BEIRUT (Reuters) – As U.S. warplanes bomb his enemies in Syria’s east, President Bashar al-Assad has set loose his own forces in the west, alarming Washington’s few friends on the ground and potentially undermining the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.
U.S. President Barack Obama says Washington’s goal in Syria is to defeat Islamic State without helping Assad’s government. The Arab allies that have joined the U.S.-led strikes are some of Assad’s fiercest opponents.
SURUC Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State militants tightened their noose on a northern Syrian border town on Sunday as the United Nations said the number of Syrian Kurds fleeing into neighbouring Turkey may have topped 100,000 and was likely to go much higher.
Residents fleeing the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known in Kurdish as Kobani, and its surrounding villages said the militants were executing people of all ages in the areas they had seized to create a climate of fear and slavish obedience.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s army declared a victory against insurgents last week when it pushed back their advance towards pro-government towns in the west of the country. But a month earlier the strategic area did not even appear at risk.
The campaign near Hama against al Qaeda-linked fighters and other groups shows how the Syrian military can quickly redeploy its forces to push back enemies using its superior fire power. But it also shows how the army is spread thinly in Syria, leaving at risk even areas of vital importance to the government.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iraq’s national security adviser briefed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on efforts to counter Islamic State on Tuesday, in the first such meeting since the United States launched air strikes on the radical group in Iraq.
The United States and other Western governments have dismissed the idea of cooperating with Syria in the fight against Islamic State, which has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. Western governments see Assad as part of the problem and say he must leave power.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The new head of the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, once one of the strongest militias in the Syrian civil war, has urged fellow insurgents to fight on after a blast on Tuesday wiped out its senior leadership.
In a video on YouTube, Ahrar al-Sham said Hashem al-Sheikh, also known as “Abu Jaber”, had been named its new leader and Abu Saleh Tahan its new military chief. Another video showed a man identified as Abu Jaber exhorting his men to fight on.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters executed scores of Syrian soldiers captures when the militants seized an airbase in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted on You Tube on Thursday.
The video, confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter, showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. They were stretched out in a line that appeared to be dozens of metres long.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters have executed dozens of members of the Syrian army they captured after seizing an air base in the northeast of the country, a group monitoring the violence said on Thursday.
Islamic State, a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base on Sunday after days of clashes with the army and said it had captured and killed soldiers and officers in one of the fiercest confrontations yet between the two sides.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State militants have executed Syrian army soldiers and are holding a group hostage after capturing an air base in northeast Syria at the weekend, pictures posted on social media by supporters showed on Wednesday.
Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base near Raqqa city on Sunday after days of fighting with the army that cost more than 500 lives, according to monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria said on Monday it would cooperate in any international effort to fight Islamic State militants, after Washington signalled it was considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian territory.
Russia, the most prominent foreign backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also urged Western and Arab nations to overcome their distaste of the government in Damascus and engage with it to fight the hardline insurgents.
BEIRUT, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Syria said on Monday it would
cooperate in any international efforts to fight Islamic State
militants in the country, after Washington signalled it was
considering extending the battle against the group into Syrian
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, whose government has been
shunned by the West, presented his country as a vital partner in
the war against Islamic State that has seized wide areas of
Syria and Iraq.