Syrian regime has no respect for human life, says opposition

Smoke rises following an air strike on the rebel-held besieged town of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2018
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Syrian regime has no respect for human life, says opposition

JEDDAH: The Syrian regime’s relentless shelling and air raids show that it has no respect for human life or the rules of war, opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News on Wednesday.
The regime is amassing elite forces for a major assault on an army base on the outskirts of Damascus, in which at least 200 troops are believed to be besieged by rebels, Reuters reported.
Since Sunday, opposition fighters have expanded their control of parts of the base in Harasta. They are well entrenched, and the trapped troops might be used as bargaining chips “if they remain alive,” Al-Aridi said.
The likely outcome of the showdown is unclear, “but the regime can claim no victory or control, as it has been saying,” he added. The opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) “is the major power” besieging the base, he said.
In four days of heavy airstrikes, 38 civilians have been killed and at least 147 people injured. Five civilians were killed on Tuesday. The regime and its supporters “don’t care about a political solution,” Al-Aridi said.
Bahia Mardini, a UK-based Syrian journalist and human rights activist, told Arab News: “We believe passionately in the elimination of terrorism and the defeat of all terrorist groups in Syria — whatever name they go by —  but we must spare civilian lives.”
She added: “The regime and its Russian allies mustn’t be allowed to use terrorism as an excuse to kill civilians and maintain their deadly siege.” Despite the regime’s scorched-earth policy, Syrians continue to reject violence, Mardini said.
She appealed to the six new members of the UN Security Council “to stand up to the regime and ask its allies to pressure it so that together we can prevent the killing of Syrian civilians.”
 


Libyan coast guard rescues some 160 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 58 min 6 sec ago
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Libyan coast guard rescues some 160 Europe-bound migrants

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted some 160 Europe-bound African migrants, including dozens of children and women, in the Mediterranean Sea near its shores.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim says a boat carrying 158 passengers including 34 women and nine children was stopped Monday off the coast of the western town of Khoms.
Libya has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa. Traffickers have exploited Libya’s chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
He says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid, and were taken to a refugee camp in Khoms town.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.