The forces of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad pushed hard into the southern region of the country over the past two weeks and captured most of Deraa, the province where the uprising against Assad’s regime began seven years ago. Besieged rebel forces are reportedly negotiating terms of surrender with Assad’s Russian allies. Meanwhile, Israel shot down a Syrian drone that violated its airspace on Wednesday even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow to discuss the Syrian offensive.Assad’s forces have taken control of about 80 percent of Deraa, according to reports on Wednesday. Rebel forces in four towns across the province struck a deal to hand over their weapons. The remaining rebel enclaves are talking with the Russians to work out evacuation plans for their fighters, who would ideally move to the remaining opposition-controlled regions of northwestern Syria. The city of Deraa proper is said to be surrounded by government forces. Rebel commanders … [Read more...] about Assad Pushes into Southern Syria, Rebels Negotiate Surrender
World Russia Sergei Shoigu Syria U.S. Military Bashar al-Assad Russia has called into question the U.S. strategy in Syria, claiming that it contained mixed messages and sought contradictory goals potentially aimed at prolonging instability. While Russia and the U.S. are both involved in battling jihadis in Syria, they do so in partnership with different local factions and support different outcomes for the country's seven-year civil war. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu argued Wednesday that the U.S. had no legal mandate to be in Syria and had shifted its rhetoric over the years to justify its prolonged presence. "According to what is often heard in statements made to the U.S. media by representatives of Congress and by experts from the United States government to clarify the American strategy in Syria, you cannot grasp its essence, not only in our country," Shoigu said in an interview with Italy's Il Giornale newspaper. "In recent years, theories of the illegal … [Read more...] about What Does U.S. Even Want in Syria? Russia Asks, Says Americans Must Be Just as Confused
The Times of Israel reports: The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said a Patriot missile intercepted a drone approaching Israel from Syria, as sirens sounded in northern Israel and fragments from the downed UAV plummeted into the Sea of Galilee. The rocket siren alert system was activated in the southern Golan Heights and northern Jordan Valley regions, and residents reported seeing a trail of smoke in the sky as well as hearing explosions. The army said the drone “infiltrated from Syria toward Israeli territory” when it was shot down. It did not identify the operator of the unmanned vehicle.There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The Israel Police ordered all boats on the Sea of Galilee to dock due to “operational activity” after fragments from the drone fell into the water. Read more here. … [Read more...] about Israel Intercepts Incoming Drone from Syria
Taiwanese officials announced Tuesday the contribution of $1 million and 20 sets of de-mining equipment to the U.S.-led global coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “Taiwan is a proud member of the coalition, and on behalf of my government, I’m so extremely pleased to announce today a one million contribution to finance the de-mining operations in areas recently liberated from ISIS in Syria,” said Taiwanese Ambassador Stanley Kao at a ceremony at the United States Institute for Peace, Washington.He said Taiwan was also providing 20 sets of de-mining equipment to assist with similar efforts in Iraq. Although the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS has liberated 98 percent of territory in Iraq and Syria once held by the terrorist group, Islamic State has heavily mined some of that territory with explosives, making it difficult for families and residents to return. De-mining those areas has been slow and arduous, particularly in Syria where there is a … [Read more...] about Taiwan Contributes $1M for U.S.-Led Efforts to Disable Bombs in Syria
Michael Sharnoff, The Washington Post Published 4:17 pm PDT, Monday, July 9, 2018 All eyes are on Russia as President Donald Trump prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki next week. But the real geopolitical focus of the meeting might well be a few thousand miles away in Syria. Last week, national security adviser John Bolton said that the meeting could offer a "larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria" and that an agreement could be "a significant step forward" for U.S. interests in the Middle East. But Bolton is engaging in wishful thinking, if not outright delusion. That's not just because the United States and Russia, despite sharing the goal of stability in Syria, fundamentally diverge on how to achieve it. The administration is also vastly overestimating how much sway Russia actually has in Syria. While Syria has been Moscow's closest Arab ally - and the largest recipient of its economic and military aid - since 1972, Russia's … [Read more...] about Russia and the US have common interests in Syria. But it may not matter.