Daesh suffers heavy losses in Syria despite Kurd pause

Fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) attend the funeral of one of their commanders. (AFP)
Updated 07 November 2018
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Daesh suffers heavy losses in Syria despite Kurd pause

  • Waves of US-led airstrikes since Monday have killed 28 militants
  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) killed another 17 Daesh fighters while defending their base in the village of Al-Bahra

At least 45 Daesh fighters have been killed around their last enclave in Syria despite a pause in a two-month Kurdish-led assault, a monitor said on Wednesday.

A Kurdish-led alliance backed by Washington announced the pause in its offensive in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor last week in protest against Turkish shelling of Kurdish areas along the northern border.

But waves of US-led airstrikes since Monday have killed 28 militants, including during an abortive Daesh assault on Tuesday on an oilfield north of the enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) killed another 17 Daesh fighters while defending their base in the village of Al-Bahra just outside Daesh-held territory on Monday, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

Alliance spokesman Kino Gabriel had stressed that the pause in offensive operations did not mean SDF fighters would not defend themselves. The SDF launched its offensive against the Daesh enclave around the Euphrates Valley town of Hajin on Sept. 10.

But after making slow progress, they suffered a major setback last month when Daesh took advantage of sandstorms to launch a series of counter-attacks.

By the end of the month, they were back at square one with all of the territories they had won recaptured by the militants.

The Hajin enclave is the last significant remnant of the “caliphate” Daesh proclaimed in 2014 across a vast swathe of Syria and neighboring Iraq.

The rest has all been lost to offensives by multiple alliances on both sides of the border.

Outside the Hajin enclave, the group’s operations are confined to sleeper cells and to hideouts in unpopulated desert and mountain areas.


Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

Updated 15 November 2018
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Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

BEIRUT: Bank deposits in Lebanon have risen by 4 percent on the year, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday, and he maintained his economic growth outlook for 2018 at 2 percent.

In July Salameh had said he expected bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.

In October the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halved their growth outlook to one percent for Lebanon, where public debt is about 150 percent of gross domestic product.

“Lebanese banks have succeeded in maintaining foreign exchange inflows into their sector supported by (the central bank),” Salmeh said in a televised speech at a Beirut economic conference.

With growth low and traditional sources of foreign exchange — tourism, real estate and foreign investment — undermined by years of regional tension, Lebanon increasingly relies on dollars expatriate Lebanese deposit in local banks.

The banks buy government debt, which finances the country’s eye-watering public debt and twin deficits.

The central bank also brings in dollars through complex financial operations with local banks to boost foreign currency reserves needed to defend the Lebanese pound’s peg to the dollar.

However, deposits have been growing at a slower rate since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, and deposit growth rates are closely watched.