# Syria
Middle East News
Even Russia can't completely eliminate ISIS from the Syrian desert

Russian media publications reported that Assad's armed forces and his militias could not access deep enough into the Syrian desert after intense encounters with ISIS.

News site "Topwar" reports that Russian fighter jets were carrying out airstrikes at ISIS facilities in the east villages of Hama district, and damaged their communications systems and ammunition warehouses. 

The site added that Assad's forces and the militias could not make progress into the region after ISIS attack close to "Athera" district.

ISIS remains spread out in Syria's Badia, from Eastern A-Swida region through Homs until Al-Mayadeen in the rural region of Deir Al-Zour district.

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# ISIS # Syria # Russia
Global News
Putin did not commit to renew Syria cross-border aid access -U.S. official

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden did not secure a commitment from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday to renew a U.N. cross-border aid operation into Syria, a senior administration official said ahead of an expected showdown over the issue at the United Nations Security Council next month.

Washington and several other members of the 15-member Security Council are pushing to expand the cross-border operation, which U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock has described as a "lifeline" for some 3 million Syrians in the country's north.

Russia has questioned the importance of the long-running operation. 

There was "no commitment, but we made clear that this was of significant importance for us if there was going to be any further cooperation on Syria," the U.S. official said following the meeting between Biden and Putin in Geneva.

The U.S. official described the upcoming renewal as a test of whether the United States and Russia could work together.

The U.N. Security Council first authorized a cross-border aid operation by U.N. and nongovernmental organizations into Syria in 2014 at four points. Last year, it reduced that access to one crossing point from Turkey due to opposition from Russia and China over renewing all four.

The mandate for the operation expires on July 10. A resolution to extend council approval needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the five permanent members -- Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain.

"For countless Syrians, this is a life-or-death vote," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told U.S. lawmakers earlier on Wednesday.

In the past decade, the council has been divided over how to handle Syria, with Syrian ally Russia and China pitted against Western members. Russia has vetoed 16 resolutions related to Syria and was backed by China for many of those votes.

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# Syria # China # Russia
Middle East News
Syrian Observatory: Iranian militia has transferred medium-range missiles to a Syrian base

The Syrian Center for Human Rights said on Monday that "in the last few hours, Iranian militias have poured new military reinforcements and weapons into a base located opposite the areas of the international coalition and the Syrian (Kurdish) democratic forces."

The Observatory cited unidentified sources who said the weapons included a number of medium-range "surface-to-surface missiles", weapons and ammunition shipped from areas west of the Euphrates to their new base, recently established on a hill in the village of Habuba.

The Syrian Observatory said that this was the second time the militias had been pouring reinforcements for 20 days, without knowing what the purpose behind it was.

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# Iran # Syria
Middle East News
U.S. Senator harshly criticizes Assad's crimes and ally Russia in Syria

The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, has sharply criticized Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad for his crimes against his citizens.

"We are dealing with a mafia state run by an evil authority and its corrupt inner circle," Menendez said. "This is an extraordinary country. We are dealing with a criminal regime, not a democratic government."

He noted that Russia "continues to assist the brutal and criminal Assad regime only to secure its interests and military access to the Mediterranean through which the southern wing of the Europeans can be threatened."

In a speech to the Senate yesterday, the Democratic senator touched on the UN's claim that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria, by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilian centers.

He added: "In just three years, the Syrian Observatory has estimated that Russian military activity in Syria has caused nearly 18,000 casualties, including 8,000 civilians. Let me be clear, these are war crimes and they must be held accountable."

It is worth noting that Menendez's speech comes ahead of the upcoming summit in Geneva, Switzerland, in the middle of the month and will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with American Joe Biden.

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# Syria # US Government # Russia
Middle East analysis
Foreign news site: The Assad regime provides Israel with intelligence information to attack Iranian sites in Syria

The news site A-Nas News reported that a Western diplomat said that Bashar al-Assad had been assisting "for a very long time", directly or through a third party, Israel by providing it with intelligence on military sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia in Syria, for the purpose of attacking them.

The source stressed that although Israel has excellent intelligence on the locations of the Iranian militias, Assad's partnership with Israel comes from a search for a "quick breakthrough" for the Assad regime, which will rescue him from isolation at the regional and international level, and thus bring Syria's return to the international community.

The source, who refused to reveal his name to the newspaper, referred to the growing chasm and rupture in the bilateral relations between the Assad regime and Tehran, and the rupture of trust between the two sides. Evidence of this was that the Iranian militias, he said, had increased security operations in their areas of control and treated Syrian officials more carefully.

