Air strikes kill seven civilians in southern Syria: monitor

Smoke following an explosion in Syria is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Israeli Syrian border July 16, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Air strikes kill seven civilians in southern Syria: monitor

  • It was not immediately clear whether the strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally
  • More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by Syria’s war since it started in 2011

BEIRUT: Air strikes on Tuesday killed seven civilians in a sensitive southwestern province of Syria bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a war monitor said.
The Damascus regime has been pounding Quneitra since Sunday in a bid to retake the southwestern province from rebels, after winning back most of the neighboring governorate of Daraa in less than a month.
“Six civilians including two women and three children were killed in air strikes near Ain Al-Tina” on Quneitra’s border with Daraa province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It was not immediately clear whether the strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally, the Britain-based monitor said.
The monitor determines who carried out strikes based on the type of aircraft and munitions used, locations and flight patterns.
In the west of the adjacent province of Daraa, Russian air raids killed one civilian near the village of Al-Aliya, it said.
“Since Tuesday morning, heavy Russian air strikes and barrel bombs dropped by the regime have been targeting an area straddling Quneitra and Daraa,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, is present in that area, he said.
HTS extremists are not included in a cease-fire between regime and rebels in Daraa announced earlier this month, which has allowed the regime to retake control of more than 90 percent of the province.
President Bashar Assad’s regime has advanced in Daraa thanks to a deadly bombardment campaign since June 19, along with Russia-brokered deals between opposition fighters and the regime.
In Quneitra on Monday, rebels in at least five towns raised the national flag, seeking a similar agreement with the regime, Abdel Rahman said.
“Rebel factions in these towns have stopped fighting to avoid bombardment and destruction,” he said.
In two days since Sunday, at least 43 regime fighters have been killed in both Daraa and Quneitra, while 48 extremists and rebels have lost their lives, the Observatory said.
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by Syria’s war since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.


Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya

Updated 16 February 2019
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Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya

TUNIS: Militiamen have kidnapped a group of Tunisian workers near the Libyan capital Tripoli, demanding Tunis release a comrade, the foreign ministry and a rights activist said.
"The foreign ministry is following the case of the Tunisian citizens... kidnapped by armed Libyan elements near Zawiya", the ministry said on its Facebook page late Friday.
Rights activist Mustapha Abdelkebir said the armed group behind Thursday's kidnappings was demanding the release of one of its members held in Tunisia.
The kidnap victims were workers at Zawiya oil refinery, Tunisian media said. A diplomatic source told AFP that 14 workers had been taken hostage.
"The minister has spoken to his Libyan counterpart to insist on the protection of the detainees, accelerate their release and ensure that they return safe and sound", the ministry said in a statement.
Tunisia reopened a consulate in Libya in 2018, after shutting it three years earlier due to the kidnapping of 10 Tunisian diplomats.
The Libyan militia which carried out the 2015 kidnapping had demanded the release of one of its leaders, Walid Glib, detained in Tunisia as part of a counter-terrorism investigation.
The diplomats were released after several days and Walid Glib was later deported to Tripoli.
Libya's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said it had no information on Thursday's abduction and that it was looking into the matter.
The country has been mired in chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, as two rival administrations and numerous militias grapple for power.