Syria says US-led coalition hit its forces in the east

A US military vehicle drives through in the countryside of eastern Deir Ezzor province on January 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019
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Syria says US-led coalition hit its forces in the east

  • The attack injured two soldiers and destroyed an artillery piece
  • The US-led coalition has previously denied striking Syrian military targets in that area

BEIRUT: The Syrian military said the US-led coalition attacked one of its artillery positions in the country’s east, wounding two soldiers and destroying a cannon, according to state media reports on Sunday.
The spokesman for the US-led coalition Col. Sean Ryan said their partner forces acted in “self-defense” after coming under fire from the western side of the Euphrates River.
US-led coalition forces, with their local Kurdish-led partners, are battling the remnants of Daesh on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, while government troops and allied forces are now positioned on the other side after dislodging Daesh from there.
The incident highlights the risks of operating in close proximity with rival forces in the crowded area where Daesh militants are making their last stand.
An unnamed Syrian military official told state news agency SANA that the coalition’s attack took place late Saturday on government positons in Sukkariyah, west of Boukamal town. It was followed by a foiled incursion by Daesh militants, he added, accusing the US of aiding the militants. Damascus often accuses Washington of aiding “terrorists” to destabilize the government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said militants, holed up in a small area on the Euphrates’ eastern bank, launched an attack against government forces and allied Iranian-backed troops in an apparent attempt to clear an escape route westward toward the desert. The militants also fired at government troops from their position, said the Observatory.
The Observatory said the Daesh attacks lasted for hours and left at least 11 militants, including three suicide bombers, dead.
Since the US announced in December that it’s withdrawing troops from Syria, Syrian government troops have beefed up their presence on the western banks of Euphrates. The timetable for the US withdrawal is not yet clear.
The US-led coalition and local Kurdish-led partners have been battling Daesh militants on the eastern banks of the river since September. The militants are now holding out in two farm areas along the river about four square kilometers in size. Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting but many are still believed to be trapped with the remaining militants.


Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi (L), dressed in prison blues, sits along with other defendants behind the bars of the accused cell during a hearing as part of his trial in a courthouse in Tripoli on December 28, 2014. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 42 sec ago
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Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

  • Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall
  • Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia

TRIPOLI: Relatives and supporters of Libya’s Qaddafi-era intelligence chief, jailed for his alleged role in a bloody crackdown during the country’s 2011 uprising, protested in Tripoli on Saturday to demand his release.
Abdullah Al-Senussi, a brother-in-law of longtime dictator Muamar Qaddafi, was sentenced to death in 2015 over the part he allegedly played in the regime’s response to a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Qaddafi.
Eight others close to Qaddafi, including the Libyan leader’s son, Seif Al-Islam, also received death sentences following a trial condemned by the UN as “seriously” flawed.
Several dozen relatives and members of Senussi’s tribe, the Magerha, gathered in a central Tripoli square to demand he be freed over health concerns.
“The law and medical reports support our legitimate demand,” said one protester, Mohamad Amer.
Officials have not released specific details on his alleged health problems.
In a statement, the Magerha said his liberation would “contribute to and consolidate national reconciliation” in a country torn apart by intercommunal conflicts since Qaddafi’s fall.
The unusual protest comes just over a month after the release on health grounds of Abuzeid Dorda, Qaddafi’s head of foreign intelligence who was sentenced at the same time as Senussi.
The protesters held up photos of Senussi behind bars and placards reading “Freedom to prisoners. Yes to national reconciliation.”
Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall.
Like the dictator’s son, he had also been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for suspected war crimes during the 2011 uprising.
But in an unusual move, in 2013 the court gave Libyan authorities the green light to put him on trial.
He has since been detained in the capital, along with some 40 other senior Qaddafi-era officials including the dictator’s last prime minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi.
Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia.
The group announced his release in 2017 but it was never confirmed and his fate remains unknown.