Turkey detains 115 more people in post-coup crackdown — Anadolu

People participate in a ceremony to commemorate the one year anniversary of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, at Turkey's Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, early Sunday, July 16, 2017. Turkey commemorates the first anniversary of the July 15 failed military attempt to overthrow Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a series of events honouring some 250 people, who were killed across Turkey while trying to oppose coup-plotters. "FETO" on the banner is the name that Turkish government uses to describe the organization of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating the coup.(AP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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Turkey detains 115 more people in post-coup crackdown — Anadolu

ANKARA:Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 127 people on suspicion of links to the attempted military coup a year ago, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
In a report late on Sunday, Anadolu said 115 of the suspects including businessmen, midwives and journalists had so far been detained in operations in the northwestern province of Tekirdag. It said the remaining suspects were being sought by police.
The suspects were believed to be users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the abortive coup, Anadolu said. Gulen has denied involvement in the attempted military takeover.
In the aftermath of the putsch, some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the civil service and private sector and more than 50,000 were detained for alleged links to the putsch, alarming Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups, who say President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent.
The government, however, says the measures taken under an emergency rule imposed after the coup attempt are necessary due to the gravity of the threats it faces, and will discuss extending the emergency rule on Monday.
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Turks rallied to mark the anniversary of the failed coup in an outpouring of mass support for Erdogan that lay bare the divisions of a society riven by the widespread purges.


First Russia air strikes hit south Syria as assault looms

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad began ramping up their air strikes and artillery fire on the zone. (AP)
Updated 24 June 2018
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First Russia air strikes hit south Syria as assault looms

  • Russia, the United States, and Jordan agreed in July of last year on a de-escalation zone in rebel-controlled parts of southern Syria that would tamp down hostilities there
  • Intense Russian air strikes are hitting towns in Daraa’s eastern countryside for the first time since the cease-fire was agreed in southern Syria last year

BEIRUT: Russia bombed rebel-held parts of southern Syria late Saturday for the first time since brokering a cease-fire there nearly a year ago, a monitor group said, as allied regime troops prepare a ground assault.
Southern Syria is a strategic prize for local and global players involved in the country’s convoluted seven-year war.
After securing the capital Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad appears keen to recapture the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, still mostly held by rebels.
He has sent military reinforcements there for weeks, dropped flyers demanding rebels surrender, and escalated bombardment in recent days.
Late Saturday night, his Russian allies bombed rebel-held towns in Daraa for the first time since the summer of 2017, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Intense Russian air strikes are hitting towns in Daraa’s eastern countryside for the first time since the cease-fire was agreed in southern Syria last year,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The Observatory said the warplanes used Saturday — based on type, location, munitions and flight patterns — had come from the Russian-operated Hmeimim base in coastal Syria.
The Britain-based monitor said at least 25 Russian strikes hit the rebel zones but did not have any casualty figures.

Russia, the United States, and Jordan agreed in July of last year on a de-escalation zone in rebel-controlled parts of southern Syria that would tamp down hostilities there.
Since then, Moscow’s warplanes — active in Syria since 2015 — had refrained from bombing rebel positions in the south.
But violence has been ratcheting up this week as Syrian government forces look to retake the south militarily.
Forces loyal to Assad began ramping up their air strikes and artillery fire on the zone on Tuesday.
At least 19 civilians in rebel-held zones have died since then, according to the Observatory.
Several civilians have also been killed in opposition fire on government zones, with state news agency SANA reporting Saturday that two civilians were killed in Daraa city in rebel shelling.
Some 12,000 people have been displaced from Daraa province in recent days, the Observatory said, with many seeking refuge in poorly-equipped displacement camps further west.
The United Nations has warned that growing violence is putting the lives of 750,000 people in rebel parts of the south in danger.
On Saturday, regime forces took two villages in Daraa province, their first ground gains after days of bombardment, the Observatory said.

“The Russian strikes started around 10:30pm local time (1930 GMT) and stopped after midnight,” said Ibrahim Mohammad, a media activist in the battered rebel town of Busr Al-Harir in Daraa.
He said he and other residents had taken to their basements and bomb shelters as soon as they heard the planes, describing a steady thud of bombardment for nearly two hours.
In an effort to avoid a deadly offensive, international powers are holding talks aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement for Syria’s south.
“All sides should seize the opportunity to negotiate a deal for the conditional return of the Syrian state to the south west and avert a military conclusion that, for all sides and the local population, would be a worse outcome,” wrote the International Crisis Group think tank last week.
“The US, Russia and Jordan, which brokered a south-western cease-fire in 2017, should urgently extend that truce in preparation for a broader settlement,” the report added.
Earlier this month, Assad said contacts were ongoing between Russia, the United States and Israel over the southern front.
“We are giving the political talks a chance, but if they fail, there will be no choice but liberation by force,” he said.
The regime has retaken large parts of Syria from the opposition since Russia intervened militarily on its side in 2015.