Daesh kidnaps women and children in Syria’s Sweida

It is only recently that Daesh was said to have been defeated. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018
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Daesh kidnaps women and children in Syria’s Sweida

  • Daesh group kidnapped dozens of Druze women and children when it attacked their villages
  • More than 250 people killed as Daesh carries out string of attacks

BEIRUT: Daesh group kidnapped dozens of Druze women and children when it attacked their villages last week in Syria’s southern province of Sweida, a monitor said Monday.
More than 250 people were killed on Wednesday when Daesh carried out a string of suicide attacks and shootings in the provincial capital Sweida and villages to the north and east.
“At least 36 Druze women and children were abducted after the attacks,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor with a network of sources inside Syria.
Four of the women had since managed to escape and another two had died, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
Another 17 men from the areas targeted by Daesh were still unaccounted for, but it was unclear if they were also kidnapped, he told AFP.
Both the Observatory and Syrian news outlet Sweida24 said 20 women and 16 children had been kidnapped.
Daesh has not claimed the kidnappings, and no details on them could be found on its propaganda channels.
Daesh declared a self-styled Islamic “caliphate” in 2014 across Syria and Iraq, but has since lost most of that territory.
It still holds small, isolated areas of Syria’s remote desert, which includes northeastern parts of Sweida, as well as pockets in the adjacent province of Daraa and further east near the border with Iraq.
Backed by Russia, Syrian troops have been waging an assault on an Daesh-held pocket of Daraa for more than a week.
Sweida, which is mostly held by the government and populated by the secretive Druze minority, has been relatively insulated from the violence of Syria’s seven-year war.
Last week’s attacks were the bloodiest ever in the province and among the deadliest waged by Daesh in Syria.


US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

Updated 18 December 2018
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US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

  • James Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war
  • Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay

WASHINGTON: The US said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change —  we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war. and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the Daesh extremist group.

President Donald Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the US would not provide “one single dollar” for Syria’s reconstruction if Iran stays.

Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, whose presence is strongly opposed by neighboring Israel, although he said the US accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country.

Jeffrey also said that the US wanted a Syria that does not wage chemical weapons attacks or torture its own citizens.

He acknowledged, however, that the US may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”