300 dead in battle for Palmyra

Updated 18 May 2015

300 dead in battle for Palmyra

BEIRUT: Nearly 300 people have been killed in several days of fighting since the Islamic State group launched an attack against Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, a monitor said Sunday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said the toll comprised 123 soldiers and loyalist militiamen, 115 IS fighters and 57 civilians. It said dozens of the civilians had been executed.
The toll came as Syrian government forces Sunday pushed IS terrorists back from Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site, a day after the fighters had seized the northern part of the modern town.
But the Observatory said IS fighters were still one kilometer from the archaeological site and its adjacent museum which houses thousands of priceless artifacts.
Fighting was still ongoing Sunday in the northern suburb of Palmyra and around Haql Al-Hail gas field northeast of the city, the Observatory and IS said.


Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

Updated 21 min 36 sec ago

Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

  • Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risked accusations of hypocrisy on Monday as he repeated his denunciations of Israel’s occupation and annexations in Palestine while allowing the Israeli airline El Al to resume cargo flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

The first such flight in 10 years landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment for US medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As the plane touched down, Erdogan was sending a message to US Muslims restating his support for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem and his rejection of Israeli oppression.

“Last week we witnessed that a new occupation and annexation project, which disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law, was implemented by Israel,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate that Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first qiblah, is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”

Israel’s new unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz is expected to move forward soon with plans to annex swaths of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, as Arab News reported this month, Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean. Erdogan is attempting a risky political balancing act, analysts told Arab News.

“I think Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because the political benefits of blockade and isolation have weakened,” said Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical risk company Stratfor.

“But at the same time, they do want to keep some of that tradition of sympathy for Palestine alive for those remaining supporters who still prize the issue.”