BEIRUT — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
A panel of top judges in Spain says the country’s courts have no jurisdiction to investigate the first foreign criminal case for torture and terrorism against the Syrian government.
Friday’s U-turn by Spain’s National Court is a setback for activists and human rights campaigners who had hailed the case as a stepping stone for accountability in Syria.
Judge Eloy Velasco was investigating the alleged role of nine Syrian intelligence and security officials in the disappearance and execution of a man in 2013.
The victim’s sister, a Spanish citizen, filed the case earlier this year. A court statement says the public prosecutor has won its appeal arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to judge the crimes.
Fighting between two of Syria’s strongest military groups spread in the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib with al-Qaida-linked fighters trying to capture a main border crossing point with Turkey.
Friday’s fighting between the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al Sham — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee — that is also known as HTS, focused on the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
HTS, a coalition of several insurgent groups, suffered a blow a day earlier after the powerful Nour el-Din el-Zinki faction withdrew in protest against the fighting with Ahrar al-Sham.
Ahrar al-Sham’s top commander, Ali al-Omar, said in a video released Friday that attacks by HTS are “an aggression against the Syrian revolution” warning that the hand that will try to harm the anti-government revolution “will be amputated.”
The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State says advances against the group in their stronghold of Raqqa have slowed down amid stiff resistance from the militants.
U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon estimates there are around 2,000 IS militants in the northern city, saying they are using civilians and children as human shields.
“We know this is no going to be an easy fight,” Dillon says. He spoke to The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday night.
The U.S. has partnered with the Kurdish-dominated coalition fighting force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces in its fight against IS in Syria. In the month since they launched their offensive for Raqqa, they completed their encirclement of the militants and breached the heavily-fortified Old City, gaining a foothold inside.
The Syrian army and members of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group have launched a major ground offensive in a border area between the two countries.
Government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reports that military operations began Friday from two fronts on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta.
The offensive was widely expected after negotiations with militants to leave the area failed over the past days.
The region is a stronghold of Syria’s al-Qaida’s branch, known as Fatah al-Sham Front, as well as the Islamic State group and the Levant People’s Brigades.
Video released by SCMM shows Hezbollah’s artillery pounding militant positions.
It was not immediately clear if the Lebanese army is taking part in the battles from the Lebanese side of the border.