Syria army retakes Talfita from al-Nusra terrorists

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Units of the Syrian armed forces in cooperation with citizens regained full control over the town of Talfita and nearby mountains on the outskirts of Damascus.

Syrian troops have regained full control over Talfita town and its suburbs near the al-Qalamoun region on the outskirts of Damascus, Al-Alam correspondent reports.

Syrian army troops stormed the rebel-held town of Talfita on Monday and after fierce fighting with al-Nusra terrorists, killed dozens of terrorists and regained the control of the town, Al-Alam reported.

After the victory, the residents of the area gave Syrian soldiers a very warm welcome.

Syrian army sources pointed out the widespread presence of armed terrorists in the area and the nearby villages, had stressed to continue the mopping-up operations in the region.

“We are here to establish security and stability with the help of locals and national defense groups,” a Syrian army soldier told Al-Alam correspondent.

Another Syrian soldier said “Talfita region has completely been secured; dozens of armed terrorists have been gun down and the rest fled to the mountains.”

Fighting in the al-Qalamoun region is of grave importance for both sides of the conflict as the region is located on the Syria-Lebanon mountainous border
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Assad: Syria won’t negotiate with al-Qaeda offshoots

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out the possibility of negotiations with al-Qaeda-linked militant groups, who are the main forces fighting to topple the government in the Arab country.

“Regarding the militants, if they give up their arms we’ll be ready to discuss with them anything, like with any other citizen,” he said in an interview with Italy’s state-run Rai News 24 television network on Sunday.

“We cannot discuss with al-Qaeda offshoots and organizations that are affiliated with al-Qaeda,” Assad said, adding, “We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria.”

He also vowed to abide by the UN resolution calling for the elimination of country’s chemical weapons.

“Of course we have to comply. This is our history to comply with every treaty we sign,” Assad said.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on September 27 to pass a resolution requiring Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.

Under the document, the council “decides, in the event of noncompliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.”

As the Syrian army is struggling with internal and external threats of wider conflicts, people have been forced to live under strict rules imposed by some of the al-Qaeda-linked militant groups who benefit international silence on their crimes.

A US plan to bomb the country over a chemical attack near Syrian capital on August 21 was canceled with Russia’s mediation that sought to ease the tensions by putting Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control.

The offer was widely welcomed both in Syria and other countries that were concerned by US military ambitions and its regional consequences.

Source: Alalam

Syrian army advances in Rif Dimashq, 2 areas cleared

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Syrian army soldiers gain more ground in Rif Dimashq.

Syrian army has made considerable advancements near capital despite foreign pressures and threats, clearing two districts completely from extremist militants after days of fierce clashes.

Shaba’a in Rif Dimashq and al-Mestah in Barazeh were cleared in the operation, according to al-Alam reporter on Tuesday.

Barazeh has been scene of continuous clashes between militants who seek to enter the capital and Syrian army soldiers.

The whole town has been evacuated as clashes got heavier during the past weeks.

People have been witnessing brutal scenes of killing and torture in some areas of the country which have been occupied and controlled by anti-Syria groups.

As the Syrian government is struggling with internal and external threats of wider conflicts, people have been forced to live under strict rules imposed by some of the militant groups who benefit international silence on their crimes.

A US plan to bomb the country over a chemical attack near Syrian capital on August 21 was canceled with Russia’s mediation that sought to ease the tensions by putting Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control.

The offer was widely welcomed both in Syria and other countries that were concerned by US military ambitions and its regional consequences.
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Footage of chemical attack in Syria is fraud

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An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by the Arbeen unified press office on August 21, 2013 shows a man comforting a Syrian girl in shock as she screams in Arabic “I am alive” following an attack in which Syrian opposition claim the regime used chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus (AFP Photo)

There is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT. She says she is about to submit her findings to the UN.

Mother Agnes, a catholic nun, who has been living in Syria for 20 years and has been reporting actively on what has been going on in the war-ravaged country, says she carefully studied the video featuring allegedly victims of the chemical weapons attack in the Syrian village of Guta in August and now questions its authenticity. 

In her interview with RT, Mother Agnes doubts so much footage could have been taken in so little time, and asks where parents of the supposedly dead children are. She promises to send her report to the UN. 

The nun is indignant with the world media for apparently turning a blind eye to the Latakia massacre by rebel extremists, which left 500 civilians including women and children dead.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called on the international community to pay attention to revelations made by Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib. 

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Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib

Mother Agnes: I have carefully studied the footage, and I will present a written analysis on it a bit later. I maintain that the whole affair was a frame-up. It had been staged and prepared in advance with the goal of framing the Syrian government as the perpetrator. 

