EU’s Mogherini ‘extremely worried’ by Turkish offensive in Syria

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speak together as they arrive for a foreign affair council at the European Council in Brussels, January 22, 2018. (AFP
Updated 22 January 2018
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EU’s Mogherini ‘extremely worried’ by Turkish offensive in Syria

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said Monday she was “extremely worried” by Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia targets in Syria, saying she would seek urgent talks with Turkish officials.
“I’m extremely worried and will discuss this among other things with our Turkish interlocutors,” Mogherini said after a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers where the issue was raised, adding that she was concerned about the impact on civilians and on the UN-backed Syrian peace process.

Ankara on Monday intensified its offensive to oust the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from their enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing there would be no stepping back in the campaign launched on Saturday.
Turkey considers the YPG to be a terror group and the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Mogherini said she was worried “for two main reasons.”
“One side is the humanitarian one — we need to make sure that humanitarian access is guaranteed and that civilian population and people are not suffering from military activities on the ground,” she said.
The second issue, Mogherini said, was that the offensive “can undermine seriously the resumption of talks in Geneva, which is what we believe could really bring sustainable peace and security for Syria.”
Mogherini said she hoped to set up a meeting with Turkey’s European affairs minister Omer Celik when he visits Brussels “in the coming days.”
France has called for a UN Security Council meeting Monday to discuss concerns over flashpoint areas in Syria including the Turkish offensive.


Egyptian court adds radical group to terrorism list

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya was added to a list of terrorist groups. (File/AFP)
Updated 44 min 22 sec ago
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Egyptian court adds radical group to terrorism list

CAIRO: A Cairo criminal court has added radical group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya as well as 164 of its leaders and members to a list of terrorist entities, Egypt’s official gazette said on Sunday.

The group waged a bloody campaign against Egypt’s security forces in the 1990s but later gave up violence and entered mainstream politics.

Previous rulings adding individuals to the terrorism list have focused on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been subject to a far-reaching crackdown since the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi was ousted as president in 2013.

In an Oct. 28 ruling, the Cairo court said that following the 2011 uprising that toppled former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, “many leaders and members of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya renounced their previous initiatives to stop violence,” according to the official gazette. Travel bans and asset freezes are automatically imposed on those included on the terrorist list. Criminal court rulings can be appealed against at the court of cassation, Egypt’s highest court.