U.S. forces in Syria were attacked by rockets a day after the U.S. military carried out what a Pentagon official called “defensive” airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran-backed militia groups. The 14th brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a state-sanctioned umbrella group for a number of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, said four of its militiamen were killed in Sunday’s attack.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19, the Syrian presidency said in a statement Monday. Assad joins a growing list of world leaders who have tested positive for the coronavirus, including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former President Donald Trump. Syria has recorded nearly 16,000 virus cases, as well as 1,063 deaths.
A U.S. airstrike in Syria targeted facilities belonging to a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group, killing one of their militiamen and wounding a number of others, an Iraqi militia official said Friday. The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops.
A former member of Syrian president Bashar al Assad’s secret police has been sentenced by a German court to four and a half years in jail for facilitating the torture of prisoners. Human rights activists hope the landmark ruling will set a precedent for other cases connected to the 10-year-old Syrian civil war. It was the first time a court outside Syria had ruled in a case alleging Syrian government officials committed crimes against humanity.
Fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have launched an assault to oust ISIS from its last remaining enclave in Syria, the final remnant of the jihadist group’s so-called “caliphate.” After pausing more than a week to allow tens of thousands of civilians to flee the town, the SDF on Saturday renewed its push to wrest the last 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) from the militants. At least 500 ISIS fighters are believed to remain in the village, thought to be a concentration of ISIS’ most experienced and battle-hardened fighters and commanders.
At least 69 people including 12 children were killed in an arms depot explosion in Syria’s rebel-held north-western province of Idlib. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the cause of the blast was ‘not yet clear.’ Most of the people killed were family of fighters from HTS a jihadists’ alliance.
Forces loyal to Syria’s government and President Bashar al-Assad raised the national flag on Thursday over areas of Daraa the birthplace of protests which led to the country’s civil war. The symbolic victory for the Syrian government shows the shift in the conflict after government forces backed by Russian air attacks recovered parts of Daraa.
As US defense secretary James Mattis continues searching for evidence on Saturday’s chemical attack in Damascus, he asserts that his main concern about a potential military response by the US is to avoid it ‘escalating out of control.’ President Trump is assessing the situation ‘very, very closely’ and will decide about responsive action ‘fairly soon.’
Following President Trump’s promise of a ‘forceful’ response to the chemical attack in Syria, Russia warned the US to avoid military action, threatening ‘grave repercussions.’ The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent an international team of investigators to Syria, with Trump asserting the US has ‘a lot of options militarily’ on Syria.
President Trump announced the US will hold Syria, Russia, and Iran accountable for the chemical strike that killed dozens outside Damascus, saying major decisions will be made ‘over the next 24 to 48 hours.’ Syria and Russia accused Israel of a strike against a military base which killed four Iranian military advisers, escalating regional tensions.