The battle for Syria |
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The battle for Syria

  • Syrian rebel commander rejects idea of working with Damascus against Islamic State

    BEIRUT (Reuters) - A leading Syrian rebel commander said on Wednesday it was illogical to suggest the Free Syrian Army (FSA) could join forces with Damascus to fight Islamic State, after the Russian president said his French counterpart had tabled the idea.

    Bashar al-Zoubi, who heads a group fighting under the banner of the FSA in southern Syria, told Reuters: "Before we fight Daesh alongside the Syrian army, the one who brought Daesh into Syria - the Syrian regime - must be held to account."

    Daesh is an Arabic name for Islamic State typically used by the group's opponents.

    France has repeatedly said that once there is a political transition there will be the need for government forces and moderate rebels to join to fight Islamic State, but only once President Bashar al-Assad has gone from power.

    Zoubi said that idea had never been suggested to him.

    (Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Dominic Evans)
  • Assad forces joining moderates to fight IS not French idea -source

    PARIS (Reuters) - Associating moderate rebels from the Free Syrian Army and government forces to fight Islamic State was not a French idea, a source close to French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a joint television appearance on Wednesday that Hollande had voiced the idea of uniting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the so-called Free Syrian Army to fight Islamic State.

    "The president spoke of the necessary presence of the Syrian opposition around the negotiating table." a source close to Hollande said. "The rest is not a French idea."

    France has repeatedly said that once a political transition has occurred and Assad has gone, government troops and moderate rebels would need to join forces to defeat Islamic State.

    (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by James Regan)

  • The United States will not cooperate militarily with Russia in Syria because its strategy is "tragically flawed" but it is prepared to carry out basic, technical discussions on pilot safety, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.

    "We are not prepared to cooperate in a strategy which as we explained is flawed, tragically flawed on Russia's part," Carter said during a trip to Rome, renewing U.S. accusations that Russia's strikes were not focused on Islamic State militants.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter talks next his Italian counterpart Roberta Pinotti (not seen) during a news conference in Rome, Italy, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi 

  • Iraq may request Russian air strikes against Islamic State on its soil soon and wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the United States in the war against the militant group, the head of parliament's defence and security committee said on Wednesday.

    “In the upcoming few days or weeks, I think Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch air strikes, and that depends on their success in Syria," Hakim al-Zamili, a leading Shi'ite politician, told Reuters in an interview.

    The comments were the clearest signal yet that Baghdad intends to lean on Russia in the war on Islamic State after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes produced limited results.

    A still image from a October 6, 2015 footage shows a Russian air force helicopter on the tarmac of Heymim air base near the Syrian port town of Latakia.

  • Russia backs Syrian forces in major assault on insurgents

    Reuters UKRussia and Syria carried out what appeared to be the first major coordinated assaults on Syrian insurgents on Wednesday, targeting rebels in the west rather than Islamic State militants, a monitor said.
  • How Iranian general plotted out Syrian assault in Moscow

    At a meeting in Moscow in July, a top Iranian general unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory - with Russia's help.

    Major General Qassem Soleimani's visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad.

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    by Reuters_LindaNoakes edited by jamillah.knowles 10/7/2015 1:00:25 PM
  • As Russia ramps up its air support in the embattled country of Syria, the Middle East nation's strategic importance to Moscow is becoming as clear as ever. Nathan Frandino reports.

    by Reuters_LindaNoakes edited by jamillah.knowles 10/7/2015 1:00:18 PM
  • Syrian army and Russian jets target rebels in western Syria

    The Syrian army and allied militia carried out ground attacks on insurgent positions in Syria on Wednesday backed by Russian air strikes, in what appeared to be their first major coordinated assault since Moscow intervened last week, a monitor said.

    Russia's air strikes hit northern parts of Hama province and nearby areas in Idlib province, targeting towns close to the main north-south highway that runs through major cities in western Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    Ground attacks using heavy surface-to-surface missile bombardments targeted at least four insurgent positions in the area and there were heavy clashes on the ground, the head of the Observatory Rami Abdulrahman said.

