President Erdogan claims Turkish shelling push back pro-government militia from Afrin

Photo showing Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters fire from the town of Salwah, less than 10 kilometres from the Syria-Turkey border, towards Kurdish forces from the People's Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin region, on Feb 19, 2018
Updated 20 February 2018
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President Erdogan claims Turkish shelling push back pro-government militia from Afrin

BEIRUT: Turkish president Erdogan said that pro-Syrian forces left Afrin. He said that “some pro-Syrian government forces tried to enter Afrin but were pushed back due to Turkish artillery fire” 
Syrian state television earlier showed a convoy of pro-government fighters allegedly entering the Kurdish-held Afrin region on Tuesday to help fend off a Turkish assault.
The fighters wearing camouflage fatigues waved weapons and Syrian flags from their vehicles as they crossed through a checkpoint that bore the insignia of a Kurdish security force.
“One Syria, one Syria!” some of them chanted.
“We have come to tell our people in Afrin that we are one,” said a fighter interviewed on state television, referring to the government stance that Syria must remain one country and internal partitions caused by the war must be eradicated.
State news agency SANA accused Turkish forces of shelling territory near the crossing where the “popular forces” entered Afrin.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Russia had stepped in to block a deployment of pro-government forces in Afrin, where Ankara is seeking to destroy the Kurdish YPG militia.
On Sunday, a Kurdish political official said Damascus had agreed to send Syrian troops into Afrin to help fend off the month-old offensive by Turkey and allied Syrian insurgents.
The Syrian government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict during the war, but they espouse very different visions for Syria’s future. Each controls more ground than any other side in the conflict.


Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

Updated 12 min 36 sec ago
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Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

  • Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe
  • The UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community

DUBAI: Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe, Saudi state TV Al-Ekhbariya has reported, quoting a statement from the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations.

“The Houthi militia considers discrimination a part of its religious heritage,” the human rights group said, explaining that the Iran-backed group practices violence against other sects and religions.

The statement stressed that the Houthi militias have become a threat to coexistence and social peace in Yemen.

The Houthis forced the displacement of many Yemeni families from their homes, which have been racially motivated, the group claimed.

Earlier this week, the UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community. The Houthis tried 24 people, including eight women and a child, and charged them with sentences that could result in death.

The Baha’i community has been harassed for years but activists say their situation is becoming increasingly dangerous under the rule of the Iranian-backed militia.

The Baha’i faith is a small monotheistic religion which began in Iran in the 1800s.

“The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law,” Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, said.

“New cases of arbitrary detention and continuing reports of the abuse of detainees by the Houthis are deeply concerning, and we wholly condemn this mistreatment,” he added.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they are working closely with partners to press for the release of detained individuals and called on their partners to take a strong stance on this matter during the Human Rights Council this week.