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.


Gulf Arab states should be party to proposed Iran treaty talks - UAE official

Updated 20 September 2018
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Gulf Arab states should be party to proposed Iran treaty talks - UAE official

CAIRO: Washington’s Gulf Arab allies should be included in proposed treaty negotiations with Iran over its ballistic missile program and regional behavior, a senior Emiriati official said on Thursday.
Brian Hook, US special envoy for Iran, said on Wednesday the United States is seeking to negotiate a treaty with Iran to include Tehran’s ballistic missiles and its regional behavior.
Iran has rejected US attempts to hold high-level talks since President Donald Trump tore up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers earlier this year.
Anwar Gargash, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, described Hook’s comments as “important.”
“It is essential that the Gulf Arab states be a party to the proposed negotiations. It is prudent for Tehran to avoid sanctions and to take these proposals seriously,” he tweeted.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain swiftly backed Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the nuclear accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
The Gulf Arab states were not party to the nuclear accord, and while they were consulted by Western powers during the talks that led up to it, they played no direct role in those negotiations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed a dozen demands in May that he said could make up a new agreement, although Hook referred to a treaty, which would have to be approved by the US Senate.