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    by Reuters_LindaNoakes edited by jamillah.knowles 10/7/2015 1:00:14 PM
  • Bosnian court jails four over recruitment of militants for Syria

    A Sarajevo court convicted four Bosnians on Tuesday of financing terrorist activities and recruiting people to fight for Islamic State in Syria, sentencing them to up to 3 1/2 years in prison.

    It was the first verdict under a new law meant to stop Bosnian citizens joining radical Islamist groups in the Middle East. The trend has affected other European countries as well, prompting tougher security measures and criminal prosecutions.

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  • A still image taken from October 6, 2015 footage, shows a technician servicing a Russian air force helicopter at Heymim air base near the Syrian port town of Latakia

  • Russia, U.S. move to resume talks on air-to-air conduct over Syria

    Russia moved on Tuesday to resume military talks with the United States aimed at setting rules for air-to-air conduct over Syria, a U.S. official said, as the former Cold War foes carry out parallel, uncoordinated campaigns of air strikes.

    The discussions on ways to keep the U.S. and Russian aircraft from clashing over Syria, launched last week, have gained urgency after the United States and NATO denounced Russia for violating Turkish airspace.

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  • A still image from October 6, 2015 footage shows a Russian air force helicopter on the tarmac of Heymim air base near the Syrian port town of Latakia.

  • France plans U.N. resolution targeting Syrian barrel bombs

    France's foreign minister said on Tuesday his country was working on a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces from using barrel bombs against his population.

    The resolution has little chance of clearing the Security Council, where Assad's staunch ally Russia has often blocked efforts to condemn him and his government, but could be seen as an alternative to a Russian resolution currently being circulated at the world body.

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  • NATO rejects Russia explanation on Turkish air space

    NATO on Tuesday rejected Moscow's explanation that its warplanes had violated alliance member Turkey's air space by mistake and said Russia was sending more ground troops to Syria and building up its naval presence.

    With Russia extending its air strikes to include the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was losing patience with Russian violations of his country's air space.

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  • Syrian-Americans protest Russian intervention in Syria outside a Russian consular office in Santa Monica, California, United States, October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

  • Ground assault on rebel positions in western Syria - monitor

    A wave of Russian air strikes in western Syria on Wednesday was being accompanied by a ground assault on at least four insurgent positions, a group monitoring the war said.

    The ground attacks were being carried out by "regime forces" the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a term it uses broadly to describe the Syrian military and allied local and foreign militia.
  • Turkey will view further Russian airspace violations as 'threat' - spokesman

    Turkey would view further violations of its airspace by Russian warplanes as a threat, but views a Russian offer to meet and discuss the issue positively, a spokesman for the ruling AK Party said on Wednesday.

    "We find Russia's request to "come together and explain" positive. Russia is a friend but if the repeated incursions continue, we will perceive it as a threat and not as friendly behaviour," Omer Celik told journalists.
  • Syria conflict must not spark Russia-NATO crisis - Turkish PM

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday he does not want the conflict in Syria turning into a crisis between Russia and NATO nor into a Russian-Turkish dispute.

    But Turkey, a member of the alliance, will not compromise on the security of its borders or air space, Davutoglu said at a school opening in Istanbul in comments broadcast live by state TV. Russia has breached Turkish air space since launching air strikes in Syria last week.

    Only two of Russia's 57 air strikes in Syria have hit Islamic State, while the rest have been against the moderate opposition, the only forces fighting Islamic State in northwestern Syria, Davutoglu also said.
  • Russia says checking claim its plane violated Turkey's airspace for second time

    The Russian government is looking into an allegation that one of its jets operating in Syria violated Turkish airspace for a second time, the Russian embassy in Ankara said, according to the TASS news agency.

    Turkey said late on Monday a Russian warplane had violated its airspace on Sunday, the second such breach in the past three days, prompting Ankara to once again summon Moscow's ambassador.
  • Russian air force continues sorties from Heymim air base in Syria. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

  • NATO denounces Russian incursion into Turkish airspace

    The United States and NATO denounced Russia on Monday for violating Turkish airspace and Ankara threatened to respond, reporting two incursions in two days and raising the prospect of direct confrontation between the former Cold War adversaries.

    NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels of ambassadors from its 28 member states to respond to what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called "unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace" after a Russian jet crossed its frontier with Syria on Saturday.

    A Russian warplane again violated Turkish airspace on Sunday, a Turkish foreign ministry official said late on Monday, prompting Ankara to summon Moscow's ambassador.

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  • Russian defence ministry releases videos showing country's air force hitting targets inside Syria. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

  • Turkey says Russian warplane violated its airspace

    A Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, prompting Ankara to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Moscow's ambassador in protest, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

    Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, said the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace south of the Hatay region on Saturday.

    "(It) exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

    Read More
  • Islamic State militants blow up ancient Arch of Triumph in Palmyra

    Islamic State militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph, a major monument in the 2,000-year-old Roman city of Palmyra, Syria's antiquities chief said on Sunday, after they destroyed two ancient temples at the central Syrian site in recent months.

    Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the Arch of Triumph, a jewel in the exquisite collection of ruins in the oasis city, had been blown up.

    Read More
  • Kremlin - Russian air strikes aimed at supporting Syrian army, target terrorists

    Russia's operations in Syria are aimed at supporting the Syrian army and target terrorists and extremists there, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.

    "The aim of our operations lies in providing support to the Syrian military's offensive in their struggle with terrorist and radical organisations and forces," Peskov said.
  • Turkey says Russia has escalated Syrian conflict with its entry

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday said Moscow has described its warplane's violation of Turkey's airspace as a "mistake" and that Russia's entry into the conflict in Syria has escalated the crisis.

    Speaking in a live interview on HaberTurk TV, Davutoglu also said that Turkey's rules of engagement were clear, whomever violates its airspace.

    A Russian aircraft entered Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, prompting Ankara to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Moscow's ambassador in protest.
  • Russian volunteers likely to fight in Syria, says senior lawmaker

    Russian volunteers who have honed their combat skills in Ukraine are likely to travel to Syria to fight alongside the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, the head of the Russian parliament's defence committee, said on Monday.

    "It is likely that groups of Russian volunteers will appear in the ranks of the Syrian army as combat participants," Komoyedov told the Interfax-AVN news agency.

    Read More
  • Baghdad hasn't asked Moscow to conduct strikes on IS in Iraq - RIA

    Iraq has not officially asked Russia to conduct air strikes on its territory to fight Islamic State, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Monday by Russian news agencies.

    He added that Russia was ready to establish contacts with opposition grouping the Free Syrian Army.
  • Russia escalating Syria war by targeting moderate opposition - U.S.

    Russia is escalating Syria's civil war by targeting the moderate opposition, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday, comparing Moscow's effort to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to tethering itself to a sinking ship.

    "By taking military action in Syria against moderate groups targets, Russia has escalated the civil war," Carter said in a speech during a trip to Spain.

  • Men stand along a crater caused by what activists said was a Russian air strike in Latamneh city on Wednesday. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

    Russia mainly bombing Syria insurgents, not Islamic State

    Russia bombed Syria for a third day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting.

    Washington, which is leading its own air campaign against Islamic State, says Moscow has been using its campaign as a pretext to hit other groups opposed to Russia's ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

    Some of the groups that have been hit are supported by countries which oppose both Assad and Islamic State, including at least one group that received training from the CIA.

    Moscow said on Friday its latest strikes had hit 12 Islamic State targets, but most of the areas it described were in parts of the country where the militant group has little or no sway.

    by jamillah.knowles edited by Reuters_LindaNoakes 10/5/2015 11:45:11 AM
  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrives to attend a summit to discuss the conflict in Ukraine at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 2, 2015. France hosts a meeting with leaders of Russia, Germany and Ukraine in Paris for talks about Ukraine which were likely to be overshadowed by the conflict in Syria. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

  • A civilian rescue group in Syria has posted dramatic video of children being rescued from a bombed out building near Damascus, while coming under continued attack.

  • Islamic State attacks Syrian government-held areas of eastern city - monitor

    Islamic State attacked Syrian government-held areas in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor and an air base south of the city on Friday, a monitoring group said.