The key evidence is that Reuters made these files public at 6.05 in the morning. The chemical attack is said to have been launched between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning in Guta. How is it even possible to collect a dozen different pieces of footage, get more than 200 kids and 300 young people together in one place, give them first aid and interview them on camera, and all that in less than three hours? Is that realistic at all? As someone who works in the news industry, you know how long all of it would take.

The bodies of children and teenagers we see in that footage – who were they? What happened to them? Were they killed for real? And how could that happen ahead of the gas attack? Or, if they were not killed, where did they come from? Where are their parents? How come we don’t see any female bodies among all those supposedly dead children? 

I am not saying that no chemical agent was used in the area – it certainly was. But I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence had been fabricated in advance. I have studied it meticulously, and I will submit my report to the UN Human Rights Commission based in Geneva.

RT: Recently you’ve visited Latakia and the adjacent areas, you’ve talked to the eyewitnesses to the massacre of civilians carried out in Latakia by Jabhat al-Nusra. What can you tell us about it?  

MA: What I want to ask first of all is how the international community can ignore the brutal killing spree in Latakia on Laylat al-Qadr early in the morning of August 5, an attack that affected more than 500 people, including children, women and the elderly. They were all slaughtered. The atrocities committed exceed any scale. But there was close to nothing about it in the international mass media. There was only one small article in “The Independent”, I believe. 

We sent our delegation to these villages, and our people had a look at the situation on-site, talked to the locals, and most importantly – talked to the survivors of the massacre. 

I don’t understand why the Western media apply double standards in this case – they talk about mass murder that the use of chemical weapons resulted in non-stop, but they keep quiet about the Latakia massacre.

RT: Do you know anything about the fate of hostages captured in Latakia?

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A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 20, 2013 shows soldiers loyal to the regime forces wrapping a decomposed body that was allegedly discovered in a mass grave in northern Latakia, a province on the Mediterranean coast (AFP Photo)

MA: In the village of Estreba they massacred all the residents and burnt down their houses. In the village of al-Khratta almost all the 37 locals were killed. Only ten people were able to escape. 

A total of twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack. That was a true slaughterhouse. People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive – alive! – by a frame saw. The final death toll exceeded 400, with 150 to 200 people taken hostage. Later some of the hostages were killed, their deaths filmed. 

At the moment we are looking for the hostages and negotiating their release with the militants, but so far we haven’t managed to achieve that.

RT: We often hear reports of Christians being persecuted by the militants. Just the day before yesterday there was an attack in the village of Maaloula, where the majority of population is Christian. Are Christians in Syria facing grave danger?

MA: Everyone in Syria is facing grave danger. There was a case of Muslim religious leaders being kidnapped and beheaded. They were humiliated and tortured. Ismailis, the druze, Christians – people from all parts of Syrian society – are being mass murdered. I would like to say that if these butchers didn’t have international support, no one would have dared to cross the line. But today, unfortunately, the violation of human rights and genocide in Syria is covered up on the international level. I demand the international community stops assessing the situation in Syria in accordance with the interests of a certain group of great powers. The Syrian people are being killed. They fall victim to contractors, who are provided with weapons and sent to Syria to kill as many people as possible. The truth is, everywhere in Syria people are being kidnapped, tortured, raped and robbed. These crimes remain unpunished, because the key powers chose international terrorism as a way to destroy sovereign states. They’ve done it to other countries. And they will just keep doing it if the international community doesn’t say “Enough!”

RT: You’ve managed to get hold of some sensitive information. Does this make you fear for your life as someone who keeps documents that may compromise the militants? Has anyone threatened you?
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Locals say al-Qaeda used chemicals in Syria :official

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad political and media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban

A senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says locals have witnessed al-Qaeda-linked terrorists used chemical materials on people in Latakia and called on the West to wait for investigation results on recent alleged chemical attack in the country.

Assad’s political and media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban rejected the Western allegations accusing the Syrian government forces of being responsible for the August 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Syrian official said al-Qaeda was behind the attack just as it was responsible for “killing Syrian people, raping women, [and] kidnapping Christian clerics.”

“On 21st of August, I tell you what the Syrian people say, they (al-Qaeda-linked terrorists) kidnap children and men from the villages of Latakia and they brought them here (in Damascus), put them in one place and used chemical weapons against them… that’s the story that the villagers in these villages know, but why don’t you leave it to the UN commission?” she said.

“The same people who were on the London Tube and who killed British people, the same people who on 9/11 in New York killed American people, they are the same people in Mali, the same people in Libya, the same people in Iraq, the same people in Syria,” Shaaban stated.

