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Syria reinforces Homs push after Aleppo win

24 December 2016 17:05

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The Syrian military, in high spirits after liberating Syria’s second city of Aleppo from militants, has stepped up its counterterrorism push in Homs Province farther to the south.

Government forces drove Daesh terrorists out of several strategic positions across the sprawling central province on Saturday.

Notable among the advances was the retaking of the Qubbah Hill and surrounding checkpoints in the provincial capital of Homs’ countryside. The terrorists were pushed back to the nearby village of Khattab as a result. Military sources said up to 40 terrorists were killed in the operation.

A unit of the Syrian military also thwarted an attack by Takfiri terrorists against the Jubb al-Jarrah District, which lies 75 kilometers to the east of the city. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the counteroffensive had killed 20 Takfiris, including a terrorist ringleader named Abu Bakr Halqaya.

The military also struck the positions of the Takfiri terrorist groups of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) in the city’s northern suburbs, killing a number of the militants.

Additionally, the troops made advances in the periphery of the T4 Military Airport in the Homs Province’s southeast after foiling a Daesh attack on the facility.

Daesh was recently flushed out of the ancient city of Palmyra in the province, but has staged a comeback.

On Thursday, the military announced that it had attained full control of the northwestern city of Aleppo, having completely cleansed its eastern side of militants for the first time since 2012. The victory came about despite military support for the militants by the United States, Turkey, and some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region.

Also on Saturday, the Syrian army found a number of bodies belonging to civilians, including children, in the Sukkari neighborhood of Aleppo after the exodus of the militants, the Syria al-Watan television channel reported. It described the dead as victims of a massacre, and said the corpses had had some body parts cut out and taken away.

Meanwhile, facing increasing losses, anti-Damascus militants earlier resorted to contaminating water supplies for the capital and its suburbs. Authorities in Damascus said on Friday that they had been forced to cut water supplies to the city for a couple of days because militants had contaminated drinking water supplies with diesel.

The al-Fija spring, which supplies the capital with water, is located in the militant-held Souq Wadi Barada Village, northwest of Damascus, in a mountainous terrain near the Lebanese border. Much of the surrounding areas are controlled by Syrian government troops.

But measures meant to retaliate against Syrian government victories have not been limited to the militants. In a separate development, the United States added several senior Syrian officials and the leadership of a Russian bank to its sanctions list for providing support to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US Treasury Department announced on Friday that it had imposed sanctions on six Syrian officials, including the ministers of oil and finance and the governor of the Syrian central bank, as well as nine members of the board of the Russian Tempbank.

Those targeted on Friday will have their US assets frozen and Americans will be barred from transacting with them.

Russia has been carrying out an aerial campaign against militants in Syria, including formerly in Aleppo, on a request from Damascus.

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