Syria Today – Jordanian Airstrike Kills 10; Syrian-Russian Military Exercise; US Condemns Iran Strike

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

The Syrian government forces’ 25th Special Mission Forces Division, also known as the Tiger Forces, engaged in joint military exercises with Russian forces on Thursday. The exercises took place in an open area near the al-Mujanzarat Base in the eastern countryside of Hama Governorate, located in central-west Syria. Concurrently, the US State Department expressed condemnation for recent Iranian airstrikes in Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria. The department emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions in the region. At the same time, At least 10 people, including children, have been killed in suspected Jordanian air strikes in south-western Syria, local activists and media

Suspected Jordanian air strikes in southern Syria kill 10 – activists

At least 10 people, including children, have been killed in suspected Jordanian air strikes in south-western Syria, local activists and media were quoted to have said by BBC.

Several homes were reportedly destroyed in Arman, a town in Suweida province about 20km (12 miles) from the border.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Jordan.

But its forces are believed to have carried out a number of air strikes in Syria over the past year on suspected drug smugglers and their facilities.

Jordan and its Western allies say highly organized and heavily armed Iran-backed militias operating in government-controlled areas of Syria are behind a surge in smuggling into the kingdom, particularly of the amphetamine Captagon, for which there is a huge demand in Gulf Arab states.

The activist-run Suwayda 24 news website reported that the latest air strikes happened early on Thursday in residential areas of Arman and nearby Malah.

It cited witnesses as saying that the houses of two men, whom it identified as Omar Talab and Turki al-Halabi, were hit and destroyed in Arman.

Mr Talab, his mother and his aunt were killed, as well as seven members of Mr Halabi’s family including his wife and two young daughters, the witnesses added. Mr Halabi and his mother were reportedly trapped underneath their collapsed home and presumed dead.

Suwayda 24 posted a video showing people searching for victims at one site. The local fire brigade later said Mr Halabi’s body had been recovered and that crews were searching for another person.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least nine people were killed in the strikes on Arman, including five women and two children, and that a sixth woman was trapped beneath the rubble.

The Observatory condemned what it called the “massacre” in Arman and said this was the third time this year that Jordanian warplanes had “violated Syrian territory”.

Russian, Syrian forces conduct joint exercises in Syria’s Hama

The 25th Special Mission Forces Division (Tiger Forces) of the Syrian government forces conducted on Thursday joint military exercises with Russian forces in the open area near al-Mujanzarat Base in the eastern countryside of Hama Governorate, central west Syria, North Press reported.

A source from government forces stated that the exercises include parachute landings, live-fire drills, artillery firing, and guided missile launches.

Russian air forces also took part in the exercises, conducting maneuvers in the region’s airspace.

The source told North Press that these drills aim to boost the capabilities of Syrian government forces and enhance their cooperation with Russian forces.

AANES warns of chaos in prisons holding ISIS militants in NE Syria

The Office of Justice and Reform Affairs affiliated with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) warned on Thursday of the repercussions of Turkish attacks that allow chaos within prisons holding militants of the Islamic State (ISIS).

“This Turkish escalation creates negative effects in all areas, including the security field, undermines the rehabilitation process, and threatens the security measures followed for protecting prisons and rehabilitation centers,” the Bureau stated in a statement.

On Jan. 16, the al-Sinaa prison, which holds ISIS detainees, in the city of Hasakah in northeast Syria, was subjected to a missile attack.

Al-Sinaa prison houses about 3,500 ISIS detainees, alongside more than 700 minors — the so-called “Cubs of the Caliphate.” It is not the only prison holding ISIS detainees. 

In the first half of January, Turkey bombed a total of 89 sites, including civilian and service facilities and infrastructure, across northeastern Syria with 122 airstrikes, according to the Monitoring and Documentation Department of North Press.

US Decries Iranian Airstrikes In Pakistan, Iraq, Syria

The US State Department condemned recent Iranian airstrikes in Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, urging a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions in the region.

During a press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller condemned the Iranian actions, emphasizing the United States’ commitment to peace and stability in the region.

“We do condemn those strikes. We’ve seen Iran violate the sovereign borders of three of its neighbours in just the past couple of days,” Miller stated in Washington. “Certainly, we always want to see peace and stability maintained, especially in this region, where it’s been the focus of our diplomatic efforts since October 7th.”

The condemnation follows Pakistan’s announcement that Iran violated its airspace, resulting in an attack on a border village that claimed the lives of two children and left three women injured.

The Iranian assault, reportedly targeting the Pakistan headquarters of Jaish Al-Adl, a group labelled as a “terrorist organization” by Iran since its inception in 2012, utilized both missiles and drones.

In response to the Iranian strike, Pakistan launched airstrikes against several locations in southeastern Iran early Thursday.

The deputy governor-general of the restive Sistan and Baluchestan province told Iranian state TV that airstrikes carried out by Pakistan targeted a border village, killing three women and four children, all non-Iranian citizens.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that the country had undertaken “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran.”

Could war in Gaza ignite a direct US-Iran confrontation? 

https://asiatimes.com/2024/01/could-war-in-gaza-ignite-direct-us-iran-confrontation/

Asia Times published an article by Swaran Singh, to discuss the escalating tension and potential for a direct confrontation between the US and Iran, triggered by recent military activities in the Middle East. The situation has intensified following US and allied strikes on Houthi-controlled locations in Yemen, and subsequent Iranian military actions in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan.

The US has reclassified the Houthis as global terrorists, marking a shift from diplomatic efforts to contain the conflict. The article highlights the strategic significance of the Red Sea, where Houthi forces have attacked merchant ships, disrupting global shipping and trade. These actions by the Houthis, part of what the West labels Iran’s “Axis of Resistance,” are seen as efforts to support Palestine against Israel.

The crisis has led to significant disruptions in shipping, but the primary concern now is Iran’s direct military strikes, which have heightened the possibility of a direct US-Iran conflict. The United States has responded with the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a nine-nation task force, to secure maritime routes. However, this initiative has not completely resolved the issues.

Iran’s recent military actions, including attacks in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan, have expanded the conflict’s scope. This includes strikes by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against what they claim are Israeli targets in Iraq and ISIS-linked targets in Syria. The IRGC has also conducted operations inside Pakistan, involving a nuclear-armed state in the conflict.

The situation has been further complicated by internal incidents in Iran, like the bombings in Kerman, which Tehran attributes to external forces, although ISIS claimed responsibility. The article raises concerns about the feasibility of the US engaging in a direct conflict with Iran, especially given the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, and the presidential election season in the US.

The article notes that the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian lacks participation from several key allies and that despite Iran’s direct actions, groups like Hezbollah and the Houthis continue their military activities. The conflict’s expansion to the Gulf of Aden and attacks on US commercial vessels have led to global implications.

Iran’s actions in Pakistan, particularly in Balochistan, have drawn Pakistan into the conflict, with Pakistan expressing strong objections to violations of its sovereignty. The ongoing tensions between Iran and Pakistan, particularly with the Jaish al-Adl group, could potentially involve other regional players like Turkey.

In conclusion, the article suggests that while the US remains committed to diplomacy, the expanding military strikes and Iran’s direct involvement have complicated the situation, raising the spectre of a broader conflict in the region. Diplomatic efforts appear strained, and the US needs to balance its military and diplomatic strategies to prevent further escalation.

 

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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