Car bomb wounds minister among 13 in Libya’s Benghazi

Libyan boys walk near the wreckage of a school bombed by NATO forces in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 21 January 2017

Car bomb wounds minister among 13 in Libya’s Benghazi

BENGHAZI/WASHINGTON: A car bomb exploded on Friday near a mosque in Libya’s second city of Benghazi, killing one person and wounding 13 people including a former interior minister, medical and security sources said.
Ashour Shwayel, who served as interior minister in the government of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and his son were seriously hurt in the blast, said the spokeswoman of Al-Jala hospital, Fadia Al-Barghati.
A security source said the blast was caused by an explosive device placed inside a car parked near Abu Houraira mosque in the central Al-Majouri neighborhood of the eastern coastal city.
Benghazi was the cradle of the 2011 revolution that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libya has since fallen into chaos, with the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli failing to assert its authority over the country. The GNA is opposed by a rival administration that is based in Libya’s far east and backed by military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are battling militants in Benghazi.
The powerful explosion outside the mosque after Friday prayers wrecked a number of cars and charred nearby buildings.
The attack came as Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) appears close to forcing Islamist-led opponents from their last holdouts after a military campaign that began in 2014.
It was not clear who staged Friday’s bombing, but the LNA’s rivals have carried out such attacks in Benghazi in the past. In November, a similar blast wounded a prominent tribal leader who had helped the LNA negotiate the takeover of several major oil ports.
Shuwail, who served as police chief in Benghazi after Libya’s 2011 uprising, was interior minister between 2012 and 2013.
Meanwhile, a US airstrike on Thursday targeting an Al-Qaeda training camp in Syria killed more than 100 militants, a US defense official said on Friday.
The strike took place just a day before the end of President Barack Obama’s presidency and a day after more than 80 Daesh militants were killed in US airstrikes in Libya.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the airstrike was primarily carried out by a B-52 bomber and dropped 14 munitions.
The official added that the strike against the camp took place in Idlib province, west of Aleppo, and there was a high level of confidence that there were no civilian casualties. A US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes and supporting local forces in Syria to oust Daesh militants. However, there is concern that the defeat of Daesh could open the door for Al-Qaeda to take territory in ungoverned parts of the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that an airstrike killed more than 40 members of the militant group Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham in northwestern Syria. It was not immediately clear if this strike was the same one the defense official was referring to.


Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

Updated 19 August 2019

Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

  • Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting
  • Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province

DAMASCUS: Damascus on Monday condemned the deployment of a Turkish military convoy toward a key town in northwestern Syria where regime forces are waging fierce battles with militants and rebels.
“Turkish vehicles loaded with munitions... are heading toward Khan Sheikhun to help the terrorists... which confirms once again the support provided by the Turkish regime to terrorist groups,” a foreign ministry source quoted by the state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal signed between government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey in September.
But it was never fully implemented, as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarized zone.
On Sunday pro-regime forces entered Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province for the first time since they lost control of it in 2014.
They are battling to seize a key highway connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which the regime retook from rebels in December 2016.
Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting.
Militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.