Supplies dwindling in Syria’s Afrin city hospital after attacks: Director

Ankara launched an air and ground offensive nearly two weeks ago against the Afrin region. (AFP)
Updated 31 January 2018
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Supplies dwindling in Syria’s Afrin city hospital after attacks: Director

BEIRUT: Supplies are dwindling in the main hospital of Syria’s Afrin city, which has taken in 48 people killed and 86 wounded in recent Turkish attacks, its director said on Wednesday.
Ankara launched an air and ground offensive nearly two weeks ago against the Afrin region, opening a new front in Syria’s multi-sided war to target Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
“We call on the United Nations to stop the Turkish aggression,” Khalil Sabri, head of the Afrin city hospital, said at a televised press conference. “The medical situation is getting worse in Afrin, and the medical supplies we have are about to run out,” he said.
Since the onset of Syria’s conflict in 2011, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and its allies have set up three autonomous cantons in the north, including Afrin which borders Turkey.
Syrian rebel factions, which are fighting alongside Turkey in its offensive, control territory around Afrin. The Syrian army also holds a patch of land bordering the canton.
Ankara views the YPG as terrorists and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.
The YPG spearheads an alliance of militias, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), that has seized vast territory from Daesh militants with help from the US-led coalition.
The SDF said Turkish forces and their rebel allies shelled a neighborhood in Afrin city on Wednesday, wounding 12 civilians.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency said two rockets fired from the Afrin region hit the Turkish border town of Reyhanli and killed one person.


Iran slams US sanctions push, France warns of further Mideast instability

Updated 23 May 2018
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Iran slams US sanctions push, France warns of further Mideast instability

  • France’s foreign minister said the US decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal will endanger the region
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Pompeo had repeated old allegations against Tehran “only with a stronger and more indecent tone.”

LONDON: Iran on Wednesday kept up a drumbeat of opposition to US demands for sweeping change in its foreign policy and nuclear program, and Tehran’s ally Damascus dismissed out of hand a US call for a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.
France, one of several European powers dismayed by the US withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear accord, said Washington’s method of adding more sanctions on Tehran would reinforce the country’s dominant hard-liners.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history” if it did not curb its regional influence, accusing Tehran of supporting armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Pompeo was speaking two weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran that had lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. European powers see the accord as the best chance of stopping Tehran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Pompeo had repeated old allegations against Tehran “only with a stronger and more indecent tone.”
“Mr Pompeo and other US officials in the current administration are prisoners of their wrong illusions, prisoners of their past and have been taken hostage by corrupt pressure groups,” he told state television.
A senior Iranian military official, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, said Iran would not bow to Washington’s pressure to limit its military activities.
“This enemy (the United States) does not have the courage for military confrontation and face-to-face war with Iran, but it’s trying to put economic and mental pressures on the Iranian nation,” state news agency IRNA reported him as saying.

“Endangering the region”​
In Damascus, Syria’s deputy foreign minister dismissed the notion of a withdrawal of Iranian forces.
In Syria’s seven-year-old conflict, Iran has provided vital support to President Bashar Assad’s military. Its forces and the militias it backs from the region, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, helped Damascus claw back control of major cities from militants and rebels.
“Whether Iranian forces or Hezbollah withdraw or stay in Syria is not up for discussion because it’s the (business) of the Syrian government,” Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV cited Faisal Mekdad as saying.
In Paris, France’s foreign minister said the US decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal and implement a tough strategy on the country would strengthen Tehran’s hard-liners and endanger the region.
“We disagree with the method because this collection of sanctions which will be set up against Iran will not enable dialogue and, on the contrary, it will reinforce the conservatives and weaken President Rouhani. This posture risks endangering the region more,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio.
He said Paris would continue to implement the agreement even if it did agree with the United States that Iran’s ballistic missile activity and regional hegemonic ambitions needed to be curbed.
He said Paris shared Washington’s concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile “frenzy” and regional ambitions, but the 2015 nuclear deal was the best chance of stopping Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.
Deputy foreign ministers of the remaining parties to the accord — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — will meet their Iranian counterpart on Friday in Vienna.
The meeting will assess what can be done to keep the deal and circumvent extraterritorial American sanctions that are impacting foreign business appetite for Iran.