Israeli missiles hit Syrian air base: Regime

Flames at the air base outside Damascus after the blasts. (AFP)
Updated 14 January 2017
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Israeli missiles hit Syrian air base: Regime

DAMASCUS: The Syrian regime said on Friday that Israeli missile strikes caused a series of explosions at an air base outside Damascus before dawn.
The airport southwest of the capital is a major strategic air base used mainly by Syrian elite Republican Guards and had been a base used to fire rockets at former opposition-held areas in the suburbs of Damascus. State television did not give any further details.
“In a desperate attempt to support terrorist organizations, Israeli enemy aircraft launched missiles from the north of Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) at 00:25 am (2225 GMT Thursday),” a military source told the state SANA news agency. “The Syrian armed forces warns the Israeli enemy of the repercussions of this blatant aggression, and insists on continuing the war on terrorism to eliminate it,” the source added.
An AFP correspondent heard several explosions and saw a large fire inside the Mazzeh airbase on the western outskirts of Damascus, with smoke visible across the capital.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there had been eight blasts around the base as missiles hit ammunition warehouses.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin on Friday refused to confirm whether it would invite the US to Syria peace talks later this month after Washington was excluded from brokering a recent truce in the war-torn country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that Turkey and Russia had agreed that Washington “should be definitely invited” to talks under their auspices on the war-torn country's political future set to take place in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on Jan. 23.
Asked to comment on the Turkish statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “I cannot say anything about this for now.”
Peskov nonetheless added that Russia is “interested in the broadest possible representation of the parties who have a bearing on the prospects of a political settlement in Syria.”
Last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed the hope that the new US administration could “also join the efforts so that we can work in the same direction harmoniously and collectively.”


Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

Updated 36 min 28 sec ago
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Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

  • Al-Ghufran traibe present their case in front of the international community to hold Qatar accountable
  • The tribe revealed the crimes against humanity committed by Qatari authorities

GENEVA: Members of a tribe persecuted for more than 20 years by authorities in Qatar appealed for help on Friday from the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It was the latest stage in a campaign for justice by the Al-Ghufran tribe, whose members have been stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation.
A delegation from the tribe has taken their case to the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. They said they sought international assistance only after years of being ignored by the government of Qatar, and when they realized that the Qatari Human Rights Council was in league with the regime in Doha to deny them their rights as Qatari citizens.
A member of the tribe, Gaber Saleh Al-Ghufrani, also appealed to the people of Qatar for help. “We call on the elders of the honorable Al-Thani family and to the generous and righteous people of Qatar and to the Al Murrah tribe, known for their nobility and chivalry,” he said.
“We call on you as your brothers, young and old, elders and children, men and women, inside and outside Qatar, and we appeal to your proud Arab origin because the Qatari government has let us down, made untrue claims about us and stripped us of our rights.
“We have been subjected to much injustice and humiliation in our homeland from those who, unfortunately, we thought to be virtuous. We have been discriminated against in the most painful of ways; they have stripped us of our dignity.
“We chose to go to the United Nations and to the international human rights organizations only after the government of our own country closed all ways of appeal, and did not engage or listen to our demands.”
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder, at a press conference on Thursday. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Another member of the tribe, Hamad Khaled Al-Marri, said on Friday:
“Our issue with the Qatar regime is purely humanitarian and not political, this is why we came here to present our case and our demands to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Our demands are clear: The Qatar regime should be held accountable for the crimes that it has committed against us and other Qataris, and the restoration of our rights.”