Daesh militants retake nearly half of Syria border town

Syrian pro-government forces patrol in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on November 4, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Daesh militants retake nearly half of Syria border town

BEIRUT: Daesh militants have retaken nearly half of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria in a counter-attack on what had been the last significant town under their full control, a monitor said Friday.
“IS started counter-attacking on Thursday night and retook more than 40 percent of the town of Albu Kamal,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
Syrian regime forces and allied fighters had recaptured the town, which lies on the border with Iraq in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, from the jihadists on Thursday.
Albu Kamal lies at the heart of what used to be the sprawling “caliphate” the group declared in 2014 over swathes of Iraq and Syria.
“The jihadists went back in and retook several neighborhoods in the north, northeast and northwest,” Abdel Rahman said. “IS is trying to defend its last bastion.”
The jihadist organization has in the space of a few weeks seen its caliphate shrink to a small rump and lost major cities such as Mosul, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.
Albu Kamal was the last town of note it controlled and losing it would cap the group’s reversion to an underground guerrilla organization with no urban base.
According to Syria state TV, the regime and auxiliary forces had retaken full control of it by Thursday.


Spanish PM visits Morocco to boost migration cooperation

Updated 19 November 2018
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Spanish PM visits Morocco to boost migration cooperation

  • Spain has this year become the main entry point for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the majority departing from Morocco

RABAT: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday made his first official visit to Morocco, where he pushed for greater cooperation between the two countries on tackling migration.
Spain has this year become the main entry point for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the majority departing from Morocco.
“Migration is a shared responsibility and we must reinforce our cooperation in this area,” Sanchez said following talks with his Moroccan counterpart Saad Eddine el Othmani.
More than 50,000 migrants have crossed into Spain so far this year, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Madrid has for months been pressing the European Union to unlock funds for Morocco to better tackle people smuggling into the bloc.
Throughout the year, numerous Spanish ministers and officials have traveled to Rabat to discuss security issues and migration.
Sanchez was accompanied by a government delegation for his first visit to the North African nation since taking office in June.
Othmani said Morocco was doing “all that is in its power regarding the fight against illegal immigration.”
Moroccan authorities say that between January and the end of September they stopped some 68,000 illegal attempts to cross into Europe and dismantled 122 people smuggling gangs.
“The migration question is complex and it cannot be resolved solely through a security approach, despite its importance, it’s necessary to favor the development of departure countries in Africa,” said Othmani.
Many seeking to reach Europe are from sub-Saharan Africa, but in recent years there has been an increasing number of Moroccans seeking to leave the country.
While the majority of migrants have taken the perilous sea journey in rubber dinghies, others have scaled fences into the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla which border Morocco.