Daesh counterattack kills 34 Syria regime forces in Raqqa province: monitor

A banner belonging to Daesh militants is seen during a battle with member of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa, Syria, on August 16, 2017. A counterattack by Daesh militants on Friday in Raqqa killed at least 34 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters, a monitor said. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)
Updated 30 August 2017
0

Daesh counterattack kills 34 Syria regime forces in Raqqa province: monitor

BEIRUT: At least 34 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters have been killed in a Daesh (Islamic State) counterattack in eastern Raqqa province, rolling back regime gains, a monitor said Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the jihadist group had recaptured large swathes of territory from government forces in the fighting on Thursday.
Syria’s army is seeking to advance through Raqqa province to reach neighboring Deir Ezzor, where jihadists have besieged government forces and civilians in the provincial capital since 2015.
Earlier this month, government troops and allied fighters arrived at the outskirts of Madan, the last Daesh-held town in the eastern Raqqa province countryside before Deir Ezzor.
But in Thursday’s counterattack, Daesh “made major progress and... expanded the area under its control along the southern bank of the Euphrates,” the Observatory said.
“Daesg has managed to push regime forces back 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the western outskirts of Madan,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The Syria army operation in the area, backed by air support from ally Russia, is separate from the battle for provincial capital Raqqa city.
The effort to oust Daesh from the city, once the jihadist group’s Syrian stronghold, is being led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.
The SDF has captured just under 60 percent of Raqqa city since it entered in June after months of fighting to encircle it.
More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 July 2019
0

Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.