Syrian state media says Turkey helped rebel attack

Syria has accused Turkey of helping anti-government rebels, above, launch a counter attack against the Syrian army and its allies in the northwest of the country. (Reuters)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Syrian state media says Turkey helped rebel attack

BEIRUT: Syrian state media on Friday cited field commanders as saying Turkey helped anti-government rebels launch a counter attack against the Syrian army and its allies in the northwest this week, underlining recent regional tensions over the fighting.
“Field commanders confirmed to the SANA correspondent that terrorists from the Turkistan Islamic Party with the direct support, direction and planning of the Turkish regime, brought most of their forces... to start their attack,” said SANA, the state news agency.
It added that the rebels had used Turkish vehicles. There was no immediate Turkish reaction to the allegations.
Turkey has been a major backer of Syrian rebels but has recently been working with Damascus’s allies Iran and Russia in meetings with the stated aim of reducing violence.
Rebel groups launched a counter attack in Idlib on Wednesday after a rapid push by the army and its allies toward the Abu Al-Duhur air base.
A military media unit run by the government’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and a Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Friday the army had recaptured several villages taken in the rebel counter attack.
Turkey has criticized the army’s assault in Idlib, located in northwest Syria in the rebels’ biggest remaining stronghold, saying on Friday it would cause a new wave of migration. Idlib borders Turkey.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.