She called on the United States and its allies, who have been blatantly issuing threats of war against Syria, to wait for the results of a report by the team of United Nations chemical weapons experts, expected to be completed later this month.

“They are using the same lies, the same fabrications, the same claims, in order to target our country and our people,” Shaaban said, comparing the chemical weapons accusations against Syria to those used to justify the Iraq war, which ultimately proved false.

She further demanded that Washington provide the world with evidence backing its accusation against the Syrian government.

The rhetoric of war against Syria first gained momentum on August 21, when the militants operating inside the country and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed that over a thousand people had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

The Syrian government categorically rejected the accusation.

Nevertheless, a number of Western countries, including the United States, France, and Britain, quickly started campaigning for war.

On Wednesday, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a draft resolution backing the use of force against Syria. The draft resolution requires the approval of both chambers of Congress before it can be interpreted as any form of congressional authorization for the US administration to launch an attack on Syria.

Source: Alalam

Putin warns against military action against Syria, bypassing UNSC

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Russia needs convincing proof, not rumors, from UN experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria, said the Russian president in an interview with First Channel and AP. It is up to the UN Security Council to decide on the next course of action, he said.

Speaking to journalists from Russia’s state Channel 1 television and Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a number of decisive statements regarding the supposed use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, which evoked a threat of a US-led strike on Syria. 

“We believe that at the very least we should wait for the results of the UN inspection commission in Syria,” Putin said, adding that so far there is no information about what chemical agent exactly was used in the attack in Damascus’ suburbs and who did it. 

“I’ve already said I find it absolutely ridiculous that [Syrian] government’s armed forces, which today are actually on an offense mission and in some regions have already encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that the Syrian army has used prohibited chemical weapons,” Putin said.

“They know all too well that this could become a cause for sanctions and even for a military operation against them. That’s stupid and illogical.”

“We proceed from the assumption that if anyone has information that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regular army, then such proof must be presented to the UN Security Council and the UN inspectors,” Putin said, stressing that the proof must be “convincing” and not based on “rumors” or any sort of “eavesdropped intelligence data,” conversations etc.

“Even in the US there are experts who question the reliability of the facts presented by the administration. These experts do not exclude the possibility that the Syrian opposition has conducted a pre-planned provocation in order to give their sponsors a reason for military intervention,” he acknowledged.

Putin says he “does not exclude” that Russia may agree with a military operation if it is proved that the Syrian government is behind the attack, however he emphasized that in accordance with international law a decision of the UN Security Council is needed for that.

“All other reasons and means that excuse using military force against an independent sovereign state are unacceptable and cannot be classified otherwise but as an aggression,” Putin noted. 

“We would be convinced by a detailed investigation and direct evidence of who exactly used chemical weapons and what substances were used. Then we’ll be ready to take decisive and serious action,” said the president.

Answering a question about video records of dead children that allegedly died in the chemical attack in Damascus, Vladimir Putin called the material with dead children “horrible”.

“The questions are what exactly was done and who is to blame. This video does not answer these questions,” Putin said, sharing an opinion that this video is a compilation made by the militants who – even the US acknowledges – have links with Al-Qaeda and are notorious for extreme atrocities.

Putin recommended to pay attention to the fact that in the video with dead children there are no parents, children’s relatives or even medical personnel, while people who do appear in the video remain unidentified. However terrible the picture could be, it cannot be proof of anybody’s guilt, Putin said, and called for investigation of the incident.

Russia is fulfilling arms contracts with Syria “because we believe that we are working with the legitimate government and we are violating neither international law, nor our obligations,” assured Putin, stressing that the UN had imposed no sanctions on the export of weapons to Syria.

He confirmed that Moscow has a signed contract with Damascus to deliver S-300 air defense missile complexes to Syria. The S-300 system is kind of outdated, said Putin, “though they might be a little better than Patriot missiles.”
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Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack

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Militants tell AP reporter they mishandled Saudi-supplied chemical weapons, causing accident.

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak. (back up version here).

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” one militant named ‘J’ told Gavlak.

His claims are echoed by another female fighter named ‘K’, who told Gavlak, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of an opposition rebel, also told Gavlak, “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” The father names the Saudi militant who provided the weapons as Abu Ayesha.

According to Abdel-Moneim, the weapons exploded inside a tunnel, killing 12 rebels.

“More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government,” writes Gavlak.

If accurate, this story could completely derail the United States’ rush to attack Syria which has been founded on the “undeniable” justification that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack. Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.

The website on which the story originally appeared – Mint Press (which is currently down as a result of huge traffic it is attracting to the article) is a legitimate media organization based in Minnesota. The Minnesota Post did a profile on them last year.

Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in providing rebels, whom they have vehemently backed at every turn, with chemical weapons, is no surprise given the revelations earlier this week that the Saudis threatened Russia with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi unless they abandoned support for the Syrian President.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Prince Bandar allegedly told Vladimir Putin, the Telegraph reports.

The Obama administration is set to present its intelligence findings today in an effort prove that Assad’s forces were behind last week’s attack, despite American officials admitting to the New York Times that there is no “smoking gun” that directly links President Assad to the attack.

US intelligence officials also told the Associated Press that the intelligence proving Assad’s culpability is “no slam dunk.”

As we reported earlier this week, intercepted intelligence revealed that the Syrian Defense Ministry was making “panicked” phone calls to Syria’s chemical weapons department demanding answers in the hours after the attack, suggesting that it was not ordered by Assad’s forces.

Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack

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Militants tell AP reporter they mishandled Saudi-supplied chemical weapons, causing accident.

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak. (back up version here).

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” one militant named ‘J’ told Gavlak.

His claims are echoed by another female fighter named ‘K’, who told Gavlak, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of an opposition rebel, also told Gavlak, “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” The father names the Saudi militant who provided the weapons as Abu Ayesha.

According to Abdel-Moneim, the weapons exploded inside a tunnel, killing 12 rebels.

“More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government,” writes Gavlak.

If accurate, this story could completely derail the United States’ rush to attack Syria which has been founded on the “undeniable” justification that Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack. Dale Gavlak’s credibility is very impressive. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.

The website on which the story originally appeared – Mint Press (which is currently down as a result of huge traffic it is attracting to the article) is a legitimate media organization based in Minnesota. The Minnesota Post did a profile on them last year.

Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in providing rebels, whom they have vehemently backed at every turn, with chemical weapons, is no surprise given the revelations earlier this week that the Saudis threatened Russia with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi unless they abandoned support for the Syrian President.

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Prince Bandar allegedly told Vladimir Putin, the Telegraph reports.

The Obama administration is set to present its intelligence findings today in an effort prove that Assad’s forces were behind last week’s attack, despite American officials admitting to the New York Times that there is no “smoking gun” that directly links President Assad to the attack.

US intelligence officials also told the Associated Press that the intelligence proving Assad’s culpability is “no slam dunk.”

As we reported earlier this week, intercepted intelligence revealed that the Syrian Defense Ministry was making “panicked” phone calls to Syria’s chemical weapons department demanding answers in the hours after the attack, suggesting that it was not ordered by Assad’s forces.
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Syria army launches Deir ez-Zor operation

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Syrian soldiers have launched an operation against foreign-backed militants in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor to retake areas occupied by terrorist groups.

The army hit militant forces in Hawiqa district on Tuesday with tanks and multiple rocket launchers, and also battled them in territory separating Hawiqa from the district of Joura, opposition sources in the city said.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said two militants were killed in the battles on Tuesday. There were no immediate reports about casualties among Syrian forces.

The provincial capital on the banks of the Euphrates, 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus, anchors a vast, arid oil-producing region bordering Iraq.

Half of it was occupied by anti-Syria militants a year ago but army soldiers have been able to keep secure several districts in the west of the city and areas between the local airport to the east.

Syrian army has been struggling with al-Nusra terrorists in south and east of the country, moving steadily forward to free occupied towns and villages.

The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.
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Syria medics uncover Latakia massacre

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Hundreds of civilians including women and children were killed by militants in Latakia, Syria.

More than 200 bodies have been delivered to hospitals in the western Syrian province of Latakia following the occupation of several towns and villages by foreign-backed militants, medical sources say.

The medics said on Tuesday that most of the dead bodies belonged civilians including women and children who have been killed in ambushes carried out by terrorists groups around the city of Latakia.

Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant has been blamed for massacre of civilians in several villages after they tried to make a base for the terrorist group in west of Syria.

Syrian army extended its operations in Latakia and successfully pushed them back from most of the province in July after terrorists intensified their attacks on the port city.

On Monday, the Syrian army recaptured the villages of Hambousheyah, al-Ballouta and Sheikh Nabhan in the strategic province.

Military officials say they are now getting closer to the Salma village, which is the last bastion of Takfiri extremists in the region.

Latakia was a relatively more secure area since the massive foreign-backed insurgency started in March 2011 in Syria.

The Latakia is still considered as a stable area and most of the clashes are occurring in the surrounding towns and villages.

Syria has been struggling with a foreign-backed insurgency, most supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and United States, which started in 2011 after pro-reform protests turned into a massive war by infiltration of foreign extremists.

The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million displaced due to the foreign-backed militancy in Syria.

Source: Alalam