Jordan officials hold talks in Syria on resuming flights

In this Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 file photo, Jordanian cars prepare to cross into Syria, at the Jordanian-Syrian border Jaber crossing point, in Mafraq, Jordan. (AP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Jordan officials hold talks in Syria on resuming flights

  • Before the conflict broke out in 2011, national carrier Royal Jordanian operated two flights a day to Syria
  • Jordan reopened its key Jaber/Nassib border crossing with Syria in October.

AMMAN: Civil aviation officials from Jordan visited Damascus on Wednesday to discuss plans to reopen Syrian airspace to its commercial flights, Jordanian state media reported, in another sign that the country's war is winding down. 
Their mission was “to examine technical issues around the possibility of Jordanian commercial flights resuming their use of Syrian airspace,” said Haitham Mistu, the head of Jordan’s civil aviation authority.
Before the conflict broke out in 2011, national carrier Royal Jordanian operated two flights a day to Syria — one to Damascus and one to the northern city of Aleppo.
In July 2012, it suspended the services as an anti-government uprising escalated into full-blown war, placing air traffic at risk.
But Mistu told Jordan’s official Petra news agency that Wednesday’s meetings were part of a risk assessment program, to be followed by a technical evaluation.
“Based on that evaluation, the appropriate technical decision will be taken,” he said, without giving any timeframe.
The meeting was the latest in a series of moves by Arab states to rebuild ties with the Syrian regime as the country’s devastating civil war draws to a close.
Jordan reopened its key Jaber/Nassib border crossing with Syria in October.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministry announced it had decided to appoint a charge d’affaires at the Jordanian embassy in Damascus.
Last month, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus since the start of the war and the UAE became the first Gulf state to reopen its embassy in Damascus.
Syria remains suspended from the Arab League.
The war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations.
But since 2015, a series of Russian-backed assaults has put the regime back in control of much of the country.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.