Daesh abducts hundreds of civilians from Syrian refugee camps

The militants raided the displacement camp, taking “more than 100 families” including relatives of Daesh defectors and of militants killed in fighting. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2018

Daesh abducts hundreds of civilians from Syrian refugee camps

  • The Daesh militia took “more than 100 families” during a raid in a displacement camp in east Syria
  • A number of fighters of the Kurdish-led SDF died trying to defend the camp in a battle that lasted several hours

JEDDAH: Daesh militants have abducted hundreds of civilians after storming a displacement camp in eastern Syria during a battle with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Several SDF fighters died trying to defend the camp in a battle on Friday night that lasted several hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Daesh gunmen seized up to 130 families by force and took them to areas in the last pocket of territory they control in the region. The families are mostly made up of foreign women, including widows of Daesh members killed earlier in the Syrian war. The observatory warned that Daesh may kill them.

The US-backed SDF launched a major assault on Sept. 10 on the small stretch of the Euphrates Valley around the town of Hajin, where they estimate about 3,000 Daesh militants are holed up.

But they have sustained heavy casualties in the operation being conducted with US-led air support.

Since Wednesday, 37 SDF fighters have been killed in militant counterattacks and Daesh has lost 58 fighters, most of them in retaliatory coalition air strikes, the observatory said.

“Daesh is pressing its attacks in the Hajin area as the SDF battles to hold them off with the support of the international coalition,” observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

But a prolonged sandstorm has made it difficult for the coalition to carry out airstrikes.

Founded in 2015, the SDF is spearheaded by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a powerful Kurdish armed movement.

Hundreds of foreigners have joined the YPG to battle Daesh, which has its own notorious contingent of foreign fighters.

Meanwhile the UN, Israel and Syria have reached an agreement to reopen the Quneitra crossing in the occupied Golan Heights on Monday.

“The United States welcomes the reopening of this crossing, which will allow UN peacekeepers to step up their efforts to prevent hostilities in the Golan Heights region,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), with about 1,000 troops, was established in 1974 and monitors a cease-fire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria.

UNDOF resumed its patrols in the area of the crossing point in August, after withdrawing in 2014 when Al-Qaeda-linked forces overran the area.


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.