Opposition fighters reach north Syria after south evacuations

A Syrian child looks through the windows of a bus as displaced people from the Quneitra province wait at the Morak crossing point to be carried in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, in Morak, northwestern Syria, on July 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2018
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Opposition fighters reach north Syria after south evacuations

  • The evacuations from Quneitra came after a Russia-brokered agreement was reached to see rebels hand over the territory to the Syrian regime
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the first convoy to reach Morek transported around 2,800 people

Hundreds of opposition fighters and their families arrived on Saturday in northwestern Syria after their evacuation from a southern province under a deal with the regime, an AFP correspondent said.

Airstrikes by regime ally Russia, meanwhile, on a southern militant holdout killed six civilians, a Britain-based monitor said.
The evacuations from Quneitra province, which borders the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, came after a Russia-brokered agreement struck earlier this week for the opposition to cede the territory to the Syrian regime.
Opposition elements who opposed the territorial handover were given the option to leave.
On Saturday afternoon, state news agency SANA said preparations were underway to ferry a second wave of people from Quneitra to the north of Syria.
In the morning, the first wave of around 50 buses carrying opposition fighters and their families reached the Morek crossing on the edge of northwestern opposition-held Idlib province, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
Near the parked buses in Morek, a woman and five children waited by a cluster of small suitcases, the eldest among them carrying bottles of water and a blanket.
Men with light weapons slung on their backs shared a bite to eat and some water as they stood around waiting. Several wore scarves wrapped around their faces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the first convoy to reach Morek transported around 2,800 people.
They were to be transferred to other buses run by local NGOs, before traveling further north to temporary camps in rebel-held areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, the Britain-based monitor said.
“More than half of the evacuees are women and children,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The evacuations follow a deadly regime offensive on Quneitra, a thin, crescent-shaped province that lies along the buffer zone with the Israel-occupied Golan to the west.
The Russia-negotiated rebel surrender also saw fighters hand over heavy and medium weapons and the return of regime institutions to the area.
Regime forces launched their southern offensive on June 19, targeting the province of Daraa on the border with Jordan, before turning their attention to neighboring Quneitra.
With a mix of military power and negotiated surrenders, President Bashar Assad’s troops this month captured more than 90 percent of Daraa, where protests against him first erupted in 2011.
Regime forces backed by Russia have continued their campaign in Daraa, aiming to retake areas still controlled by Daesh, which is not party to the Russia-backed withdrawal deals.
On Saturday, Russian airstrikes killed six civilians in that Daesh-held pocket, the Observatory said.
The deadly raids came just a day after strikes in the same area took the lives of 26 non-combatants including 11 children.
On Saturday, clashes between Assad loyalists and opposition groups in the area also killed 13 regime fighters, including eight in a car bombing.
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since it began in 2011 with a brutal government crackdown on protesters.


Saudi delegation in Egypt for key conference

Al-Othaimeen is head of a Saudi delegation. (AFP)
Updated 33 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi delegation in Egypt for key conference

  • Al-Othaimeen thanked the Egyptian president for his patronage of the conference

JEDDAH: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen in Cairo on Monday. 

Al-Othaimeen is head of a Saudi delegation in the Egyptian capital, which is participating in the 4th Islamic Conference of Ministers for Water in the OIC member countries.

El-Sisi urged the participants of the event to come up with positive results and solutions to water problems in the Islamic world.

Al-Othaimeen thanked the Egyptian president for his patronage of the conference, stressing that there are proposals and serious solutions to be discussed at the conference.

During his speech, Al-Othaimeen said the event will help in raising awareness among the OIC member states, as it contributes to the achievement and objectives of the OIC on the major issue of water.

The event aims to promote innovations to address serious water-related issues in unconventional ways, using modern technology and by supporting and implementing integrated water management.

The conference is being organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.