In this context, an Israeli strategic expert revealed that Syria, during Assad's rule, does not pose any strategic threat to it, and attributed this to the strengthening of Syrian-Israeli relations through understandings between Israel and Russia.

The announcement comes as Iranian militia defense ministries witness radical changes in the structure of institutions and the appointment of new commanders, and recent press reports say Tehran has succeeded in building an integrated military security empire in the areas it controls Syria.

Meanwhile, Israeli fighter jets have escalated their military operations and attacks on sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia since the beginning of the year, when Israel began 2021 with three airstrikes aimed twice at Iranian sites in the Al-Kiswa area west of Damascus and the western western region of Damascus. In southern Syria.

Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes on sites in the rural areas of Damascus and Homs last Wednesday, attacks that were the first to be carried out by Israel after the Assad regime's fake elections at the end of last month. In this context, press reports in Israel have revealed its intention to continue attacking military sites where Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia are staying in Syria to prevent an Iranian deployment near its borders.

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# Iran # Syria # Israel Defense Forces
Middle East News
Two Hezbollah Members Killed, Possibly by ISIS

On Saturday, unidentified gunmen attacked a joint military post of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and special forces of the Assad regime in the southwestern rural area of Al-Raqqa province in eastern Syria.

A local news network quoted a military source as saying that the attack, which was set into motion over a month ago, was carried with machine-gun fire, and killed two Hezbollah militiamen and four Syrian special forces personnel.

The Syrian media has previously stated that Hezbollah controls the Syrian military airport, and it is only natural that elite combatants, both from the Syrian commando and the Hezbollah forces, maintain extensive perimeter defense around the field.

The network explained that after the attack, Hezbollah members sought joint reinforcements composed of militia fighters and special forces.

It should be noted that this attack, so close to a site of strategic importance to Hezbollah in eastern Syria, indicates that ISIS forces operating in the region are daring, but as of yet no one has agreed to place the responsibility for this attack on ISIS.

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# Middle East # ISIS # Syria # Hezbollah
The Iranian Threat
Iranian Militias Refuse to Evacuate Checkpoints in Eastern Syria

During a meeting, Syrian regime forces asked the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to remove checkpoints they had set up on the al-Bukmal-Dir a-Zour road, but their request was denied.

A Syrian news site reported that the meeting, which took place in the security district in the Iranian-controlled city of Albuqmal, was attended by the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Albuqmal, and an officer with the rank of Brigadier General from the regime forces.

The website added that the senior Syrian officer had asked to remove these checkpoints because Revolutionary Guardsmen violated prior agreements by working against smuggling trucks belonging to Mahar al-Assad, the president's brother, and several smuggling figures that have the support of the regime.

It is worth noting that the Syrian regime and the Iranian militias are engaged in smuggling cannabis throughout the Deir a-Zor district, where the Iranian militias have already brought into the al-Bukhamal area several trucks loaded with narcotics.

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# Middle East # Iran # Syria
Middle East News
Syria: Widespread Corruption at the Top

Military police patrols arrested the most senior officer in charge of military fuel in Syria, known as the "King of Oil", an officer with the rank of general in the Assad regime.

After being stripped of his rank he was taken to a military court for questioning on various charges, including embezzlement, sabotage, and co-operation with outsiders.

This arrest comes shortly after a fire broke out in an Iranian oil tanker off the Syrian coast, and amid speculation at the time that this was deliberate arson- even before sources claimed the tanker was bombed by unidentified drones.

Several sources in the Syrian media have reported on the arrest of the general and the seizure of his, and his wife's, property. These sources (intentionally or unintentionally) portrayed Assad's regime as anti-corruption.

The Assad regime tries, from time to time, to present itself as an effective force operating in a state with a rule of law, at a time when the militias dominate all aspects of life and ignore Syria's security services.

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# Middle East # Iran # Syria
Middle East analysis
Diplomatic sources hint at a US-Turkish "deal" involving Syria

Diplomatic sources have hinted at the possibility that the United States of America and Turkey will reach an agreement on various issues, including the Syrian issue.

Informed diplomatic sources told the Arabic-language news site Ashrak al-Awsat published in England that "negotiations between the United States and Turkey are in progress."

The website stated that the negotiations "focus on concluding a multifaceted deal, not only related to the Russian missile deal (S-400), but to the role that Turkey can play in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of American and international forces."

Negotiations include the fate of the Turkish-Syrian border areas, especially those extending northeast of Euphrates.

