ISIS strikes day after withdrawal from Damascus suburbs
The Islamic State has struck a military outpost near Palmyra in central Syria, killing at least 30 Assad regime troops and Iranian-supported militia.
Residents said ISIS attacked the outpost at dawn on Tuesday with suicide bombers and armored vehicles, near a dam southeast of the ancient Roman city. A former resident, in touch with people still in Palmyra, cited the casualty figures after the jihadists attacked from the nearby desert.
Pro-Assad sites listed 16 officers and soldiers killed or injured.
The assault came a day after ISIS capitulated in its last positions south of Damascus, with hundreds of fighters and family members moved to the Badia region in eastern Syria.
The Islamic State captured Palmyra, with its extensive Roman-era ruins, in May 2015 and again in December 2016. Pro-Assad forces, enabled by Russian airstrikes, finally regained the area in March 2017.
Meanwhile, reports are circulating of widespread looting by Assad regime forces in the towns south of Damascus after the departure of ISIS and of rebels.
Claimed photographs and videos show troops taking away household goods and appliances.
ISIS, which had held Yarmouk and nearby Hajar al-Aswad since early 2015, finally surrendered on Monday after a month-long pro-Assad assault. Earlier in May, the Free Syrian Army capitulated earlier in Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahm.
'Syrian Arab Army' after ''liberating' Al-Qadam neighbourhood southern Damascus. This looting is happening in every area this army enters and it happens because all the houses are empty due to the forcibly displacement. pic.twitter.com/M3hMo7ebMk
— Mazen Hassoun (@HassounMazen) May 22, 2018
Russia Acknowledges Observation Posts Around Opposition Idlib
Pointing to a de facto partition of Syria, the Russian military has acknowledged the establishment of a system of observation posts around opposition-held territory in northwest Syria.
Turkey, which has been aligned with rebels since its miltiary intervention in August 2016, has finished the positioning of 12 posts around Idlib Province and parts of northern Hama and western Aleppo Provinces. Russia has matched this with 10 posts across from the Turkish points.
“The establishment of observation points along the disengagement line has been completed,” Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy said Wednesday. “These observation points are being used to monitor the ceasefire between government troops and armed opposition units.”
Rudskoy also referred to seven Iranian posts — possibly positions for Iranian-led foreign militia.
Under de-escalation agreements between Russia, Iran, and Turkey, neither pro-Assad forces or rebels can pursue attacks. However, Russia has continued its involvement in periodic pro-Assad bombing of civilian areas across Idlib.
Iran has publicly supported the Assad regime’s desire to regain all of Idlib, held by the opposition since spring 2015, but Russia has refrained from any backing.
“Starvation Strategy”: Pro-Assad Burning of Hama Farmland
Outside the de-escalation zone, pro-Assad forces are continuing their effort to break the opposition in northern Hama Province with the shelling of farmland.
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) May 22, 2018
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) May 23, 2018
The attacks near Lataminah have been pursued for months in an effort to constrict food supplies in the opposition area.