PHOTO: Rebel fighter near Khan Tuman, 12 km (7 miles) from Aleppo city, where regime-Russian bombing continued on Monday


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UPDATE 1955 GMT: The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has pledged that Khan Tuman, lost last week to rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra, will be retaken.

General Hossein Salami played down the significance of the loss in which dozens of Revolutionary Guards Troops were killed, wounded, or captured:

The situation in Khan Tuman is a tactical change and development and doesn’t have any strategic effect on the entire battlefield….We consider the Syrian government as a part of the resistance front and we are in full control of the situation.


UPDATE 1355 GMT: Claimed footage of the moment that a regime bomb hit a mosque in Binnish in Idlib Province, killing at least 10 people:

BINNISH MOSQUE DAMAGED

The Jaish al-Fateh rebel bloc has retaliated with shelling of the regime enclave of al-Fu’ah, north of Idlib city.


UPDATE 1345 GMT: Rebels are claiming significant destruction of regime armored vehicles and weapons to the southwest, northwest, and north of Aleppo city.

One claim from the Levant Front asserts that 11 anti-tank guided missiles were fired on five tanks, heavy guns, and a cannon.


ORIGINAL ENTRY: The Assad regime said on Monday that it was extending a “truce” by 48 hours in Aleppo city and province, even as it continued airstrikes in southern Aleppo.

Syrian and Russian warplanes bombed in and near Khan Tuman, the town near the Aleppo-to-Damascus highway captured by rebels and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra last week, and in and neighboring Idlib Province.

White Helmets rescuers respond to bombing of Ma’arat al-Nu’man in Idlib:

The Local Coordination Committees verified the deaths of 31 people across Syria on Monday, including 14 in Idlib Province.

Opposition outlets also reported another attempt by the Syrian military to take territory in the al-Marj area, northeast of Damascus, where regime forces have continued attacks despite the cessation. There was fighting in the towns of Zebdin and Jesrin and near al-Rakabiya, captured by the Syrian army last month.

The Syrian military acknowledged operations, albeit under the pretext that it “confronted attempts by terrorist groups to attack a number of military posts”.

The source added that the army units seized a 700- m tunnel used by terrorists in the surroundings of Bala in al-Ghouta.

A Token Truce?

The Syrian military said it was renewing the truce in Aleppo and Latakia Province for 48 hours from 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. The announcement came as the US and Russia asserted in a joint statement that they are working to revive a February 27 “cessation of hostilities” agreement.

While the cessation reduced fighting in parts of Syria, battles and aerial attacks continued throughout the northwest. Citing the breaches by the Assad regime, rebels struck back on the front south of Aleppo city. They took another town on the Aleppo-to-Damascus highway, al-Eis, and held it against Iranian-led counter-attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the Iranians, other foreign militias, and the Syrian army.

Meanwhile, Russia and the regime stepped up airstrikes inside Aleppo city from April 21, killing hundreds of people. Among the targets struck was the al-Quds Hospital, one of the last in opposition-held east Aleppo, with 55 deaths and 80 wounded.

Asaad al-Zoubi, the chief negotiator for the opposition-rebel bloc, said on Monday that the Aleppo truce extension would only allow thousands of reinforcing troops to be sent from Iran.

For the first time, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards acknowledged significant casualties from its escalating involvement, saying that 13 of its troops were killed and 21 wounded when the rebel bloc Jaish al-Fateh suddenly attacked and captured Khan Tuman. A leading Iranian MP said “5 or 6” more soldiers had been captured.

See Iran Daily, May 9: Facing Losses in Syria, Revolutionary Guards Turn to Propaganda

Among the dead were a commander of the elite Quds Forces, Brigadier General Shafi Shafiee, and a Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General, Javad Durbin, brought back from retirement.

A “large number” of Afghan militia also died in the battles.


Twitter Suspends Official Accounts of Rebel Faction Jaish al-Islam

Twitter has suspended accounts of the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam.

Both the main account of the group and that of its spokesman, Captain Islam Alloush, have been removed. No reason has been given.

The accounts, among the most active social media outlets of rebel groups, are a significant source of information for military developments in the Syrian conflict.


Partial Suspension of US-Supported Aid Because of Fraud Allegations

The US Agency for International Development has suspended a portion of its support for aid deliveries, following allegations of fraud by some NGOs involved in delivery of assistance.

AID’s Inspector General found a network of commercial vendors, NGO employees, and others have colluded “to engage in bid-rigging and multiple bribery and kickback schemes related to contracts to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria”.

IRIN News, which covers relief efforts, said the International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the Irish NGO GOAL, are among the implicated organizations. The site said 14 Turkish individuals and organizations have been banned from receiving funds because of the allegations.

The report cited “systemic weaknesses on the part of an implementer in the procurement, storage, handling, transportation, and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies purchased for use in Syria.” It said companies and individuals “were found to have violated federal or state antitrust statutes by having colluded with each other in order to win an award to provide supplies to displaced persons”.

Aid efforts have also been hindered by the Assad regime’s confiscation of supplies as well as Damascus’s continuing restriction on access to besieged areas.


Video: In Opposition-Held Area of Homs, Maintaining Education Amid War

Report on a school in al-Wa’er, the last opposition-held area of Homs city:

Abdel Hamid, 10, says, “We feel as though we aren’t under siege or in a war anymore. Here you feel as though you are outside the blockade.”

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