Helicopter gunships strafe Aleppo: rights group

Updated 03 August 2012

Helicopter gunships strafe Aleppo: rights group

BEIRUT: Troops fired from helicopter gunships on several neighborhoods of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Friday, as the army faced off against rebel fighters, activists told AFP.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army was using helicopter gunships in the southwest of the city, in the Salaheddin, Bustan Al-Qasr, Sukari, Al-Mashhad and Al-Azamiya neighborhoods.
Troops also clashed with rebels in the central Jamiliya district, adjacent to Aleppo’s historic old quarter, as well as in Mahatat Baghdad and in Saadallah Al-Jabiri Square.
The Observatory reported four people killed in the city on Friday morning — three killed in shelling of the southern Fardoss district and one shot dead in the Maysaloon neighborhood.
In Salaheddin, the scene of fierce fighting in recent days, hundreds of rebels were bracing for a threatened offensive by loyalist troops in Syria’s commercial capital, which has been engulfed in violence since July 20.
An AFP photographer saw improvised barriers made up of sandbags and even a bus thrown up across the the streets and makeshift clinics set up inside schools and mosques.
A rebel fighter in the neighborhood, reached by telephone, told AFP that residents were fleeing the districts and confirmed helicopter gunships had been firing on the area since 6:00 a.m. (0300 GMT).
He said troops were on the outskirts of the neighborhood but had not yet tried to enter.
In nearby Idlib province, the Observatory reported clashes in the town of Maaret Al-Numan, saying shelling was ongoing and there were deaths and injuries among government troops, as well as three injuries among the rebels.
On Thursday, violence nationwide killed 164 people — 84 civilians, 43 soldiers and seven rebel fighters, according to the Observatory’s figures.

 


Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

Updated 33 min 50 sec ago

Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

  • A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset
  • The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign

JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Israeli motorists protested in Jerusalem on Tuesday against a proposed measure to curtail public demonstrations during the current nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and scores of people also demonstrated in a square outside the building as lawmakers debated a measure that would effectively clamp down on the weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his Jerusalem residence.
The demonstrations in central Jerusalem have drawn thousands each week for the past several months, the largest sustained protests against Netanyahu in nearly a decade. Many of the cars in Tuesday’s motorcade were festooned with Israeli or black flags, one of the symbols of the protest movement.
The Israeli government imposed a second countrywide lockdown ahead of the Jewish High Holidays earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Protests have been permitted, but influential ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have fumed over restrictions on prayers while the mass demonstrations have kept up.
The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign, saying he is unfit to serve while on trial for corruption charges and accusing him of bungling his management of the coronavirus crisis and economic damage it has caused.
Netanyahu has said the protests must end due to public health concerns. But protesters say he is using the crisis as a pretext to muzzle them.
Israel announced the lockdown earlier this month and tightened it last week in response to one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks. The measures have closed schools, malls, restaurants and hundreds of businesses.
The lockdown was initially slated to be lifted on Oct. 11, after the three-week autumn holiday season, but in a radio interview on Tuesday, Israel’s health minister said the nationwide shutdown would likely be extended.
“There is no scenario that in another 10 days we will lift everything and say ‘it’s all over, everything is ok,’” Yuli Edelstein told Israel Radio. He said the Health Ministry was prepared for the possibility of a surge in new cases, and that “reopening of the economy and our lives will be gradual and slow.”
Israel, a country of 9 million people, has recorded over 233,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,500 deaths from the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to the Health Ministry. The ministry said Tuesday the country has for the first time surpassed the US, one of the world’s worst hit countries, in per capita daily coronavirus deaths.
While Israel garnered praise for its swift response to the arrival of the pandemic in the spring, the country reopened its economy too quickly in May and infections have skyrocketed since then.