Sources said: "The deal we are talking about also includes the future of the S-400 missiles and the situation in Syria, including in particular an attempt to reduce its concerns about the "Kurdish enclave" in areas east of Euphrates, and its active contribution to resolving the humanitarian crisis in all Syrian opposition areas."

Sources added, "Nothing is guaranteed so far, although conditions on the ground lead to the belief that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be forced to accept this deal, for reasons related to internal political and economic difficulties."

It should be noted that US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan confirmed at a press conference last Monday that Erdogan and Biden will discuss the Syrian issue during their first meeting in Brussels on the 14th of this month.

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# Biden Administration # Turkey # Syria
Middle East analysis
Why Israel's Quietest Border Could Face a 'Massive Eruption'

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel – Near the end of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the last 50 years, that battle has proven to be one of the most strategic of the war.

"Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region," said Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed.

That's in part because of its proximity to the Sea of Galilee. The Golan Heights shares borders with Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, with Damascus just 40 miles away.

For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israelis below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack.

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Melamed explained why it's so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War.

"So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians," Melamed said.

"Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest freshwater body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel," Melamed continued.

"In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water.

"The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel – mostly in the context of the water and use of water," Melamed said.

Israel faced a literal uphill battle against the Syrian army – a rocky slope that rose 1,700 feet from the Sea of Galilee. Israel captured the Golan plateau during the last two days of the Six-Day War.

Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights. They established the first community there called Merom Golan (the height of the Golan).

"We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan," Harel recalled. "We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we'll stay here.

"We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area," he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers.

"We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house," Harel said.

Eventually, the community moved across the ridge and still farms near the border.

Today, close to 50,000 people – more than 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze – live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines.

"In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel," Harel said. "Everything happens on the other side of the border."

But that could be changing.

Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is "more severe."   

"I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone's throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line."

Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that's similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

"Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will – could result in – a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so," he said.

On the 49th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear how Israel views the Golan Heights.

"[The Golan Heights] are for peace. In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem. The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel's hands," Netanyahu said at a special cabinet meeting. "The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel's hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights."

For now, Harel says there's a reason why this area has remained quiet.

"We live here in peace and it's a peace because we are on the Golan Heights," he said. "When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place."

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# Golan Heights # Jordan # Syria
China and The Middle East
Russia, China veto proposal for humanitarian aid to Syria

An Illustration by SyriaTV explaining what's stopping Syria from rebuilding itself.

# Syria # China # Russia
Middle East analysis
Syria: The Russians pay salaries to sections of the Syrian army in exchange for loyalty to the Kremlin

Colonel (Res.) Pesach Milubani reveals, based on overt publications, Moscow's involvement in the Syrian army's operation. It turns out that even the post of chief of staff is manned by Putin remotely through a joint infantry.

Since the civil war in Syria officially ended, the Syrian army has been under the control of three elements: the Russians, the Iranians and the regime. Sources from the Syrian opposition have accumulated information indicating the degree of Russian control of the army, as reflected in a number of incidents in the past year. Also, we need to follow the regime's efforts to establish the control of the Alawite community in the army alongside the other state institutions, with an emphasis on intelligence and security mechanisms of all kinds.

New appointments at Russia's request

Information recently published on various Syrian opposition websites indicates that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has decided, following his "election victory" in the recent elections, to make personnel changes in the army, which included transfers and new appointments in about 20 senior positions. This is not on the usual and traditional date, when the semi-annual bulletin of new appointments in the army is published on two fixed dates - January 1 and July 1 each year.

According to the information published, the people behind this move are the Russians, who ordered Bashar to make these changes, probably for their own reasons. Whether the officers transferred from their posts are not considered their supporters, and are more inclined to the Iranian side, or because of their insufficient skills in the eyes of the Russians. It should be noted that some of them were appointed to the position only a few months ago.

The changes that have been made include the promotion of the commander of Division 5 to the position of Commander of the 1st Brigade (in the Golan Heights) and the promotion of the Commander of Division 2 Beaches (a new framework in the army) to the headquarters of this corps. Prior to that, he was the commander of the 18th Division as Chief of Staff of the 3rd Brigade (Northern Syria). As a result, other officers were promoted to vacant positions. In addition, a new commander was appointed to Division 8 (a relatively new framework established during the Civil War).

It was reported last March that the Russians refused the Syrians' request in January this year to appoint an officer to the post of chief of staff. This post has not been manned for more than 3 years, since January 2018, and the army is today led by Defense Minister Ali Ayub, who previously served as chief of staff. And three deputy chiefs of staff, as is customary.

