05/24/2018, 18.43
SYRIA – UNITED STATES
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US denies claim its planes hit pro-Assad forces, whilst the situation in Damascus has improved

An NGO claims 12 pro-government fighters were killed. State media report only material damage. The affected area is near the Euphrates where an offensive against the Islamic State group is underway. Source in the capital tells AsiaNews that people feel safer, but “it will take a long time to heal wounds”.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – The winds of war are still blowing across Syria. Syrian state media reported that the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State hit Syrian army positions in eastern Syria early on Thursday, a claim the US military has denied.

According to some sources, the strikes targeted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which backs Syria’s government. However, top US officials said they could not substantiate the claim.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has an extensive network of informants on the ground, said that at least 12 pro-government foreign fighters were killed in the airstrike.

"Some of our military sites between Albu Kamal and Hamimia were exposed at dawn today to aggression launched by US coalition jets," state news agency SANA reported, citing a military source.

The sites are in Deir Ezzor province, near the border with Iraq, not far from the area still under the control of the Islamic State group. Government media did not mention casualties, only material damage.

The area was recently attacked by the Islamic State, which targeted regular Syrian forces.

“We have no operational reporting of a U.S.-led coalition strike against pro-Syrian regime targets or forces,” a spokesman for US Central Command told media.

Another Pentagon spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We have no information to substantiate those reports.”

Meanwhile, Syrian forces, including pro-Iranian militias, announced the start of an offensive to retake areas along the Euphrates still held by the Islamic State.

For the past two weeks, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, backed by the US-led coalition, took territory on the east side of the river not far from the border with Iraq.

In Damascus, some calm returned to the city and its suburbs after government forces took control of an enclave south of the capital still in the hands of the Caliphate.

After an intense battle and an evacuation agreement, Syrian troops entered the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and the nearby neighbourhoods of Qadam, Tadamun and al-Hajar al-Aswad.

For the first time since March 2011, when war broke out, the whole city is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad's forces supported by pro-Iranian militias and Lebanon’s Hezbollah and its armed militia.

Source in Damascus told AsiaNews that the situation has greatly improved, and "there is a general feeling of greater security among people". However, the war remains in people’s consciousness and the fear of new violence lingers.

"We are still under pressure,” the source said. “Even (in the unlikely case that) the war should end soon, it will take a long time to heal wounds and overcome pressure and the widespread feeling of insecurity. It will not be easy to get through it." (DS)

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