Syrian War Report: May 17, 2018

Army Liberates Rastan Pocket, Advances In Southern Damascus

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The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have captured most of ISIS positions in the northern part of the al-Hajar al-Aswad district in southern Damascus. The ISIS defense collapsed following a successful attack by the SAA on the al-Quds Mosque.

At the same time, the Syrian Air Force has carried out more strikes on ISIS positions in al-Hajar al-Aswad and in the Yarmouk refugee camp.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed on May 16 that ISIS members had killed over 50 SAA service members over the past 3 days. Two SAA battle tanks were also damaged, according to Amaq.

According to local sources, the ISIS defense is collapsing and government forces are expected to liberate more areas soon.

Syrian forces have seized a large number of battle tanks and weapons in eastern Qalamoun, according to the country’s news agency SANA. The photos of the seized weapons show at least 8 battle tanks as well many machine guns and ammunition.

Militants in eastern Qalamoun surrendered to the SAA in April 2018. Since then, government forces have been contributing efforts to secure the liberated area.

The SAA has established a full control of the Rastan pocket in northern Homs following a withdrawal of militants from the area. The SAA General Command announced that the SAA had entered over 65 villages and towns in the northern Homs pocket under the reconciliation agreement, which was reached on May 2. Over 31,000 militants and their relatives withdrew from these settlements in the framework of the reached agreement, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Pro-government sources reported that most of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers and fighters in the Rastan pocket had chosen to reconcile with the Damascus government and had handed over all of their weapons.

The Syrian opposition media outlet Enab Baladi reported that Russian, Iranian and Turkish forces are reportedly preparing to reopen the Hama-Aleppo and Aleppo-Afrin highways. The joint forces will allegedly open these highways for civilian and commercial traffic, will secure a 10km wide area on their sides and will conduct patrols on them. If such a move is really implemented, this will be a major progress towards the de-escalation in the area.

Russian warships armed with Kalibr cruise missiles will be on a permanent duty in the Mediterranean, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his opening remarks at a meeting with top officials of the Defense Ministry and defense-industrial complex on May 16.

“A total of 102 voyages by surface ships and submarines are scheduled for this year. As the risk of attacks by international terrorists in Syria remains our ships armed with cruise missiles will be permanently on duty in the Mediterranean,” Putin said.

He also praised well-coordinated operations by the crews of warships and submarines during the military operation in Syria.


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