Syria’s air force staged more air raids Saturday on the key rebel-held bastion of Yabrud north of Damascus, as clashes also raged on the capital’s outskirts, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that in the northeast, Kurdish fighters seized the town of Tal Barak from jihadists.
Regime forces launched a new wave of aerial and tank bombardment in and around Yabrud, the main town in the Qalamun mountain range and with a mixed Muslim and Christian population, two weeks into a campaign aimed at seizing it from rebels.
The Britain-based Observatory said Saturday’s attacks targeted several mountainous areas around Yabrud as well as the town itself, which was once home to some 50,000 people.
Because of the violence, some “12,800 people” have fled across the border into the Lebanese town of Arsal in just 12 days, the UNHCR estimates.
Shiite forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement are supporting the regular Syrian army in Qalamun. Hezbollah says most of the vehicles used in car bombings of its Lebanon strongholds came from Yabrud.
“Hezbollah is fighting to close off the border, while the army wants to secure control of the international highway” linking Damascus and the central city of Homs, an activist in Qalamun told AFP by Skype.
Calling himself Amer, he said he believed the bombing had intensified as the army and Hezbollah “fail to make the advance on the ground they want. So they are besieging and punishing Yabrud”.
In northeast Damascus, fresh fighting raged in Jubar district, one of the areas hit by an August chemical weapons attack, that was followed by a UN Security Council resolution ordering the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
Most of Jubar is under rebel control, and it has seen a massive escalation of fighting since February 9 as the army seeks to crush resistance there, the Observatory said.
Meanwhile, Kurds in the northeast battling the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized Tal Barak town between the main Kurdish cities of Qamishli and Hasakeh.
Fighting over the town killed 25 gunmen, 22 of them ISIL members, from late Friday through dawn Saturday, said the Observatory.
Kurds have fought ISIL for many months in majority Kurdish areas, which the jihadists want to take over because of their resources and strategic location next to Iraq and Turkey.
In northern Syria’s Aleppo, helicopters dropped explosives-packed barrel bombs on the rebel-held Sheikh Najjar area, said the Observatory.
The army’s use of such bombs has been widely condemned as “indiscriminate”.
More than 140,000 people have been killed in Syria’s nearly three-year war, and millions more have been forced to flee their homes. [AFP]
US Election: Trump Claims Victory Hours After Saying Biden Won
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has declared himself the winner of the US Election 2020.
President Trump declared himself the winner of the US election in a tweet on Monday morning, November 16 by simply tweeting: “I won the election.”
I WON THE ELECTION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2020
This came hours after he tweeted that his opponent Joe Biden “won because the election was rigged.”
He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more! https://t.co/Exb3C1mAPg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
The latest vote tallies project Democratic candidate, Biden a clear winner in the state-by-state Electoral College that decides the presidency, with 306 votes against Trump’s 232.
However, President Trump has remained defiant, continuously claiming he won the election free and fair.
Former Ghana President, Jerry Rawlings Is Dead
Jerry Rawlings, a former Ghanaian president has reportedly died from suspected COVID-19 complications.
The former Ghanaian leader died at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, capital of Ghana on Thursday morning.
Rawlings led the country first as a military ruler and then as a democratically elected president between 1981 and 2001.
Rawlings initially rose to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force, following a coup détat in 1979.
After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took control again in December 1981 as Head of State.
He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years.
Rawlings left office in 2000 after exhausting Ghana’s constitutional term-limit of eight years for Presidents.
US Election Is Far From Over — Trump
Shortly after Biden was projected winner, Trump in a defiant statement expressed that the election was “far from over” and criticised Biden for “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.
“Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.
“The American people are entitled to an honest election, that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots,” Trump said.
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