Syria’s Kurds set free nearly 300 Daesh-linked Syrians

The semi-autonomous Kurdish administration said in a statement those released ‘have no Syrian blood on their hands.’ Above, members of the Syrian Democratic Forces question suspected Daesh militants. (AFP)
Updated 03 March 2019
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Syria’s Kurds set free nearly 300 Daesh-linked Syrians

  • Tribal chiefs and other local officials had lobbied for their release
  • The prisoners were released in several areas of northern Syria held by Kurds

BEIRUT: Nearly 300 Syrians suspected of belonging to Daesh have been freed because they have “no blood on their hands,” Kurdish authorities who were holding them said.
Their release was announced late Saturday by the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration of northern Syria, which said in a statement that 283 Syrians had been set free.
Tribal chiefs and other local officials had lobbied for their release.
The statement said they were men who “have no Syrian blood on their hands,” suggesting that they did not take part in any fighting.
“They had lost their way ... violated the traditions of the Syrian society and the law, and some of them had been deceived ... but they remain our Syrian children,” it said.
Releasing them is a gesture of “cooperation, fraternity and clemency,” said the statement posted on the website of the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The prisoners were released in several areas of northern Syria held by Kurds, including the city of Raqqa, which was the de facto Syrian capital of the Daesh “caliphate,” the statement added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said it was not the first release of Daesh-linked prisoners by Kurdish authorities, but the number was particularly large this time.
The SDF are holding hundreds of alleged foreign militants, as well as women and children related to suspected Daesh members.
Syria’s Kurds have long urged their home countries to take the detainees back, but nations have been reluctant.
Kurds have played a key role in battling Daesh in Syria. The SDF have now cornered the militants in their last stretch of territory near the border with Iraq in a final bid to flush them out.
In November 2013, Kurdish groups in Syria announced the establishment of a semi-autonomous region divided into three zones, following victories against rebels and militants.

Related


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.