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What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

Turkey slams the U.S., HTS attacks regime positions, British woman repatriated from Syria. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.
What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

Hardline rebel fighters in northern Syria have clawed territory away from their Turkey-backed rivals this week in clashes that have left more than two dozen dead, the factions and a war monitor has said. Tensions erupted earlier this month between a rebel group backed by Turkey and more hardline fighters, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, according to statements by the clashing groups. HTS and its allies captured the town of Afrin, which Turkish-backed forces seized from Kurdish factions in 2018, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said HTS also seized a string of nearby villages and towns in the northern province of Aleppo this week from the Turkish-backed Third Corps. The resulting fighting killed 19 fighters and eight civilians, including children, according to the Observatory.

Read Also: HTS Takes Full Control Over Syria’s Afrin

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the United States for renewing executive order under the title of “National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in and in Relation to Syria” stating that it contained baseless against a Turkish counterterrorism operation in northern Syria, across the Turkish border on Thursday. “The U.S. Executive Order being issued since October 2019 under the title of ‘National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in and in Relation to Syria’ is identically renewed on Oct. 12, 2022. We condemn this order which contains baseless allegations and accusations against our country. The allegations in the order regarding Operation Peace Spring, which was carried out in order to fight against terrorism, protect border security and eliminate the separatist terror threats originating from Syria, are unfounded,” said the statement by the ministry. Saying that Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria – an area not controlled by the Bashar al-Assad regime – is being carried out by Turkish forces to eliminate terrorist threats from Syrian territory and protect border security, the ministry called the allegations in the order “unfounded.” – Daily Sabah

A British woman and her child have been repatriated from a Syrian camp, the first time an adult has been allowed to come back to the UK from detention since the end of the ground war against Islamic State. The Foreign Office said that British policy to those held in Syria remained unchanged, and that it considered requests for help on “a case by case basis”, but campaigners said it was a significant first step. Reprieve, a human rights group that had been monitoring the case, said the woman was “a victim of trafficking, taken to Syria by a male relative when she was a young girl” and that “she and her child have suffered extreme trauma”. The identity of the woman was not immediately known, and Reprieve asked that her name be protected, The Guardian reported. The initial announcement by the Foreign Office was even less specific, and was made quietly in an overnight tweet. Jonathan Hargreaves, the UK’s special representative for Syria, tweeted on Wednesday night: “UK officials have facilitated the repatriation of two British nationals from Syria. In line with longstanding policy we consider each request for consular assistance in Syria on a case by case basis, taking into account all relevant considerations including national security.”

Russia has recently escalated its attacks in areas of Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, coinciding with clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Syrian government forces in the area. According to Al-Monitor, military sources from HTS told Al-Monitor, “HTS carried out an incursion against the regime forces in the western countryside of Aleppo.” The operation Oct. 4 resulted in the killing of five members of the regime forces, the seizing of their weapons and the destruction of their positions in the area, according to the sources. Violent clashes erupted following HTS’ incursion, as the two parties exchanged fire using heavy machine guns around the stations of the regime forces’ 46th Regiment in western Aleppo, the sources noted. On the same day, Russian warplanes launched several air raids on the countryside of Latakia, targeting the Tilal al-Kabineh area in the northern countryside of Latakia without causing any casualties. At the same time, a number of Russian and government reconnaissance planes were hovering over Idlib.

On Thursday, a Syrian human rights center revealed the existence of 7 sites used by the Islamic State group to hold Syrian and Western detainees, Zaman al-Wasl reported. The Syrian Center for Justice and Accountability said that “the information it collected during the criminal legal cases filed against the (Beetles) ISIS band, and subsequent interviews conducted with the group’s member (Alexanda Kote) led to new information confirming the existence of these 7 prisons used to arrest Syrians and Westerners.” The report, titled “Missed Opportunities: Reconciling the Prosecution of ISIS with the Search for Missing Persons in Syria,” stressed the importance of sharing evidence collected in the ongoing trials of ISIS members. “The vast amount of evidence held by the legal authorities can enhance the search for missing and disappeared persons and ultimately bring an end to the grief of thousands of families who simply want to know the fate of their loved ones,” said Mohammad Al-Abdallah, Director of Syria Justice and Accountability Center.

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