Coast guard rescues over 250 migrants off Libyan coast

Immigrants rescued by the Libyan coastguard arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Coast guard rescues over 250 migrants off Libyan coast

TRIPOLI: Libya’s coastal guard has rescued more than 250 illegal migrants trying to leave the North African country in small boats bound for Italy, officials said on Saturday.
Libya’s western shores are the main departure point for migrants mainly from sub-Saharan countries fleeing poverty and conflict trying to reach Europe.
Arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds since July from the same period last year after officials working for the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Italy’s partner, managed to cut back human smuggling in the city of Sabratha west of the capital.
That has pushed the trade further east, with the coast guard intercepting several boats off the coast near Qaraboulli and Zliten, two towns located east of Tripoli.
“The naval forces’ Ibn Ouf vessel rescued (on Friday) illegal migrants including women, children and men ... they are from different sub-Saharan and Arab countries,” Coast Guard Captain Abdulhadi Fakhal told Reuters.
“They were rescued off Qaraboulli and Zliten towns ... and they are about 250 to 270 persons,” Fakhal said.
Libya has plunged into chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising. A UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli has been trying to gain control of territory.


Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 53 sec ago
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Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

  • In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh
  • Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said overnight Sunday to Monday that US-led coalition aircraft had carried out a deadly strike on a regime position in the country’s east near the Iraqi border.
Both US-backed Kurdish-led fighters and Russia-supported regime forces are separately fighting the Daesh jihadist group in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
“Aircraft of the American coalition bombarded one of our military positions in the area of Al-Hari southeast of Albu Kamal” town in Deir Ezzor, state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying, adding a number of people had been killed.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the jihadists have since lost most of that territory, in Syria seeing their presence largely reduced to the country’s vast desert and a few villages near the frontier with Iraq.
In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh.
Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province, while the SDF are battling to expel IS from a string of villages on the river’s eastern banks near the Iraqi border.
Both sides have mostly avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.
But there have been exceptions.
In April, rare clashes broke out between both sides, killing more than a dozen combatants.
In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes in Deir Ezzor province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.
Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces.