USA threatens retaliation against chemical weapons attacks in Syria

Erika Holt
March 15, 2018

It added that the Syrian forces with the backing of the Russians managed to completely isolate Harasta in the western part of Eastern Ghouta.

"We need heavy machinery to get them out, but we can't bring the machines out into the streets because the regime may bomb them", he said.

"We all know that Russian Federation has not been able or willing to stop this military offensive yet", he said.

At least 70 people had been buried in a town park because air strikes made it unsafe to reach the cemetery on the outskirts, it said.

The evacuees included some 300 militants from the extremist Ajnad al-Sham faction and their families.

The Central Military Media says the army on Tuesday entered the district and took control of points previously held by the gunmen.

Al-Qadam is surrounded by government-held territory on one side and Islamic State-controlled neighbourhoods on the other.

However, the group Jaysh al-Islam vowed not to leave the area and to continue fighting advancing Syrian government forces.

Washington has not confirmed any such plan - and a small contingent of USA forces is already in Manbij. "Simply put, 2017 was the deadliest year of the Syrian war for children", Moumtzis told the Council.

But Mohamed said most of the Kurdish fighters are from the area and would never give up their hometown.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says an indiscriminate campaign of government and Russian air strikes and shelling has killed some 1,100 civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta over the past three weeks.

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Turkey's military and its rebel allies have encircled the northern Syrian town of Afrin, the Turkish armed forces said on Tuesday, a substantial advance in Ankara's offensive against Kurdish fighters across its southern border.

The commander of U.S. Central Command said Tuesday that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Russian Federation and Iran, has essentially won the seven-year-old civil war that has killed more than 400,000, forced millions to flee, and spread sectarian strife throughout the region.

The army's onslaught in eastern Ghouta, backed by air and artillery strikes, has killed about 1,160 people since February 18, a war monitor said, as Assad seeks to crush the last big rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

Waldhauser said he knows of no plans to move AfriCom's headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa and noted that he operates with no dedicated forces, relying on troops "allocated" from other combatant commands.

He did not say when the alleged attack would take place or provide detailed evidence to back his assertions.

Turkey launched its assault on the border enclave on January 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces that it views as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

Some reports show almost 1,000 people have died around Eastern Ghouta since February.

Hamza Bayraqdar, the group's chief military spokesman, said in a video statement posted online that "our revolutionary ideology does not allow us to sell the blood of the holy warriors who liberated Ghouta".

But Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia hit back at the U.S. and its allies for "doing nothing but constantly blaming the Syrian regime and putting demands on Russia".

"We went to try and find her in the cellar she was living in but she and her husband had already left", she said.

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