AMMAN/DAMASCUS: Syrian regime troops supported by Russia and US-backed fighters pressed twin offensives against the Islamic State on Monday even as a rare terrorist attack in neighbouring Jordan killed three intelligence officers.
At least 17 civilians were killed in air raids on a popular market in eastern Syria on the first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramzan. In northern Syria, IS fighters in the town of Tabqa are caught between Russian-backed regime forces advancing from the southwest and US-supported Kurdish and Arab fighters pushing in from the north.
Besides the Raqa front, IS is also under attack in Aleppo province. Fighters from Syrian Democratic Forces crossed the Euphrates near the border with Turkey and pushed west towards the jihadist-held Syrian city of Manbij. The IS continued its resistance, attacking Syrian army positions in Hama province on Monday.
The attack on a Jordanian security office in the Palestinian refugee camp at Baqaa, the biggest of its kind, jolted the Arab kingdom which had enjoyed relative stability compared to its war-ravaged neighbours, Syria to the north and Iraq to the east. Two other security personnel were also killed in the attack.
MASS GRAVE OF AT LEAST 400 FOUND
Iraqi forces have discovered a mass grave after retaking an area from the Islamic State near Falluja. The burial site found on Sunday in Saqlawiya, northwest of Falluja, is thought to contain the bodies of around 400 people, most of them soldiers executed by IS in 2014 and 2015. “The security forces of the federal police, the army and the Hashed al-Shaabi found a mass grave in the Shuhada neighbourhood during a mine clearing operation,” a police colonel said.
“The mass grave also includes civilians executed by Daesh (IS) on various charges such as spying or breaking the organisation’s rules,” said Rajeh Barakat, a member of the provincial council of Anbar, where Falluja is located. The discovery of the grave came even as US-backed forces are laying siege to Falluja, which IS had held since 2014.
Civilians desperate to flee Falluja are dodging sniper fire from the Islamic State, which was keen to keep its “human shields” inside the city as Iraqi forces closed in Monday.