    Government warplanes bombarded another area of the city and around the air base, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, a day after pro-Damascus media reported Russian jets had struck parts of Deir al-Zor province held by Islamic State.

  • READER COMMENT: I don't know who to believe, Russia said that they are attacking only ISIS and USA says they are attacking rebels against the corrupt Syrian Gov. Some one is not telling the truth for political reasons. Now I do see Russia being serious in doing something, yet USA does not seam to be doing enough. Its simple. Syria needs peace and freedom. If Russia accomplishes to eliminate ISIS, Syrian people can return home and the Refuge Crisis in EU will be solved.
    by Rudy Taveras edited by Reuters_LindaNoakes 10/2/2015 12:45:18 PM
  • Frosty faces as Hollande, Putin discuss differences over Syria 

    PARIS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande and Russia's Vladimir Putin had an in-depth discussion on Syria on Friday in which they "tried to narrow down differences on political transition," an aide to Hollande said after the two met in Paris.

    The aide did not say if they had succeeded in any way in the 1h15-minute conversation, which took place ahead of a meeting the two men will have with the leaders of Germany and Ukraine aimed at resolving the Ukraine crisis.

    They discussed the three conditions required by France for cooperation with Russia in Syria, the aide said. Those are: attack ISIS and Al Qaeda and no other targets, ensure the safety of civilians, and put in place a political transition that will see the departure of Russia's ally Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

    Both Hollande and Putin looked stern and frosty-faced as the French leader welcomed his Russian counterpart in the yard of the Elysee palace, exchanging a couple of terse handshakes in front of photographers and cameramen.

  • A man rides on a motorbike past damaged buildings in Latamneh city that was hit on Wednesday by Russian air strikes, in the northern countryside of Hama, Syria October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah 

    by Reuters_LindaNoakes edited by jamillah.knowles 10/2/2015 12:14:20 PM
  • Russia mainly bombing Syria insurgents, not Islamic State

    Russia bombed Syria for a third day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting.

    Washington, which is leading its own air campaign against Islamic State, says Moscow has been using its campaign as a pretext to hit other groups opposed to Russia's ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

    Some of the groups that have been hit are supported by countries which oppose both Assad and Islamic State, including at least one group that received training from the CIA.

    Moscow said on Friday its latest strikes had hit 12 Islamic State targets, but most of the areas it described were in parts of the country where the militant group has little or no sway.

    by elizabeth.culliford edited by jamillah.knowles 10/2/2015 12:14:17 PM
  • Drone targets Islamic State position near Syria's Raqqa - Observatory

    A drone targeted an Islamic State position near the Syrian city of Raqqa on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

    Raqqa city is a major operations hub for Islamic State in Syria and the area has been targeted by a U.S.-led coalition bombing the jihadist group in Syria.

    Russian warplanes that have started operations in support of President Bashar al-Assad this week also bombed the Raqqa area on Thursday, the Russian defence ministry said.

    There was no immediate information on casualties and it was not clear who was operating the drone.

  • A frame grab taken from footage released October 1, 2015, shows technicians servicing a Russian Military jet in Syria. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Pool 

  • Russian jets mount new air strikes in Syria

    Russian warplanes have mounted a new wave of air strikes since Thursday night in northwestern and western Syria, a Syrian military source and state TV said on Friday.

    The source said the 18 air strikes were in the provinces of Idlib, Hama and Aleppo and were against Islamic State targets.

    The air strikes however appeared at least partly focused on areas hit earlier this week by the Russians where Islamic State has little or no presence.

    Insurgents operating in Idlib and Hama provinces are mostly from rebel groups battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Those groups also have a foothold in Aleppo province, where Islamic State also operates.

    Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 12 Islamic State fighters had been killed in a Russian air strike in Raqqa province on Thursday. The province is mostly under Islamic State control.
    by Reuters_LindaNoakes edited by elizabeth.culliford 10/2/2015 11:49:09 AM

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Turkey expects swift campaign against U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria

HASSA, Turkey Turkey shelled targets in northwest Syria on Monday and said it would swiftly crush U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG fighters in an air and ground offensive on the Afrin region beyond its border. | Video