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On Tuesday, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured two small villages near the recently liberated Jirah Military Airbase in the province of Aleppo. The army and the NDF took control of Bayloneh and Jarrah Sagir located west of the airbase at the road heading to the town of Tabqah. Government forces liberated the Jirah Military Base from ISIS last weekend. Since then, they have been preparing for further advances against ISIS terrorists in the province.
Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant has called to assasinate Syrian President Bashar Assad. Galant made the statement speaking at a conference outside Jerusalem amid the recent US allegations that Syrian security forces were conducting mass executions and were burning the bodies of the “victims.” He called that Assad’s alleged actions are a “genocide” with “hundreds of thousands killed.”
Earlier this month, the US State Department accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside Damascus. Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for the State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, gave reporters some “declassified” satellite pictures allegedly showing a building in the prison complex that has been allegedly modified to support the crematorium. However, even some mainstream media outlets doubted that the provided imagery can confirm the state department allegations.
In April, US President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against an Syrian air force airfield that US intelligence believes was used to carry out an April 4 chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the province of Idlib. However, the Trump administration has failed to provide any solid evidence that the Syrian military was behind the attack.
The new accusations against the Damascus government appeared amid a start of the new round of the peace talks in Geneva. According to reports, the government and the so-called opposition was set to discuss political transition, new constitution, elections and combating terrorism. Unfortunately, it is not clear how it’s possible to discuss combating terrorism with representatives of the opposition that directly cooperates with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and other terrorist groups as well as has al-Qaeda-style political program. Last weekend, President Assad said that “nothing substantial” would come out of the summit, which was “merely a meeting for the media”.
All real progress in decreasing violence in the country was achieved in the Astana format, that includes Syria, Iran, Russia and Turkey with some representatives of militant groups influenced by Ankara. The recent safe zones deal that is now works across the country is an example of this progress.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed up by the US-led coalition’s airpower, artillery and military advisers, made more gains against ISIS in the Raqqah countryside. SDF units took control of the villages of al-Jaif, Dahr al-Abdul and Badr and advanced on Mazraat al-Andalus and Hamrat Buwaytiyah in an attempt to further isolate the ISIS self-proclaimed capital.
Meanwhile, the vicinity of Raqqah has been flooded with watter from the Tabqah dam recently captured by the SDF. The SDF argue that ISIS has used irrigation channels (linked with the dam) to do this and to blame the US-backed force for a humanitarian crisis in the city. ISIS reported that the SDF did this by itself in order to flood ISIS underground tunnels in the area. The terrorist group is going to use this network during the battle for Raqqah.