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Coalition, rebels thwart Daish attack on base


US-led allied forces and Syrian rebels have thwarted a significant Daish attack on their base near the Jordanian border, according to the anti-Daish coalition, as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged Russia to end its support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The coalition said Saturday’s attack on the At Tanf Garrison was a complex one involving a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, followed by a ground assault and suicide vests by up to 30 Daish fighters.

“Coalition and partnered forces defended against the Daish attack with direct fire before destroying enemy assault vehicles and the remaining fighters with multiple Coalition airstrikes,” the coalition said in a statement.

The “vetted” Syrian opposition forces, known as VSO, who participated in the battle are distinct from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are assisting Syria in the north.

“In southern Syria, VSO forces focus on conducting operations to clear Daish from the Hamad Desert and have been instrumental in countering the Daish threat in southern Syria and maintaining security along the Syria-Jordan border,” the coalition statement said.

In June 2016, Russian warplanes bombed the remote outpost used by elite US and British forces. It is located about 16 kilometres from the Jordanian border.

About three weeks later, Russian warplanes hit a rebel camp used by family members of CIA-backed fighters near At Tanf.

Russia should end its support for “toxic” Assad, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Monday ahead of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy. “It’s time for (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to face the truth about the tyrant he is propping up,” Johnson said, according to a foreign ministry spokeswoman.

“We need to make it clear to Putin that the time to back Assad has gone,” he said, warning that Putin was “damaging Russia” by supporting Assad.

“He must understand that Assad is now toxic in every sense. He is poisoning the innocent people of Syria with weapons that were banned 100 years ago — and he is poisoning the reputation of Russia,” he said.

Johnson on Saturday cancelled a scheduled visit to Moscow over its support for the Syrian regime.

The move came after a suspected chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Seikhun last week in which at least 87 people were killed.

The United States also stepped up pressure on Russia to rein in the Syrian government, warning that any further chemical attacks would be “very damaging” to their relationship and suggesting there can be no peace while Assad remains in power.