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On April 4, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army near the town of Taqsis in southern Hama reportedly killing and injuring several SAA members and destroying a SAA artillery gun.
In response, the SAA shelled positions of the terrorist group near the villages of Tulul al-Humur, Aydon and al-Ghantu.
Government forces established control of Taqsis and nearby villages on April 2 thanks to a reconciliation deal with the locals. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is concerned that the SAA may achieve more progress in securing parts of the Rastan pocket soon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia had “received hard evidence that militants are plotting provocations with the use of toxic agents.” He added that Iran, Turkey and Russia had “agreed to build up three-party coordination on all aspects of anti-terrorist fight, increase the information exchange”.
Russian forces have shot down 17 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the past three months, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the Moscow Conference on Global Security.
According to Shoigu, the downed UAVs have had the range of 100km and have been capable of carrying weapons. The defense minister noted that the creation of such UAVs is not possible without assistance from technologically advanced countries.
Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi said that the United States is seeking to divide Syria and to trigger a new large-scale all-against-all war in the country.
Rudskoi also draw attention to a US attempt to establish a quazi-state with own armed forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River describing the move as unacceptable.
Rudskoi revealed that Syrian government forces had liberated a total of 113,000 km2 and 1,245 settlements as well as eliminated 65,000 militants with support from Russia and Iran.
Meanwhile, remarks by US President Donald Trump about a soon withdrawal of US troops from Syria have appeared to be a bit far from the reality.
On April 4, the White House released an official statement saying that the US and its partners “remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria” and Washington “will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans.”