Iraqi activist shot dead in tense southern city of Basra

A member of the Iraqi security forces stands guard in front of the local government headquarters in the outhern city of Basra during a meeting headed by the newly elected Iraqi parliament speaker on September 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Iraqi activist shot dead in tense southern city of Basra

  • Activist Soad Al-Ali was killed by gunmen who fled the scene after shooting at her and her husband

BAGHDAD: A police official says masked gunmen have shot dead a human rights activist and mother of four outside a supermarket in the southern city of Basra.
The official says Soad Al-Ali, who has been involved in organizing protests demanding better services in the city, was killed Tuesday by gunmen who fled the scene after shooting at her and her husband in their car. Al-Ali was killed on the spot while her husband was wounded and was being treated in a hospital.
The assassination — the first such incident since protests erupted this summer — occurred in the Abbasiya district in the center of Basra.
It came as protests resumed Tuesday following a two-week hiatus. Protesters are demanding basic services and the release of those detained in previous demonstrations.


UN Syria envoy to step down next month

Updated 17 October 2018
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UN Syria envoy to step down next month

  • “I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mister said
  • He said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons”

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations envoy for Syria announced on Wednesday he will step down at the end of November after more than four years in the key post, setting back UN efforts to end the seven-year war in Syria
“I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council during a meeting on the crisis in Syria.
The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who became the UN’s third Syria envoy in July 2014, said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons” and had discussed his plans to leave with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate,” he said.
De Mistura will be traveling to Damascus next week to push for the creation of a committee to agree on a post-war constitution for Syria.
Syria is resisting the UN-led effort to set up the constitutional committee that will be comprised of government officials, opposition members and representatives of civil society.
De Mistura was appointed UN envoy for Syria in July 2014 after veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi resigned following the failure of peace talks in Geneva.
Brahimi spent two years in the position, stepping in after former UN chief Kofi Annan quit just six months into the role.
More than 360,000 people have died in the war in Syria, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar Assad but has since morphed into a complex war with myriad armed groups, some of which have foreign backing.