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Syria Today – Israel Strikes Hezbollah in Syria; U.S. Hassakeh Base Under Attack

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

The Israeli army allegedly struck Syrian military and pro-Iranian militia targets on the Syrian border in response to shelling fired toward Israel on Saturday, Syrian media reported. At the same time, Iran-backed militia groups targeted US troops in Syria’s Hassakeh province on Sunday, a war monitor reported, amid a series of attacks targeting American interests in Iraq and Syria.

Syrian Opposition Members On Syrian Regime Hypocrisy: It Massacred Palestinians In Syria, But Weeps Crocodile Tears Over Palestinians In Gaza

The condemnation of Israel and its war on Hamas by the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria has been ridiculed by members of the Syrian opposition, who argued that the Syrian regime – which killed thousands of Syrian-Palestinians, including women and children, imprisoned hundreds, and displaced hundreds of thousands – has no right to weep for the bitter fate of Palestinians in Gaza.

MEMRI.com quoted opposition members as saying that since the war in Syria began in 2011, the Assad regime has attacked dozens of hospitals and hundreds of schools, and is even now attacking civil infrastructure in northwestern Syria. Therefore, they contend, its show of concern for Palestinians in Gaza is hypocritical, and any Palestinian hope for assistance from it will be in vain. Further, some oppositionists even called for supporting Israel rather than Syria if a war should erupt between them.

Several Syrian opposition members pointed out the hypocrisy of the Syrian regime, which does not hesitate to condemn what is being done to the Palestinians in Gaza despite having harmed Palestinians just as much.

Syrian media activist Radwan Al-Qassem posted a photo on his X account showing a sign from a demonstration against the Syrian regime in the country’s southern Al-Suwayda Governorate. It read: “Clean your teeth of the flesh of Palestinian children [you murdered] in [the Palestinian refugee camps] Al-Zaatar and Al-Yarmouk before you pretend to cry for Gaza.” He added: “To the regime gangs and their loyalists, there is no difference between those who kill Muslims in Gaza and those who kill Muslims in Syria.”

Similarly, Syrian activist Marea Othman wrote on X: “They murdered Palestinian children in the Al-Yarmouk [refugee camp] in Rif Damascus – and now are pretending they weep for those in Gaza. This is the nature of the Syrian regime, and its bullies who trade in [the Palestinian cause].

Mouaz Moustafa, director of the U.S.-based Syrian Emergency Task Force which is headquartered in the U.S., responded to the Syrian president’s condemnation of the October 17 explosion at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza as “one of the most terrible massacres against humanity in the modern age.” He wrote on X: “… Assad, the guy [whose forces] targeted dozens of hospitals and a hundred schools before breakfast, condemns the explosion of a hospital. This animal, who murdered babies in Idlib in the past days, and the past decade, has the audacity to speak.”

Many voices on social media argued that no help for Gaza should be expected from the Syrian regime that had murdered many Syrians and Palestinians in Syria. For example, Syrian opposition activist Zain Al-Abidin, from Deir Al-Zour Govsernorate, who covers Eastern Syria, wrote on X: “The Bashar [Al-Assad] regime has turned 280,000 Palestinian-Syrians into displaced persons and made another 120,000 into refugees; [he has caused] the deaths of 3,207 Palestinians, including 352 children, 312 women, and 497 men who were tortured to death; and he has imprisoned some 1,800 Palestinians, among them more than 100 women, in the regime prisons. Someone who slaughters and expels the Palestinians in Syria will not help them in Gaza.”

Israel said to hit Syria posts in response to shelling; strikes Hezbollah targets

The Israel Defense Forces allegedly struck Syrian military and pro-Iranian militia targets on the Syrian border in response to shelling fired toward Israel on Saturday, Syrian media reported.

Skirmishes, according to The Times of Israel,  have continued on Israel’s northern borders for several weeks, amid fears new fronts could be opened as the IDF continues its war with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the south.

Syrian opposition media reported that Israel targeted Syrian Army posts, and pro-Iranian militia positions, in the Quneitra area of southern Syria.

The strikes were reportedly in response to shelling toward the Golan Heights several hours prior.

The report was not confirmed by the Israel Defense Forces, which does not generally report on individual strikes in Syria.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the IDF said that a number of rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Mount Dov area on the northern border, where there are a number of military positions and no towns.

The IDF said all the projectiles landed in open areas, causing no injuries.

It added that forces are responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the rocket fire in southern Lebanon.

Later Sunday, the IDF said it struck a terror cell in southern Lebanon preparing to carry out an anti-tank guided missile attack near the northern community of Avivim.

In strikes on Saturday night, the IDF said it struck a compound belonging to the Hezbollah terror group and a number of observation posts in southern Lebanon in response to earlier rocket and missile attacks.

