Libyan air strikes kill four, wound 37: government

Heavy smoke rises above buildings during clashes between the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, in Espiaa, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 29, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2019
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Libyan air strikes kill four, wound 37: government

  • The country has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising that deposed and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

TRIPOLI: Air raids on Tripoli Sunday night killed four people and wounded 37, Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) said Monday, blaming the attacks on strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
This came a day after a similar attack on the capital killed another four civilians and injured 20, according to the GNA.
Haftar’s LNA launched an offensive against Tripoli, the seat of the internationally-recognized GNA, on April 4.
After initial gains, Haftar’s forces have encountered stiff resistance on the southern outskirts and his troops have been pushed back in some areas.
At least 278 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the clashes, according to a toll released Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
The GNA accuses Haftar of using foreign planes to carry out air strikes, without naming a country of origin.
After Sunday’s raids, “public hospitals received four dead people — three civilians and a soldier, and 37 wounded, Amin Al-Hachemi, a spokesman for the GNA health ministry told AFP.
“The toll may rise given that victims have been transported to private hospitals.”
The parts of Tripoli struck were Abou Slim, a densely-populated residential area in the south, and Ain Zara, a southern suburb that has seen several violent clashes in recent weeks.
A spokesman for the LNA confirmed Saturday’s strikes on the capital, but said they were aimed at military targets.
“The capital is experiencing an escalation in the military offensive, war crimes, and indiscriminate bombings of residential areas, public facilities and infrastructure,” Mohanad Younes, a spokesman for the GNA, said on the government’s Facebook page.
“Unmanned foreign planes participated in these raids, the latest ones having hit homes in Ain Zara and Abou Slim,” said Younes.
The responsibility for these acts, he added, rests “with the states which support the belligerent forces of the criminal Haftar.”
Haftar’s offensive has sharpened fault lines in policy toward Libya among world powers.
On April 18, Russia and the United States opposed a British bid backed by France and Germany at the UN Security Council to demand a cease-fire in the North African country.
The White House revealed the next day that Donald Trump had reached out personally to Haftar in a phone call, during which the US president “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”
The country has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising that deposed and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.


Could foreign Daesh suspects be tried in northeast Syria?

Updated 16 July 2019
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Could foreign Daesh suspects be tried in northeast Syria?

  • The Kurdish authorities say they are seriously exploring how to set up an international tribunal

QAMISHLI: Months after the territorial defeat of Daesh, Syria’s Kurds are pushing for an international tribunal to try alleged militants detained in their region.

The Kurds run an autonomous administration in the northeast of Syria, but it is not recognized by Damascus or the international community.

This brings complications for the legal footing of any justice mechanism on the Kurds’ territory, and the international cooperation required to establish one.

With Western nations largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals or judge them at home, could foreign Daesh suspects be put on trial in northeast Syria?

After years of fighting Daesh, Syria’s Kurds hold around 1,000 foreign men in jail, as well as some 12,000 non-Syrian women and children in overcrowded camps.

Almost four months after Kurdish-led forces backed by the US-led coalition seized Daesh’s last scrap of land in eastern Syria, few have been repatriated.

The Kurdish authorities say they are seriously exploring how to set up an international tribunal, and invited foreign experts to discuss the idea at a conference it hosted early this month.

“We will work to set up this tribunal here,” the region’s top foreign affairs official Abdelkarim Omar told AFP afterwards.

“The topic of discussion now is how we will set up this tribunal and what form it will take,” he said.

Daesh in 2014 declared a “caliphate” in large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq, implementing its brutal rule on millions in an area the size of the UK.

The militants stand accused of a string of crimes including mass killings and rape, and a UN probe is investigating alleged war crimes.

Mahmoud Patel, a South African international law expert invited to the July conference, said any court should include input from victims and survivors.

It should be “established in the region where the offenses happened so that the people themselves can be part of that process,” he said, preferably in northeast Syria because the Kurds do not have the death penalty.

In Iraq, hundreds of people including foreigners have been condemned to death or life in prison.

In recent months, a Baghdad court has handed death sentences to 11 Frenchmen transferred from Syria to Iraq in speedy trials denounced by human rights groups.

Omar, the foreign affairs official, said he hoped for an international tribunal to try suspects “according to local laws after developing them to agree with international law.”

The Kurdish region has judges and courts, including one already trying Syrian Daesh suspects, but needs logistical and legal assistance, he said.

A tribunal would have “local judges and foreign judges, as well as international lawyers” to defend the accused, he said.

Nabil Boudi, a French lawyer representing four Frenchmen and several families held in Syria, said the Kurdish authorities seemed determined.

“They’re already starting to collect evidence,” he said after attending the conference.

“All the people who were detained and jailed had their own phone” and data can be retrieved from them, said the lawyer, who was however unable to see those he represents.

Boudi called for “a serious investigation by an independent examining magistrate ... that should take time and be far less expeditious than in Baghdad.”

Stephen Rapp, prosecutor in the trial of Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor, said the most realistic option to try foreigners in northeast Syria would be a Kurdish court.

It could have “international assistance conditioned on compliance with international law,” he said, including advice from a non-governmental organization specialized in working with non-state actors.