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News, December 2017
500,000 Syrians Killed, Millions Forced out of their Homes, Most of the Country Destroyed in 6 Years of War
December 11, 2017
The following news stories are just examples of the daily horrors of war in Syria. Readers can find more detailed daily news stories at the sources below.
Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias, backed by Russian air power, push towards Idlib province
December 11, 2017
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Mary Milliken
The Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias backed by Russian air power stepped up a military campaign against rebels in eastern Hama province in a push towards the rebel stronghold of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, rebels and witnesses said.
A general view of the Syrian town of Atimah, Idlib province, seen in this picture taken from Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
They said dozens of aerial strikes believed to be conducted mainly by Russian jets in the last 48 hours hit opposition held villages and towns in the northeastern Hama countryside and the southern part of Idlib province.
The Islamist Hayat Tahrir al Sham and some Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel faction in control of these areas said they were sending reinforcements to seize back a string of villages in the northeastern Hama countryside, near the town of Rihjan, that the army had earlier announced were captured in heavy fighting.
The army said the villages of Um Turayka, Bilil, and Rujum al Ahmar were seized, forcing the rebels to flee to areas close to the administrative boundaries of Idlib province.
The Syrian army had lost the strategically located Idlib province to insurgents when the provincial capital fell to rebels in 2015. It has since become the only province that is fully under opposition control.
The Syrian army’s first goal was to retake strategic Abu al Dhour military airport, one of the largest airports in the north of the country that fell to rebels in 2015. It was heavily bombed on Sunday, a rebel source said.
“The regime movements seek to besiege Idlib province with the help of Shi‘ite militias fighting with them,” said Colonel Mustafa Bakour, a commander in the Jaish al Izza rebel faction.
Tahrir al Sham, which is spearheaded by the former al Qaeda branch in Syria, is the main rebel force in the province, raising fears among civilians and rebels alike that Moscow and the Syrian army and its allies would soon turn it into a major battlefield.
The strategically located province that borders Turkey is part of the Russian-led de-escalation zones that seek to shore up ceasefires in western Syria.
Idlib has been a haven for tens of thousands of rebels and civilians who were forced to abandon their homes in other parts of western Syria that the government and its foreign military allies have recaptured from rebels.
It has already been the target of intensive strikes by the Russia and Syrian air forces in the past year that have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed hospitals and civil defense centers.
Tahrir al Sham also repelled simultaneously an offensive by Islamic State militants who have been for the last few weeks pushing into the opposition-controlled territory to extend a small enclave they have in that area, among the few they retain across Syria.
The ultra hardline militants also seized a string of villages that brought them within kilometers of Idlib province.
The Russian and Syrian army advance towards Idlib is also piling pressure on Turkey which had since October begun a major military deployment in the province it considers within its sphere of influence.
Ankara’s intervention seeks to rein in Russian strikes and prevent Idlib from facing a similar fate to Mosul or Aleppo, according to a senior rebel commander briefed on Turkish policy.
The following are news stories from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) website (http://www.syriahr.com/en/):
Airstrikes by warplanes target the southern countryside of Idlib Idlib Province
SOHR, December 10, 2017
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Successive explosions shook areas in Al-Tamanah town in the southern countryside of Idlib, caused by 6 raids at least by warplanes on the town, followed by rocket shelling by the regime forces targeting places in the town, but no information yet about casualties, while two bodies were found on al-Kornish street in Idlib city, but no information about the nature and circumstances of their death, while 2 members of Abna’a Al-Qadisiyah Division were injured by a car bomb near al-Najeya town in the countryside of Jisr Al-Shughur city, also unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car belongs to Al-Sham Corps near Bidama town, and no information about casualties.
90 people were killed yesterday including 41 members of the regime forces and their allied militiamen, and about 5 civilians were killed in aerial shelling and explosions
SOHR, December 10, 2017
It rose to 6, the number of those who joined on Saturday the convoy of martyrs of the Syrian revolution.
In the province of Daraa, two fighters were killed, one of them died affected by injuries he received in targeting by the regime forces in al-Manshiyya neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad in the city of Daraa ...and the other was killed in an IED explosion during dismantling it on the road between the towns of Basar al-Harir and Maliha al-Atash in the eastern countryside of Daraa.
In the province of Al-Raqqa, two people were killed in landmines explosions in the city of Al-Raqqa.
In the province of Rif Dimashq, a citizen died affected by injuries he had in aerial shelling in places in Madira town in the Eastern Ghouta several days ago.
In the province of Idlib, a man died affected by injuries he got in landmine explosion during farming his land near Abu Al-Duhor military base in the eastern countryside of Idlib.
At least 286 members of ISIS were killed in the ongoing clashes in the northeastern countryside of Hama, while at least 174 members of Hayaat Tahrir Al-Sham were killed in heavy fighting in the same clashes.
And 41 members of the regime forces and their allied militiamen were killed in shelling and clashes against ISIS and the factions.
At least 13 fighters of ISIS of non-Syrian nationalities were killed in clashes and shelling of warplanes and helicopters and shelling on their areas of presence.
