Iraqi PMU forces, not Syrian regime, liberated Bukamal, says top monitor

Iraqi members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) are pictured in the city of al-Qaim, in Iraq's western Anbar province near the Syrian border as they fight against remnant pockets of Daesh group jihadists on November 3, 2017. (AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Iraqi PMU forces, not Syrian regime, liberated Bukamal, says top monitor

JEDDAH: Daesh has been expelled from the Syrian town of Bukamal, the last significant town the terror group still held in its disintegrating “caliphate,” a top monitor told Arab News on Thursday.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, widely known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), not the Syrian regime forces, had taken over the city.
The terrorists’ latest rout left them with only the dregs of a self-styled “state” that once spanned huge territory in Iraq and Syria, with surviving Daesh militants melting away into desert hideouts.
Anti-Daesh forces stormed into the town just across the border from Iraq on Wednesday and while fighting was initially reported as fierce, the outcome of one of Daesh’s last major battles was never in doubt.
Abdul Rahman termed the liberation of the city “the final scene of a movie on the destruction of Daesh in Syria.” The movie is coming to an end now, he added.
He said Daesh fighters do not have any arms now because they have lost many battles recently.
Asked about the future of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Abdul Rahman said that 38 percent of the Syrian territory is with the Assad regime or the PMU, 32 percent with the SDF or the US, and the remaining is under Daesh.
The observatory head said the country will ultimately be united although it is currently divided between Russian-backed and US-supported forces.
He said the future of Syria lies with Moscow and Washington.
Asked how long he thinks the war will continue, Abdul Rahman said: “Only Allah knows.”
The Syrian regime’s army earier said their armed forces units, in cooperation with allied and auxiliary forces, liberated the town in Deir Ezzor province.
Abdel Rahman said that “Daesh withdrew to desert areas in eastern Deir Ezzor” province, where they are likely to encounter US-backed Kurdish-led fighters.
A senior Iraqi Army commander told AFP that his forces shot dead four Daesh members who had tried to cross into Iraq, where the group holds the small town of Rawa, near the border.
In a separate development, UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told Reuters that the 400,000 civilians besieged in the Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta face “complete catastrophe” because aid deliveries are blocked and hundreds of people need urgent medical evacuation.


Travelers wait as fighting shuts runways in Libya

Updated 21 September 2018
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Travelers wait as fighting shuts runways in Libya

MISRATA, Libya: The queue snakes out of the departures hall and deep into the carpark at Libya’s small Misrata airport — the main remaining gateway in and out of the country since fighting shut down the last runways in the capital Tripoli.
The people lined up with their luggage are the lucky ones. Others wait for their chance to queue — sitting on the pavement, one man camped out on a stalled baggage conveyor belt, trying to get some sleep with his head resting on his suitcase.
Misrata airport on Libya’s northwestern Mediterranean coast processed three to four flights a day last month.
Then armed groups fighting for territory and influence 200 km (125 miles) further west fired rockets toward Tripoli’s main remaining air hub — the latest in a long line of clashes since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.
Flights were rerouted to Misrata. Ever since, its warehouse-sized terminal has been packed with up to 6,000 passengers pouring on and off dozens of flights every day, say officials.
“Misrata airport is not capable of handling these numbers,” said Soliman Al-Jahimy, the airport’s spokesman.
In another part of the building, scores of migrants from other parts of Africa — who were stopped in Libya as they tried to get on to Europe — wait for UN flights to take them back home.
Elsewhere businessmen wait next to stranded families and elderly relatives in wheelchairs — hotels rooms are scarce in the city and flights are repeatedly delayed or canceled. Many wait for seven hours or more.
Beyond Misrata, the other options are a tiny airport in the western town of Zuwara, next to the Tunisian border, sometimes used by diplomats — and less busy airports in eastern Libya, a territory run by a rival administration, opposed to the UN-backed administration in the west.
All are clustered on the coast, far from the country’s southern desert hinterlands which are beset by their own chaos and fighting between tribes and other armed groups that shut the airport in that region’s main city Sebha in January 2014.
“Getting here was a disaster,” says Basheer Hassan, exhausted after his long trek to Misrata.
“There were no flights operating in the south to Tripoli or to Misrata, so we had to drive here and I suffered all the way.”