Top official from the Syrian-Kurd PYD arrested in Prague

Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-president Salih Muslim gives a press conference, on February 9, 2015 in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018

Top official from the Syrian-Kurd PYD arrested in Prague

ANKARA: A senior member of the main Kurdish party in northern Syria who is wanted by Turkey has been arrested in Prague.
Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was added to the Turkish interior ministry’s “Red List” of wanted “terrorists” earlier this month. Turkey offered a $1 million reward for his arrest.
He was detained in the Czech capital on Saturday after a request from Ankara, the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported.He is accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
Turkey says the PYD, which is the most powerful Kurdish group in northern Syria, is also a terrorist organization directly linked to the PKK.
Ankara is expected to file an extradition request for Muslim.
Muslim recently criticized the Turkish offensive against the armed wing of the PYD in Kurdish-held Afrin in Syria.
Turkey also made a request through Interpol in 2016 for Muslim’s arrest on alleged connections to a bombing in Ankara that killed 28 people. The PKK splinter group the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) admitted carrying out the attack and the PYD denied any involvement.
In 2016, the PYD opened several offices in Europe, including Stockholm, Paris and Prague, to establish cooperation with European politicians and gain political support.
Many PYD officials have visited Europe, especially to France, Italy, and Sweden.
The office in Prague closed after just a few months due to the lack of support in the country.
Oytun Orhan, a Syria analyst at ORSAM, a think-tank in Ankara, said the arrest is important in showing that Turkey’s approach to the PYD is recognized by European countries.
“PYD was conducting many political activities in Europe and Prague was one of the first capital cities where it opened an office,” he said. “If these arrests continue and covers other senior officials of PYD, the joint counter-terrorism efforts between Turkey and European countries will take a new momentum.”

With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

Updated 47 min 7 sec ago

With Hodeidah airport liberated, Saudi Arabia-led coalition accuses Houthis of targeting civilians

  • UAE commander confirms Hodeidah airport in Yemen is liberated
  • Houthis have been accused of breaking international law by targeting civilians

JEDDAH: Fighting spread to civilian areas of Hodeidah on Wednesday as coalition forces drove toward the port area after driving the last Iran-backed Houthi militias out of the city’s airport. 

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said they had fully recaptured the airport and were now destroying nearby Houthi fortifications. He accused the group of placing tanks inside residential areas.

“Hodeidah port is operating as normal and the movement of ships is normal,” Al-Maliki said. “We have humanitarian and development plans for when we liberate the city.”

Many civilians are now fleeing the city. “The streets are almost empty, deserted,” one said, with most heading for Sanaa, Raymah and Wusab, in Houthi-controlled areas inland.

A Coalition commander also confirmed the liberation of Hodeida airport in a video posted by UAE state news agency WAM.

“The airport was completely cleared, Thank God, and is under control,” the coalition commander for the Red Sea coast, Abdul Salaam Al-Shehi said speaking in Arabic in the video posted on Twitter.



Though the coalition has pledged to try to avoid battles in crowded urban neighborhoods, the Houthis were well dug into Hodeidah to protect the key supply line to the core northern territory they control, including the capital, Sanaa.

Most humanitarian aid to Yemen comes through Hodeidah port, but it is also a conduit for the supply of weapons and ammunition from Iran to the Houthi militias, including missiles used to target Saudi Arabia. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the “liberation of Hodeidah is the beginning to ending the war."

“The choice in Yemen is between the state and militia, between order and violence, between peace and war,” he said.

At least 156 Houthis and 28 soldiers were killed in the fight for the airport, according to Hodeidah hospital sources. That raised the death toll in the week-old battle for the city to 348. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

On June 13, Yemen’s army and its coalition allies launched their offensive to clear Hodeidah of rebel fighters who have held it since 2014. The airport is disused but housed a major Houthi base just inland from the coastal road into the city from the south.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths held four days of talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa in a bid to avert an all-out battle for the city but flew out on Tuesday without announcing any breakthrough.