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What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

U.S. criticizes Assad and Hamas, Israeli aggression on Damascus, Lebanon to negotiate maritime borders with Syria. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.
What Happened Over the Weekend in Syria

The United States has denounced the restoration of ties between the Syrian regime and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, MEMO has reported. On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a delegation from Hamas, cementing the reconciliation between the two last month. It marked a decade since the group cut ties with the Syrian regime in 2012, following Syrian forces’ brutal suppression of peaceful protests during the outbreak of the Syrian uprising. Speaking to reporters the next day, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “The Assad regime’s outreach to this terrorist organization only reinforces its isolation for us.” Price stated that the reconciliation “harms the interests of the Palestinian people, and it undercuts global efforts to counterterrorism in the region and beyond.”

Syria said Israeli missiles targeted areas near Damascus late Friday, the first alleged Israeli airstrike on the country in over a month. State media claimed missiles were shot down over the capital and closer to the border with Israel. “Our air defences intercepted Israeli missile strikes in the airspace of Damascus and the southern region,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said. The alleged attack would be the first since September 17th, when an apparent Israeli strike around Damascus’s capital killed five soldiers last month.

Al-Monitor has learned that the commander and members of Ajnad al-Kavkaz, a Chechen-led Islamic rebel group active in northern Syria, headed to Ukraine to fight against the Russian forces there.  Sources from within jihadist groups in Syria told Al-Monitor that Chechen fighters from Ajnad al-Kavkaz fighting Syrian government forces in the countryside of Latakia recently arrived in Ukraine from Idleb, where they fought the Syrian government alongside the opposition.  The same sources said that more commanders are expected to leave Idlib for Ukraine to escape the crackdown led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and to seek revenge against Russia and the forces of President Vladimir Putin’s ally, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday discussed delineating their countries’ shared maritime border, a Lebanese official was quoted by Al-Araby al-Jadeed as saying. A dispute over their shared sea boundary emerged last year after Syria granted a licence to a Russian energy company to begin maritime exploration in an area Lebanon claimed. Several gas discoveries have been made in the eastern Mediterranean. Aoun earlier said demarcating the border would be next after Lebanon agreed to its southern maritime boundary with longtime foe Israel following years of indirect US-mediated talks.

U.N. human rights officials warn that escalating fighting in northern Syria could spread and lead to more deaths and mass displacement. Dozens of civilians reportedly have been killed and injured in intensified fighting between the militant Islamist group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, and some Turkish-affiliated armed groups in northern Syria. Among the casualties, according to VOA, were a prominent Syrian activist and his pregnant wife. Media report they were victims of targeted killing on October 7th, fueling anger in the northwestern city of al-Bab. The activist, Muhammad Abdul Latif, reportedly was demonstrating against the actions of Turkish-affiliated armed groups in the area, including the seizure of properties. The U.N. human rights office calls this a worrying development. Agency spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said her agency fears the escalating fighting might spread to other areas in northern Syria, including Aleppo and Idlib, potentially causing many civilian deaths and mass displacement.

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