Syria slams Turkey ‘occupation’ of Afrin, demands withdrawal

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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Updated 20 March 2018

Syria slams Turkey ‘occupation’ of Afrin, demands withdrawal

DAMASCUS: Syria's foreign ministry on Monday slammed Turkey's takeover of Afrin, demanding it "immediately" pull its forces from the northwestern city.
Ankara and allied rebel groups captured the city from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday, after a two-month offensive on the broader Afrin region.
The foreign ministry in Damascus sent two letters on Monday to the United Nations, protesting the capture as "illegitimate".
"Syria condemns the Turkish occupation of Afrin and the crimes it is committing there, and demands the invading forces immediately withdraw from the Syrian territory they occupied," the ministry said in its letters, according to state news agency SANA.
"Turkey's behavior and attacks do not only threaten citizens and the unity of Syria's land and people -- they also prolong the war on Syria," it added.
Damascus has repeatedly criticised Turkey for its military operations on Syrian soil, accusing it of supporting "terrorist" groups.
Pro-government militiamen even joined the fight to defend Afrin, dispatched from adjacent regime-held territory in Aleppo province.
Turkey has killed dozens of them.
The United States warned its NATO ally Turkey on Monday it is "deeply concerned" after a Turkish-led assault on the Syrian city of Afrin triggered an exodus of Kurdish civilians.
"It appears the majority of the population of the city, which is predominantly Kurdish, evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
"We are also concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin. We have repeatedly expressed our serious concern to Turkish officials regarding the situation in Afrin," she said.


Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”