3 killed as separatists, police clash in Yemen

Updated 24 February 2013
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3 killed as separatists, police clash in Yemen

ADEN: Three people were killed in clashes as southern separatists blocked roads in two Yemeni cities yesterday, adding to the death toll of this week’s violence in the troubled south of the country.
“A policeman was killed and another wounded in clashes when security forces intervened after gunmen from the Southern Movement blocked roads” in Aden, General Abdulhafez Al-Saqqaf, head of its central security services, told AFP.
A soldier was also wounded, the official said.
Also in Aden, troops shot dead a southern activist, according to a medic at the city’s Al-Naqib hospital and activists of the Southern Movement, which advocates the region’s autonomy or independence.
Aden residents said dozens of separatists took to the streets of the Khor Maksar, Mualla, Sheikh Osman and Dar Saad districts, blocking roads, burning tires and clashing with the army.
A security official told AFP that “supporters of the Southern Movement blocked roads and, when the army tried to intervene, gunmen among them deployed in buildings in these areas opened fire on troops, prompting the clashes.”
The official, who asked not to be named, said the protesters were supporters of a hard-line separatist faction led by exiled Ali Salem Al-Baid, that has so far refused to take part in a national dialogue set to take place on March 18.
The activists were protesting “under the banner of civil disobedience,” he said.
In the southeastern province of Hadramawt, where similar clashes took place on Saturday, police killed another protester, Southern Movement activist Nasser Bagzkoz told AFP.
“Police opened fire at a peaceful protest that took off in the town of Ghail Bawazir,” 30 km west of the provincial capital Mukala, killing protester Mohammed Buslama, he said. Residents said gunfire rang across Mukala as separatists blocked roads and burned tires.
The separatists also burnt down two offices belonging to the Al-Islah (Reform) Party, which backs President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, witnesses said. A security official in Hadramawt said the local central security services head, Col. Abdulwahab Al-Wali, escaped an assassination bid by separatists who opened fire at him. His three guards were wounded in the attempt.


Civilians flee fighting in Syrian southwest

A Syrian family rides with belongings on a tractor-drawn trailer as they flee from fighting in the southern Syrian province of Daraa on June 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Civilians flee fighting in Syrian southwest

  • Opposition fighters have vowed not surrender “an inch” of the territory to Assad, one of their commanders said earlier this week
  • Fighting in the southwest has been contained since last year by a “de-escalation” deal agreed by the US and Russia, Bashar Assad’s most powerful ally

MOSCOW, BEIRUT: Thousands of people have fled opposition-held areas of southwestern Syria being targeted by regime bombardment, a war monitor said on Thursday, as Damascus steps up attacks on an area near the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 12,500 people had fled opposition-held areas of northeastern Daraa province in the past 48 hours.
The war has pivoted toward the southwest since the Syrian regime and its allies crushed the last remaining pockets of opposition-held territory near Damascus and the city of Homs.
Fighting in the southwest has been contained since last year by a “de-escalation” deal agreed by the US and Russia, Bashar Assad’s most powerful ally.
A major Syrian regime offensive in the area would risk an escalation of the seven-year-old war. The area is of strategic importance to Israel, which is deeply alarmed by Iranian influence in Syria.
Washington has warned it will take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to violations of the “de-escalation” deal.
Assad said earlier this month the regime, at Russia’s suggestion, was seeking to strike a deal in the southwest similar to agreements that have restored its control of other areas through withdrawals of opposition forces.
But he also said there had been no results yet and blamed “Israeli and American interference.” He said the territory would be recovered by force if necessary. Opposition fighters have vowed not surrender “an inch” of the territory to Assad, one of their commanders said earlier this week.

Russia ‘skeptical’ over UN report
Meanwhile, the Russian foreign minister on Thursday said he was “skeptical” about a UN report accusing the Syrian regime of committing crimes against humanity during the siege of Eastern Ghouta. The report published on Wednesday said forces loyal to the Syrian regime had deliberately starved civilians during the siege between February and April, among other crimes.
“We are in principle very skeptical toward the methods of this sort of work, whether it comes to war crimes or the use of chemical weapons,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. When
questioned by journalists, Lavrov confirmed he had not seen the
report.

He said it was “based on data obtained through social networks, video that was filmed by witnesses,” rather than being put together on the ground.
The five-year siege, on the outskirts of the capital, ended in April when Damascus regained control of the rebel enclave.
As pro-government forces dramatically escalated their campaign to recapture the besieged enclave, they used tactics that were “largely unlawful in nature,” the UN-commissioned report said.
The tactics, it said, “aimed at punishing the inhabitants of eastern Ghouta and forcing the population, collectively, to surrender or starve.”
Russia has been involved in Syria’s civil war since September 2015. Its military support of the regime changed the course of the war, allowing government troops to retake more than half the country from rebels and the Daesh group.
More than 350,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.