Syrian troops push ahead in offensive, take another village

BEIRUT -- The Syrian military and allied fighters, backed by Russian airstrikes, on Friday pushed ahead with a major offensive in the north of the country, capturing another village and moving a step closer to encircling contested Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

See Full Article

The offensive near the Turkish border, which began earlier this week, has sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing. Turkey has said about 10,000 Syrians have amassed on the Syrian side of the Turkish border and that about 70,000 more were on their way.

Meanwhile, there was mounting Western criticism of Russia's military support for its ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Russian airstrikes in Syrian that mainly target opposition forces are "undermining efforts to find a political solution to the conflict," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.

Russian air force activity in Syria has also led to increased violations of Turkish airspace, Stoltenberg said in Amsterdam, on the sidelines of a meeting of EU defence ministers. "This creates risks, heightened tensions and is of course a challenge for NATO because they're violations of NATO's airspace," he said.

The Syrian government offensive comes at a time when hopes for a peace deal are increasingly dim, amid signs of possible further foreign military intervention.

Earlier this week, a U.N.-led attempt to launch indirect talks between a government delegation and opposition representatives in Geneva was adjourned after several days of acrimonious bickering.

At the same time, the Russian military said Thursday it had "reasonable grounds" to suspect that Turkey is making intensive preparations for a military invasion of neighbouring Syria, while a Saudi military spokesman said the kingdom is ready, in principle, to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State group extremists.

In Friday's fighting, pro-government troops retook the village of Rityan north of Aleppo, one of several communities they captured in the area this week, according to the state news agency SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory, an opposition monitoring group, said pro-government troops were backed by Russian airstrikes. It said that by taking Rityan, the government secured a road that links the predominantly Shiite villages of Nubl and Zahraa. These villages had been encircled by rebels for more than three years, but government troops broke the siege earlier this week.

In capturing another community Friday, the government also moved a step closer toward surrounding Aleppo.

The city, Syria's one-time commercial centre, has been carved up between government and rebel-held districts since the summer of 2012. A government siege of Aleppo and its rebel strongholds would deal a potentially devastating blow.

Also Friday, the Syrian army and allied militias retook the town of Atman near the southern city of Daraa, located between the capital Damascus and the Jordanian border, according to the Observatory and Syrian state media

The Observatory said the capture opened several supply routes to Daraa, which is divided between government and opposition fighters. Troops advanced under the cover of heavy artillery bombardment and air power, the Observatory said.

Daraa was the scene of some of the first protests against Assad in 2011 and holds symbolic value in the narrative of the uprising that has since collapsed into a vicious civil war.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Arkansas governor sets execution dates for 8 inmates, after nearly 12-year hiatus

    World News CTV News
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas' governor on Monday set execution dates for eight inmates over a 10-day period in an attempt to resume the death penalty after a nearly 12-year hiatus, even though the state lacks one of three drugs needed to put the men to death. Source
  • Woman eaten to death by bedbugs; caretaker charged

    World News Toronto Sun
    The caretaker for a 96-year-old woman who died after being bitten to death by bedbugs has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Pennsylvania’s York Daily Record reports that Mary Stoner, 96, died two weeks after cops visited the home where she was living. Source
  • Patrons hurl obscenities at cops as they arrest 2 at Thunder Bay bar

    Canada News CTV News
    THUNDER BAY, Ont. - Police say officers were surrounded by patrons hurling obscenities after they arrested a man and a woman in a bar in Thunder Bay, Ont. They say when officers located the woman, who had allegedly breached a recognizance, in the bar on Friday afternoon, she tried to flee, but was immediately apprehended. Source
  • Turkey orders German newspaper journalist jailed

    World News CTV News
    ANKARA, Turkey -- A Turkish court ordered a journalist for Germany's Die Welt newspaper jailed on Monday pending a trial on charges of terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred, media reports said. The action came amid a continuing crackdown on journalists and press freedom in Turkey. Source
  • Feds need to get on top of border

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    As refugees continue to make a bee-line for Canada from the continental United States, the federal government is demonstrating how there can be such a thing as too much caution. Speaking on a television news program this weekend, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ottawa was taking a wait-and-see approach as it studies the influx of refugees entering Canada on foot, away official from border crossings. Source
  • 911 call: Kansas bar shooting suspect claimed he'd killed 'Iranians'

    World News CTV News
    OLATHE, Kan. -- A bartender at the restaurant where a man was arrested last week for an apparently racially motivated bar shooting of two Indian men told a 911 dispatcher that the suspect admitted shooting two people, but described them as Iranian. Source
  • Pilot who died in CF-18 crash didn't eject or call for help: DND

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- An investigation has found a pilot who died during a training mission near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary didn't eject or call for help before the crash. A release from the Department of National Defence says Capt. Source
  • U.S. man accused of biting victim's face in anti-Muslim attack

    World News CTV News
    MCLEAN, Va. -- A Virginia man is accused of biting another man's face after making anti-Muslim slurs in a parking lot at a busy shopping mall late last year. Fairfax County police say in a statement that 35-year-old Robin McGreer was arrested Monday and charged with bias-related malicious bodily injury. Source
  • Kevin O'Leary pulls out of Edmonton Conservative Party leadership debate

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Leadership hopeful Kevin O'Leary has pulled out of Tuesday night's Conservative Party leadership debate in Edmonton because of the "bad format". In a statement, O'Leary said the proposed format did not allow "time for ideas to be explained, or any real debate to transpire. Source
  • Suspect posed as pizza man in Ont. home invasion

    Canada News CTV News
    VAUGHAN, Ont. - Police in southern Ontario are investigating a violent home invasion after a man allegedly posing as a pizza delivery person forced his way into a residence in Vaughan, Ont. York regional police say officers were called to the home on Friday night and found two men suffering from minor injuries. Source