Over 60,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq: UN

Updated 09 December 2012
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Over 60,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq: UN

BAGHDAD: More than 63,000 Syrian refugees have fled the bloody conflict in their home country for neighboring Iraq, according to figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday.
The intense fighting between forces loyal to Bashar Assad and fighters battling to overthrow him has sparked a huge exodus of Syrians to neighboring countries.
There were 63,496 Syrian refugees in Iraq as of Dec. 5, a weekly update released by the UN said.
Most of them — 54,550 — were in the three-province autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, while 8,852 were located in Anbar province in the west and 94 in other provinces.
Meanwhile, Syria’s new opposition coalition said yesterday they will announce the creation of a military council before a Friends of Syria meeting next week, to unify the ranks of fighters.
National Coalition Secretary General Mustafa Sabbagh said the group “will announce the creation of a supreme military council before the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh” due to take place on Dec. 12. In mid-November opposition factions met in Qatar and agreed to set up the National Coalition and bring together rebel forces under a supreme military council, as well as establish a judicial commission for fighter areas.
“The council will be exclusively responsible for receiving military aid which we obtain,” from outside Syria, Sabbagh told AFP.
He also stressed that the military command will not include radical groups such as Al-Nusra Front which, along with other rebels who rejected the formation of the opposition National Coalition.
The Al-Nusra Front, which has become a formidable fighting force, has claimed the majority of suicide bombing attacks in Syria’s 21-month-old insurgency that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
“Setting up the supreme military council is an important initiative to unify military action,” said Sabbagh.
The council will comprise “commanders of the various military councils on the group and forces battling the regime, namely the Free Syrian Army,” he said on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Bahrain.
Morocco has said it will host next Wednesday the fourth round of a Friends of Syria meeting of nations that support the opposition.


Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

Palestinians celebrate the resignation of Israel's defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Four police officers wounded in Jerusalem attack

  • The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM: A knife-wielding Palestinian attacker sneaked into a Jerusalem police station and lightly wounded four police officers before he was shot and captured, Israeli police said on Thursday.

The assault came on the heels of a fragile truce that was reached between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip that ended two days of heavy fighting, the area’s most severe violence since the 50-day Gaza war in 2014.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the knife-wielding attacker climbed over the station’s fence late on Wednesday night and began stabbing officers inside. Other officers then shot the assailant and captured him; he was later taken to hospital.

In the two days of heavy fighting, Palestinian militants had fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel, while Israel carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. A rocket fired from Gaza killed a Palestinian laborer in Israel.

The latest round of violence was triggered by a botched Israeli raid on Sunday that left seven Palestinians and a senior Israeli military officer dead. Before the raid, Egyptian and UN mediators had made progress in reducing tensions.

In recent days, Israel had allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of government workers.

The cease-fire led to the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who had demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the Palestinian rocket attack but appeared to have been overruled by Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Resignation

The resignation threw the government into turmoil and pushed the country toward an early election. Netanyahu presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military’s recommendations. 

But Lieberman and fellow hard-liner Education Minister Naftali Bennett later expressed reservations, saying they favored a stronger response.

Hamas has staged  near-weekly border protests since March in an effort to lift the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group seized control of the coastal strip in 2007.  This has inflicted heavy damage on Gaza, but Hamas remains firmly in power. Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, most of them unarmed.

Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party was demanding to be given the defense portfolio or he would withdraw his eight seats from Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

Another key coalition partner, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of center-right Kulanu, reportedly told Netanyahu elections should be called as soon as possible because a stable government was needed to keep the economy on track.

Premier Netanyahu’s political popularity is in large part due to his reputation as Israel’s “Mr. Security,” as he has often been dubbed, and he has defended his decision saying: “Our enemies begged for a cease-fire.

“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said.