Withdrawing Syria troops ‘executed’ prisoners: monitor

Updated 26 April 2015
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Withdrawing Syria troops ‘executed’ prisoners: monitor

BEIRUT: Syrian government forces executed at least 23 prisoners before withdrawing from the city of Jisr Al-Shughur as rebel forces entered it on Saturday, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said military intelligence forces executed the prisoners who were being held in a makeshift facility in the city in northwestern Idlib province.
“Military intelligence members executed 23 prisoners before their withdrawal from the area of the National Hospital in the southwest of Jisr Al-Shughur,” the Observatory said.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the prisoners were being held near the main hospital building.
News of the deaths came after a coalition of forces including Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front seized Jisr Al-Shughur on Saturday morning.
Al-Nusra also reported the apparent executions on one of its official Twitter accounts, posting a graphic photo showing the bodies of at least 14 men in a concrete room, some on top of others.
The walls and floor of the room were smeared with blood, and bloodstains marked the shirts and trousers of several men.
“A massacre carried out by the Nusayri army near the National Hospital before their withdrawal from the city of Jisr Al-Shughur,” the caption to the picture read, using a derogatory term for the Alawite sect to which President Bashar Assad belongs.
Last month, the Observatory and other sources reported a similar execution of prisoners by government forces fleeing Idlib’s provincial capital as rebels and Al-Nusra entered the city.
At least 15 bodies were found in Idlib city’s military intelligence detention facility after the provincial capital fell on March 28.


Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra

Updated 49 min 22 sec ago
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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA: A rocket landed at the headquarters for several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding two Iraqi workers, police said.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of the city, they said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A security source said Exxon was preparing to evacuate some 20 foreign staff immediately.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian Eni SpA, oil officials said.

Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile that landed 100 meters from the section of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Exxon evacuated staff last month after the United States cited unspecified threats from Iran for a decision to take hundreds of diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Exxon had begun returning staff to Iraq, however, before Wednesday’s incident.

(developing)