Baghdad begins sealing Syria border to block Daesh

Baghdad declared victory over Daesh at the end of last year. (AFP)
Updated 01 July 2018
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Baghdad begins sealing Syria border to block Daesh

  • Baghdad declared victory over Daesh at the end of last year, but the group holds pockets of territory in the vast deserts of eastern Syria and maintains its ability to strike inside Iraq
  • The supreme court has ratified a decision by the outgoing Parliament to dismiss Iraq’s nine-member electoral commission and have them replaced by judges

BAGHDAD/MOSUL: Iraq has begun building a fence along its border with Syria to stop Daesh militants crossing into the country, a border guards spokesman said Sunday.

“Ten days ago we started to set up a barbed wire security fence with surveillance towers along the border with Syria,” said Anwar Hamid Nayef, spokesman in Iraq’s Anbar province.
The frontier barrier includes a six-meter-wide trench and involves thermal cameras and drones scanning the border for militants attempting to cross from Syria.
Baghdad declared victory over Daesh at the end of last year, but the group holds pockets of territory in the vast deserts of eastern Syria and maintains its ability to strike inside Iraq.
The new fence so far runs for 20 km north from the area around the border town of Al-Qaim, which Iraqi forces retook from Daesh in November. In total the frontier stretches for some 600 kms.
Border spokesman Nayef said that experts from Baghdad’s Ministry of Defense and an anti-Daesh coalition spearheaded by the US would come “to evaluate the effectiveness of the fence.”
“If they approve the installations, we will continue along the whole border with Syria,” he said.
In a sign of the continuing menace it poses to Iraq, the bodies of eight captives executed by Daesh were this week found along a highway north of Baghdad.
In a bid to combat the militants, Iraqi forces have carried out a series of airstrikes against Daesh inside Syria.

Parliamentary vacuum
Iraq’s Parliament held its final session on Saturday, leaving the country without a national assembly for the first time since 2003 as it awaits a vote recount from May parliamentary polls.
The manual recount was demanded by the supreme court in polling stations with contested results, in line with a decision by the outgoing Parliament following allegations of fraud.
Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Aram Sheikh Mohammed announced “the end of the third parliamentary mandate,” at a gathering attended by 127 members of the 328-seat house.
Since the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq has had three parliaments each with a mandate of four years.
The last ballot was won by populist leader Moqtada Al-Sadr’s electoral alliance with communists, as long-time political figures were pushed out by voters seeking change in a country mired in conflict and corruption.
Results of the May election were contested mainly by the political old guard. The supreme court has ratified a decision by the outgoing Parliament to dismiss Iraq’s nine-member electoral commission and have them replaced by judges.
The judges’ spokesman, Laith Hamza, said Saturday that the partial recount would start Tuesday in the Kurdish provinces of Irbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, as well as in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Salaheddin and Anbar.
Meanwhile, Iraqi cellist and conductor Karim Wasfi has played a concert for “peace and co-existence” amid the ruins of Mosul, almost a year after Iraqi forces ousted Daesh from the city.
Dozens of people attended on Friday as Wasfi, in full concert dress, played on a makeshift stage among the most iconic religious monuments of Iraq’s second city.


Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

Updated 56 sec ago
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Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

  • According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children
  • 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since conflict began

LONDON: A Syrian journalist has claimed on his YouTube channel that he has been assaulted and beaten by Turkish forces on the Syria-Turkey border.
Mazen Al-Shami posted a video to the social media network and also posted on Facebook, saying: “After nine years of the revolution, that is how my family and I are treated.
“A Turkish officer tortured me in front of my family and tortured my children on the Syria-Turkey border, it was his reaction when he found out I was a Syrian journalist.”
Al-Shami ended the post with the hashtags #Thank_You_Turkey and #Thank_You_Hotel_Opposition with a number of photos containing the injuries sustained by him and his son as a result of the assault.
According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children along with other civilians as they tried to cross the border into Turkey from the Syrian Idlib region.
The Association of Syrian Journalists, which represents journalists opposed to the Bashar Assad regime, quoted Al-Shami as saying: “The opposition did not respond to my request to enter Turkey for a follow-up to my medical treatment.”
The association added that Al-Shami was beaten and severely tortured with “metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools.”
Hundreds of Syrian activists have responded to the incident, saying the officer responsible must be held accountable and that the Turkish army is constantly targeting civilians trying to cross the border from Syria.
In a recent report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since the start of the country’s ongoing conflict.