2 women’s hospitals knocked out by Assad bombs

An ambulance was destroyed following four consecutive airstrikes on a medical facility dedicated to women in Idlib, Syria, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 26 November 2016
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2 women’s hospitals knocked out by Assad bombs

BEIRUT: Airstrikes and rockets in northern Syria knocked out two medical centers dedicated to women on Friday and killed at least 12, including two people in one of the health facilities, according to opposition activists, a charity group and a hospital manager.
Warplanes and artillery shelling also continued to pound the besieged rebel-held neighborhoods of the northern city of Aleppo as government troops pushed their way from the enclave’s northeastern district.
Shafak, a Turkey-based Syrian NGO that supports medical facilities in Syria, said their UN-sponsored gynecology and gender-based violence treatment and awareness center in Termanin village in the northern Idlib province was hit by four consecutive airstrikes on Friday afternoon, killing two civilians who were in the building and injuring a gynecologist and a janitor in the facility.
The center, which receives about 35 patients a day and is the only such facility in the area, has been put out of service, Shafak said in a statement. The center’s ambulance, emergency room and operation rooms were badly damaged, said Assad Al-Halabi, an advocacy manager in Shafak. Al-Halabi said one of the killed was accompanying a patient. The second killed has not yet been identified.
A video and photos released by Shafak showed extensive damage to the collapsed building, as well as a destroyed incubator and ambulance.
The Syrian Civil Defense team in Idlib said their team was targeted with airstrikes while they were conducting a search and rescue mission at the hospital — with what has become known as “double tap” strikes. The group said none of its volunteers were injured.
Another gynecology hospital in the besieged parts of Aleppo city was also hit Friday.
Abdul-Hamid Al-Eissa, Al-Zahra hospital manager, said four generators were knocked out and the building was no longer usable. He said the hospital, in a quarter known to house several medical facilities, was hit with rockets. One civilian was badly injured and his leg had to be amputated, Al-Eissa said.
The hospital posted several photographs showing the damage on its Facebook page, adding that all staffers and patients were safe and evacuated.
“It was directly hit. Missiles first hit the balcony,” he said. As he spoke, a projectile could be heard falling nearby. The hospital was knocked out of service. A couple of hours later, another airstrike was reported at the hospital.
The government has recently stepped up its bombardment of eastern Aleppo, and by Sunday it had knocked out every hospital in the quarter, according to the World Health Organization.
Also on Friday, airstrikes targeted a village in the western countryside of Aleppo, killing at least five people including children.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrike on the village of Taqad caused widespread destruction and killed 11, including four children and three women. The opposition’s Halab Today TV and Step News Agency said five people, including children, were killed in the airstrike and dozens wounded.
An amateur video posted online showed Civil Defense members and residents pulling out a dead child from under the rubble in the village. The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the events.


Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

Updated 18 September 2018
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Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

  • Veteran Shiite politician Adel Abdul Mahdi informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi
  • Decision reached after extensive negotiations between pro and anti-Iran factions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s rival Shiite blocs in parliament have agreed on who they want as the next prime minister after making progress in negotiations towards forming a government, negotiators told Arab News.

The two factions, one pro Iran and the other anti, have agreed to work together as a coalition, negotiators told Arab News on Tuesday.

The veteran Shiite politician and former vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi was informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi, negotiators said. 

He will be assigned on Sept. 25 to form a government if his nomination is approved by the Kurdish blocs. 

Before the appointment of prime minister, the president has to be selected. There is no indication that the Kurds, who get the post according to the Iraq’s power sharing agreement, have decided on who to nominate. 

Iraq’s parliament has been split between the Reform alliance and Al-Binna’a alliance after elections in May.

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READ MORE: Iraq parliament elects Sunni lawmaker Al-Halbousi as speaker, breaking deadlock

Rival Iraqi factions make coalition deal and end Al-Abadi’s prime minister hopes

Rival Shiite factions trade blame for who drove the burning of buildings in Basra

Iran accused of hijacking Basra protests after a week of violence that shook Iraq

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Reform is controlled by Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the country’s most influential Shiite clerics who opposes Iranian influence in the country.

Iran-backed Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the head of Badr organization, the most prominent Shiite armed faction.

At the first parliamentary session earlier this month, both coalitions claimed they have the most number of seats which would give them the right to form a government.

Within hours, violent demonstrations erupted in Basra, Iraq’s main oil hub, killing 15 demonstrators and injuring scores of people. The Iranian consulate was set on fire along with dozens of government and party buildings.

The violence on the street reflected the stand-off in parliament and threatened to erupt into fighting between the armed wings associated with the different Shiite groups.

The agreement between the two blocs was the only way to end the violence and prevent a slide into intra-Shiite  fighting, senior leaders involved in the talks said.

Several meetings between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri were held in Al-Sadr’s residency in the holy city of Najaf last week to defuse the crisis.

Both parties’ desire for a truce seemed clear on Saturday at a parliament session to elect the speaker and his deputies. The two blocks showed their influence without colliding with each other. Al-Binna’a presented its candidate for the speaker post and stepped down after winning to make way for the Reform bloc to present its candidate for the post of first deputy of the speaker without competition.

The negotiations teams continued their meetings over the following days to agree on the details of the government program and select the nominee for the prime minister among the dozens of candidates presented by the forces belonging to the two alliances.

The first results of talks between the two blocs came out on Tuesday when Al-Amiri withdrew from the race “to open doors for more talks,” and avoid  conflict between the alliances.

“We will not talk on behalf of Al-Binna’a or the Reform. We both will agree on a candidate. Compatibility is our only choice,” Al-Amiri, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“Today, Iraq needs to be saved, as we saved it from Daesh, so we have only two options, either we choose to impose the wills and twist each others arms or choose the understanding between us.”

 Iraq has been a battleground for regional and international powers, especially Iran and the United States, since 2003 US-led invasion. 

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to Iraq and Syria, and General Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran's Al Quds Force, are deeply involved in the negotiations. 

The candidate for prime minister should also enjoy the blessing of the religious powers in Najaf, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader and most revered figure in Iraq, negotiators said.

“The situation is complicated as there are three different sides that enjoy the right to use veto. They are Iran, US and Najaf,” a key negotiator of Al-Sadr’s negotiation team told Arab News.

“One ‘no’ is enough to exclude any candidate. Not only that, Sadr and Amiri also have their conditions and we still have difficulty reconciling all of them.”

The marathon negotiations, which run every day until late at night, finally reached a shortlist for prime minister.

The three names reached were Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Falih Al-Fayadh, the former national security adviser, and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the head of the intelligence service.

Adel Abdul Mahdi was the chosen one, three negotiators from different sides told Arab News.

“We have agreed to nominate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he is the only one who was approved by the three sides (Iran, the US and Najaf),” an Al-Sadr negotiator told Arab News.