Syrian army inflicts heavy losses on the terrorists

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THE Syrian army’s units and air force continue targeting the positions and hideouts of the terrorist organisations, inflicting heavy losses upon them.

An army unit destroyed positions for Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organisation and killed 11 of its members in Abu al-Duhour town, 50 km south east of Idleb city, an officer on the ground told SANA on Sunday.

Seven more Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists were killed and others were injured in an army operation against their hideouts in the vicinity of Jarjanaz town, 10 km east of Maaret al-Nouman city in the southern countryside of Idleb province.

In a relevant context, two terrorists from the so-called ‘Failaq al-Sham’ were killed when an explosive device went off in their vehicle in Atmah town, according to local sources. In the neighbouring Hama province, army units targeted sites of vehicles for ISIS terrorists in Hamadi Omar and al-Sheikh Hilal villages, the source added.

Three vehicles transporting ISIS terrorists, vehicles and ammunition were destroyed near al-Sheikh Hilal village. The army’s air force launched during the last 24 hours airstrikes against ISIS sites to the east of Mhein town in eastern Homs to which the army restored security late last year, according to a military source.

Two centres and a number of vehicles, some of them equipped with heavy machineguns and others loaded with weapons, were destroyed in the airstrikes, the source confirmed. Gatherings of ISIS terrorists and several of their fortifications were hit in army airstrikes in al-Mrei’iyeh town and to the east of al-Jafreh village, located on the southern bank of the Euphrates River in the eastern Deir Ezzor province.

The airstrikes left a number of centres and vehicles, some equipped with machine guns, destroyed and a number of the terrorists dead. More fortified sites and positions for ISIS terrorists were destroyed in army airstrikes in al-Bgheiliyeh village, 7 km to the west of Deir Ezzor city, according to the source. A number of ISIS hideouts were also hit on the outskirts of al-Rushdiyeh neighbourhood in the city, with many terrorists getting killed.

• The ISIS terrorist organisation is losing more of its members and equipment as the army units and the air force continue targeting its positions and hideouts where the organisation is operating in the country.

An army unit destroyed a mortar launcher for ISIS terrorists near the Agriculture College in al-Mrei’iyeh village and a car transporting terrorists and weapons in the surroundings of al-Tharda Mountain in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor province, according to a military source.

A commander told SANA that another army unit targeted a car convoy transporting terrorists and weapons near al-Jazeera University in al-Bugheiliyeh village in the province’s western countryside.

A number of ISIS terrorists were killed and a rocket launching pad was destroyed in clashes with an army unit as the terrorists were attempting to infiltrate the vicinity of al-Sinaa neighbourhood in Deir Ezzor city.

In Aleppo the army thwarted on Saturday night and early Sunday morning an ISIS attempt to cut off Khanaser-Atheria road in the southeastern countryside of Aleppo province.

An official on the ground explained to SANA that army units in cooperation with the supporting forces engaged in clashes with ISIS-linked groups who launched the assault from the directions of Raqqa highway and al-Tanahej Mountains towards al-Alam hill to the east of the Pumping Station in Atheria and from al-Saan hills towards al-Sheikh Hilal area.

The source said scores of the terrorists were killed while others fled, leaving their weapons behind, affirming that Khanaser-Atheria road is completely safe and it is open for traffic movement. The road was closed for some time before hunting down the terrorists who attacked points close to the road near al-Sheikh Hilal village and it is now secured and open for passengers’ movement from and to Aleppo.

Army units also thwarted two terrorist attacks by ISIS terrorists on a number of safe areas in the eastern countryside of Hama. Army units in cooperation with the popular defence groups clashed with ISIS terrorists on the axis of al-Mufaker/Barri Sharqi/Rasm al-Teeneh villages to the east of Hama. The clashes ended by killing a number of terrorists and destroying five of their vehicles in addition to an armoured vehicle, a cannon, arms and munitions.

• Meanwhile, the Israeli regime is seeking to launch a new war on Lebanon in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to cut its multi-billion-dollar aid to the Lebanese army, a report says.

The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper said on Saturday that American officials, whose names were not mentioned in the report, have warned Beirut that the Tel Aviv regime is planning to launch another war against the Arab country. The Americans told the Lebanese ‘not to give Israel an excuse to start a war,’ al-Akhbar said, adding that the US officials had been informed by their Israeli counterparts that the regime is interested in attacking Lebanon, particularly in light of Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift in policy.

Last month, Riyadh said it had suspended USD 3 billion in military assistance to the Lebanese military and another USD 1 billion to the country’s internal security forces. The aid was cut after Lebanon refrained from endorsing Saudi-crafted statements against Iran at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.

The move also followed victories by the Syrian army, which is backed by fighters of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, in its battle against Takfiri terrorists fighting to topple the government in Damascus. Hezbollah should be pressured not to make any move that would ‘lead to a replay of the events of 2006,’ the newspaper quoted American sources as saying.

According to al-Akhbar, the Saudi decision to suspend military assistance and the consequent move to declare Hezbollah a ‘terrorist organisation’ have ‘whetted Israel’s appetite’ for conflict with the resistance movement. Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, lost their lives during the 33-day war in the summer of 2006.

On both occasions, Hezbollah fighters gave befitting responses to the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression, forcing the Israeli military to retreat without achieving any of its objectives. The Tel Aviv regime has resorted to an intelligence and psychological campaign against Hezbollah to compensate for its fiascos in the two wars on Lebanon.

In addition, Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis by sending spy drones, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

• Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down from power at the beginning of a political transition in the war-ravaged country, not at the end. ‘For us it is very clear it’s at the beginning of the process, not at the end of the process. There is a transitional body, power shifts from Assad to the transitional body, and then he goes,’ Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told journalists in Paris on Saturday.

He added there would be no future for Assad in Syria, claiming that most of the world governments hold such a stance. On September 29, 2015, Jubeir threatened Assad to leave office or face being removed via military intervention. ‘There are two options for a settlement in Syria; one option is a political process where there would be a transitional council; the other option is a military option, which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power,’ he said at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The renewed demand for the downfall of Assad comes as the Western backers of Riyadh, particularly the US, have dismissed calls for regime change in Syria, following the army’s strategic gains in the battlefield against terrorists, including the Daesh Takfiri group.

On the other hand, Syria accuses Saudi Arabia of funding and arming terrorist groups operating inside the country. On Friday, the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, also confirmed the role of Syrians in determining the future of their homeland and rejected foreign interference in the country’s affairs.

‘Can’t we leave the Syrians to actually decide on that? Why should we be saying in advance what the Syrians should say, as long as they have the freedom and the opportunity of saying so?’ he noted. A ceasefire agreement in Syria brokered by Russia and the United States entered into force on February 27 between the Syrian government and the opposition groups.