According to the information, the Russians claimed to the Syrians that the operations room shared by them and the Syrians, which they set up at the end of 2015 after arriving in Syria, to conduct operational activities in the country, as well as approve appointments to various positions, fulfills the chief of staff.

Because of this, the Russians do not want the appointment of any officer to this senior position, which would interfere with them managing the Syrian army as they see fit, and thus controlling what happens to it. Whoever does not like them, is not one of their supporters or moves aside.

The same thing happened with the Russian involvement in the appointment of the commander of the Syrian Air Force. In October 2020, Assad appointed a new commander of the Air Force to replace the old, retired commander. The veteran commander was loyal not only to the regime, but also to the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen operating in Syria. These apparently pressured Bashar to return him to his post, which happened a month later, in November 2020.


Wages in exchange for loyalty to the Kremlin

As far as is known, the Russians now control parts of the Syrian army, loyal to them. Particularly prominent is their control of the 5th Brigade, which they established after their arrival in Syria, and the 25th Division for special missions of which it is a part. Its commander, Suhail al-Hassan, is one of their most loyal Syrian officers.

This control is manifested in the almost complete exercise of this corps force by the Russians and not by the Syrian army. Presumably things are done with consent and without opposition from the Syrians. For example, this recruiting force was recently transferred from the northern province of Adlib province to the eastern desert region to deal with Islamic State (ISIS) forces. They have recently discovered activity there, causing casualties for the Syrian army, which is apparently unable to deal with the problem.

However, not everything seems to be going smoothly for the Russians. It was recently reported that they stopped paying salaries to soldiers of one of the brigades in this corps, as its commanders refused to fulfill their order to send forces to the desert area, to fight ISIS. This, after several times they have taken action in recent months. , And matters between the Russian commanders and the brigade commanders will be settled as the Russians will.

It should be noted that in parallel with this activity, Russian investors are making an effort to build a permanent holding for this corps in eastern Syria. They are building a large base in Deir a-Zour that will serve the forces loyal to them and their needs. This, among other things, as a counterweight to the presence of pro-Iranian militias in the region.

 

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# Syria # Russia
Iran
Delegation of Senior Iranian Military Personnel Visit Syria

Recently, Iranian militias in the city of al-Nairab (administratively affiliated with the city of Aleppo), have been on alert, amid the arrival of a senior Iranian delegation.

A delegation of at least 9 Iranian generals and military experts arrived yesterday morning from Iran at Damascus International Airport.

The delegation visited the Shiite Zinav Shiite temple, south of the capital Damascus, to hold religious ceremonies. They then made their way, in cars belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and under heavy security guard by Syrian Air Force intelligence, towards the headquarters in Nayrab.

The reports received indicate that part of their mission will be to change the structure of the military command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Aleppo, where the tension is strong.

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# Middle East # Iran # Syria
Middle East News
Syrian Al-Qusair after 8 years: Hezbollah rules and residents displaced

Eight years have passed since the forces of Assad and Lebanese Hezbollah seized control of the Syrian city of al-Qusayr, turning it into a ghost town, its original residents are reported to be currently in the areas between Idlib and the rural district of Aleppo. 

Al-Qusayr is one of the largest cities in Homs province, with over 80 villages and towns affiliated with it.

Abu al-Walid, a 40-year-old from the city of al-Qusayr who has lived for years in the Jander area in the southern rural area of Homs, said he had submitted a number of requests to return to the city, but has not received an answer so far.

Abu al-Walid added in statements to the American news site al-Hura: "I have more than 400 dunams of agricultural land in al-Qusayr, and I have not received anything from it for the past 8 years. It is cultivated and harvested by a man from the village of al-'Abiya, "He is very close to senior Lebanese Hezbollah members."

According to informed sources, the rate of destruction in essential homes and facilities is 85 percent, noting that the Assad government "has so far not moved a single stone, despite its repeated statements on the subject."

Samar Abu Uday, from the city of Al-Qusir, who now lives in the Arsal area of Lebanon, says they have received several promises and offers in recent years to return to al-Qusayr, but they have had no follow-up, and that "the future is vague."

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# Terrorism # Syria # Hezbollah
Breaking news
After a break of about a month, Israeli attacks on military sites in Damascus and central Syria

Israeli attacks targeted Syrian sites, two hours ago at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, June 9, after a break for about a month, when explosions were heard near Damascus International Airport and the Air Defense Battalion in the Damir area and in the southwestern part of Homs district in central Syria and butter districts. Syrian army air forces tried to intercept the cruise missiles that were on their way to the destinations, in the airspace of the region.

