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: Iran’s Top Military Commander Urges Syrians’ Vigilance against Divisive Plots.

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Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Foreces Major General Mohammad Baqeri called on Syrian nation to maintain unity and reject divisive plots hatched by foreign enemies. Speaking at a meeting with his Syrian counterpart General Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Tehran on Monday, Baqeri denounced the attacks by the Israeli regime and US against the Arab country and underlined that Syrian people “should maintain unity and national solidarity and conduct Syrian-Syrian talks and keep vigilance about divisive plots hatched by foreign sides”. Baqeri said the Syrian Army and nation have shown brave resistance in the face of Takfiri terrorists’ crimes, and hailed achievements made by the Syrian Army and nation in fully liberating the city of Aleppo from the control of terrorists and releasing the people in the Shiite-populated villages of al-Foua and Kefraya. Also at the meeting, the Syrian commander Ayoub, said Iran’s military advisory support for his country had played a decisive role in the continuation of the Syrians’ resistance and their major victories against terrorists and the Israeli regime. The two commander further underscored the necessity to boost and expand the cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces. Heading a high-ranking military delegation, Ayoub arrived in Tehran on Monday to hold talks with Iranian officials on ways to strengthen relations between the two countries’ armed forces.

U.S. led coalition in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against ISIS

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The U.S.-led coalition has air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against Islamic State, the SDF said on Wednesday. The operation aims both to capture the al-Tabqa area, across the Euphrates from the SDF’s other main holdings, and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction, the SDF’s Raqqa campaign said in a statement on social media. The landing forces had seized four small villages in the area west of al-Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo, the SDF, a U.S.-backed alliance of militias added.

Kurtulmuş condemned the bombing of a mosque in northern Syria as a “war crime"

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Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on March 17 condemned the bombing of a mosque in northern Syria as a “war crime”. An airstrike on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina, located west of Aleppo city, killed 58 people at night of March 16. “This is a crime against humanity, this is a war crime”, Kurtulmuş told reporters in the northwestern province of Çanakkale. “Bombing civilians, people in the mosque, and a house of worship is unacceptable”.

Trump's revised travel ban dealt first court setback

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A federal judge in Wisconsin dealt the first legal blow to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on Friday, barring enforcement of the policy to deny U.S. entry to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee already granted asylum in the United States. The temporary restraining order, applies only to the family of the Syrian refugee, who brought the case anonymously to protect the identities of his wife and daughter still living in the wartorn Syrian city of Aleppo. But it represents the first of several challenges brought against Trump’s newly amended executive order, issued on march 6 and due to go in effect on march 16.

Both sides in Aleppo committed war crimes

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Both sides in the battle for Aleppo committed war crimes, including Syrian government aircraft that “deliberately” bombed and strafed a humanitarian convoy, killing 14 aid workers and halting relief operations, U.N. investigators said on Wednesday. But investigators could not say whether both Syrian and Russian forces had used them in Aleppo or only one had. They also did not attribute any specific war crime investigated to Russian forces. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report – released as Syrian peace talks continue in Geneva – covers the July-December period and is based on 291 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as analysis of forensic evidence and satellite imagery. Opposition groups shelled government-controlled western Aleppo, killing and injuring dozens, the report said. They prevented civilians from fleeing eastern Aleppo, using them as “human shields”, and attacked the residential Kurdish district of Sheikh Maqsoud, both war crimes. The U.S.-led coalition did not conduct any offensive air missions over Aleppo in the second half of the year, they said.

Regime advances in Aleppo countryside, open new link to SDF-held areas in northern Syria

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An advance by the Assad regime forces against Daesh in northern Syria has opened a new link between regime-held areas in western Syria and the country’s northeast held by YPG-dominated and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), redrawing the map of the conflict near the Turkish border. The advance, if sustained, could open a trade lifeline between the northeast, which holds 70 percent of Syria’s oil and also includes rich farmland, and the west, where Syria’s manufacturing and most of its population are based. The regime advance has begun just south of the town of al-Bab and has pushed forward into the territory expanding northwards, where Turkish forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are currently waging Operation Euphrates Shield, which aims to carve out a buffer zone to keep Daesh and PKK-affiliated groups away from the Turkish border. Regime government forces have now come to the edge of a swathe of territory controlled by the SDF, which has mostly avoided conflict with Damascus but is viewed by Turkey as an extension of the PKK terrorist group that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish territory. The YPG, which is the armed wing of PKK’s Syrian offshoot PYD, is the dominating force within the SDF. The YPG’s critics have accused it of cooperating with Damascus in the Syrian civil war. The spokesman for the SDF militia alliance said the regime army’s advance would bring benefits to civilians in the area. “On the trade front and on the civilian front it is seen as an excellent thing, because now there is a link between the entire northern rural area”. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the regime advance in the area is part of a bid to block Turkish-backed forces from expanding their zones of control in Aleppo province.

Hezbollah supported a cease-fire in Syria and the end of bloodshed

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Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, said during a sunday televised speech that Hezbollah supported a cease-fire in Syria and the end of bloodshed, which paves the way for political solutions. He added: “The victory in Aleppo opened spaces in Syria to safe areas, under a good security situation; this requires of us in Lebanon not to make the displaced file a religious or ideological one.” Over the security situation, Nasrallah called upon Lebanese people to maintain stability, heaping praise on the Lebanese army, its leadership and intelligence. Regarding the Beqaa region, he called on the state to hold its responsibility, and on the army and security forces to deal with the events within the law, as well as the people to cooperate, regretting the fact that “any incident in this area is highlighted more than other incidents in the country”.

Aleppo bombing was justified

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the bombing of eastern Aleppo, which his forces recaptured from rebels last month, was justified. “This is the price sometimes, but at the end, the people are liberated from the terrorists,” he told to French media. Touching on the proposed talks in Astana, for which no date has been set, President Assad said his government was ready to negotiate on “everything”. Assad also claimed the rebels were breaching the ceasefire in and around Damascus, accusing them of depriving civilians of water by “occupying the main water source” from the Wadi Barada, a valley in the hills north-west of the capital that is the location of several springs.

Coalition Forces in Iraq and Syria began to reclaim territories controlled by ISIS

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REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Coalition forces in Iraq and Syria began to reclaim the territories controlled by ISIS. Mosul, a city that becomes ISIS defense center, is now overpowered by Iraqi forces. Previously, city of Dabiq, one of ISIS important city was seized by Syrian liberation forces supported by the Turkish military. Aleppo, ISIS defense city in Syria, has also been seized by Syrian troops. The seizure of Mosul, Aleppo, Dabiq and other areas is a sign of ISIS defeat.

Possible expansion of the cease-fire between government and opposition groups to all of Syria

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Turkey and Russia are close to brokering a new agreement that would expand a cease-fire between the government and opposition groups to all of Syria. Turkey and Russia have already secured the safe evacuation of civilians and fighters from eastern Aleppo two weeks ago and have been working to expand the cease-fire that is going to be discuss in Astana. There are still talks ongoing on who will participate in the Astana talks. The Minister stated that terror organizations would be excluded from the cease-fire. He also added that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) would not attend the Astana talks. The PYD is considered a terror organization by Turkish government due to its link to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it has been fighting against since mid-1980s.

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