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Syrian forces push ceasefire to breaking point with attack on rebels near Damascus

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG The Syrian army launched a fresh offensive against a rebel-held area near the capital yesterday, testing a warning issued by the opposition that they would end the ceasefire if it continued its assault. After a brief period of quiet on Sunday, barrel bombs hit villages in the rebel enclave of Wadi Barada while heavy fighting on ...

Trump’s Syria conundrum

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG President-elect Donald Trump’s position on the conflict in Syria has been a confusing assortment of positions, the latest of which – his call for a safe zone in Syria – seems informed by his most recent conversations with candidates he interviewed for the position of secretary of state. But all of his statements carry within them ...

The Islamic State has been pushed back but the future still looks bleak for Christians in the Middle East

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG On the last Sunday of October the church bells in the Iraqi Christian town of Qaraqosh rang out for the first time in two years. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) had been been driven out, leaving behind only the dead bodies of their fighters and the churches that lay desecrated but not ...

Aleppo battle: Rebels burn Syria evacuation buses

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG Several buses sent to transport the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria’s Idlib province have been burned by rebels. The attack apparently halted the latest efforts to evacuate besieged areas. Pro-government forces say people must be allowed to leave the mainly Shia villages of Foah and Kefraya for the evacuation of east Aleppo ...

Inside Aleppo: ‘Children scream as gunmen try to pick them off’

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG The day that was supposed to mark an end to Aleppo’s violence started with some of its most despicable. The sun had barely risen when an ambulance was attacked, as it tried to evacuate injured children. The rebels blamed an Iranian backed militia. Whoever carried it out is guilty of a war crime. Footage filmed for ...

One way to push back in Syria? Target Iranian airlines

Iran’s commercial fleet is helping the Bashar Assad regime and its allies commit vast-scale atrocities in Syria. The Obama administration should have punished Tehran’s war crimes by going after Iran’s aviation sector, without which Iran could not deliver weapons and fighters to Aleppo’s killing fields. Instead, it has authorized the sale of aircraft to Iran. And it won’t leverage U.S. ...

ISIS shoots down fighter jet in Palmyra as jihadis re-enter ancient city

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG According to the extremist group’s news agency, Amaq, the militants shot the plane near to the Jazal oil fields west of the city. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a government jet crashed in the Jazal area. The Observatory claimed on Friday that the IS assault near Palmyra has killed at least 49 pro-government ...

Aleppo battle: Red Cross evacuates disabled civilians from frontline

REPORTED BY KALAHAN DENG The Red Cross says it has evacuated 148 mostly disabled and elderly civilians found in a part of the Syrian city of Aleppo recently recaptured by the army. They were trapped for days inside a former old people’s home in what was a rebel-held part of the Old City because of heavy fighting nearby. Many had ...

Syria rebels vow to adopt guerrilla tactics as Assad forces seize two thirds of east Aleppo

EDITED BY KALAHAN DENG Faced with almost certain defeat in the city of Aleppo, Syrian rebel groups have promised to continue their war by adopting the guerrilla tactics of assassinations, armed raids and roadside bombs. The four-year battle for control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is likely to end in the next few weeks as Syrian regime forces either advance ...

How can Australians help people in Syria and Iraq?

Seeing harrowing images from war zones in Syria and Iraq can make people feel at a loss of how to help, but there are ways Australians can lend a hand. There are dozens of organisations already working within and around the war-torn cities of Aleppo and Mosul. We asked workers from Red Cross and World Vision what Australians can do. ...