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Syria Today – Israeli Strike on Tartous; Army Shoots Suweida Protesters

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Israeli Strike on Tartous; Army Shoots Suweida Protesters

On Wednesday afternoon, the Israeli military reportedly conducted unusual daylight airstrikes near the northwestern Syrian city of Tartous, resulting in the death of two soldiers. Simultaneously, security personnel affiliated with the Syrian president’s Baath party allegedly fired upon demonstrators attempting to breach its local headquarters in southern Syria, causing injuries to at least three individuals, according to reports from activists.

Syria says two soldiers killed, 6 wounded in Israeli strike on air defense sites

The Israeli military allegedly carried out rare daylight strikes against targets near the northwestern Syrian city of Tartous on Wednesday afternoon, killing two soldiers.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing a military source, said, “The Israeli enemy” launched missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, targeting a number of air defence sites.

The report did not specify if the attack was carried out by warplanes or naval vessels.

U.S. Seeks to Repatriate Family of 10 Americans From Camps in Syria

The State Department is working to repatriate a family of 10 American citizens stranded in Syria, where they are among the tens of thousands of people effectively imprisoned in desert camps and detention centers from the war against the Islamic State, according to officials, The New York Times reported.

The transfer would make them the largest group brought back to the United States from northeastern Syria, where they are being held by a Kurdish-led militia. The American government has repatriated 40 such citizens since 2016 — 25 children and 15 adults, according to the State Department.

The group consists of Brandy Salman, 49, and nine of her children, who range in age from about 6 to about 25, and all appear to have been born in the United States. Ms. Salman’s husband, who was from Turkey, seems to have taken her and their children into Islamic State territory around 2016 and was apparently later killed.

The detention centers in northeastern Syria typically hold the families of suspected Islamic State militants. Much remains unclear about the family’s interactions with the group before the collapse of the so-called caliphate.

That ambiguity, and the apparent delay in identifying them as Americans, reflects a broader, festering and complicated problem: Many countries have left their own citizens stranded in these camps, out of fear and uncertainty. One result is that tens of thousands of children are growing up there under brutal circumstances and are vulnerable to radicalization.

According to the account of one of the Salman children, a son who is now about 17, the family was taken into custody at Baghuz, where the Islamic State’s last major enclave fell in early 2019. Camp guards separated him from his mother several years ago under a disputed policy of removing adolescent boys.

It is not clear what the authorities intend to do with Ms. Salman, or where and how her family will be resettled. Some adults who travelled to Syria to join ISIS and were later brought back to the United States have faced prosecution on charges like conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism, while others have not.

Her sister, Rebecca Jean Harris, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., said in an interview that about four years ago, F.B.I. agents came to her house to ask about her sister. Ms. Harris added that Ms. Salman, informed about that visit by text, cut off communications.

Public records show that Ms. Salman has lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York City and Michigan. Ms. Salman’s father, Stephen R. Caravalho, of Hot Springs, Ark., said in an interview that the family has had only sporadic contact with her for years and that he last saw her in person during a visit to New York around 2006.

3 wounded in southern Syria after shots fired at protesters at ruling party’s local headquarters

Security guards from the Syrian president’s Baath party on Wednesday fired shots at protesters trying to raid its local headquarters in southern Syria, wounding at least three people, activists said, AP reported.

The incident marked a major escalation in anti-government protests over the past month that have otherwise been calm.

Anti-government protests have rocked the Druze-majority Sweida province over the past month. Hundreds continue to gather in demonstrations that were initially driven by the war-torn country’s spiralling economy and skyrocketing inflation but quickly shifted focus to calling for the fall of President Bashar Assad’s government.

Protesters have raided and closed offices of Assad’s Baath party across the province and have torn images of Assad. On September 4, protesters smashed a statue of Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez, as they marked the 2015 assassination of a prominent anti-government Druze leader. Some of the offices have since reopened.

In a video shared by media collective Suwayda 24, dozens of protesters could be seen trying to raid a Baath party office in Sweida city. Some fled as gunshots from the building intensified while chanting “peaceful protest.” One protester held the multi-coloured Druze religious flag.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, protesters and religious figures gathered in the building’s courtyard and continued protesting.

Syria’s economy has been struggling after years of conflict, corruption and mismanagement, and Western-led sanctions over accusations of government involvement in war crimes and the illicit narcotics trade. The United Nations estimates that about 90% of the population lives in poverty.

Syria’s Druze community has mostly isolated itself from the country’s uprising-turned-conflict, now in its 13th year.

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