Islamic State withdraws from Syria’s Aleppo province: Monitor
The Islamic State group no longer has a presence in Syria’s Aleppo province after withdrawing from a series of villages where regime forces were advancing, a monitor said on Friday.
“IS withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Regime forces had been advancing on a sliver of southeastern Aleppo province around a key highway linking Hama province to the southwest and Raqa province further east.
Abdel Rahman said regime forces seized control of the road late Thursday night, prompting the remaining IS fighters to flee.
A Syrian military source in rural Aleppo confirmed the withdrawal.
“The military operation is ongoing and Daesh withdrew from the Aleppan countryside towards rural territory in Hama and Raqa,” the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“The Syrian army is clearing out the last few metres,” the source added.
A second military source, quoted by Syrian state news agency SANA, also confirmed that IS had pulled out of territory along the Ithraya-Rasafa highway.
Since early 2015, multi-front offensives against IS have eaten away at territory the group held in Aleppo province.
US-backed Kurdish and allied Arab fighters ousted the jihadists from Kobane on the Turkish border in 2015 and from the key city of Manbij last year.
Rebels backed by Turkey seized the town of Al-Bab in February, and Syrian government troops have steadily chipped away at IS towns in the south of the province.
In neighbouring Raqa province, a US-backed offensive is bearing down on the provincial capital of the same name, which has served as the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital.
Abdel Rahman described Friday’s withdrawal as “a new loss for IS that decreases its influence and demonstrates that we are watching its collapse as an organisation that can manage geographical territory”.
Syria’s conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, before turning into a complex, bloody war.
World powers including Russia, Turkey, and a US-led global coalition have all been drawn into the war, which has left more than 320,000 people dead.
Talks aimed at reaching a lasting ceasefire will resume in the Kazakh capital Astana next week, before another round of UN-backed peace negotiations in Geneva in mid-July.
Even as the United States is preparing to give monkeypox vaccines to close contacts of people infected and to deploy treatments, a top US health expert said it is likely that monkeypox would cause a Covid-19-like pandemic in the world. Vice-president and chief quality officer at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Dr Faheem Younus said while monkeypox cases are concerning but the risk of this becoming a Covid-like pandemic is zero per cent.
Tensions are building in Pakistan once again with ousted prime minister Imran Khan seemingly on a collision course with the country's government after Imran Khan called on thousands of followers to defy a ban on a protest march to Islamabad today to demand fresh elections. Pak interior minister Rana Sanaullah has accused Imran Khan of wanting to create 'chaos' and has warned the former cricketer he will be stopped.
Chinese and Russian fighter jets carried out joint flights over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea on Tuesday as leaders of the Quad bloc met in Tokyo, Japan said. Japan's Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said Tokyo had expressed "grave concerns" to Russia and China over the flights, which came as leaders from the United States, India, Australia and Japan held talks on regional security.
Russian president Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt around two months ago, a top Ukraine intelligence officer told Ukrainska Pravda, an online newspaper based in Kyiv. "I repeat, this attempt was unsuccessful. There was no publicity... but it took place." "Putin is operating... in a smaller and smaller grouping. He has fewer contacts... fewer public engagements... (any) attempt would be hugely complex." One plot - Australia's News.com said - was before the 2012 presidential election.
Pakistan's Shehbaz Sharif-led government has rejected demands by ousted prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to hold elections immediately. N) said polls would only be held in August 2023 - after the government finishes its term - a report by Pakistan's Express Tribune said quoting sources. He would meet protesters on the Srinagar highway. However, per Pak media outlets, the government will not allow Imran Khan's rally at that location.