30 regime forces killed fighting Daesh in Syria capital: monitor

A file photo of smoke rising from buildings during regime strikes on the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and the neighboring Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad district, in southern Damascus, on May 1, 2018. (Rami Al-Sayed/AFP)
Updated 07 May 2018
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30 regime forces killed fighting Daesh in Syria capital: monitor

  • Nearly 50 civilians are estimated to have been killed since the fighting began in April
  • Scores of regime fighters are among the casualties

BEIRUT: More than 30 Syrian government troops have been killed in a southern district of the capital in a fierce counter-offensive by Daesh fighters, a monitor said Monday.
Regime forces are seeking to end Daesh’s years-long foothold in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and neighboring district of Hajjar Al-Aswad, both in southern Damascus.
Last week, troops managed to sever a route linking the two areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said, but Daesh launched a fightback at the weekend and successfully reopened it.
“Their hit-and-run operations have continued since then, killing a total of 31 regime forces, mostly in ambushes,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory.
“The regime has since been advancing slowly, taking some positions and buildings, but there hasn’t been any strategic advance since Saturday,” he told AFP.
Regime troops control 60 percent of Hajjar Al-Aswad, while Daesh still holds more than 80 percent of Yarmuk.
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad were pounding both districts with air strikes and shelling on Monday, Abdel Rahman said.
Since the start of the offensive in mid-April, more than 150 regime forces have been killed, as well as 120 Daesh fighters, the Observatory said.
Another 47 civilians also died in the fighting.
Yarmuk was once a thriving Palestinian camp that was home to around 160,000 people but only a few hundred are expected to still remain.
Syria’s government besieged the camp in 2012, and Daesh overran large swathes of it three years later.
Assad set his sights on the capital’s south after reconquering a major rebel bastion east of Damascus earlier this month.


Moroccan police use water cannons to disperse teachers’ protest

Updated 47 min 54 sec ago
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Moroccan police use water cannons to disperse teachers’ protest

  • Authorities were trying to end a rally of an estimated 15,000 teachers in front of parliament
  • Teachers across the country have been striking for three weeks in a row

RABAT: Moroccan police used water cannons early on Sunday to disperse thousands of young teachers protesting in the capital Rabat for better work conditions, a witness said.
Authorities were trying to end a rally of an estimated 15,000 teachers in front of parliament where they planned to spend the night ahead of an even bigger demonstration called by a coalition of leftist opposition parties, unions and civil society groups.
Policemen in anti-riot gear moved into action after negotiations between officers and teachers to ask protesters to leave the area broke down after several hours.
Authorities had offered to send busses to drive them to places where they could spend the night, teachers said. They had been chanting “Liberty, dignity, social justice.”
There was no immediate comment from the police or the government.
Some teachers said they were protesting against contracts on which they have been hired. They are demanding full benefits and pensions like regular public servants.
Teachers across the country have been striking for three weeks in a row.
Of the country’s 240,000-strong teacher workforce, 55,000 have been hired since 2016 under a new contract system.
Morocco has come under pressure from international lenders to trim the civil service wage bill and strengthen the efficiency of the public sector.