A picture taken on August 3, 2017 shows vehicles driving past a roadsign that says "Talbiseh" in the eponymous central Syrian rebel-held town, north of Homs, along the highway between the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.
A ceasefire between government forces and rebels went into effect in part of central Syria on August 3, 2017 after Russia struck a deal with the opposition on a safe zone in the northern parts of Homs province. 
The truce is the third to be established in Syria, which has been ravaged by six years of civil war that have left more than 300,000 people dead. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD TAHA
The highway leading from the Syrian capital Damascus to Homs, where government troops and allied forces drove ISIL from it last stronghold in the province on August 6, 2017. Mahmoud Taha / AFP / Augus

Syrian government takes last ISIL-held town in Homs

ISIL fighters withdrew from city of Al Sukhna in eastern Syria on Sunday in the face of an offensive by Syrian troops and allied militia, clearing the way for an advance on the last province to remain largely under the extremist group's control.

The recapture of Al Sukhna in Homs, Syria's largest province, was reported by both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a media outlet associated with Hizbollah, which fights on behalf of the Syrian government.

Al Sukhna lies on the main road between the city of Tadmor and Deir Ezzor, the capital of the eastern province of the same name where government forces have been besieged by ISIL since 2015.

ISIL first gained ground in Homs in late 2014, when it pushed toward the province capital and threatened an important government airbase nearby.

Though ISIL controlled more rural than urban areas in Homs, much of which is desert, they took over gasfields in eastern Homs and in May 2015 overran Tadmor, a city of about 50,000 that sits near the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra. The group then famously used Palmyra’s ancient amphitheatre as a backdrop to film executions of soldiers and others deemed loyal to the Syrian government.

Syrian government troops and allied militia recaptured Tadmor in March.

On the far western side of Homs province, the Lebanese military shelled ISIL positions on Saturday and Sunday in an area of ISIL control that straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border. Those positions, near the northern towns of Ras Baalbek and Qaa, represent the last territory ISIL holds in Lebanon.

Hizbollah, which drove Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters out of their strongholds in northern Lebanon last week, has said it will fight ISIL from the Syrian side of the border and that it is ready to intervene on behalf of the Lebanese military from the Lebanese side as well.

Though the city of Homs was the site of large demonstrations against the government of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad in 2011 and a site of armed rebellion in 2012, the Syrian government recaptured it fully in 2014 after a long siege. Now the only major part of Homs province outside of Syrian government control is a rebel-held pocket north of Homs city that includes the cities of Houleh, Rastan and Talbiseh.

A ceasefire between rebels and the Syrian government went into effect in the area on Thursday but was broken repeatedly by both sides on Saturday and Sunday.

The area under the ceasefire was meant to be the third Russian-brokered “safe-zone” in the country. In recent weeks, Russia has helped arrange truces between the Syrian government and rebels in eastern Damascus and in south-western Syria. But on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy shelling by government forces in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, saying it was the most serious violation of the ceasefire in that area since it began last month.

The London-based Al Sharq Al Awsatnewspaper reported Sunday that a meeting of Syrian opposition groups, supported by the United Nations, could be held in Saudi Arabia in October. Local deals like the ones brokered by Russia have largely sidelined the opposition activists outside Syria who once claimed to be the only legitimate representatives of the rebel groups battling Mr Al Assad.

The Russian-brokered ceasefires have also produced at least one defection from the array of US-backed rebel groups in Syria.

Shuhada Al Qaryatayn, a rebel group based at Al Tanf near the Syrian-Iraqi border, broke its ties with the US last month after being told that it could engage Syrian government forces following the implementation of a ceasefire in the area around Al Tanf. The US also participated in those negotiations.

The group's announcement led the US to demand the return of heavy weaponry it had provided. But it is not clear whether the group had actually done so.

The spokesman for US forces in Syria and Iraq, Col Ryan Dillon, said on Sunday that Shuhada Al Qaryatayn "have returned heavy weapons and other equipment provided by the Coalition and been allowed to maintain some small arms and light vehicles”.

However, the group has denied that it had any heavy weapons to hand over, and Col Dillon could not specify what kind of weapons the group had given up.

* Additional reporting by Reuters

Day 3, Dubai Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Lahiru Gamage, the Sri Lanka pace bowler, has had to play a lot of cricket to earn a shot at the top level. The 29-year-old debutant first played a first-class game 11 years ago. His first Test wicket was one to savour, bowling Pakistan opener Shan Masood through the gate. It set the rot in motion for Pakistan’s batting.

Stat of the day – 73 Haris Sohail took 73 balls to hit a boundary. Which is a peculiar quirk, given the aggressive intent he showed from the off. Pakistan’s batsmen were implored to attack Rangana Herath after their implosion against his left-arm spin in Abu Dhabi. Haris did his best to oblige, smacking the second ball he faced for a huge straight six.

The verdict One year ago, when Pakistan played their first day-night Test at this ground, they held a 222-run lead over West Indies on first innings. The away side still pushed their hosts relatively close on the final night. With the opposite almost exactly the case this time around, Pakistan still have to hope they can salvage a win from somewhere.

The specs: 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

Price, base / as tested Dh57,000

Engine 1,170cc air/oil-cooled flat twin four-stroke engine

Transmission Six-speed gearbox

Power 110hp) @ 7,750rpm

Torque 116Nm @ 6,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 5.3L / 100km


Manchester United 2
(Martial 30', McTominay 90+6')

Manchester City 0

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


5pm: UAE Martyrs Cup (TB) Conditions; Dh90,000; 2,200m
5.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup (PA) Handicap; Dh70,000; 1,400m​​​​​​​
6pm: UAE Matyrs Trophy (PA) Maiden; Dh80,000; 1,600m​​​​​​​
6.30pm: Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (IFAHR) Apprentice Championship (PA) Prestige; Dh100,000; 1,600m​​​​​​​
7pm: Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (IFAHR) Ladies World Championship (PA) Prestige; Dh125,000; 1,600m​​​​​​​
8pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (PA) Group 1; Dh5,000,000; 1,600m

Profile box

Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Match info

Newcastle United 1
Joselu (11')

Tottenham Hotspur 2
Vertonghen (8'), Alli (18')

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

How to get there

Emirates (www.emirates.com) flies directly to Hanoi, Vietnam, with fares starting from around Dh2,725 return, while Etihad (www.etihad.com) fares cost about Dh2,213 return with a stop. Chuong is 25 kilometres south of Hanoi.

Company profile

Name: The Concept

Founders: Yadhushan Mahendran, Maria Sobh and Muhammad Rijal

Based: Abu Dhabi

Founded: 2017

Number of employees: 7

Sector: Aviation and space industry

Funding: $250,000

Future plans: Looking to raise $1 million investment to boost expansion and develop new products

How the bonus system works

The two riders are among several riders in the UAE to receive the top payment of £10,000 under the Thank You Fund of £16 million (Dh80m), which was announced in conjunction with Deliveroo's £8 billion (Dh40bn) stock market listing earlier this year.

The £10,000 (Dh50,000) payment is made to those riders who have completed the highest number of orders in each market.

There are also riders who will receive payments of £1,000 (Dh5,000) and £500 (Dh2,500).

All riders who have worked with Deliveroo for at least one year and completed 2,000 orders will receive £200 (Dh1,000), the company said when it announced the scheme.

What is cystic fibrosis?
  • Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
  • It causes the production of thick, sticky mucus that can clog the airways and lead to severe respiratory and digestive problems.
  • Patients with the condition are prone to lung infections and often suffer from chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Life expectancy for sufferers of cystic fibrosis is now around 50 years.
UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates