Mursi considers army takeover of Port Said

Updated 06 March 2013
0

Mursi considers army takeover of Port Said

CAIRO: The Egyptian president is considering whether to give the military full control of the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said after days of deadly street clashes stoked by excessive use of force by riot police, officials said yesterday.
Muhammad Mursi met with his security chief and top military officers to discuss pulling out the police force and putting the military in charge to defuse the cycle of violence that has gripped the city, officials from the military and the president’s office said.
The latest round of rioting and violence in Port Said, which erupted on Sunday, has killed at least three civilians and three policemen and injured hundreds.
“The presidency is considering this option after relations between the security apparatus and the people of Port Said deteriorated,” said one of the officials. He added that the idea behind the proposal is that once the army takes control, it would presumably not get into confrontation with protesters.
The military sent reinforcement to Port Said late on Monday, after protesters torched a government building and police headquarters there. Witnesses said protesters lay down and slept on the asphalt to prevent fire engines from reaching the buildings on fire.
The officials said police have lost control over the city and the only way out was to hand it over to the military, which enjoys considerable support among Port Said residents.
Mursi’s deliberations come amid reports of tense relations between the president and the country’s Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi following a rumor that the minister could be sacked because he resisted to bring the military under the sway of Muslim Brotherhood.
Some opposition groups and figures want to see the military take over power after perceiving the country’s new leadership as incapable of ending Egypt’s deteriorating economy and increasing unrest.
The turmoil in Port Said started on Jan. 26, the day a court in the city on the northern edge of the Suez Canal handed down death sentences against 21 mostly Port Said residents over their involvement in a deadly February 2012 soccer riot in the city that killed 74 people, mostly fans of a rival Cairo soccer club, Al-Ahly.


Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

Updated 46 min 16 sec ago
0

Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

BEIRUT: A temporary humanitarian ceasefire is in place to allow women, children and the elderly to evacuate the Daesh-held area of Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad in south Damascus, Syrian state media said on Monday citing a military source.
The Syrian army and its allies have been battling for weeks to recapture the tiny Daesh enclave, the last area outside government control in or around the capital.
On Sunday, state media denied a war monitor’s report that fighters had begun withdrawing from the area toward Daesh territory in eastern Syria under a surrender deal.
The temporary ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night and will end at 12pm and the army offensive will start again immediately, state media cited the military source as saying.
The war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported early on Monday that buses had already started leaving south Damascus for the Daesh areas in eastern Syria.
The ultra-hardline militant group now controls only the tiny pocket in south Damascus and two besieged desert areas in eastern Syria, while another insurgent group that has pledged loyalty to it holds a small enclave in the southwest.
Pro-Syrian government forces have staged an intensive operation to recover Daesh’s south Damascus pocket in Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April.