US-backed Syria force to redeploy 1,700 from Daesh fight to Afrin

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Abu Omar al-Idlibi speaks during a press conference at a football stadium in Raqa on March 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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US-backed Syria force to redeploy 1,700 from Daesh fight to Afrin

RAQA: A US-backed alliance of Syrian forces announced on Tuesday it would redeploy around 1,700 fighters from front lines against the Daesh group to a Kurdish enclave under Turkish attack.
Turkey and allied Syrian rebels are waging a weeks-long offensive on Afrin, which is held by a Kurdish militia that makes up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the SDF announced it would pull fighters out of areas of eastern Syria, where they have been fighting pockets of Daesh fighters.
“We took the difficult decision to pull our forces out of Deir Ezzor province and battlefronts against Daesh to head to the Afrin battle,” said Abu Omar Al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, saying his units numbered 1,700 fighters.
Idlibi spoke to AFP in the football stadium in Raqqa, which the SDF recaptured from Daesh in October with help from the US-led international coalition.
“We fought Daesh. We helped the coalition in Raqqa, but without the coalition defending its partners,” Idlibi said.
“Our people in Afrin are our priority. Protecting them is more important than the international coalition’s decisions.”
Ankara and allied Syrian rebels launched their offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin on January 20 and have since captured a strip along the border between the enclave and Turkish territory.
The operation has so far captured 40 percent of the enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor said on Tuesday.


Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

Updated 18 min 12 sec ago
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Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

  • Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
  • Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority.

RAMALLAH: Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an AFP reporter said.
Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority, organized by civil society groups.
The Ramallah-based administration has introduced a series of measures against Gaza over the past year.
Tens of thousands of its civil servants in the coastal enclave, separated from the West Bank by a strip of Israeli territory, have gone without full pay for months.
Critics say such moves by the PA, dominated by the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, further exacerbate the split between the two parts of the Palestinian territories.
The rally passed peacefully, unlike a protest on June 13 during which Palestinian security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
On Saturday, policemen were seen handing out Palestinian flags to the protesters.
Hamas has run Gaza since seizing it from the Palestinian Authority amid deadly clashes in 2007.
Since that year, Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza which it argues is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Rights groups say the siege amounts to collective punishment.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the territory since 2008.
Neighbouring Egypt has also largely sealed its land border with Gaza in recent years, citing security threats.
The United Nations has said Gaza, which is home to two million people, will be uninhabitable by 2020.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last October, but it has since collapsed.