Thirteen Syrian soldiers die in an ambush
A bus in the service of the Syrian Arab Army has suffered a terrorist ambush this morning on the road from Raqqa to Homs. At least eleven soldiers and two civilians would have lost their lives, according to the Syrian state agency, in an attack that would have left three other soldiers injured.
The attack has not been claimed, although the authorship of some sleeper cell of the Islamic State (IS) is presumed. Further north, the militias of the YPD, the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), operate with US cover.
IS’s desert coup would be its bloodiest since March, when it attacked another military bus near Palmyra, but it does nothing to alter Bashar al-Assad’s control over most of useful Syria.
So much so that, yesterday, the Syrian dictator scored a new diplomatic victory, receiving the credentials of a new Arab ambassador, that of Bahrain, thus formalizing the reestablishment of diplomatic relations after more than a decade.
In any case, two powers hostile to Damascus, Turkey and the United States, continue to occupy parts of the territory, just as Israel does in the case of the Golan. Ankara continues to give shelter to Sunni forces hostile to Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib and in the enclaves seized from the Kurdish militias during three military operations. The fourth has already been announced, although an essential requirement, the acquiescence of Moscow, has not been confirmed.
In fact, last week, in the political and military negotiations that brought together Turkey, Russia and Iran in Astana, the latter two underlined their opposition to the operation. For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two goals go hand in hand. Namely, erecting a thirty-kilometer-wide security cordon separating the PKK militias from the Turkish border and creating areas likely to host the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Syrian refugees currently in Turkey. A necessary message, above all, to win the Turkish elections next year.
The PKK, which maintains a political office in Moscow, exploits oil wells in northeast Syria with US cover, while in other parts of the country it cooperates with Bashar al-Assad’s Russian and Iranian troops.
One of the deadliest bus ambushes occurred in December 2020, when 28 people were killed in an attack on a main road in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor.
It is not surprising that today, Pope Francis called on the international community not to forget the war in Syria. These days, precisely, Rome is hosting a synod of Greek-Melkite bishops from that region. “The dramas of recent months, which sadly force us to turn our gaze towards Eastern Europe, should not make us forget what has been happening in your land for twelve years,” the pontiff told them. “I renew my call so that a just and equitable solution to the drama in Syria can be reached.”
Ancient Eastern Christianity has been one of the big losers from the state of war of the last two decades in Iraq and then Syria. A glimmer of hope has emerged this month, with the reopening to worshipers, pilgrims and tourists of the medieval monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, a few dozen kilometers north of Damascus.