Dutch want to know MH17 missile launch site to prosecute

Updated 13 September 2014
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Dutch want to know MH17 missile launch site to prosecute

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: Dutch prosecutors said Friday they need to know where a missile that may have shot down flight MH17 was fired from in eastern Ukraine before criminal charges could be laid.
“When we know from where it was fired, then we can find out who controlled that area,” and possibly prosecute, Dutch chief investigator Fred Westerbeke told journalists in Rotterdam.
“The most likely scenario was that the plane was shot down from the ground,” he said.
Dutch authorities have taken the lead in the criminal probe into what brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over conflict-torn Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch.
Westerbeke said that they had not yet obtained US satellite photos of areas from which a missile might have been launched. “We will get them,” Westerbeke said, adding that it was a “long process”. An initial report by a Dutch air safety probe into the crash released on Tuesday said that the plane was struck by numerous “high-energy objects”.
The report ruled out pilot error or mechanical failure, leaving shooting down from the ground or from the air as well as a terrorist bombing as the only other scenarios.
Kiev and the West have accused separatists of shooting it down with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Moscow.
Moscow and the rebels deny this and point the finger at Kiev.
Privileging the missile strike theory, investigators are examining “around 25” pieces of metal found in some of the bodies, said Patricia Zorko of the Dutch national police. “Now we need to find out if they come from inside the plane or is this something that came from outside the plane,” Zorko told journalists.
Intercepted telephone conversations between separatists allegedly talking about shooting down the plane have not yet been authenticated.
“We are studying the intercepted telephone call,” Zorko said of one of the conversations.
“The conversation is between rebels who allegedly shot down the plane, but we really need to authenticate it,” she said.
The Netherlands lost 193 citizens, Malaysia lost 43 and Australia 27 on the doomed flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
So far 193 crash victims of the crash have been identified.
An international investigation team involving police and prosecutors from several countries including the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine and Belgium as well as, to a lesser extent, Malaysia, has been set up, with over 100 investigators working on the probe.
Investigators have made, received or found about 20,000 pictures and 750 videos, which they are studying, said Zorko.


Macron sparks Turkish anger by meeting Syrian Kurds

Updated 58 min 7 sec ago
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Macron sparks Turkish anger by meeting Syrian Kurds

  • Macron assured the Kurdish envoys of French support in their fight against the remaining militants
  • Ankara accused the French leader of “seeking to confer artificial legitimacy on a faction of terrorist groups”

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday hosted representatives of the Kurdish-led force that defeated Daesh extremists in Syria, drawing a sharp rebuke from Turkey’s foreign ministry.
Macron assured the Kurdish envoys of French support in their fight against the remaining militants, but Ankara accused the French leader of “seeking to confer artificial legitimacy on a faction of terrorist groups.”
“We condemn the reception by French President Emmanuel Macron of a delegation of so-called ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF),” Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in the statement.
In late March the US-backed SDF flushed out Daesh fighters from their last bastion in Syria but Kurdish-led force still warns that the militants remain a threat in places.
The SDF is an umbrella Kurdish-Arab force dominated by Kurds from the People’s Protection Units (YPG). It is regarded with huge distrust by neighboring Turkey which sees the YPG as a terror group.
Macron assured the visiting SDF representatives, who were not named, of the “active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security,” the presidency said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for Daesh.
Particularly important is the support in the “handling of terrorist fighters held as prisoners along with their families.”
European capitals are keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the militants, given many are dual nationals.
Macron also vowed that financial support would be allocated to “respond to the humanitarian needs and the socio-economic stabilization of civilian populations in Syria.”
The SDF were the West’s key ally in defeating Daesh and waged the bulk of the fighting on the ground.
But they fear being abandoned by their patrons now Daesh has been beaten, after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
France’s past contacts with the SDF’s Syrian Kurds had already angered Turkey which regards the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a 35-year insurrection against the Turkish state.
Macron on Friday made clear of the importance to Paris of “the security of Turkey and a de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border,” the French presidency said.
But Aksoy said Macron’s move did not sit well with the French-Turkish alliance, and warned that “Turkey will not hesitate to take measures deemed necessary to protect its national security.”