About 500,000 persons were killed in Syria during 81 months after the Syrian Revolution started
SOHR, December 10, 2017
On the World Human Rights Day…millions of Syrian citizens are abstracted of their right to life and they miss the minimum living standards
Equality, freedom, justice and democracy are still trying to find a place to be achieved in Syria, they are trying to eliminate the unjust who brushed them aside, these demands are slogans which nations struggle for, but they remain only slogans without being achieved, so long as the first right of the people of these nation is abstracted, it's ((the right to life)), the right that has to be guaranteed to every citizens who has to be protected and respected, instead of being easier to have a drink of water, that is the right that we have to talk about on the World Human Rights Day.
((The World Human Rights Day))…let's start with the word ((human)), the human who was abstracted of the first thing he owns and the last thing he loses, the thing that was abstracted by ways which were disgusting as its abstracters are, the thing that was abstracted from the human by forces he wanted to protect their right to life, thus, they prevented the human in his country to build, advance, think, improve himself, or even be able to protect his life, and what is going on in Syria, is a bloody reality clear for all, but the International Community still deafens and ignores the Syrian pain cries over 81 consecutive months, to increase with this silence the bleeding of the Syrian people in their country, and deprives them of their right to life.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 346612 persons on the Syrian territory since the start of the Syrian revolution on the 15th of March 2011 until the 10th of December 2017, presenting the details and the victims of each murderer, and the crimes he committed against the people of this country, to justice, and the casualties were distributed as follows:
103490 Syrians including 19116 children under the age of eighteen and 12041 citizen woman over the age of eighteen.
Syrian fighters in the ranks of the rebel and Islamic factions and the Syria Democratic Forces and other factions, movements and organizations: 57309
Defected of the regime forces: 2611
Number of persons who were killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces: 63251
Fighters of NDF and gunmen loyal to the Syrian regime: 48112
Fighters of the Islamic factions, Fateh al-Sham Front “Nusra Front formerly”, the “Islamic State” organization, the Islamic Turkestan Party, Jund al-Aqsa organization, Jund al-Sham, al-Khadra’a Battalion, Jund al-Sham al-Shishan, and Islamic movements of Arab and North African nationalities: 62619
Fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah: 1592
Gunmen of non-Syrian nationalities loyal to the regime forces of the Shiite community: 7481
Unidentified documented by pictures and videos: 147
The total number of civilian casualties is 103490; and it is distributed below according to party that caused the death:
By raids of Bashar al-Assad’s regime warplanes and helicopter 24229 civilian casualties, and they are: 15473 men, 5324 children under the age of eighteen and 3432 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By Russian rocket and air strikes 6328, they are 3851 men and young men, 1537children under the age of eighteen and 940 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By bombing by warplanes of the International Coalition 2775 Syrian civilians, they are 1661 men, 644 children under the age of eighteen and 470 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By bombing and shelling by the Turkish forces and warplanes 552 civilian casualties, they are 331 men and young men, 134 children under the age of eighteen and 87 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces and the gunmen loyal to them of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities 42165 civilian casualties, they are 26365 men and young men, 9787 children under the age of eighteen and 6013 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
Casualties in detention centers and prisons of the regime 14739 civilian casualties, they 14560 men and young men, and 120 children under the age of eighteen, and 59 citizen woman over the age of eighteen.
By the opposition factions 7475 civilian casualties, they are 5677 men, 1110 children under the age of eighteen and 688 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By the “Islamic State” organization 4882 civilian casualties, they are 4167 men, 397 children under the age of eighteen and 318 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
By the Turkish border guards 345 civilian casualties, they are 248 men and young men, 63 children under the age of eighteen and 34 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicates that this statistic does not include the 45000 citizens who were killed under torture in the detention centers and prisons of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and the observatory got the information about their death during the period of their detention.
It also doesn’t include the fate of more than 5200 abducted civilians and fighters in the prisons the “Islamic State” organization, in addition to that, it does not include also the fate of more than 4700 prisoners and missing of the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them, and more than 2000 kidnapped by the rebel and Islamic factions, the “Islamic State” organization and Fateh al-Sham Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra earlier) on charges of the loyalty to the regime.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the real number of who were killed to be about 90 thousand persons more than the numbers that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was able to document, and this estimate of the number of the casualties of the regime forces an the armed militiamen loyal to them of Syrian, Arab and Asian nationalities, the fighters of the rebel and Islamic factions, the "Islamic State" organization, the organizations of Jund al-Sham, Fateh al-Sham Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra earlier), Jund Al-Aqsa, Liwaa Al-Umma, Al-Battar Battalion, al-Mujahedeen and al-Ansar Army, the Islamic Party of Turkestan and Jund al-Sham al-Shishan, came due to the extreme secrecy on the number of casualties by the fighting parties, and due to presence of information about civilians casualties the Observatory was unable to document their death, because of the difficulty of reaching some remote areas in Syria.
