Turkey urges Islamic world to review Israel ties, calls summit

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2018
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Turkey urges Islamic world to review Israel ties, calls summit

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday urged Islamic countries to review their ties with Israel and said it would call an extraordinary summit of the world’s main pan-Islamic body after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border.
Ankara has reacted with fury to the killing Monday of 59 Palestinians in clashes and protests, on the same day as the United States formally moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in defiance of international outrage.
“Islamic countries should without fail review their relations with Israel,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his ruling party in parliament.
“The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre,” he added.
Yildirim said that Turkey had called an “extraordinary summit” of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the body.
It was not immediately clear what format the meeting would take or who might attend.
A Turkish foreign ministry official, who asked not to be named, said there was to be “a summit in Istanbul on Friday.”
Yildirim said that after the summit at 3:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) a giant rally would be held at the vast Yenikapi meeting area in Istanbul under the slogan of “Stop the Oppression” to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
“This has nothing to do with party politics. This is to show solidarity, brotherhood and togetherness,” he said.
“The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre,” added Yildirim.
Erdogan regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and last year hosted an OIC summit in Istanbul to denounce US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The summit declared East Jerusalem — which the international community regards as annexed by Israel — “as the capital of the State of Palestine” and urged the world to follow suit.
However Turkey also maintains full trade and diplomatic links with the Jewish state after a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a dispute over the deadly storming of a Turkish ship by Israeli commandos.
Ankara on Monday said it was recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Israel for consultations in the wake of the events.


Russian-backed air strikes hit Daesh in southern Syria — sources

Updated 22 July 2018
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Russian-backed air strikes hit Daesh in southern Syria — sources

  • Daesh-affiliated forces entrenched in the Yarmouk Basin
  • The agricultural area has become the main battleground in the sensitive border region

AMMAN: Russian and Syrian jets stepped up their bombing of a Daesh bastion along the Jordan-Israel border in southwestern Syria, as the militants pushed into areas abandoned by other rebel groups, diplomatic and opposition sources said.
Daesh-affiliated forces entrenched in the Yarmouk Basin, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan, also repelled a ground attack by the Syrian army and its allies, the sources added.
The agricultural area has become the main battleground in the sensitive border region after a major Russian-backed Syrian army offensive routed other rebel groups who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
An intelligence source told Reuters 1,000-1,500 Daesh fighters had been holding their ground despite the 10-day-old bombing campaign that he said had hit villages and caused “untold number” of civilian casualties
A former resident in touch with relatives said thousands of civilians whose villages have been bombed have fled to the safety of areas either held by the army or rebels.
Another source familiar with the situation said Daesh had actually been able to expand its territory over the last 20 hours by seizing at least 18 villages abandoned by other rebels under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Daesh was taking advantage of the collapse of its ideological FSA rivals which it views as apostates, the source said.
The United States once armed the southern FSA rebels, but told them at the start of the Russian-Syrian offensive not to expect its intervention. While cutting other aid to the rebels, Washington had continued to provide those fighting Islamic State with weapons, the source added.
The Syrian army said its aerial strikes and shelling of militants in the Yarmouk Basin — the only territorial pocket held by the hard-line Sunni fundamentalists in the country’s southwest — had killed “tens of terrorists” in a campaign whose goal it said was to crush militants.
The army and its allies have been pushing to expand their foothold near the Golan frontier by negotiating surrender deals with rebel groups and allowing them to move to opposition-held areas in northern Syria.