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Syrian army regains full control over Damascus after 7 years

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018



A Syrian army soldier walks past the rubble of damaged buildings in al-Hajar al-Aswad, May 21. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki


The Syrian government forces on Monday announced that the last extremist stronghold in southern Damascus, the al-Hajar al-Aswad District, has been recaptured, marking the military’s complete control over Damascus and its suburb areas after seven years of fighting.

The al-Hajar al-Aswad District is seven kilometers to downtown Damascus. The government troops on April 19 began its military operation to take back the district, along with the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp which was occupied by extremists, using airstrikes and intensive cannon and rocket strikes.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian government denied reports that the government forces observed a brief ceasefire with extremists on Sunday.

It stated that the government forces only implemented a short-term moratorium so that women, children, and the elderly could withdraw, and resumed cleanup operations on the afternoon of Monday, eventually ending the extremists’ presence in the capital and its surrounding areas.

“In the last period (of the operation), we surrounded the local extremists, and the encirclement became very small as we are closing in. The combat with extremists became very short-ranged, and we eventually neutralized them,” said Colonel Ahmad Ezzeldin.

The recapture of al-Hajar al-Aswad District marks the complete liberation of Damascus since 2011. The government forces will continue to sweep houses and tunnels for hidden suicide attackers and snipers next. — Reuters

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U.S. troops on site of Syria deadly blast

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019

U.S. military vehicle in Manbij, Syria | Reuters

U.S. troops were on site of a bomb attack claimed by Islamic State that killed U.S. troops in northern Syria on Wednesday (January 16).

The attack came weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said the group had been defeated there and that he would pull out all American forces.

A U.S. official who declined to be named said four U.S. troops had been killed and three wounded in the blast.

An Islamic State-affiliated site said the blast was the work of a suicide bomber. A war monitor said 19 people in total had died in the blast.

The attack took place in the town of Manbij, controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

Last month, Trump made a surprise announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria after concluding Islamic State had been defeated there. — Reuters

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Reconstruction ongoing in war-scarred Ancient City of Aleppo

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2018


Citadel of Aleppo | Reuters

Post-war reconstruction has been ongoing in the Ancient City of Aleppo since the Syrian government recaptured the city from opposition forces in December 2016.

It has been two years since fighting ended in Aleppo, once Syria’s economic hub, and the previous war zone has been recovering, albeit slowly, since reconstruction efforts were launched in the city.

The Citadel of Aleppo in the center of the Ancient City, which used to be on the front line, has now opened to tourists after renovation, and when weather permits, it even hosts cultural events.

“It’s actually beautiful and it’s really an achievement we really did that we took it back,” said a local of Aleppo, adding “It’s actually really beautiful and a real beautiful feeling that we can come here and visit it again.”

Around the citadel, many stores have reopened and street vendors have also started selling.

“I sell sweet corn around here and the business is good. I can sell a lot in summer and business is also quite good in winter,” said a local street vendor.

However, walking deeper into the historical heart of Aleppo, there still lie signs of destruction, with gutted buildings, walls pockmarked with bullet holes, and piles of rubble along the streets.

The reconstruction is ongoing, but it is expected to be a long process.

According to a deal reached between Russia and Turkey in September, a demilitarized zone has been set up on the border of the opposition-controlled area of Idlib. With Aleppo remaining a target of the militants, it is unlikely that a highway linking to Idlib will open by the end of the month.

But locals are still hopeful that peace will finally return to Aleppo and other parts of the country.

“I hope that Aleppo will never see any war again. We all hope so and we hope that Idlib will be also liberated as soon as possible,” said a vendor. — Reuters

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Pentagon chief Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Trump

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2018


U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who was known as a stabilizing force in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, will leave his job at the end of February, Trump said in a tweet on Thursday (December 20).

His departure had been anticipated since Trump announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria despite opposition from U.S. allies and top U.S. military officials.

Mattis said in his resignation letter that he was stepping down so Trump could have a defense chief whose views align more closely with his own.

Trump said he would nominate a successor to Mattis shortly.

Mattis joins a long list of former Trump administration senior figures who have either quit or been removed, some unceremoniously like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who Trump fired via Twitter in March.

Trump’s White House has had the highest turnover of senior-level staff of the past five presidents, according to the Brookings Institution think tank.

Speculation that Mattis might not last long in his post grew in October when Trump said in a CBS interview that the general was “sort of a Democrat” and might be leaving. — Reuters

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