Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

Kurdish official said one of the largest fires consumed almost 350,000 hectares of land. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 June 2019
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Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

  • Civilians and SDF forces are among the dead
  • Some people are claiming the fires were set on purpose

]QAMISHLI: Fires engulfing vital wheat fields across Syria’s northeast have killed at least 10 people, a war monitor said Sunday, as Kurdish authorities claim the blazes were set deliberately.
Kurdish authorities and the Damascus regime are competing to buy up this year’s harvest as fires — some claimed by the Daesh group — continue to scorch crops in the country’s breadbasket.
The victims included civilians and members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who died while trying to extinguish the blazes since Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The fires in the Kurdish-majority province of Hasakah also wounded another five people, according to a spokesman for the Kurdish Red Crescent.
“The victims were trying to douse the blaze but they were trapped by the fire,” Kamal Derbas said.
Kurdish officials have called on the US-led coalition to help extinguish blazes in the cereal and oil-rich region under their control.
“The largest fires have ravaged up to 350,000 hectares of land,” head of the Kurdish agriculture authority Salman Baroudo told AFP.
He claimed the fires were “deliberate,” saying they serve to “stir up strife between area residents and undermine the Kurdish administration” in the country’s northeast.
He did not specify who he believed was behind the blazes.
The official state news agency SANA on Saturday blamed the field fires in Hasakah on Kurdish-led forces.
It said they deliberately sparked a blaze to prevent local farmers from selling their crops to the government.
Analysts say wheat will be key to ensuring affordable bread prices and keeping the peace in various parts of the country in the coming period.
Farmers have separately blamed the fires on revenge attacks, sparks from low-quality fuel, and even carelessness.
SANA said Saturday that other field fires in the northwestern countryside of Hama province were sparked by jihadist artillery attacks.
Clashes in the area on Saturday between government forces and militants left dozens of combatants dead, including 26 pro-regime fighters, the Observatory said.
More than 370,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it erupted in 2011 with a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.


Houthi radio celebrates Hezbollah fundraiser with ‘death to America, death to Israel’ video

Updated 13 min 56 sec ago
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Houthi radio celebrates Hezbollah fundraiser with ‘death to America, death to Israel’ video

  • The radio station claims that the campaign raised $295,000
  • The fundraising came after Hezbollah called on its supporters in March to donate money

DUBAI: A Houthi affiliated radio station released a video showing four men standing in front of wads of cash claimed to be for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

In the video, which has been circulated on social media this week, the director-general of Houthi-affiliated radio station Sam FM, Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf, is seen leading a chant, praising a fundraising campaign for the Iran-backed Lebanese militia group, Hezbollah.

“From Yemen’s faith to Lebanon’s Resistance! God is great! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curses upon the Jews! Victory for Islam,” the men chant.

The Houthi Sam FM radio station held a fundraising campaign for Hezbollah called “Goodness of Yemen” between May 20 and June 30, 2019, during Ramadan.

The radio station claims that the campaign raised $295,000 (74,010,000 Yemeni rial).

The fundraising came after Hezbollah called on its supporters in March to donate money as it came under increasing pressure from sanctions intended to isolate it financially.

The United States, United Kingdom, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Argentina deem Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Yemeni political analyst, Fatima Alasrar, wrote in May that the Houthis’ fundraising for Hezbollah is not surprising, as the militia’s ties to the group are “undeniable.”

Military support for the Houthis from Iran and Hezbollah “comes in different ways” and is “well documented,” Alasrar says, referencing a 2015 Financial Times article where two senior Hezbollah sources said that “hundreds of Lebanese and Iranian trainers and military advisers are in Yemen already.”

Meanwhile, a 2014 article by Reuters quoted a senior Iranian official saying that “the Quds Force, the external arm of the Revolutionary Guard, had a “few hundred” military personnel in Yemen who trained Houthi fighters.”