Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

Free Syrian Army fighters. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2017
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Turkey says ‘100 Daesh fighters’ left in Syria’s Al-Bab

ISTANBUL: Turkey said Wednesday fewer than 100 Daesh terrorists were still holed up in a flashpoint Syrian town which has seen the bloodiest clashes of Ankara’s half-year campaign inside the conflict-torn country.
Speaking to NTV television, Defense Minister Fikri Isik said half of the town of Al-Bab was in the hands of Turkish troops and allied pro-Ankara Syrian rebels, after the government repeatedly said it was “largely under control.”
Since launching its unprecedented incursion into Syria in August, Turkey has been focusing on Al-Bab as the last bastion of IS extremists in Aleppo province.
But the battle for the town has been fierce, with most of the 69 Turkish soldiers killed in the Syria campaign dying there.
“We estimate there are less than 100” IS fighters left in Al-Bab, Isik told NTV. “But they are very dangerous people. Some are snipers, some are potential suicide bombers.”
“More than half of the town is now in our hands,” he said, indicating that the operation to surround Al-Bab was “over” with troops now moving from district-to-district to “clean up” the town.
“Until this clean-up inside is completed, it’s impossible to say that our work is over,” he added.
Rebel commanders on the ground told AFP troops were facing fierce resistance, with IS using snipers and laying roadside bombs.
But Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP in Beirut that Turkish troops and allied rebels controlled only 25 percent of Al-Bab, with some 700 jihadists still fighting there.
The Britain-based Observatory has also accused Turkish forces of killing more than 110 civilians in two weeks of air strikes and shelling.
But Ankara has vigorously denied claims that innocent lives have been lost, insisting it does its best to avoid civilian casualties.


Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

Updated 25 April 2018
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Letter to Qatar: Abandon PR, change attitude, and siege would be lifted

LONDON: Four Arab ambassadors have called on Qatar to improve relations with its neighbors, change its attitude and stop its support for extremism, terror and destabilization in the region.

The four ambassadors of Saudi Arabia (Mohammed bin Nawwa), Bahrain (Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa), the UAE (Suleiman Al-Mazroui) and Egypt (Nasser Kamel) co-wrote a letter published on Wednesday in the Financial Times to answer an FT lead article titled “Qatar siege is meaningless.”

The ambassadors stressed in the letter that their governments had no plans to incorporate Qatar, as the FT claimed, but all they hoped for is that the Doha government committed to the international criteria to fight terrorism and “stop its support for terror and extremism in the region.”

In the letter, the four ambassadors reminded the paper that the prime minister of Qatar attended the wedding of the son of Abdel Rahman Al-Nueimi,who is listed on a US terror list, and is the main conduit to Al-Qaeda in Iraq where, according to the US, he funnelled millions of US dollars to the organization there.

The ambassadors added that Al-Nueimi is one of many sponsors of terror living and working in Qatar.

The ambassadors drew the readers’ attention to Qatar’s “double standard behavior” — saying one thing to the West, and doing the opposite.

They concluded the letter by demonstrating Qatar’s “duplicity.”

They said that Qatar has recently intensified the use of its media and PR to promote and support terror in the Middle East generally and in Saudi Arabia especially.

Recently Qatari broadcasters opened their airwaves to Houthi militia in Yemen and its propaganda calling for attacking Saudi Arabia.

In conclusion the ambassadors called on Doha to quit its public relations campaign and change its attitude — only then would the siege be over.