Kurds invited to join peace congress in Sochi: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuses Washington of stoking separatist sentiment among Syria's Kurds as Turkey pressed an offensive against US-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Kurds invited to join peace congress in Sochi: Lavrov

MOSCOW: Russia said on Monday it has invited Kurds to take part in an upcoming Syrian peace congress in Sochi on Jan. 29-30 despite a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia in northern Syria.
“Kurdish representatives have been included on the list of Syrians invited to participate in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Together with regime backer Iran and rebel supporter Turkey, Russia — a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad — wants to convene a peace conference with the aim of agreeing on a new constitution for post-war Syria.
The peace talks have been planned for January 29 and 30.
Lavrov also said that Syrian Kurds should play a role in the “future political process.”

Territorial integrity
“This role should certainly be ensured,” he said but added that all of Syria’s ethnic groups should respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Lavrov accused Washington of stoking separatist sentiment among Syria’s Kurds. “Washington continues to encourage separatist sentiments among Kurds” while ignoring the “delicate” nature of the issue, Lavrov said.
“This is either a lack of understanding of the situation or an absolutely conscious provocation.”
Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov — asked whether the Turkish offensive would complicate the Sochi congress — declined to comment, but said that the preparations for the conference were under way.


US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

US soldiers take position on top of Police Building during a training session by U.S. army at al-Karama police headquarter in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad June 16, 2009. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 min 52 sec ago
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US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

  • The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services
  • The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014

BAGHDAD: The US-led anti-Daesh coalition said on Monday one of its members was killed in an apparently accidental aircraft crash in Iraq which left several others wounded.
A statement said “there are no indications the crash was caused by hostile fire,” adding that an investigation is underway.
“One coalition service member was killed and several injured when their aircraft crashed” in Iraq at around 2200 GMT on Sunday, the statement said.
It did not give the location of the crash or identify any of the casualties but said that three coalition members were “evacuated for further treatment,” suggesting they were in serious condition.
The crash happened as the aircraft “was conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission,” the statement said.
“The deceased service member’s name and further details pertaining to the incident will be released by the pertinent national authorities,” it added.
The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014.
The coalition includes Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey along with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, the Netherlands and the UAE.
In March, seven US troops were killed when their helicopter crashed during a transport mission in western Iraq, near the border with Syria.
Later that month two coalition members — an American and a Briton — were killed by an improvized explosive device in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.
In another development, Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s government, now serving in a caretaker capacity, welcomed the court’s announcement.
Parliament in June ordered a nationwide manual recount of the results, which were tallied electronically, after a government report said there were widespread violations and blamed the electoral commission.
Yet the recount showed little had changed from the initial results as Moqtada Al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.
“The Federal Supreme Court issued on the afternoon of Aug. 19, 2018, its decision to ratify the names received,” its spokesman Iyas Al-Samouk said in a statement.
The ratification makes the results formal and lawmakers now have to gather and elect a speaker, then president and finally a prime minister and cabinet within 90 days.
The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services, unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after a three-year war with Daesh.