Drones target U.S .base in Syria’s Hassakeh: Monitor

Iran-backed militia groups targeted US troops in Syria’s Hassakeh province on Sunday, a war monitor reported, amid a series of attacks targeting American interests in Iraq and Syria, Kurdish Rudaw reported

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Iran-backed militia targeted al-Shadadi military base, adding that the drones were launched from Iraq.

A group calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is a network of shadow Iraqi militia groups backed by Iran and affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said earlier on Sunday that it had struck al-Shadadi base with two drones, claiming to have “directly hit their targets”.

The group has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria over the past two weeks.

The attack comes a day after they claimed to have hit American troops in al-Tanf garrison in Homs province, southern Syria. 

The US has blamed Iran for the attacks on its troops and has warned against any further escalation. 

“We know that these are Iranian-backed militia groups that are supported by Iran and of course we hold Iran responsible for these groups,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said during a press briefing on Thursday.

In response, the US on Thursday carried out airstrikes against pro-Iran militia groups in eastern Syria, upon a directive from US President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

US forces in Iraq and Syria as part of an international coalition to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) have been the target of a recent spate of drone and rocket attacks blamed on Iran-backed militia groups angry over Washington’s support for Israel in its war against Gaza. 

Austin said the retaliatory strikes in Syria on Thursday were “separate and distinct” from Israel’s war on Hamas and did not constitute a shift in Washington’s approach to the war in the Gaza Strip.

US fighter jets strike Iran-linked sites in Syria in retaliation for attacks on US troops

AP reported that U.S. fighter jets launched airstrikes early Friday on two locations in eastern Syria linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Pentagon said, in retaliation for a slew of drone and missile attacks against U.S. bases and personnel in the region that began early last week.

The strikes reflect the Biden administration’s determination to maintain a delicate balance. The U.S. wants to hit Iranian-backed groups suspected of targeting the U.S. as strongly as possible to deter future aggression, possibly fueled by Israel’s war against Hamas, while also working to avoid inflaming the region and provoking a wider conflict.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Friday that the strikes near Boukamal by F-16 and F-15 fighter aircraft targeted a weapons storage facility and ammunition storage facility used by the IRGC and affiliated groups. “Both facilities were destroyed,” he said. “We currently assess there were no casualties in the strikes.”

A senior U.S. military official said there had been Iranian-aligned militia and IRGC personnel on the base and no civilians. The official would not say how many munitions were launched by the jets.

A senior defense official said the sites were chosen because the IRGC stores the types of munitions there that were used in the strikes against U.S. bases and troops. The two officials briefed reporters after the strikes on condition of anonymity to provide details on the mission that had not yet been made public.

Syrian opposition activists confirmed the U.S. strikes in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour. Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, said the main target was an area known as “the farms” outside the town of Mayadeen. He said it is an important transit site where weapons from Iran are stored before being shipped to Lebanon.

Syrian life’s rich tapestry: 2,000 years of history told in textiles at New York show

The National published a long report on an exhibition titled “Stories of Syria’s Textiles: Art and Heritage Across Two Millennia” taking place at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York. 

The exhibition explores the rich history of Syrian textiles, spanning a period of 2,000 years, and sheds light on Syria’s significant role in the global textile trade, which has often been underappreciated.

The exhibition showcases textiles dating back to the first century when Syria was a Roman province. It then proceeds to display textiles from the Ottoman and French Mandate periods, followed by contemporary works. The exhibition also touches on how the ongoing war in Syria has endangered the country’s cultural heritage.

Over two dozen textile works have been borrowed from prestigious museums and institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Berkshire Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery. Additionally, eight recently-produced textiles from Syria are part of the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Blair Fowlkes Childs, who drew inspiration from her expertise in Roman-period Syrian art and archaeology. She also referred to the book “Syrian Silk” by Maya Alkateb-Chami in her research on contemporary Syrian textiles and cultural heritage.

The exhibition highlights Syria’s position on the ancient Silk Routes, emphasizing its historical connections with Chinese silks. It explores the dual role of textiles as decorative items and protective elements, with some pieces believed to be protective for the individuals wearing them.

The third section of the exhibition focuses on contemporary works and addresses how the Syrian conflict since 2011 has put the country’s cultural heritage at risk. It also highlights Syria’s silk industry before the war.

The exhibition incorporates studies and conservation efforts, including photo micrographs that provide detailed insights into the threads and techniques used in textile production. Digital reconstructions of fragments are used to preserve and document the fragile archaeological objects.

Catalogue and Awareness**: The exhibition’s catalogue includes essays and research by various experts, making it accessible to a wider audience. It aims to raise awareness of Syria’s cultural heritage, especially silk and textile production, and encourages further research and conservation efforts.

In summary, “Stories of Syria’s Textiles: Art and Heritage Across Two Millennia” is a comprehensive exhibition that not only showcases the historical significance of Syrian textiles but also addresses the contemporary challenges facing Syria’s cultural heritage. It emphasizes the importance of preserving and promoting awareness of this rich heritage.

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