Family dead in Syria regime shelling on Daesh-held district

Smoke billows in a southern district of the Syrian capital Damascus, during regime strikes targeting Daesh in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, and neighboring districts, on April 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2018
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Family dead in Syria regime shelling on Daesh-held district

BEIRUT: A family of three was killed late Saturday in a wave of regime shelling on a southern district of Syria’s capital held by Daesh, a monitor said.
Syrian troops are waging an intense bombing campaign against Yarmuk, a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of Damascus, and nearby districts that are held by Daesh.
A woman, her husband, and their child were killed in the Yarmuk shelling, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
“This brings to nine the number of civilians killed since the shelling escalated on Thursday,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The bombing and clashes continued into Sunday, Abdel Rahman said, with air strikes, artillery, and surface-to-surface missiles hitting the neighborhood.
Yarmuk was once a densely-populated and thriving district of the capital, but it has been ravaged by violence since Syria’s conflict broke out in 2011.
Syria’s government imposed a crippling siege on it in 2012, and fighting among rebels and rival extremists has exhausted residents.
In 2015, Daesh overran most of Yarmuk, and the small numbers of other rebels and extremists, including from Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate, that had a presence there agreed to withdraw just a few weeks ago.
Simultaneously, the Syrian army was finishing off the last rebel pockets in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus that had been the opposition’s main bastion near the capital.
Securing Ghouta has allowed the regime to refocus on Yarmuk, but the escalating shelling has sparked worries among humanitarian organizations.
The UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said it was “deeply concerned about the fate of civilians” and thousands of refugees in and around the camp.


Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed praises Jacinda Ardern and lights up Burj Khalifa to honor New Zealand

Updated 22 March 2019
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Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed praises Jacinda Ardern and lights up Burj Khalifa to honor New Zealand

DUBAI: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, thanked Jacinda Ardern on Friday for her ‘sincere empathy’ following the attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 Muslims.

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was illuminated in a gesture of solidarity with New Zealand and its prime minister.

Ardern has received widespread praise from around the world and in particular from Muslim countries and their leaders for the way she has handled the aftermath of the terrorist attack carried out by a white supremacist.

“New Zealand today fell silent in honor of the mosque attacks' martyrs,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. “Thank you PM Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world.”

Ardern led thousands of people in a two minute vigil on Friday as the shocked nation came together to remember those killed in the attack. 

She told those gathered in a park opposite the Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died, that: "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”

The prime minister’s response to the killings has been widely admired in helping the country come to terms with the atrocity. In the hours after the shootings she wore a black headscarf and visited members of the Muslim community.

She moved to reassure those caught up in the attacks and hugged survivors at a community center in Christchurch.

“We represent diversity, kindness, compassion,” Ms Ardern said on the day of the attack. “A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

She did not hesitate to describe the killings as a terrorist attack and said she would refuse to say the name of the killer who carried it out.

But she has also acted quickly with legislation. Her government banned on Thursday the sales of semi-automatic weapons.

“Ardern’s performance has been extraordinary - and I believe she will be strongly lauded for it both domestically and internationally,” political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington told Reuters.

Social media has been flooded with messages of admiration for Ardern, with many using her as an example for their own politicians to follow.