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ISIS Releases Video of 2 Russian Soldiers Captured in Syria

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A video showing two Russian captives has been released by the Islamic State group with the militants claiming the men were captured during battle. In the 42-second video, released on the terror group’s AMAQ news agency, two men appeared briefly in a room wearing grey tunics.

Speaking Russian and wearing matching grey outfits, the two men appear to have been beaten or injured with one showing a cut eye and bruises, in an Amaq video. IS claim they were troops captured during a counter-offensive by the militants in eastern Syria, where the regime backed by Russia has made advances over the past month.

In the video, a man speaking in Russian identifies himself as Roman Zabolotny from Rostovskaya region and says he was captured during an ISIL offensive in the village, along with the man sitting next to him, whom he identifies as Grigory Tsurkanu from Domodedovski region.

Last week’s surprise attack by IS ended a Syrian regime advance in Deir az-Zour, which has seen the jihadis’ siege on parts of the city under its Bashar al-Assad’s control broken.

Moscow denies ISIL captives are Russian soldiers

Russia has said media reports claiming two Russian soldiers were captured by ISIL in Syria “are hardly official information”.

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian presidency, said on Wednesday that the reports should be viewed with caution but confirmed that authorities were checking whether the two captives are Russian citizens.

Peskov’s statement came in response to a video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group on Tuesday showing what the armed group claimed were two Russian men captured in al-Shalo village in Deir Az Zor province in eastern Syria.

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Israel Destroys Syrian Air Defence Battery After Alleged ‘Shelling’

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The IDF has cited its right to “thwart hostilities towards Israeli population”. The incident comes as the latest in a string of tit-for-tat attacks between Damascus and Tel Aviv that remain in a state of war for decades.
The Israeli Air Force has announced that its military jets destroyed an anti-aircraft battery east of the Syrian capital of Damascus on October 16. The incident has not yet been confirmed by the Syrian government.

According to the IDF, the “retaliatory” move came after Israeli jets had been targeted with an anti-aircraft missile launched from the Syrian territory. The military’s spokesperson has said that no hits had been confirmed. The jets were carrying out a routine reconnaissance mission over Lebanon.

While the IDF has blamed the Syrian government for the incident, it has yet again stated it “maintains its ability to thwart hostilities against Israeli civilians.” According to one of the heads of the Israeli military’s press service, Tel Aviv has also notified Russia that has a military presence Syria of the airstrike in real time.

“The Russians were notified in real time, or maybe just before [the attack],” the military official said. However, the IDF said that it “has no intention to destabilize the situation.”

In September Israeli jets attacked the Syrian army in the Hama province, however the IDF refused to comment on the incident. Israel and Syria have exchanged numerous tit-for-tat attacks over the disputed area of Golan Hights, seized by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967.

The move has been repeatedly condemned by the international community. According to the UN resolution adopted in 1981, the Golan Heights were declared as illegally occupied by Israel. In 2008, the United Nations reitterated its calls for Tel Aviv to return the ‘annexed territory’ — something that, according to the incumbent PM Benyamin Netanyahu, “Israel will never do”.

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Syrian Democratic Forces Begin Final Assault on ISIS in Raqqa

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The US-backed Syrian rebels have announced the final stage of their operation to free the former so-called ISIS “capital,” Raqqa, from terrorists.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that they have started the final assault on Raqqa after the evacuation of civilians and Daesh terrorists, who agreed to leave the city.

“The battle will continue until the whole city is clean of the terrorists who refused to surrender, including the foreign fighters,” a statement by the SDF said on Sunday.

Earlier, the US-led coalition announced that an agreement has been reached to evacuate civilians from Raqqa. After a convoy with evacuees left the former “capital” of ISIS terrorist group, the final battle with remaining terrorists began. Reuters reported citing a militia spokesman that 275 Daesh fighters from Syria left Raqqa, according to the agreement, while 200-300 militants mostly of foreign origin remained in the city.

“We still expect there to be difficult fighting,” US-led coalition’s spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said.

A source in the Syrian Democratic Forces that are conducting the Raqqa operation on the ground with the coalition’s support, told Sputnik on Friday that the city is set to be liberated from militants within 2-3 days. The source added that the strength of the terrorists is running out; their defeats in Raqqa have undermined their morale and prevent them from fighting back. According to SDF representatives, the Syrian rebels currently control about 90 percent of Raqqa.

Raqqa has been under ISIS control since 2013. On November 6, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, also consisting of Arab, Assyrian and Turkmen fighters, among others, announced the start of the military operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh terrorist group with the assistance of the US-led coalition’s airstrikes. Raqqa’s Old City was freed from Daesh last month.

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