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Syria's 'moderate rebels' to form a new alliance

Al Jazeera

A new military alliance of rebel groups in northern Syria aims to consolidate military control over Idlib province, the western part of Aleppo province and parts of Latakia province, according to a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander. Two sources from FSA have confirmed to Al Jazeera that the new military operation room, under discussion, will be supported by the "Friends of Syria" - a coalition of the US, Turkey, Western European and Gulf states - which have supported the Northern Front's operations room, known by its Turkish acronym MOM. The commander said that the rebel forces will fight against the Syrian regime in northern Syria. He denied media reports that their goal would be to attack Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham, a Salafist alliance dominated by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS, formerly known as al-Nusra Front) which formally renounced its affiliation to al-Qaeda in 2016. The FSA commander confirmed that the funding and logistical support for rebel factions in northern Syria which the CIA froze in February have been restored to a certain extent.

Can the 'de-escalation' plan in Syria work?

Al Jazeera

Iran, Russia and Turkey brokered the deal during talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana. The implementation of the agreement had a shaky start with fighting flaring in some areas. The deal bans weapons in parts of Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama. There is also hope for aid deliveries to about a million people living there. The Syrian government has not signed the agreement but state media says leaders support the accord.

Turkish military convoy crosses into rebel-held northwest Syria

The Japan Times

BEIRUT – A large Turkish military convoy rumbled into rebel-held areas of northwest Syria on Sunday, witnesses on the ground and activists said. Separately, airstrikes on a rebel-held village in Syria's northwest killed at least seven people, opposition activists said. Elsewhere, rebel shelling killed a woman and wounded at least three journalists, Syrian state TV reported. The violence and troop movements came amid a Syrian government offensive into the country's last rebel stronghold, located in Idlib province and parts of the nearby Aleppo region. Turkish troops are deployed in some of those rebel-held areas to monitor a cease-fire that has since collapsed.

Emboldened Assad vows to 'liberate' all of Syria, bury hopes, dreams of 'butcher Erdogan'

The Japan Times

DAMASCUS – President Bashar Assad vowed Tuesday his troops would "liberate" every inch of Syria, just like they recaptured the ancient town of Palmyra from the Islamic State group, in a speech that reflected his renewed confidence as the military pressed on toward Raqqa, the extremists' self-styled capital. His remarks in parliament came as his opponents, backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are struggling for survival and his troops have almost encircled rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria's largest city. Saying the military situation was much better than it was months ago, Assad told the lawmakers that Aleppo will be "the graveyard where the hopes and dreams of the butcher Erdogan will be buried." The reference was to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the staunchest supporters of the rebels fighting to topple Assad. Erdogan has allowed safe passage from his country for fighters and weapons over the border into Syria.