Daesh seizes village in south Syria: monitor

This photo taken on July 11, 2018, shows makeshift graves in front of buildings destroyed during airstrikes by Syrian regime forces in the rebel-held town of Nawa, southern Syria. An affiliate of Daesh seized a village in southern Syria overnight from rebels who had agreed to a regime takeover. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Daesh seizes village in south Syria: monitor

  • An affiliate of Daesh seized a village in southern Syria overnight from rebels who had agreed to a regime takeover.
  • Overnight into Thursday, the extremists took control of the village of Heet near the Jordanian border.

BEIRUT: An affiliate of Daesh seized a village in southern Syria overnight from rebels who had agreed to a regime takeover, a Britain-based monitor said Thursday.
Much of the southern province of Daraa had been quiet since Friday, when a cease-fire deal between rebels and the Russian-backed regime ended a nearly three-week government assault.
But Jaish Khaled bin Walid, a local branch of Daesh that controls a small corner in the southwest of the province, on the border with Jordan and close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is not included in that deal.
Overnight into Thursday, the extremists took control of the village of Heet near the Jordanian border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
“After violent clashes, Jaish Khaled bin Walid took control of Heet despite Russian and regime air strikes against them,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Fighting since Wednesday has left 16 rebels and 12 extremists dead including two suicide bombers, he said.
Since June 19, the regime has been pressing military and negotiation efforts to retake the whole of Daraa and the adjacent Quneitra province from the opposition.
A government victory in the strategic area bordering Jordan and the occupied Golan Heights would be symbolic, as it is seen as the cradle of the seven-year uprising.
The regime now controls more than 80 percent of Daraa province, the Observatory says, though some parts of its western countryside remain under opposition control.
President Bashar Assad’s regime has retaken more than 60 percent of the country since 2015, when Russia intervened militarily to bolster it.
Syria’s civil war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown of anti-Assad protests.


Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019
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Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”