by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) June 17, 2017
Russia said Saturday that airstrikes carried out this month had killed about 180 Islamic State jihadists in Syria, including two field commanders.
"As a result of June 6 and 8 aerial strikes on targets belonging to IS fighters, IS field commanders Abu Omar al-Belgiki and Abu Yasin al-Masri were killed" in Deir Ezzor, a province held mostly by IS forces, the defence ministry said in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency.
The ministry said that around 180 fighters were killed, and that 16 military vehicles were destroyed along with weapons stores.
It said the strikes took place after Russian forces using drones spotted preparations by IS fighters to break through the defences of a garrison held by Syrian government forces in the city of Deir Ezzor.
The defence ministry did not make any mention of the possible death of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after saying Friday that it was seeking to verify whether he had been killed in a night raid in Syria last month.
Syria army declares 48-hour truce in southern city
In a statement, the army's general command said the truce went into effect at noon local time "in support of local reconciliation efforts".
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, reported a cautious calm in the hours after the truce was announced.
Daraa is among the areas included in a plan for "de-escalation zones" agreed by regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey earlier this year.
But recent weeks have seen heavy clashes in Daraa city and the surrounding area, with civilians among those caught in fighting and bombardment.
Rebels control around 60 percent of Daraa city, and the province as a whole is one of the last remaining bastions of opposition forces in the country.
In Washington, the US State Department said "we welcome any initiative to reduce tensions and violence in southern Syria".
It urged Damascus "to live up to its own stated committment during this ceasefire initiative".
"The opposition should similarly halt attacks to allow the ceasefire to endure, and hopefully be extended," the statement added.
There was no immediate official confirmation that the opposition agreed to the truce but the quiet in the aftermath of the army announcement suggested hostilities had halted on both sides.
Syria's government has pursued a series of so-called "national reconciliation" agreements with rebels in different parts of the country, including recently near the capital.
Under the deals, rebels who surrender are generally offered safe passage to opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country.
The opposition criticises the deals as a "starve or surrender" tactic, saying they are forced into the agreements after heavy regime bombardment or siege.
But the government has touted the deals as the best way to end the six-year war, which has killed more than 320,000 people since it began in March 2011.
Oslo (AFP) June 15, 2017
Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels pledged on Thursday to honour its commitment to completely disarm by June 20 after a UN monitoring mission said it had received fewer weapons than expected. "We made the political decision, we respect the agreement and we will apply it whatever happens," FARC's leader, Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, told reporters in Oslo. He was speaking after ... read more
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