ISIL seeks Islamic state on Syria-Iraq border

Updated 24 May 2014

ISIL seeks Islamic state on Syria-Iraq border

BEIRUT: Jihadists have launched a fresh bid to take over the Syria-Iraq border area and set up a so-called Islamic state they can control, rebels, activists and a monitoring group say.
“Their name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Their goal is to link together the two areas (Syria, Iraq) to set up their state and then to continue spreading,” said activist and citizen journalist Abdel Salam Hussein.
Speaking from Albu Kamal on the Iraq border, Hussein said ISIL seeks to crush Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, and control the eastern, energy-rich province of Deir Ezzor bordering Iraq.
“ISIL are trying to end Al-Nusra Front’s power in the area, and if they do they will take over” the whole province, he said.
ISIL’s long-time ambition of creating an area under its control stretching across Syria and Iraq was undermined by a massive January offensive against it by rival Islamist rebels.
The campaign cornered ISIL fighters in Raqa province, its bastion in northern Syria.
Once welcomed into the rebellion against President Bashar Assad, ISIL’s aim to dominate and its horrific abuses of civilians and rival fighters sparked the wrath of much of Syria’s opposition, including former ally Al-Nusra.
Rooted in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIL split from the network after overall Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri ordered it to stop fighting Al-Nusra.
In February, ISIL withdrew from most of Deir Ezzor after pitched battles with Al-Nusra and other Islamist groups, said rebel spokesman Omar Abu Layla.
But ISIL has since deployed “3,000 fighters from Raqa to Deir Ezzor,” Abu Layla told AFP.
“Most of them are foreigners, including Europeans, Tunisians and Saudis,” he said.
“ISIL have orders from their leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to focus on Deir Ezzor, to take it over. It’s their main gateway to Iraq.”

Activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said violence is escalating in Deir Ezzor, with daily battles pitting ISIL rebels against Al-Nusra fighters, and a spike in car bombings.
One such attack by ISIL on Friday killed 12 people, including three children, the Observatory said.
The watchdog’s director, Rami Abdel Rahman, confirmed ISIL was expanding.
“They are pressing their bid by pushing tribes to swear oaths of loyalty to them, and by fighting rival factions in an attempt to ensure they emerge the strongest,” he said.
“ISIL have oil, money and weapons,” he added.
Over the past year ISIL fighters have seized regime weapons depots even after they were captured in joint battles with other groups, said Abdel Rahman.
Both the Observatory and activist Hussein say ISIL now holds sway in much of the area east of the Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor province.
Hussein said the tribal nature of the area means the war there is more over oil and loyalty than ideology.
He also said some rebel commanders in Albu Kamal, a key crossing point between Iraq and Syria still beyond ISIL control, “have sworn oaths of loyalty to ISIL.”
Hussein added that anti-ISIL rebels and jihadists are fighting back, but that they have suffered heavy losses.
“And with all the oil money coming in to Deir Ezzor, ISIL is able to keep its ammunition supplies well stocked,” he added.
The group has distributed food to families in flashpoint areas to try to gain popular support in an area impoverished by decades of marginalization and three years of conflict and displacement.
“The other day they were giving out fruit to families. It’s a tactic to win support,” Hussein said.
But rebel spokesman Abu Layla, who opposes both ISIL and the Assad regime, said he believes ISIL has no future in Deir Ezzor.
“They want to use force to set up a brutal, extremist state that has nothing to do with Islam, and people reject that,” he said.
“Every day we are fighting ISIL and the regime, without a single bullet or dollar of support from the outside world,” Abu Leyla said.
“They can never claim real, grassroots support. Nobody in Syria wants ISIL.”

Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

Updated 18 June 2019

Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

  • Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV
  • The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, one of his lawyers said, a day after he collapsed in court and died.

“He was buried in Medinat Nasr, in eastern Cairo, with his family present. The funeral prayer was said in Tora prison hospital” where he was declared dead on Monday, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, 67, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

In Istanbul on Tuesday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, mourning former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and some chanting slogans blaming Cairo authorities for his death.

* With AFP