Rebels attack sprawl­ing army base in south Syria

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rebels at­tacked a ma­jor Syr­ian army base in the south­ern prov­ince of Daraa on Tues­day in the lat­est push by op­po­si­tion fighters against Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s em­bat­tled forces, ac­tivists said.

As­sad’s forces have suf­fered sev­eral de­feats over the past three months at the hands of in­sur­gents, mem­bers of al-Qaida’s branch in Syria and the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group. The gov­ern­ment lost the north­ern city of Idlib, the cen­tral his­toric town of Palmyra and a south­ern bor­der cross­ing point with Jor­dan.

The West­ern-backed Free Syr­ian Army rebel group launched the as­sault at dawn on the army base, known as Brigade 52, said Ah­mad al-Masalmeh, an op­po­si­tion ac­tivist in Daraa. He said the rebels have cap­tured the nearby vil­lage of Mleiha al-Shar­qiyeh.

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights and al-Masalmeh said Brigade 52 is the largest base in Daraa prov­ince. The Ob­ser­va­tory, which re­lies on a net­work of lo­cal ac­tivists, said the fight­ing has killed 20 troops and pro-gov­ern­ment gun­men as well as 14 rebels.

The Ob­ser­va­tory also said on Tues­day that it has doc­u­mented the deaths of 230,000 peo­ple since the Syr­ian con­flict be­gan in March 2011.

The Ob­ser­va­tory said the dead in­clude 69,494 civil­ians, among them 11,493 chil­dren. The con­flict has also claimed the lives of 49,106 troops, 32,533 pro­gov­ern­ment fighters and 38,592 rebels, it said. The oth­ers killed in­clude army de­fec­tors, Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, for­eign fighters and mem­bers of Le­banon’s Hezbol­lah group, which is fight­ing along­side gov­ern­ment forces.

Ob­ser­va­tory direc­tor Rami Ab­dur­rah­man said the real death toll could be above 300,000, since there are tens of thou­sands of peo­ple who are miss­ing or were buried with­out be­ing counted.

The U.N. said last year that the war has killed at least 220,000 peo­ple. That fig­ure has not been up­dated.

Syria’s con­flict be­gan with peace­ful Arab Spring- in­spired demon­stra­tions de­mand­ing po­lit­i­cal re­form, but even­tu­ally es­ca­lated into a civil war af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­sponded with a vi­o­lent crack­down on dis­sent. To­day the coun­try is split among As­sad’s forces, the Is­lamic State group and mainly Is­lamist in­sur­gent groups.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.