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Syria Today – At Least 34 Soldiers Killed in Attack, Massive Airstrikes on Idleb

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

At least 34 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed and several others injured in one of the deadliest attacks attributed to the Islamic State in Syria. At the same time, Syrian and Russian forces have eliminated over 630 people, identified by the Syrian government as “terrorists,” in Syria’s Idleb province.

At least 34 Syrian soldiers killed in suspected ISIS attack as threat surges

At least 34 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed and several others injured in one of the deadliest attacks attributed to the Islamic State in Syria, a war monitor reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that early on Wednesday, ISIS members launched simultaneous attacks on positions of the Syrian army and the government’s paramilitary National Defense Forces in an area between Raqqa, Homs and Deir ez-Zor, in the central Syrian desert of al-Rasafah.

In response, Russian warplanes launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS positions in the area, killing at least seven militants, said the UK-based monitor.

The Syrian army has yet to comment on the news and ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Denmark’s intelligence agencies win a case against a foreign fighter who claims he worked for them

Denmark’s domestic and foreign intelligence services on Wednesday won a case against a Dane of Syrian origin who claimed he worked for them in Syria in 2013 and 2014 and spied on Danish jihadi fighters.

According to Associated Press, Ahmed Samsam was sentenced to eight years in 2018 in Spain for fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria. He sued Denmark’s two spy agencies in an attempt to have a court order them to admit that he had worked for them, and hoping it would enable him to reopen the case in Spain.

The Eastern High Court in Copenhagen said in its ruling that Samsam had not made it likely that he could reopen his case in Spain. He immediately appealed the ruling to Denmark’s top court.

The case has proven embarrassing for the Danish government, which has opposed an inquiry into the case. A preliminary parliamentary committee that was supposed to probe the 34-year-old Danish citizen’s claims was dropped in June.

Danish media say the case is probably linked to a former defense minister, a former spy chief and a former intelligence operative who reportedly was Samsam’s handler. The three were accused of leaking confidential information but the charges were dropped earlier this month, and the entire saga is shrouded in secrecy.

Samsam, a former gang member in Denmark with a criminal record, has admitted travelling to Syria in 2012 to fight Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. He has repeatedly denied having ties to the Islamic State group and told courts in Spain and Denmark that he had fought with a rival group called Kataib Al Iman. He also claimed that he worked under cover in Syria for for PET, and later for FE, in 2013 and 2014. His task was to spy on Danish jihadis.

Massive Airstrikes in Idleb, Syria Kill Hundreds in Wake of Military Academy Attack

Syrian and Russian forces have eliminated over 630 people, identified by the Syrian government as “terrorists,” in Syria’s Idleb province, according to the Media Line.

This comes as retribution for a drone strike that took 80 lives at a Syrian military academy in Homs last month. Vadim Collet, the head of the Russian Coordination Center in Damascus, detailed the offensive which comprised over 230 Russian airstrikes and 900 artillery rounds. 

The action resulted in the death of 34 reputed leaders and 15 foreign experts, while injuring 450. Additionally, the campaign destroyed 1,125 rebel targets, including strategic sites and weapons storage facilities. 

The October drone attack not only caused significant loss of life but also injured 240 individuals, as reported by the Syrian Health Ministry.

Iran is boosting its forces in Syria, Lebanon

Tehran appears to be creating operational support for Hezbollah and other Iranian allies in preparation for potential future escalation, jns.org reports.

Yaakov Lappin is an Israel-based military affairs correspondent and analyst. He is the in-house analyst at the Miryam Institute; a research associate at the Alma Research and Education Center; and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is a frequent guest commentator on international television news networks, including Sky News and i24 News. Lappin is the author of Virtual Caliphate: Exposing the Islamist State on the Internet. Follow him at: www.patreon.com/yaakovlappin.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has in recent weeks boosted the presence of Shi’ite militia forces in Syria, to where it has deployed a significant force, and has also sent Shi’ite militia members to Lebanon as back-up for Hezbollah. 

This appears to indicate an Iranian effort to create operational support for Hezbollah and other Iranian allies across the Lebanese—Syrian fronts, in preparation for potential future escalation.

IDF spokespeople have consistently stated that Israel is closely monitoring developments to its north, northeast and east amid the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Human-caused heating behind extreme droughts in Syria, Iraq and Iran, study finds

Extreme droughts that have wrecked the lives of millions of people in Syria, Iraq and Iran since 2020 would not have happened without human-caused global heating, a study has found.

The climate crisis, a Gurdian report says, means such long-lasting and severe droughts are no longer rare, the analysis showed. In the Tigris-Euphrates basin, which covers large parts of Syria and Iraq, droughts of this severity happened about once every 250 years before global heating – now they are expected once a decade.

In Iran, extreme drought occurred once every 80 years in the past but now strikes every five years on average in today’s hotter world. Further global heating, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, will make these droughts even more common.

The study also found that existing vulnerability from years of war and political instability had reduced people’s ability to cope with the drought, turning it into a humanitarian disaster.

The researchers said it was vital to plan for more frequent droughts in the future.

“Our study has shown that human-caused climate change is already making life considerably harder for tens of millions of people in West Asia,” said Prof Mohammad Rahimi, at Semnan University, Iran. “And with further warming, Syria, Iraq and Iran will become even harsher places to live.”

Dr Friederike Otto, at Imperial College London, UK, said: “Droughts like this will continue to intensify until we stop burning fossil fuels. If the world does not agree to phase out fossil fuels at [UN climate summit] Cop28, everyone loses: more people will suffer from water shortages, more farmers will be displaced and many people will pay more for food at supermarkets.”

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