Also the continued military operations, shelling and explosions have injured more than 2 million Syrian citizens with different injuries and permanent disabilities, while about 12 million other citizens including hundreds of thousands of children and hundreds of thousands of citizen women were displaced between the refuge and the displacement areas, also the infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and private and public property have been destroyed greatly.
After 81 months watering the Syrian soil with blood, and the continuation of killing on this land, the world and the International Community have no excuses to delay the international move, to end the death, the killing, the destruction and the displacement in the Syrian territory, to give the chance to the people of this nation to have a chance to live and re-build their country and to return their homes or the ruins in their cities, towns and villages, and there are no pretexts or excuses can stand in front of the International Courts to prevent the criminals and the murderers to be punished, with the exception of being those who are responsible for the administration of justice, evade from applying it, as we in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights will continue our calls for the international parties and the UN Security Council to move and to refer the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court, so that the killers of the Syrian people, their instigators and their commanders are punished, and to and to stop killing and give the chance to the Syrian people to reach the state they dream, the state of justice, democracy, freedom and equality and that guarantees their rights.
The International Community concentrated on a war against the "Islamic State" organization, which grew and magnified at the expense of the blood of the Syrian people, and participated in killing them, as this organization would never grow as it did, if the justice was applied from the beginning, and if the International Community was serious in helping the Syrian people to reach what they look forward, in reaching the state of justice, democracy, freedom and equality, as the Syrian people do not ask for much, they only demanded their dignity, but the International Community turned a revolution has precious goals, to a war between it and extremist organizations, and facilitated their way to spread, thus, they killed all the dreams of the Syrian people, it also reached that some of those who are responsible for the solution in Syria, to silence or bless the displacement in Syria, under the umbrella of "reconciliation and truces", and it was only a participation by them in the crimes that are committed against humanity in Syria, and we at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and despite of the killing threats we received from the all parties and all killers in Syria, and from parties participated in killing Syrian people, do not and will never stop what we started of monitoring, documenting and publishing all violations and crimes committed against the Syrian people and against the humanity, and the war crimes that are still being committed in Syria, even it coasts our lives.
The following are news stories from the US Department of Defense website (http://www.defense.gov/News) :
Military Strikes Continue Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 8, 2017 —
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, conducting 18 strikes consisting of 40 engagements against ISIS terrorists in Syria between Dec. 4 and yesterday,
Officials reported details of the most recent strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Yesterday in Syria, coalition military forces conducted five strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging four ISIS tactical units and destroying an ISIS headquarters, two fighting positions and an ISIS vehicle.
On Dec. 6, coalition military forces conducted four strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging two ISIS tactical units and destroying three ISIS vehicles, 13 ISIS watercraft and two ISIS-held buildings.
On Dec. 5, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging eight ISIS tactical units and destroying 17 ISIS watercraft, an improvised explosive device, an ISIS line of communication, an ISIS headquarters, a heavy weapon, an ISIS vehicle and an ISIS motorcycle.
On Dec. 4, coalition military forces conducted a strike against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging an ISIS tactical unit and destroying an ISIS fighting position.
Strikes in Iraq
There were no strikes reported in Iraq Dec. 4-7.
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 4, 2017 —
Strikes in Syria
Yesterday in Syria, coalition military forces conducted five strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging three ISIS tactical units and destroying two ISIS vehicles, two heavy weapons and three fighting positions.
On Dec. 2, coalition military forces conducted 11 strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging 11 ISIS tactical units and destroying eight ISIS vehicles, a heavy weapon, an ISIS fighting position and five explosive hazards.
On Dec. 1, coalition military forces conducted 12 strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging 13 ISIS tactical units and destroying four ISIS vehicles, a tactical vehicle, an ISIS fighting position, an indirect fire weapon and a heavy weapon.
Strikes in Iraq
Yesterday in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of two engagements near Rutbah that destroyed an ISIS-held building.
On Dec. 2, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets:
-- Near Asad, a strike destroyed two ISIS supply routes.
-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed two ISIS-held buildings.
-- Near Taji, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.
There were no strikes reported in Iraq on Dec. 1.
Pentagon Announces Troop Levels in Iraq, Syria
By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2017 —
The United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, and those numbers are trending down, Pentagon officials said here today.
Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning announced the numbers in compliance with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis’ direction to give the American people a better idea of the commitment of U.S. forces in the region.
The officials arrived at the number using the same system used to quantify the troops in Afghanistan, Manning said.
“We seek to inform the American public with the imperative of operational security and denying the enemy any advantage,” Manning said.
“The secretary has been clear about improving our public reporting while increasing commanders’ ability to adapt to changing battlefield conditions to counter emerging threats,” the colonel said.
Iraqi forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated about 97 percent of the people and land that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria once claimed as the new caliphate, he said.
“The campaign to defeat ISIS is now in a new phase in Iraq and Syria,” Manning said.
This phase-shift will allow DoD to optimize force management practices and adapt to current Operation Inherent Resolve requirements. With the liberation, fewer U.S. forces are needed to support Iraqi and Syrian forces kinetically. An example of this was the withdrawal of a Marine artillery unit from Syria last week.
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