US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil — Bolton

John Bolton warned against Iran's role in other Middle East countries. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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US troops to stay in Syria as long as Iran forces operate on foreign soil — Bolton

  • John Bolton says Iran 'responsible for attacks in Syria, Lebanon and responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft,"
  • Israel has carried out strikes against many sites in Syria linked to Iranian militias

NEW YORK: US troops would not leave Syria as long as Iranian forces its proxies were operting in foreign countries, one of Donald Trump's closest advisors warned on Monday.

The warning from US National Security adviser John Bolton was a clear statement of the White Houses intent to curtail Tehran's influence in Syria and other countries in the region.

Iran was responsible for attacks in Syria, and Lebanon and was responsible for the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft last week, Bolton said.

Bolton said the US would keep a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there.

"We're not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias," he said.

Both Israel ths US and neighboring Arab countries have all expressed their deep concern about Iran's powerful presence in Syria and how long it plans to stay.

Israel has carried out strikes against many sites in Syria linked to Iranian militias. Last week, it was during an Israeli air raid that Syrian air defenses shot down an aircraft belonging to the Russian military, which is a key supporter of President Bashar Al-Assad. 

Bolton on Monday warned Russia that its decision to respond by supplying Syria with an advanced missile defense system would be a "major mistake" and should be reconsidered, AP reported.
"We have American forces in the area we're concerned about," Bolton said. "The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we're all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities."
Shortly before the downing, Israeli strikes had hit targets inside Syria, reportedly preventing an arms shipment to the Iranian-backed militant Hezbollah group.

Bolton's warning on Iran came as France warned Monday that the Middle East risked “perpetual war” unless a peace agreement can be reached in Syria.

Syrian President “Bashar Assad but also those who support him have a responsiblity to work for a political solution,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters at the United Nations.
“If not, we risk heading toward a sort of perpetual war in the area,” he said.

Meanwhile, France has called for stronger international sanctions on Libyans who stand in the way of a political solution in the conflict-ridden country.
The current situation "forces us to show greater firmness toward those who want to insist on the status quo for their sole benefit," Le Drian said, urging sanctions against the "militia members who threaten Tripoli."


Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

Iraqis wait at the Nineveh governorate building in Iraq's second city of Mosul to resolve issues related to their identity documents. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Iraq’s Mosul logs civil records lost to years of Daesh rule

  • During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers
  • When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract

MOSUL: When Shahed was born in 2015 her father tried to notify Iraq’s civil registry. The problem was, their city of Mosul was held by Daesh group and the office had been shut.

Three years later, 39-year-old Ahmed Aziz has yet to officially register his daughter’s birth, the certificate for which bears the seal of the so-called caliphate.
Under the late summer sun, the taxi driver braves a long queue outside Mosul’s reopened civil registry, hoping that by the end of the day Shahed’s name will finally appear in state records.
The little girl was born just a year after Daesh swept across the country, seizing swathes of territory including Iraq’s second city Mosul.
“The civil registry was closed,” said Aziz, holding the IS-stamped document issued by a hospital in Mosul.
But since Iraqi forces ultimately regained control of the city in July 2017 after a bloody months-long campaign, residents have flooded the city’s reopened offices.
Thousands of children like Shahed had been born under Daesh rule, and the extremists had systematically blown up civil offices and archives.
“I saw this massive rush to get to the public offices, so I preferred to wait a bit before going there too,” said Aziz.
As a result, his daughter does not yet officially exist.
During the Daesh’s reign, thousands of Iraqis who lived in areas controlled by Daesh virtually disappeared from state registers.
Some lost their identity documents as neighborhoods turned into battle zones, others as they fled the violence.
Many of those who remained were given documents from Daesh’s proto-state — ministries and courts created by the jihadists to register births, marriages, deaths and trade agreements alike.
None of that paperwork has been recognized by Iraqi authorities.
When Zein Mohammed got married in 2014, he and his soon-to-be wife had to present themselves at an IS court to seal the deal.
What should have been the best day of the now 29-year-old civil servant’s life was instead a test.
“I appeared in front of the judge with my fiancee — she was covered head-to-toe in black,” he told AFP.
Under Daesh rule, Mosul’s residents were forced to bow to the jihadists ultra-conservative demands.
Women were compelled to fully cover themselves in black veils and long robes, and civil cases were heard by courts that dealt out death sentences and corporal punishment for “sins..”
“The judge issued us a marriage certificate bearing the IS seal,” said Mohammed.
When Iraqi forces retook the city and courts reopened, he and his wife rushed to sign a new marriage contract.
Now, packed in among the crowd outside Mosul’s civil registry, Mohammed is hoping to finally regularize their marital status.
Iraqi civil servants are working around the clock to meet the massive demand, compiling files, verifying identities and registering official documents and certificates.
It is a titanic job, often slowed due to additional safeguards imposed by Iraqi security services in the former IS stronghold.
To weed out fake IDs and spot jihadists seeking to slip through the cracks, “intelligence services check each document,” head of Mosul’s registry office General Hussein Mohammed Ali told AFP.
But the added security measures have not hampered progress.
“More than a million certified documents and more than 2,000 passports have already been issued,” he said.
Mustafa Thamer, a 23-year-old student, is applying for his first passport even though he has no plans to travel soon.
“We say we must have a passport so that we can leave whenever we want,” he told AFP.
“We lived under IS occupation and we no longer trust the future of the city,” he said.
“Anything can happen in Mosul.”