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Syria Today – Syria Sends Reinforcements to al-Tanf; Lebanon Prevents 1,200 Refugees from Crossing Border

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Syria Sends Reinforcements to al-Tanf; Lebanon Prevents 1,200 Refugees from Crossing Border

On Thursday, additional Syrian regime troops were dispatched to reinforce their positions along the Syrian-Iraqi border, where they have concentrated their forces in close proximity to the U.S. military base located in al-Tanf. Concurrently, the Lebanese army released a statement indicating that it had successfully prevented approximately 1,200 Syrians from crossing the Lebanese-Syrian border during the past week.

Syrian government sends military reinforcements near al-Tanf base

The Syrian government forces deployed on Thursday military reinforcements to the Syrian-Iraqi border, concentrating near al-Tanf military base, east of Homs Governorate, central Syria, which is operated by the United States in Syria, North Press reported.

According to sources from the nearby Rukban camp, military vehicles carrying military personnel, equipment, and light weapons have been stationed in the Zakf area, located 70 kilometers northeast of al-Tanf base and 130 kilometers south of the city of Abu Kamal in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria.

The sources added that the reinforcements have been positioned at non-permanent checkpoints, where some tents have been set up, while some vehicles have returned empty towards the city of Palmyra in the Homs countryside.

Fears of escalation grow 

Meanwhile, ongoing fighting that erupted between Arab tribal militias and members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria last week has killed dozens of people as fears of further escalation grow, Al-Jazeera reported.

The fighting started in parts of Deir Az Zor province after the SDF detained a senior commander, Ahmad al-Khbeil, better known as Abu Khawla, who was accused of corruption.

Arresting Abu Khawla angered the rest of the Deir Az Zor Military Council, a militia that had fought as part of the United States-backed SDF since 2016 in its years-long battle against ISIL (ISIS) in Syria.

The SDF controls a semi-autonomous zone in Syria’s northeast, which includes large parts of Deir Az Zor province and stretches into parts of Aleppo in the northwest.

Both the SDF and the tribal militias deny that Abu Khawla’s detention was the reason behind the escalation of violence.

An SDF spokesman accused Tehran and Damascus of sending tribal militias to wreak havoc in northeast Syria, where most of the nearly 900 US troops in the country are stationed.

Tribal leaders said the clashes broke out because they have long been deprived of their oil wealth after the SDF took control of Syria’s biggest oil wells since the departure of ISIL. The tribal leaders complained that their areas are neglected in favour of Kurdish-majority areas.

Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says the situation is likely to escalate and “the costs will only go up”.

Growing distrust

Several Arab activists and members of the Deir Az Zor Military Council told Al Jazeera the divide was because of “discrimination” by the SDF against the Arab population of the region.

“The arrest of Abu Khawla is not the reason behind the uprising. That was merely a spark for Arab tribesmen to act,” said Abu Hassan al-Dairi, an activist from Deir Az Zor, who claimed that Abu Khawla did not support the Arab tribesmen or respect their leaders.

Adham, a leader in the military council who did not want to share his full name for security reasons, said: “The conflict began with the dominance of Kurdish forces over the region during the war against ISIL. We were promised that the tribesmen, represented by the Deir Az Zor Military Council, would eventually regain control, but that never happened.”

“That’s why a guerrilla war against the SDF eventually began.”

The SDF leadership denies it discriminates against the predominantly Arab population under its rule, blaming ISIL remnants for intimidating locals and preventing the area’s development.

Kurdish journalist and activist Massoud Akko says ethnic divides are not playing a part in the violence. Rather, he said, some Arab tribal leaders, supported by the Syrian government and militias loyal to Iran, have been the root of the problem and are the ones fighting the SDF.

“The SDF is leading a military campaign to end this rebellion, and it will succeed in securing the region in coordination with Arab tribes,” he told Al Jazeera.

Jordan unable to take in more Syrian refugees, FM says

Jordan is unable to accept any more Syrian refugees, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday, even if Syria’s ongoing crisis worsens and results in an exodus of people, Arab News reported.

During a press conference with Irish Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin in Amman, Safadi urged the international community to take responsibility for providing refugees with the right to dignified living, Kuwait News Agency reported.

The two officials discussed efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with a step-by-step approach and UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and in a way that fulfills the Syrian people’s rights to a safe and stable homeland while preserving the country’s sovereignty.

Safadi highlighted the security threats in the region resulting from the Syrian crisis, including terrorism and drug smuggling.

Jordan will continue to protect its borders against the illegal movement of narcotics, he stressed.

Martin and Safadi signed a memorandum of understanding for political consultation between the two countries, which allows them to meet on a regular basis and set specific objectives to strengthen cooperation in various fields and maintain coordination on regional issues.

