Netanyahu hails UN Hamas vote despite defeat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked “American administration and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative.” (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2018
0

Netanyahu hails UN Hamas vote despite defeat

  • “This is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand”
  • Hamas praised the outcome of the vote, describing it as a “slap” to President Donald Trump’s administration

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday hailed majority backing in the UN General Assembly for condemning militant group Hamas even though a draft resolution failed to win enough votes to pass.
The US draft won 87 votes in the General Assembly on Thursday compared to 58 against but fell short of a required two-thirds majority.
Thirty-two countries abstained.
“The draft condemnation of Hamas in the UN General Assembly received a sweeping majority by countries that stood against Hamas,” Netanyahu said in an English-language statement.
“This is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand.”
“I thank the American administration and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative.”
Haley, who steps down from her post at the end of the year, has repeatedly accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias.
She has defended Israel in its latest confrontation with Hamas, the Islamist group which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 and has fought three wars with Israel since then.
The United States had won crucial backing from the European Union, with all 28 countries supporting the draft that would have condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demanded an end to the violence.
The European Union, like the United States, blacklists Hamas as a terrorist organization.
It was the first draft resolution condemning Hamas to be presented to the 193-nation assembly, which has been meeting since 1946.
Hamas praised the outcome of the vote, describing it as a “slap” to President Donald Trump’s administration.
“The failure of the American venture at the United Nations represents a slap to the US administration and confirmation of the legitimacy of the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri tweeted, referring to militant groups that oppose Israel.


Syria vows to bring Kurdish-held areas back under control

An SDF fighter fires a gun toward a part of Baghouz where remaining Daesh militants are holding out in their last position, in the countryside of Deir Ezzor on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 56 sec ago
0

Syria vows to bring Kurdish-held areas back under control

  • US-backed Kurds battle militants in their last patch of territory in Baghouz

DAMASCUS: Syrian regime forces will reclaim control of northeastern areas controlled by the US-backed Kurds, whether by force or through reconciliation, the defense minister warned Monday.

Marginalized for decades, Syria’s minority Kurds have carved out a de-facto autonomous region across some 30 percent of the nation’s territory since the devastating war broke out in 2011.

Backed by a US-led coalition, Kurdish forces have spearheaded an offensive in Syria against Daesh.

Washington’s shock December announcement that it would withdraw its troops from Syria has sent the Kurds scrambling to rebuild ties with the Damascus regime, but talks so far have failed to reach a compromise.

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub said the Syrian regime will recapture territory controlled by Kurdish-led forces in the same way it “liberated” other parts of Syria.

“The only card that remains in the hands of the Americans and their allies is” the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), he said, referring to the force leading the battle to wipe out the last remnant of the Daesh’s “caliphate.”

“The Syrian government will deal with this issue in one of two ways: A reconciliation agreement or liberating the territory they control by force,” he said at a joint press conference with the military chiefs of staff of Iran and Iraq.

His comments come as the SDF, backed by the US-led coalition, battle militants in their last patch of territory in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

Eight years into a war that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions, Syrian regime forces control almost two-thirds of the country.

Just two areas remain beyond their control: The militant-held northwestern region of Idlib, and the third of the country under the control of the SDF.

Ayoub on Monday said Idlib will also be recaptured by regime forces.

“The Syrian government will reassert its complete control over all Syrian territory sooner or later,” he said. “Idlib is no exception.”

The Idlib region borders Turkey and is dominated by an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.

Idlib has been protected from a massive offensive by Bashar Assad’s regime since September, thanks to a buffer zone deal agreed by Damascus’s ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

But it has been hit by sporadic regime shelling. The defense minister’s comments come after a rare meeting with the military chiefs of staff of Iraq and Iran in Damascus.

Ayoub stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between the three militaries to combat mutual threats.

He said what emerged from talks “will help us to continue to confront challenges, dangers and threats” posed by terrorism.

Daesh seized large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, but has since lost most of that to various offensives, including by the Russia-backed regime.

US-backers forces said they are facing difficulties defeating Daesh. A spokesman said their effort is being slowed by mines, tunnels, and the possibility of harming women and children still in the village.

Dozens of men and women were seen walking around the besieged Daesh encampment in Baghouz on Sunday, as Kurdish fighters watched from a hilltop close by.

SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel said the camp was approximately 250 km in size — much the same area it was five weeks ago, when the SDF said it was going to finally conclude the battle.

“We are facing several difficulties regarding the operations,” Gabriel told reporters outside Baghouz Sunday.