Analysis and comments
ON THE SITUATION IN SYRIA
During March this year, the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force continued striking targets of militants in the provinces of Latakia and Homs, the Israeli Air Force were attacking Syrian military positions and targets from the Golan Heights south of Damascus, and the Turkish Air Force were striking the positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the province of Raqqa.
During the month, low-intensity fighting was noted in several provinces of the country.
Syrian security forces managed to prevent a terrorist attack in Damascus, which was being prepared by a group of suicide bombers, on March 15.
In Aleppo province, on March 13, Syrian troops fired rockets at the Jarablus area controlled by the pro-Turkish forces, and in particular, the oil tanker parking lot. The Turkish military returned fire.
On March 21, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense issued a statement saying that the Syrian Armed Forces launched an artillery attack on a hospital in Al-Atareb in the province of Aleppo. This area is included in the Idlib de-escalation zone. According to the statement, five people were killed. Based on the data available, the artillery fire hit the entrance to the cave where the medical facility is located. It is possible that the militants were also using it.
In the province of Hama at least 18 civilians were killed when two mines exploded on the side of a road on March 7. The incident took place in a rural area east of the city of Salamiyah. Two buses were blown up by mines. According to the preliminary information, the land mines were planted by the Islamic State militants.
An armed group attacked the Syrian military on March 16 in Deraa province. During the shootout on the highway between the settlements of al-Mzeirib and al-Yaduda, at least 20 soldiers were killed. A Syrian military unit was heading south in trucks to carry out an operation to detain one of the local militant leaders, Abu Tarek al-Subeyhi, who was involved in several raids against government forces.
IS militants committed an attack in the city of al-Malikiyah, province of Hasaka, on March 2. As a result, one of the commanders of the Kurdish units fighting in the SDF was killed. Another two militia members were wounded.
On March 28, SDF units cleared the al-Hawl refugee camp. Later, the SDF command reported that 53 IS militants were arrested during the sweep, including five commanders of the groups that operated in the camp and committed numerous murders there.
On March 31, it became known that after the operation at the al-Hawl camp by SDF fighters, the Americans airlifted 40 supporters of the IS terrorist group from this camp to a US base in the Hasaka province. SANA Syrian news agency reported this. According to the agency, the operation took place in coordination with the SDF detachments controlling al-Hawl. Among those airlifted to al-Shaddadi, according to the agency, were two Iraqi field commanders of IS units. These are Abu Saif al-Iraqi, the leader of one of the radical groups that fought near the Iraqi city of Mosul, and Najdat Masud Reda, who participated in the battles against government forces in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor.
In the province of Homs, at the junction of the borders with the provinces of Hama and Deir ez-Zor, the operation of the Syrian troops against the IS units operating in the Badia al-Sham desert continued through March 28-29.
On March 29, it was announced in Washington that the American authorities had repatriated 28 US citizens from Syria by that day. Ten of them had been brought to trial on terrorist charges. This information was presented at a briefing for journalists by acting US Department of State Counterterrorism Coordinator John Godfrey. According to him, about “10 thousand IS militants” are still in the hands of the Syrian opposition, “including about 2 thousand foreigners who are neither Syrians nor Iraqis.”