The attacks resulted in casualties in Homs when rescue crews arrived at the attacked sites, in addition to an explosion of weapons depots in the Demir area.

It is worth noting that in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, since the beginning of the month, witnesses have been alerted by security forces of the regime and the Iranian militias, without knowing the reasons.

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# Iran # Syria # Israel Defense Forces
Breaking news
Update: International airport in Damascus was also attacked

Indeed, the international airport in Damascus was also attacked. The attack apparently targeted an arms shipment of advanced anti-aircraft systems sent by Iran in recent days.

# Iran # Syria # Israel Defense Forces
Breaking news
BREAKING! - Air Attacks in Syria

Reports from Syria of attacks on Iranian interests in Homs and the southern suburbs of Damascus in the last minutes.
Reports indicate that four Israeli fighter jets attacked from the eastern Lebanese area.

Details to come as provided

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# Syria
Middle East News
Syrian Al-Qusayr After 8 Years: Hezbollah Rules and Residents Have Been Displaced

Eight years have passed since the forces of Assad and Lebanese Hezbollah seized control of the Syrian city of al-Qusayr, turning it into a ghost town. Its original residents are currently located in the areas between Idlib and the Aleppo countryside.

Al-Qusayr is one of the largest cities in Homs province, with over 80 villages and towns affiliated with it.

In June 2013, Assad's forces took it over with the direct support of the Lebanese Hezbollah. It was the first region to witness external intervention by foreign forces.

Since the Syrian army took control of the town, it has disappeared from the news headlines.

Currently, between 2,000 and 5,000 people live in the city of al-Qusayr, out of a population of 60,000 in the past, according to an official census issued by the Assad regime in 2011.

According to informed sources, the rate of destruction in homes and essential facilities is 85 percent, noting that the Assad government "has so far not moved a single stone, despite its repeated statements on the subject."

Al-Qusayr has a strategic location that has made it a central point in recent years for smuggling from Lebanon to Syria and vice versa, which Lebanese officials recently confirmed.

In addition, there has been much talk in recent years that Hezbollah officials have used hundreds of dunams of land in the Alcosire area for cannabis cultivation and set up mini-factories to produce captagon bullets.

Although there are no comments about the above from Hezbollah or the Assad regime, the residents of the city have confirmed this information, saying that there is an upward trend in the size of the areas where cannabis has been planted.

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# Middle East # Syria # Lebanon # Hezbollah
Middle East News
The Netherlands was able to identify Syrian officers responsible for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhon

The Dutch intelligence and security service has identified five Assad regime officers responsible for the chemical attack that took place in the city of Khan Sheikhun in the southern rural area of Idlib years ago.

The director of the Dutch intelligence service, Jan Solins, said that "five senior Syrian officers are behind some toxic gas attacks - sarin, but he did not mention the names of the officers involved.

According to the Dutch radio program "Argos", the conversation refers to the cities "Khan Sheikhun" south of Idlib, and "Altamna" - north of Lehema.

In 2017, Assad's forces bombed the city of Khan Sheikhun with 'sarin' gas, which killed about 100 civilians and injured dozens more.

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# Middle East # Syria
Middle East News
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: The Assad regime has used chemical weapons 17 times

The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which works with the United Nations, said on Thursday that Bashar al - Assad's regime had used chemical weapons, banned by the international community, at least 17 times during the war in Syria.

Fernando Arias, the organization's executive director, said experts had investigated 77 allegations and came out with results confirming the "disturbing fact" that is coming, despite Syria joining the organization to ban chemical weapons in 2013.

Arias stressed that there are still many questions about the credibility of the Syrian regime when it comes to announcing its chemical weapons program, after "chemical weapons were found in samples collected in large storage tanks in September 2020."

He added that the organization did not receive a response from Damascus when it applied for entry visas in order to send an investigation team to Syria last month, which led to the postponement of the mission until further notice.

The Assad regime joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 on the orders of its ally, Russia, after bombing East Gauta, near Damascus, with chemical weapons, causing hundreds of casualties, most of them children.

The Assad regime announced the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal in 2014, which is still in dispute, after UN experts accused the Assad regime of carrying out three chemical attacks in 2017.

The Assad regime did not cooperate with foreign investigations at the time, leading to an unprecedented decision last April to suspend Syria's "rights" in the arms embargo organization.

The High Commissioner for Disarmament, Izumi Nakmitsu, stressed that "there is an urgent need not only to identify but also to hold accountable anyone who has used chemical weapons in violation of international law."

Nakmitsu called for unity in the UN Security Council to re-establish activity against chemical weapons in Syria.

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# Middle East # Syria