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Syria Today – Failed Rocket Strike Launched on US Base; A Vintage Bookstore in Damascus

Your daily brief of the English-speak press on Syria.
Syria Today – Failed Rocket Strike Launched on US Base; A Vintage Bookstore in Damascus

A failed rocket strike was launched at the base housing U.S.-led coalition forces at Rumalyn, Syria, marking the first time since Feb. 4 that Iranian-backed militias have attacked a U.S. facility in Iraq or Syria, a U.S. defence official said. No personnel were injured in the attack, AP has reported.

Iraqi authorities said early Monday that they were searching for “outlaw elements” who launched an estimated five missiles across the border from Iraq into Syria late Sunday night targeting the base. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Also on Monday, a U.S. official said American forces had shot down two drones near al-Assad Air Base in Iraq. The circumstances are under investigation.

Israel’s defence minister on Monday visited members of an infantry battalion that could soon be blocked from receiving American aid because of human rights violations.

Yoav Gallant on Monday told members of the Netzah Yehuda battalion stationed on the Gaza border that they have the full backing of the Israeli state and its military.

The decision by the U.S. may come this week and would mark the first time the country has imposed sanctions on a unit inside the Israeli military and would further strain relations between the two allies, which have grown increasingly tense during the Israel-Hamas war.

Russia, Syria discuss counter-terrorism cooperation

Russian and Syrian officials have emphasized the importance of bolstering relations between Syria and Russia and collaborating to combat terrorism.

According to pro-government Lebanese Al Mayadeen, Major General Ali Mamlouk, the National Security Advisor at the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Syrian Republic, and Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council, emphasized the significance of enhancing Syria-Russia relations and coordinating efforts to combat terrorism during a meeting held in Moscow on Monday.

The Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and African Countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, was also present at the meeting.

Patrushev highlighted the long-standing historical ties between Russia and Syria, noting that the two nations will commemorate the 80th anniversary of their establishment in July. He affirmed Russia’s commitment to ongoing support across various sectors in Syria.

The top Russian diplomat emphasized the significance of the agreements inked between both parties, underscoring their continued relevance as guiding principles for collaborative efforts. Meanwhile, Mamlouk reiterated the importance of sustained coordination to enhance the ties between the two allied nations.

 On his part, Mamlouk highlighted the resilience of the Syrian people under President Bashar al-Assad’s leadership, coupled with the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army and the support from Russia, which have effectively thwarted terrorist organizations’ plots.

He reiterated Syria’s full endorsement of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, framing it as a historical correction and a defence of justice and humanity.

Turkish Airstrikes Target YPG in Iraq and Syria, Report 19 Fatalities

Turkish airstrikes have targeted locations associated with the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the YPG, across northern Iraq and Syria, resulting in 19 fatalities, according to a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry, Daily Sabah has reported.

The Turkish Armed Forces reported that the operations led to the deaths of 15 individuals in northern Iraq and four in northern Syria, whom they identify as members of the YPG.

The Defense Ministry stated, “The end of these operations is inevitable,” reflecting the ongoing conflict involving these groups. 

Turkey launched Operation Claw-Lock in April 2022, continuing its series of cross-border ‘Claw’ operations begun in 2019, aiming to dismantle bases in the Metina, Avashin-Basyan, Zap, and Gara districts and to disrupt the formation of a corridor along its borders perceived as a security threat.

In Syria, Turkey has conducted several counterterrorism operations since 2016 aimed at preventing the establishment of a strategic corridor by the YPG and facilitating the resettlement of people displaced by ongoing conflicts.

Owner of vintage bookstore in Syria encourages readers to keep passion alive

Xinhua published a story on a unique “library,” in Damascus that has turned into a haven where readers can immerse themselves in reading inside rows of bookshelves.

The bookstore, named Modern Library and owned by Bashir Jarkas, boasts a collection of over 100,000 books and has been a landmark of the area for nearly six decades. The 80-year-old Jarkas has dedicated his life to sharing his love for reading with the community.

Speaking to Xinhua, Jarkas said people’s reading habits are constantly evolving and their preferences have changed over time. In the past, religious texts, politics, and poetry were among the most popular choices, but now there is a growing demand for novels and books on personal growth.

“I cannot live without books. Reading is as important as food and drinks for me,” he said.

“I advise everyone to continue reading because it benefits people, their children, and the community as a whole. It is unfortunate for a person to abandon books,” Jarkas added.

His grandson, also named Bashir, has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, working at the bookstore and planning to continue the family legacy. In his opinion, the business of selling books is noble.

Despite a growing trend of online reading, Jarkas believes that traditional books still have a special charm that cannot be replicated.

“Books retain their charm when you open them, read them, and interact with their pages,” he said.

At another bookstore in Damascus, Khalil Hadad, manager of Osama House Library, expressed concern over the decline in reading and book buying in Syria, as high living costs have made new books increasingly unaffordable.

He said people are finding creative ways to share books. “Some readers cooperate to buy one book, some prefer to buy one each and share with fellow group members, while some resort to borrowing from public libraries,” said Hadad.

Behavioral difficulties and associated factors among the ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children and adolescents

Childhood and adolescence, vital in shaping adult life and society, are profoundly impacted during conflicts like Syria’s devastating war. This study, conducted by Scientific Reports, explores the prevalence of behavioural disorders in Syrian children and adolescents, examining the influence of war and family-related factors. 

This cross-sectional study was conducted on children aged 2–17 years at a children’s outpatient clinic in Damascus, Syria. Researchers assessed parents’ quality of life, war and family-related factors, and behavioural difficulties through parental interviews using two questionnaires 

The high prevalence of behavioural difficulties among children and adolescents in Syria is a major concern, with both direct and indirect war-related factors contributing to this issue.

This study involved 991 children in Syria, averaging 7.15 years of age, with a majority being male. It assessed the impact of the ongoing Syrian conflict on children’s behaviour and their family environments. Most parents had not pursued higher education, and many families struggled with inadequate incomes and insufficient housing.

A significant portion of the children faced severe behavioural issues, particularly emotional difficulties, influenced by direct exposure to war activities such as bombings and indirect factors like economic hardship and parental education levels. The study found a notable correlation between lower parental education and economic status and higher behavioural difficulties in children, highlighted by higher total scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

The analysis also identified key predictors of behavioural issues in children, with lack of food and medical supplies, lower parental educational levels, and poor quality of life being significant factors. Emotional difficulties were especially prevalent among children who had direct experiences with war-related trauma like kidnappings or family loss.

Overall, the study paints a stark picture of the profound and multifaceted impact of the Syrian conflict on children, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive support and interventions to address these challenges.

This round of Iran-Israel escalation is over, but the next could be just around the corner

An article by the Atlantic Council discusses a recent escalation in tensions between Iran and Israel, marking a significant shift in their long-standing strategic rivalry. On April 14, Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, firing over 350 missiles in response to an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria. This attack followed the assassination of an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander in Damascus, escalating the conflict to new levels.

Iran’s decision to directly engage Israel, moving away from proxy warfare, indicates a strategic shift aiming to reassert deterrence. This direct confrontation was a response to a series of targeted killings of Iranian officers in Syria, interpreted by Iran as a failure of their “strategic patience” policy.

The article suggests that while the current round of conflict has temporarily concluded, the potential for future escalations remains high. This is partly due to the lack of direct communication channels between the two states, increasing the risk of miscalculations. Additionally, the article mentions Iran’s potential reconsideration of its nuclear policy in response to threats, which could escalate tensions further.

Overall, the situation reflects a complex interplay of military actions, strategic shifts, and regional dynamics that could shape future interactions between Iran and Israel.

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