on Friday took toll on the Druze city of Swaida in southern Syria. Xinua with reference to the state-run TV reported that at least eight people were killed in the explosions.

Four people were killed in the first blast that took place at the Daher al-Jabal area in Swiada, while 11 others were left wounded.

The governor of Swaida, Atef al-Naddaf, said that the blasts aimed to stir sedition in Swaida, which has remained largely calm during the country’s long-running conflict.

Meanwhile, the second explosion was caused by a booby-trapped car that went off near the National Hospital. The TV and sources revealed that it caused a high number of casualties, including doctors.

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Image Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

The Druze minority, along with other minority groups in Syria, has emerged as supporters of President Bashar Al Assad, fearing the expansion of radical jihadist groups that showed no tolerance of minority groups in Syria.

However, the Druze support of the Syrian regime didn’t stop them from criticizing the government’s conduct in that city near the Jordanian borders.

Last week, several dozens of people staged protests before government institutions in Swaida, urging for reforms.

Due to its proximity to the southern province of Daraa, which has largely fallen to jihadi groups, the Druze in Swaida formed their own militias to defend their city against the threats of the jihadists, which attacked some areas in the countryside of Swaida in recent months.

Those local militias, while formed in coordination with the Syrian army, enjoy some independence as their ranks largely comprise volunteers.

(with inputs from IANS)

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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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Syria
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)