Syrian town captured by Al-Nusra

Updated 25 April 2015

Syrian town captured by Al-Nusra

BEIRUT: Insurgents including Al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria, Al-Nusra Front, captured the northwestern Syrian town of Jisr Al-Shughour on Saturday, for the first time in the four-year-old conflict.
Syrian state media said the army had redeployed to the town’s surroundings “to avoid civilian casualties.” They said the army was battling “a large number of terrorists coming from the Turkish border.”
The capture of the strategic town is the latest in a series of setbacks for government forces in the south and the north. Opposition fighters and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the town, on a road between the coastal city of Latakia and city of Aleppo, was now fully controlled by insurgents
“All of Jisr Al-Shughour is now liberated, there is no more regime there,” Ahmad of the media office of the Ahrar Al-Sham group, which is taking part in the battle, told Reuters.
After taking the town, fighters continued their assault with the aim of pushing the army from the few remaining government areas in the province of Idlib.
Last month the Sunni groups seized the city of Idlib, the capital of the province of Idlib near Turkey, after forming an alliance which includes Nusra, the hard-line Ahrar Al-Sham movement and Jund Al-Aqsa, but not Islamic State, their rival.
The alliance calls itself Army of Fatah, a reference to the conquests that spread Islam across the Middle East from the seventh century.
Militant groups agreed to unite in the battle for Jisr Al-Shughour under the name “Battle for Victory.” The formation of alliances by groups before major battles is one of the factors behind the advances, sources say.
By taking Jisr Al-Shughour, the insurgents have edged closer to the coastal province of Latakia, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s stronghold, and are now less than 8 km from villages loyal to the government near the coast.
“Jisr Al-Shughour is more important than Idlib itself, it is very close to the coastal area which is a regime area, the coast now is within our fire reach,” Ahmad from Ahrar Al-Sham said.
Syrian forces captured the town of Jisr Al-Shughour in June 2011 when what the government described as armed gangs killed more than 120 security personnel in the town after large demonstrations there.
A rebellion in Jisr Al-Shughour, a town of 50,000, in 1980 against President Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father, was crushed with scores of deaths.


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.