After Ghouta, Assad ‘will turn his guns on Deraa’

In this file photo taken on August 8, 2017, smoke billows following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Deraa. (AFP / Mohamad Abazeed)
Updated 16 April 2018
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After Ghouta, Assad ‘will turn his guns on Deraa’

  • Syrian opposition leaders warns that Assad might use chemical weapons again to drive civilians out of Deraa
  • Deraa is known as the cradle of the Syrian uprising

JEDDAH:  With Eastern Ghouta captured, the Assad regime is setting its sights on one of the country’s last opposition strongholds — Deraa, the cradle of the Syrian uprising.

And despite Saturday’s devastating US-led missile attack to degrading the regime’s chemical arsenal and deterring the Syrian leader from using such weapons again, leading opposition figures said they now feared the people of Deraa faced the same fate as the victims of Douma. 

“I am sure that Assad still has a chemical weapons stockpile and will use it when he needs it in the process of displacement,” Hisham Marwah, a representative of Syria’s High Negotiations Committee, told Arab News.

“In Douma …  when civilians refused to leave, he used chemical gas to drive them out, and this process will be repeated.”

Idlib province in the north is the biggest opposition bastion and contains hard-line militant groups. But a de-escalation deal between Turkey and Russia and the challenge posed by the complex opposition network there means Bashar Assad is expected to delay any attempt to recapture the area. 

“After Ghouta, it’s likely the Syrian government will head south — the current situation in Deraa must be finished off,” said Bassam Abou Abdallah, who heads the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies.


Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a blast in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 19 sec ago
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Hezbollah names Beirut street after Rafiq Hariri assassin

  • The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News

BEIRUT: Pro-Hezbollah politicians in south Beirut were accused of provocation on Tuesday for naming a street after the assassin who plotted the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

To rub salt in the wound, the street is adjacent to the city’s Rafiq Hariri University Hospital. Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, described the decision by Ghobeiry municipality as “sedition.” 

Hezbollah commander and bomb-maker Mustafa Badreddine was described last week by the prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague as “the main conspirer” in the assassination of Hariri, who died when his motorcade was blown up in central Beirut in February 2005. Badreddine himself was murdered in Damascus in 2016.

The decision to name the street after him was “unconstitutional” and “an unnecessary act of provocation,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Arab News.

“There is no precedent for resorting to these methods in naming streets, especially when the name is the subject of political and sectarian dispute between the people of Lebanon and may pose a threat to security and public order.”

A Future Movement official said: “What has happened proves that Hezbollah has an absurd mentality. There are people in Lebanon who care about the country, and others who don’t. This group considers the murderers of Rafiq Hariri its heroes, but they are illusory heroes.”