Wife of Iranian-Canadian who died in jail barred from leaving Iran: Son

Iran’s academic community was in shock on Feb. 11, 2018 following the death of renowned environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami, who authorities claimed committed suicide in prison a fortnight after his arrest. (Family Handout/AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Wife of Iranian-Canadian who died in jail barred from leaving Iran: Son

LONDON: The wife of an Iranian-Canadian environmental activist who died in prison in Tehran last month was barred from leaving Iran, one of her sons said, in an unexplained move that drew an angry response from Canada.
Raam Emami said in an email to journalists that security forces had not allowed his mother Maryam Mombeini to get on a plane to Vancouver with him and his brother on Wednesday night.
Mombeini is the widow of Kavous Seyed-Emami, an environmental activist and sociology professor who was arrested on Jan. 24 and died in prison. Iran’s judiciary said Seyed-Emami, 63, had committed suicide.
The family has called for independent probe into his death.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, said in a message posted on Twitter that she was “outraged” to learn that Mombeini had been barred from leaving Iran.
“We demand that, as a Canadian, she be given the freedom to return home,” she added.
Iranian judiciary officials were not immediately available for comment.
Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect Iran’s rare animals. Iran’s judiciary said he had set up the NGO as a cover to collect classified information on Iran’s missile program.
Raam Emami said the family decided to leave Iran after being constantly “harassed.”
“The government raided our home and seized all of our valuables (most importantly deeds to our homes), we can no longer stand this state of constant terror,” he said.
Raam Emami has previously said that the family was under pressure from authorities not to publicize the case of Seyed-Emami.
“The authorities told our lawyers to tell the brothers ‘to shut up or we’ll shut them up,’ Emami said, adding government agents had told him they were watching him.
Human rights activists have reported that at least six detainees have died in prison in the last two months in Iran. The judiciary has confirmed three deaths in custody but said all three had committed suicide.
Bilateral ties between Iran and Canada worsened in 2003 when an Iranian-Canadian photo journalist, Zahra Kazemi, died in Tehran’s Evin prison while in custody.
Canada cut all diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012.


Syrian fighters to support anti-Kurdish forces in northeast

A military vehicle is transported as part of a convoy on the outskirts of the city of Kilis, southeastern Turkey, close to the border with Syria, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Syrian fighters to support anti-Kurdish forces in northeast

  • Turkey has already swept YPG fighters from Afrin and other areas west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years

ISTANBUL: Up to 15,000 Syrian fighters are ready to join a Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, but no date has been set for the operation, a spokesman for the main Turkish-backed Syrian opposition group said on Thursday.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would launch the offensive in a few days, targeting a border region east of the Euphrates River which is held by the YPG Kurdish militia.
The announcement prompted a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon, which said any unilateral military action into northeast Syria would be unacceptable.
The US has been supporting the YPG in the fight against Daesh insurgents since 2015. Following cross-border shelling from Turkey into Kurdish-controlled territory two months ago, US forces have set up three military observation posts near the border.
Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.
On Thursday the Turkish military said one of its soldiers stationed in Syria’s Afrin region was killed by fire from YPG fighters, who were in the Tel Rifaat area. Both areas are west of the Euphrates in northern Syria.
Turkish forces returned fire, the military said. Turkey has already swept YPG fighters from Afrin and other areas west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years, but has not gone east of the river — partly to avoid direct confrontation with US forces.
But Erdogan’s patience with Washington over Syria — specifically a deal to clear the YPG from the town of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates — seems to have worn thin.
The spokesman for the National Army, a Turkish-backed opposition force aimed at unifying disparate factions in northwest Syria, said on Thursday that there was no set date for the operation, which would start from both Syrian and Turkish territory.
“The battle will be launched simultaneously from several fronts,” Maj. Youssef Hamoud told Reuters.
“It will be in Manbij and Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn,” he said, referring to towns about 200 km apart near Syria’s northern border.
Hamoud said the operation from Turkey might begin a few days before the move from within Syria.
In a speech on Wednesday, Erdogan said that Turkey’s target “is never US soldiers.”
Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party would be of grave concern, “particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity.”
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke with the chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler on Thursday.
“Dunford emphasized that the observation posts will continue to focus on and deter threats from Syria toward the Turkish southern border,” a US military statement said.
“In addition, he reiterated that the US remains committed to coordinating efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria,” it added.