Libyan MPs demand apology from Johnson over dead bodies remark

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Updated 05 October 2017
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Libyan MPs demand apology from Johnson over dead bodies remark

BENGHAZI: The foreign affairs committee of Libya's eastern-based Parliament has demanded an apology from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over a remark about clearing dead bodies from the former Daesh stronghold of Sirte.
Johnson told members of his Conservative Party earlier this week that British investors had a "brilliant vision" to turn Sirte into the next Dubai if bodies could be cleared.
The committee for foreign affairs and international cooperation of Libya's House of Representatives (HOR) denounced the comments on Sirte as "unacceptable," adding that "it considers it a violation of Libyan sovereignty to talk about British businessmen investing there."
"The committee demands a clarification from the British prime minister and an apology to the Libyan people," the statement said.
Johnson's comments led to calls for his resignation from domestic political opponents.
He accused them of playing politics, saying on Twitter that he had been referring to the clearing of booby trapped bodies of Daesh militants.
Local Libyan forces backed by US airstrikes fought for more than six months last year to oust militants from Sirte, which the extremist group had turned into its most important base outside the Middle East.
The coastal city of about 80,000 was badly damaged during the campaign and is struggling to rebuild.
The HOR has been based in eastern Libya since 2014 when a conflict in Tripoli led to the setting up of rival parliaments and governments in the capital and the east.
Its cooperation is considered crucial for the progress of a new UN plan to stabilize Libya.
The government in Tripoli declined to comment on Johnson's remarks.
On Wednesday, gunmen killed at least four people and wounded nearly 40 on Wednesday in a suicide attack on a court complex in the Libyan city of Misrata, officials and a witness said.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement run by the group's Amaq news agency it had targeted "one of the most prominent strongholds" of the GNA.
The attack shows the enduring militant threat in Libya after a Misrata-led coalition under nominal GNA command battled for more than six months last year to oust Daesh from its former stronghold in Sirte, about 230 km southeast of Misrata.
Since then, militants have been trying to regroup in the desert south of Sirte. They have stepped up their presence in remote areas, though attacks in urban centers have been rare.
Wednesday's attack was launched by several assailants who drove up to the complex in central Misrata in a black vehicle, a witness said. "One of them blew himself up at the gate and the other two with Kalashnikovs opened fire at random," he said.
"Shooting could be heard all over the city centre after the attack."
The witness said he believed the attackers had used rocket propelled grenades.


‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

Syrian government forces and Syrian Arab Red Crescent oversee the evacuation by buses of opposition fighters and their families from the southern province of Daraa, Syria, in this July 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2018
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‘Deal reached to evacuate pro-regime Syria towns’

  • The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels
  • Airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa

BEIRUT: Thousands of people will be evacuated from two besieged pro-regime towns in Syria in exchange for the release of prisoners held in regime’s jails, a monitor said on Tuesday.
Under a deal brokered by regime ally Russia and Turkey, Fuaa and Kafraya, the last besieged towns in the country, will be fully evacuated after three years of encirclement, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The deal provides for the total evacuation of residents in the two towns, which are besieged by the rebels and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, to regime territory in nearby Aleppo province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
“In exchange, hundreds of detainees will be released from regime prisons,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Syrian state media reported on Tuesday on preliminary information on a deal to free “thousands” of people in Fuaa and Kafraya.
Fuaa and Kafraya, the only two places in Syria currently designated as besieged by the UN, are home to an estimated 8,100 people, most of them Shiite Muslims.

15 civilians killed
Airstrikes on Tuesday killed more than a dozen civilians in parts of Syria’s south near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a war monitor said.
The regime has been pounding the southwestern province of Quneitra since Sunday in a bid to retake it from the opposition, after winning back most of the neighboring governorate of Daraa in less than a month.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes killed 14 civilians in Ain Al-Tina village on Quneitra’s border with Daraa which had reportedly been taking shelter in a large building.
“They were all displaced from other areas. They included five children and three women,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Two bodies were so charred they were unrecognizable. It was not immediately clear whether the strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally, the Britain-based monitor said.