Hamas backs new Egyptian bid for Palestinian unity

Head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh. (AP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Hamas backs new Egyptian bid for Palestinian unity

  • Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result
  • A previous Egyptian-brokered deal, signed by Hamas and Fatah in October 2017, collapsed on implementation

GAZA: The head of Gaza’s rulers Hamas has announced his backing for a new Egyptian-led push for reconciliation with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
The office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he had spoken with Egypt’s intelligence head Abbas Kamel to inform him of his movement’s backing for a fresh Egyptian-brokered push.
A statement from the movement said the two men discussed the “latest developments in the Palestinian issue and especially the reconciliation file and humanitarian projects for the people of the Gaza Strip.”
Haniyeh’s deputy Saleh Al-Arouri led a delegation to Cairo last week. So far Fatah has not officially responded to this fresh push for reconciliation.
A previous Egyptian-brokered deal, signed by Hamas and Fatah in October 2017, collapsed on implementation.
In March, the head of the Fatah-dominated West Bank government survived a roadside bomb hitting his convoy in a rare visit to Gaza, with his allies later accusing Hamas of planning the attack. It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.
The US has signaled its support for a fresh reconciliation push, but diplomats have little optimism.
Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result, leading to increased strife.
A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza. Since then two separate Palestinian civil administrations emerged.


Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

Updated 18 November 2018
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Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

  • 43 people were killed in the strikes launched by the coalition
  • The US-led coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days

BEIRUT: The US-led anti-militant coalition hit back Sunday at reports its air strikes on a Daesh group holdout in eastern Syria had killed civilians, appearing to blame their deaths on regime forces.
More than seven years into the country’s civil war, multiple offensives have whittled down the swathes of Syrian territory Daesh once controlled to a small pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border.
A Kurdish-led alliance backed by the coalition is battling to expel Daesh from that holdout, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
Russian-backed regime forces have been fighting the militants west of the river.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition strikes on Saturday killed 43 people, including 36 family members of Daesh fighters in the village of Abu Al-Husn.
But the coalition denied that its air raids there had killed any non-combatants.
The US envoy for the coalition, Brett McGurk on Sunday appeared to blame regime forces stationed “across the river” for the civilian casualties.
“Reports of civilian casualties attributed to coalition strikes are false. All other forces should cease uncoordinated fires from across the river immediately,” he said on Twitter.
In a statement late Saturday, the coalition reported 19 coalition strikes on Daesh targets “free of civilian presence” between late Friday and Saturday afternoon in the militant enclave, which includes the town of Hajjin.
The coalition’s “initial assessment following the strikes is that there was no evidence of civilians near the strikes,” it said.
But the coalition “detected a total of ten additional strikes in the same area of Hajjin that did not originate from the coalition or partner forces,” it added.
It called “on all other actors to cease uncoordinated fires across the Euphrates.”
The Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces and Daesh fighters exchanged fire across the river on Saturday, but pro-government shelling did not hit Abu Al-Husn.
The US-led international coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days that its air raids have killed civilians.
It says it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates each one thoroughly.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.
On Saturday, Syrian regime forces retook control of the group’s last holdout in the country’s south as the militants retreated into the desert after months of fighting, the Observatory said.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number much higher.