Erdogan calls on Putin to end northern Syria attacks by regime forces

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin he should stop Syrian attacks on its opposition in northern Syria if he wants peace negotiations to succeed. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Erdogan calls on Putin to end northern Syria attacks by regime forces

ISTANBUL: Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday he should stop Syrian attacks on its opposition in northern Syria if he wants peace negotiations to succeed, Turkish presidential sources said.
Erdogan spoke to Putin on the phone, they said.
Turkey has been fiercely opposed to Syrian president Bashar Assad during his country’s six-year-old civil war but has recently been working with his allies Russia and Iran for a political resolution to the conflict.
The three countries had agreed last year to establish a “de-escalation zone” in the opposition-held Idlib province and surrounding region, which borders Turkey.
However, a government offensive helped by Iran-backed militia has gathered pace in Idlib in the last two weeks, according to rebels and a military media unit run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is fighting on the Syrian government side.
Rebels launched a counter attack on Thursday.
Turkey on Tuesday called the Russian and Iranian ambassadors to its ministry of foreign affairs to ask the envoys to urge the Syrian government in Damascus to end the border violations in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Russia’s defense ministry had asked the Turkish military on Wednesday to tighten control over armed groups in Idlib after two groups of drones attacked Russian bases on Jan. 6.
Syrian state media, citing a foreign ministry source, said on Thursday that regime forces were fighting to “liberate from the terrorism of the Nusra Front and the other terrorist organizations that belong to it.”
Turkey has accused the Syrian government of using the presence of the Nusra Front, which now fights under the banner of the Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, as an excuse to attack civilians and moderate opposition groups.
Humanitarian aid organizations, rescuers and activists allege the Syrian and Russian air forces have struck hospitals, schools and market places in congested residential areas in rebel-held towns.
Both the Syrian army and Moscow deny hitting civilian areas and say intensive raids only strike at militants.


Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

Updated 23 May 2019
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Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

  • The vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month
  • Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s Sultan Mosque is a focal point for Muslims in the cosmopolitan city-state and the vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month of Ramadan when people from all walks of life flock to its bustling bazaars.

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter” with a mix of Malay, South Asian and Middle Eastern elements. Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim, according to the latest official data.

Arab Street — an area that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street — is a hub for hipsters, vivid murals, Persian rug stores, shisha bars, perfumeries and textile shops, as well as being home to the distinctive golden domes of the Sultan Mosque. There is even an ornate archway welcoming people to explore the neighborhood and its distinctive shophouses, buildings that were used for working and living in. 

“We are more like brothers and sisters, rather than businesses. I know most of the customers and they know me too,” a 36-year-old biryani hawker who gave his name as Nareza told Arab News as he served a line of hungry clients.

Nareza said his stall’s signature dish was mutton biryani, made from a family recipe handed down through generations from his late grandmother. 

FASTFACT

Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim

“Dum biryani is a process of mixing meat and rice together in one pot, so the rice has a bit of the masala taste while the meat has a bit of the basmati rice fragrance,” he said, adding that he sold more than 300 portions of biryani a day. “I learned to make biryani from my father, who used to do charity work in the mosque. We make our own spices, we do not buy them from outside vendors. That is why the taste is different.”

The bazaar is packed with places selling food, drinks, decorations and homeware. The fare reflects Singapore’s international status, with eateries and stores selling kebabs, sushi and local Malay goodies.

But Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a fast-paced lifestyle, leading some to focus on preserving culture and heritage for future generations.

“We want to create awareness about the significance of Sultan Mosque to the Muslim community,” juice stall owner Riduan told Arab News, saying all sale proceeds were donated to the Sultan Mosque. “Arab Street is unique because you see a lot of different races coming here and it is also a tourist attraction. This is where we demonstrate we are Singapore society. Singapore is not just limited to skyscrapers such as Marina Bay Sands.”