Safadi lauded Ireland’s continuous efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution and in accordance with international resolutions.

Martin stated that the relations between Ireland and Jordan are growing stronger, noting the two countries share similar stances, particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and two-state solution.

During his trip to Jordan, Martin also met with King Abdullah II to discuss the Young Scientist Award, peacekeeping, security, innovation and economic cooperation. He also toured UN operations in the country to hear firsthand from Syrian refugees about the challenges they face.

Lebanon’s army says it prevented 1,200 Syrian migrants from crossing border

Millions of Syrians have fled abroad since their country’s civil war broke out in 

The Lebanese army said in a statement that it had “prevented around 1,200 Syrians from crossing the Lebanese-Syrian border in the past week”, AFP reported.

It had announced on August 23 that it turned back 700 Syrians attempting to enter the eastern Mediterranean country irregularly.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday expressed concern about a “new wave” of refugees crossing the border “via illegal paths”.

“The army and the police are working to prevent” this, he added.

Lebanon, which has been mired in a crippling economic crisis for more than three years, says it hosts nearly two million Syrians. The United Nations has registered almost 830,000 of them.

Anti-Syrian sentiment has soared in recent months as some officials have sought to blame refugees for the country’s woes.

A security official told AFP that “the Syrian-Lebanese border is porous and the number of soldiers mobilised is not enough”.

“Most Syrians come to Lebanon in the hope of finding work, given the unprecedented deterioration in living conditions in their country,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Last month, the Damascus government scrapped fuel subsidies, dealing a further blow to Syrians reeling from 12 years of war and a crippling economic crisis.

Germany arrests 2 Syrians, one of them accused of war crimes related to a deadly attack in 2013

The Associated Press reports that two Syrian men have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of membership in extremist groups, and one of them is suspected of involvement in a 2013 attack in eastern Syria in which more than 60 Shiite fighters and civilians were killed, prosecutors said Thursday.

The suspects, identified only as Amer A. and Basel O. in line with German privacy rules, were arrested on Wednesday, the federal prosecutors’ office said. Both are accused of membership in a foreign terrorist organization — Liwa Jund al Rahman, or Brigade of the Soldiers of the Merciful God, an armed rebel group that prosecutors said Amer A. formed in February 2013 and led.

Amer A. is also accused of committing war crimes by means of forced displacement and of membership in the Islamic State group.

The war crimes charges relate to a June 2013 attack on Hatla, in Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour province, that killed about 60 Shiite residents. At the time, the attack underlined the increasingly sectarian nature of Syria’s civil war. Prosecutors said the attack was carried out jointly by Liwa Jund al Rahman under Amer A.’s command and other jihadi groups.

Survivors of the attack were forced to flee to elsewhere in Syria or abroad “by intentionally stoking fears of death — also by means of arson and looting,” prosecutors said in a statement. “This forced displacement meant the end of all Shiite presence in Hatla.”

Amer A. joined IS in July 2014 and put his group under its command, prosecutors said. They said Basel O. took a “prominent military position” in his group by late 2013 and commanded units of the organization in battles with Syrian government forces in December that year and in April 2014, particularly at Deir el-Zour’s military airfield.

A judge on Wednesday ordered the two suspects held in custody pending a potential indictment.

Germany’s application of the rule of “universal jurisdiction,” allowing the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad, led last year to the first conviction of a senior Syrian official for crimes against humanity.

And in February, a German court convicted a Palestinian man from Syria of a war crime and murder for launching a grenade into a crowd of civilians waiting for food in Damascus in 2014.

Syria’s Ancient Adobe Houses Threatened by War, Displacement

The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record, according to data from the European Union Climate Change Service released on Wednesday, Asharq al-Awsar reported.

The three-month period from June through August surpassed previous records by a large margin, with an average temperature of 16.8 degrees Celsius (62.2F) – 0.66C above average.

Last month was also the hottest August on record globally, the third straight month in a row to set such a record following the hottest ever June and July, the EU said on Wednesday.

August is estimated to have been around 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter than the pre-industrial average for the 1850-1900 period. Pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius is a central pledge of the Paris international climate change agreement adopted by 196 countries in 2015.

July 2023 remains the hottest month ever recorded, while August’s record makes the northern hemisphere’s summer the hottest since records began in 1940.

“Global temperature records continue to tumble in 2023,” Copernicus deputy head Samantha Burgess said.

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming, we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” Burgess said.

In Europe, August was wetter than normal last month over large parts of central Europe and Scandinavia leading to flooding, while France, Greece, Italy and Portugal saw droughts that led to wildfires.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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