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Syria Today – New Attack on U.S. Base; 6 ISIS Fighters Killed

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

The military base housing United States troops in Shaddadi, Syria, was targeted in another attack on Tuesday, as reported by local Syrian media. Simultaneously, Russian airstrikes in the Homs countryside resulted in the death of six armed members of the Islamic State (IS) group.

U.S. military base in Syria comes under attack

The military base that hosts the United States troops in Syria’s Shaddadi came under attack again on Tuesday. local Syrian media said.

According to Al-Mayadeen news channel’s report, the American military base in the city of Al-Shadadi, located in Al-Hasakah province in northeastern Syria was targeted in a rocket attack.

​US forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked with drones or rockets dozens of times in recent weeks after the Zionist Israeli regime launched its new aggression on Gaza Strip on October 7. 

Maersk winds down operations in Syria

Danish shipping company Maersk MAERSKb.CO will from Dec. 1 no longer offer shipments to or from Syria, it said on Tuesday. 

Maersk said in a statement its operations in Syria are already limited as a result of international sanctions.

“This has recently become even more challenging logistically, and we have therefore made the decision to close our operations down completely,” it said.

6 IS Fighters Killed in Russian Airstrikes on Syrian Desert

Six armed members of the Islamic State (IS) group were killed in Russian airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The airstrikes, which targeted the fighters’ position east of the central Homs province, struck areas in the al-Sukhnah desert and near the Dubaiat gas field in Homs’ eastern countryside, The Media Line reported.

Four pro-Syrian government fighters also lost their lives in ground clashes with IS members in the same region. 

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a total of 544 casualties in the ongoing military conflict between Syrian and IS forces in the desert region since the start of 2023. This figure includes 37 IS members, 165 civilians, and 342 Syrian military personnel and pro-government fighters.

After suffering major defeats across most of Syria in 2018, IS fighters retreated to the desert, where they have since launched attacks on roads linking the provinces of Hama and Homs with Deir-ez-Zor in the east. The ongoing conflict highlights the continued threat posed by IS in the region despite its diminished stronghold in Syria.

Turkish FM accuses US, Europe of ‘allying with PKK’ in Syria, slams ‘politicized’ decisions of ECtHR

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan sharply criticized the United States and European countries for their support of Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom Ankara considers an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and for the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which he described as “politicized” rulings that “interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs,” a Turkish media outlet reported

Fidan was speaking at budget talks in parliament on Monday.

Turkey considers the the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The YPG comprises an integral part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — the Kurds’ de facto army in the area — that spearheaded the battle to dislodge Islamic State group jihadists from the region in 2019.

“Unfortunately, some countries continue to support the PKK-YPG under the pretext of fighting against [the Islamic State]. We keep emphasizing that this is a strategic mistake and that they should absolutely rely on legitimate partners in the fight against [the Islamic State].”

“We have once again strongly emphasized that America’s cooperation with the PKK-YPG, the presence of FETÖ [the Gülen movement] in the US and unilateral sanctions are incompatible with the spirit of the alliance,” Fidan said.

FETÖ is a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based movement inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen as a terrorist organization.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Repression of Palestine solidarity leaves Syrians concerned for their future in Europe

Syria Direct published an article which discusses how crackdowns on expressions of solidarity with Palestine in European countries, particularly France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have raised concerns among Syrians and Syrian-Palestinians living in Europe. These crackdowns, which include the repression of pro-Palestine protests and the conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism, have exposed a perceived double standard and have made some individuals fear for their future in Europe.

The article highlights that Syrians and Syrian-Palestinians have been joining global protests in solidarity with Palestinians, as they see similarities between the situation in Gaza and their own experiences during the Syrian conflict. However, these protests have been met with unprecedented repression, including arrests, fines, and bans in certain European countries.

The repression not only affects those without citizenship but also citizens, as some European countries are considering laws that could make naturalization conditional on support for Israel and anti-Zionism could be equated with antisemitism. The article also mentions the suppression of organizations advocating for Palestinian rights, which has put Syrian civil society organizations and activists in a difficult position.

Overall, the article discusses how the crackdown on pro-Palestine expressions of solidarity is causing Syrians and Syrian-Palestinians to question their safety and political freedom in Europe, raising concerns about a potential rollback of rights and increasing authoritarianism in these countries. Despite these challenges, many continue to participate in protests, driven by their belief in the causes they support.

SNA Leader Assists in Prison Escape of Three Drug Dealers in Afrin, Syria

An exclusive source revealed to North Press that a leader of an armed faction affiliated with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) played a pivotal role in facilitating the escape of three prisoners from the Military Hospital in Afrin, northwestern Syria. The escapees, identified as Firas Salim Salem (also known as Abu Bakr Zaid), Ali Haboush, and Wanis Ahmad, had been detained for several months on various charges, including drug trafficking. They were smuggled out of the hospital on Monday, thanks to the assistance of a Military Police leader, according to the source.

The Military Police Prison in Afrin is known to hold more than 370 individuals without proper trials. This facility serves as a temporary detention center and lacks the authority to determine the fate of its inmates, as per the source.

On November 17, a prison riot erupted at the Military Police Prison, allegedly orchestrated to aid the escape of several detainees with support from the Military Police faction. The riot resulted in injuries to several prisoners, including the three individuals who successfully escaped.

The Military Hospital in Afrin, where the escapees were briefly held, is under the direct management of the Turkish army, according to the source.

In a related incident, another source reported that a young man named As’ad Muhammad Bellao was apprehended by Abu Mahmoud al-Asmar, a member of the Sultan Murad faction, in the town of Bulbul in the countryside of Afrin. Bellao was detained while attempting to cross into Turkey, and al-Asmar is demanding a $2,500 ransom from Bellao’s relatives for his release.

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