Assault on Idlib risks ‘scattering terrorists’ abroad: Paris

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian delivers a speech at the annual French ambassadors' conference in Paris, France, August 29, 2018. (Reuters/File)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Assault on Idlib risks ‘scattering terrorists’ abroad: Paris

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Tuesday that a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib could scatter thousands of terrorists

PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Tuesday that a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold of Idlib could scatter thousands of foreign terrorists abroad, posing a security threat to the West.
“There are in all likelihood dozens of French fighters from both Al-Qaeda and Daesh” in Idlib, Le Drian told France’s BFMTV, warning that there were “also many terrorists from other nations who could scatter” in the event of a joint Syrian-Russian offensive, posing “risks for our security.
Le Drian said there was “still time to guard against this scenario” and expressed support for Turkey “in its efforts to keep the population safe, particularly the civilian population.”
France, the European country worst hit by a wave of attacks since 2015, has been on high alert for radicals returning home from areas in Iraq and Syria that have been recaptured from Daesh.
Le Drian estimated at “between 10,000 and 15,000” the number of terrorists left in Idlib.
“The attack being prepared by the Syrian regime with Russia’s backing is extremely dangerous,” he said.


Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

Updated 3 min 22 sec ago
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Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

NABEUL, Tunisia: Flash floods in Tunisia’s Cap Bon peninsula have killed at least four people, authorities said Sunday, as surging waters caused by heavy rains carried away homes, cars and chunks of road.
Among the four dead were two sisters, swept away as they left work at a factory in Bou Argoub, 45 kilometers southeast of the capital, the interior ministry said.
A 60-year-old man drowned near the town of Takilsa and another man was found dead in Bir Bouregba, close to the town of Hammamet, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.
Saturday’s storm caused water levels in some areas to rise as much as 1.7 meters (5.6 feet), as bridges and roads were damaged in record rains that dropped the equivalent of nearly six months of average precipitation.
“It was raining since noon and (in the afternoon) it became torrential. The water flooded over the bridge and onto the road,” Moncef Barouni, a resident in the coastal town of Nabeul, told AFP.
In just minutes, “the water swept away the fence, then the boiler room, the summer kitchen and a part of the house,” he said.
“I was scared for my life.”
The storm dumped 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain on Nabeul and up to 225 millimeters in the city of Beni Khalled, in the peninsula’s center, according to Tunisia’s National Institute of Meteorology.
It was the heaviest rainfall since the institute began keeping a record in 1995, the institute said, adding that it had issued a warning about the storms on Friday.
Videos posted to social networks showed surging waters carrying cars and pieces of road in the north of the peninsula.
Tunisian authorities said they had dispatched police, army and rescue teams to the region on Saturday afternoon, in addition to mobilizing ambulances and two helicopters.
Authorities also took preventative measures in the Sahel region further south in anticipation of further rains, but by Sunday they appeared to have subsided.
The sun was out Sunday and receding water levels meant most of the area’s roads were passable by car, Zaag said, although the region’s telephone networks were still largely out of service.
Severe thunderstorms have hit the North African country since the middle of last week, flooding roads and damaging property, sparking anger against the authorities for allegedly failing to maintain drainage systems.