Over 30 regime troops killed in blast at Syrian air base: Monitor

A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied fighters at a military airport in central Syria Saturday. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Over 30 regime troops killed in blast at Syrian air base: Monitor

  • The Shayrat airbase is one of the regime's most significant installations in the centre of the country
  • In 2017, US air strikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people

BEIRUT: A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied forces at a military airport in central Syria on Saturday, a war monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of sources on the ground, said it was unclear what had caused the deadly explosion at the Shayrat Airbase in Homs province.
But state news agency SANA reported that a “technical fault during the transport of expired ammunition” had killed an unspecified number of victims.
The Shayrat Airbase is one of the regime’s most significant installations in the center of the country.
Iranian fighters — who support the regime in Syria’s ongoing civil war — are based there, according to the Observatory.
In 2017, US airstrikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people.
According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.
The opposition dominating Idlib warned that regime violations would effectively “nullify” the cease-fire, which Damascus said will depend on rebel backer Turkey implementing a buffer zone in the area.

FASTFACT

The Shayrat Airbase is one of the regime’s most significant installations in the center of the country.

Most of Idlib province and parts of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia are controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.
The region is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a Turkish-Russian deal struck in September in the Russian resort of Sochi.
On Thursday, a new ceasefire went into effect as Syria peace talks resumed in Kazakhstan between Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,00 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

 


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”