Eritrea sides with Gulf nations against Qatar

A picture of the entrance to a terminal hall at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on Monday. Eritrea has thrown its support behind Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which have suspended ties with Qatar over the emirate's alleged support for extremists, banning all flights to and from the capital Doha and shutting down the offices of the country's national carrier. (AFP / KARIM JAAFAR)
Updated 13 June 2017
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Eritrea sides with Gulf nations against Qatar

DOHA, Qatar: Eritrea has expressed support for Saudi Arabia and its allies after they cut ties with Qatar.
The Eritrean Information Ministry’s statement of support on Monday came despite its previously close ties with energy-rich Qatar.
The statement said the initiative by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates “is not confined to Qatar alone as the potential of Qatar is very limited,” but is “one initiative among many in the right direction that envisages full realization of regional security and stability.”
The three countries along with Bahrain cut ties to Qatar last week over alleged Qatari support for Islamic extremists. Along with Bahrain, they have moved to block air, land and sea routes to the energy-rich Gulf nation.
Both Saudi and Qatari officials appear to be seeking support from Ethiopia. Qatari officials met Monday with Ethiopia’s prime minister and Saudi officials visited the Ethiopian capital over the weekend.
Qatar has remained defiant as the dispute worsened, Its foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, is welcoming diplomatic efforts to calm the standoff, but insists that no one can dictate its foreign policy.
Al Thani said Monday that Qatar is in contact with international aviation authorities and legal organizations as it tries to fight back against moves by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut off its land, air and sea access.
Speaking after diplomatic meetings in Paris, Al Thani said Qatar is ready to negotiate anything “related to the collective security of the Gulf countries” but insisted that Qatari foreign policy is not open to debate.
He also said “no one has the right” to pressure Qatar to silence TV network Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha.
Al Thani has visited multiple European countries in recent days seeking diplomatic support.


Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

Updated 18 November 2018
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Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

  • 43 people were killed in the strikes launched by the coalition
  • The US-led coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days

BEIRUT: The US-led anti-militant coalition hit back Sunday at reports its air strikes on a Daesh group holdout in eastern Syria had killed civilians, appearing to blame their deaths on regime forces.
More than seven years into the country’s civil war, multiple offensives have whittled down the swathes of Syrian territory Daesh once controlled to a small pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border.
A Kurdish-led alliance backed by the coalition is battling to expel Daesh from that holdout, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
Russian-backed regime forces have been fighting the militants west of the river.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition strikes on Saturday killed 43 people, including 36 family members of Daesh fighters in the village of Abu Al-Husn.
But the coalition denied that its air raids there had killed any non-combatants.
The US envoy for the coalition, Brett McGurk on Sunday appeared to blame regime forces stationed “across the river” for the civilian casualties.
“Reports of civilian casualties attributed to coalition strikes are false. All other forces should cease uncoordinated fires from across the river immediately,” he said on Twitter.
In a statement late Saturday, the coalition reported 19 coalition strikes on Daesh targets “free of civilian presence” between late Friday and Saturday afternoon in the militant enclave, which includes the town of Hajjin.
The coalition’s “initial assessment following the strikes is that there was no evidence of civilians near the strikes,” it said.
But the coalition “detected a total of ten additional strikes in the same area of Hajjin that did not originate from the coalition or partner forces,” it added.
It called “on all other actors to cease uncoordinated fires across the Euphrates.”
The Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces and Daesh fighters exchanged fire across the river on Saturday, but pro-government shelling did not hit Abu Al-Husn.
The US-led international coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days that its air raids have killed civilians.
It says it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates each one thoroughly.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.
On Saturday, Syrian regime forces retook control of the group’s last holdout in the country’s south as the militants retreated into the desert after months of fighting, the Observatory said.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number much higher.