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.


Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

Smoke and flames rise from an oil storage tank that was set on fire amid fighting between rival factions at Ras Lanuf terminal, Libya. Reuters
Updated 19 June 2018
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Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

  • The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias
  • The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr

CAIRO: Libyan forces carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east, a spokesman said as Libya’s national oil firm warned on Monday of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination in the north African country.
A militia, led by Ibrahim Jadhran who opposes Libya’s self-styled national army commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr on Thursday forcing the National Oil Corporation to suspend exports and evacuate its employees.
The airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Jadhran, who are trying to seize the oil terminals, said Ahmed Al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA.
He said warplanes carried out airstrikes against “terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte.”
Al-Mesmari called on residents in the oil crescent area to stay away from “areas where the enemy gathers, munition storages and sites with military vehicles.”
Jadhran said in a video circulated on social media on Thursday that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals. “Our aim is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said.
The attack by Jadhran’s militia caused “significant” damage to at least two storage tanks, the NOC said Monday in a statement. It warned of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination.
The firm called for an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Jadhran’s forces, adding that the closure meant the loss of 240,000 barrels per day in oil production. It advised two tankers scheduled to arrive at the ports to remain at sea until the situation was under control.
The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr. “This dangerous escalation in Oil Crescent area puts Libya’s economy in jeopardy and risks igniting a widespread confrontation,” UNSMIL tweeted on Thursday.
Jadhran is a rebel commander who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed dictator Moammar Qaddafi. In 2013, he proclaimed himself the guardian of Libya’s oil crescent including the ports of Al-Sidr, Ras Lanuf and Brega, which represent about 60 percent of Libya’s oil resources. His actions cost the oil-rich country billions of dollars.
He lost control of the oil crescent to Haftar’s forces in 2016.
Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising. The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias. Haftar is allied with the east-based administration that is at odds with the UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.