Palestinian President Abbas refuses to work with US on peace efforts

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a press conference at the Elysee Palace on Friday, December 22. Abbas met Macron a day after the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. (AP)
Updated 22 December 2017
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Palestinian President Abbas refuses to work with US on peace efforts

PARIS: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday urged France and Europe to play a stronger role in peace efforts, insisting he’ll no longer accept any US plans for Mideast peace because of the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris a day after the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s decision.
During a news conference, Macron was careful not to take sides, saying “the American mistake was to want to unilaterally manage from afar a situation whose solution is in the hands of the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Abbas said the United States is “no longer an honest mediator in the peace process.”
“We will not accept any plan from the United States of America because of its bias and violation of the international law,” he said.
Abbas also denounced the US threat to cut financial aid for countries who voted to back the UN resolution. “We call upon countries that did not recognize Palestine yet to do so to preserve the two-state solution before it’s too late,” he added.
Macron reaffirmed his disapproval of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The French president recalled he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in Paris and urged him to make “courageous gestures” to help revive peace talks, including freezing Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied lands.
EU leaders, including Macron, have reiterated support for establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions in favor of the non-binding resolution countering the US recognition of Jerusalem.


Assad regime ‘using Daesh to justify atrocities’

Updated 20 April 2018
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Assad regime ‘using Daesh to justify atrocities’

  • Syrian government claims Daesh fighters killed at least 25 regime troops in a surprise attack near the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen
  • Opposition leader says the regime forces’ fight against Daesh as a sham and said the terror group was a gun for hire

JEDDAH: Bashar Assad’s forces are using the threat of Daesh to justify brutal acts against civilians, Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi said.

His remarks on Thursday came as Daesh fighters killed at least 25 regime troops in a surprise attack near the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen, surrendered by the terror group six months ago.

At least 13 insurgents were killed in the raid, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Daesh was continuing its advance on the town from the Badia desert, observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The attack was the largest since the terror group was expelled from the town in October 2017, he added.

However, the opposition spokesman described the regime forces’ fight against Daesh as a sham and said the terror group was a gun for hire.

“As for those so-called 25 regime soldiers, the regime is abducting people, training them on how to pull the trigger and sending them to die.

“They are being used to send a message that the regime is still fighting terrorism,” Al-Aridi told Arab News.

He claimed that Mayadeen “still holds people who could be classified as Daesh, and the regime exploits that any time it wants.”

Regime airstrikes and artillery fire also pounded Daesh-occupied areas in the south of Damascus on Thursday. Warplanes targeted “the dens of terrorists from Al-Nusra Front and Daesh in Hajjar Al-Aswad,” a southern district of the capital, pro-Assad media said.

Iraq’s air force also carried out “deadly” airstrikes on Daesh positions inside Syria, Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s office said.

Meanwhile, the US warned that the Assad regime could still carry out limited chemical attacks despite last week’s coalition strikes. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the US military’s Joint Staff, said the regime retained a “residual” chemical capability at sites across the country.

Separately, the regime took control of Dumayr, a town northeast of Damascus, after rebels evacuated to north Syria.