Libyan Tawergha families displaced in 2011 to return home

Fayez Serraj. (AFP file)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Libyan Tawergha families displaced in 2011 to return home

BENGHAZI: Libyan families displaced from the town of Tawergha after being driven out by militias following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that evolved into a ruinous civil war can return in February, the head of the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli, said.
The decision, announced Tuesday by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, follows a reconciliation deal between representatives of Tawergha and the city of Misrata, which previously fought on opposing sides. Serraj's government ratified the agreement in June.
Tawergha was used as a staging ground for attacks on Misrata during the uprising that eventually toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Anti-Qaddafi militias, mainly from Misrata, ransacked the town and drove out its residents, believing they had aided Qaddafi's forces. Tawergha, located some 38 km south of Misrata, has been a ghost town since.
Tawergha's residents have since been living in camps and makeshift housing across Libya. Human Rights Watch estimates the number of those displaced from the town to stand at about 40,000. The Tawergha community is a racially distinct group with darker skin than most Libyans, making it even harder for them to navigate the country's chaotic post-revolutionary environment.
Libya descended into chaos since 2011 and is now split between rival governments and myriad militias.


Iran vows to keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats

Updated 17 January 2019
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Iran vows to keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats

  • Israel says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards’ top commander called Israeli PM Netanyahu’s threats “a joke”

LONDON: Iran will keep military forces in Syria, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria and warned them “to get out of there fast, because we will continue with our resolute policy.”

Rebuffing the threats, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards’ top commander, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency that “the Islamic Republic of Iran will keep all its military and revolutionary advisers and its weapons in Syria.”

Jafari called Netanyahu’s threats “a joke,” and warned that the Israeli government “was playing with (a) lion’s tail.”

“You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head,” he said.

Iran and Russia have both backed Syria’s Bashar Assad in a seven-year war against opposition and militants, and have sent thousands of soldiers to the country.

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli warplanes carried out an attack on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.