Dozens die in Ukraine clashes

Updated 20 August 2014

Dozens die in Ukraine clashes

DONETSK, Ukraine: Fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels left dozens of civilians dead on Wednesday as Ukrainian troops pushed on with a bloody offensive to break the insurgency in the east of the country.
Deadly battles to crush the ailing rebellion appeared to intensify ahead of a fresh round of diplomatic haggling that will see the presidents of Russia and Ukraine sit down next week for their first meeting in months.
Clashes in Donetsk region, one of the two separatist areas, have killed 34 civilians since Tuesday, regional authorities said, as troops reclaimed another town from the rebels.
In the city of Makiyivka, adjoining the main rebel bastion Donetsk, residents were woken up by shelling in the early hours of Wednesday.
The renewed offensive comes as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gears up for talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin next week over how to end the conflict, which has killed about 2,200 people over the past four months.
In Geneva the UN said at least 415,800 people have fled their homes due to fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
According to the latest UNHCR estimates, at least 190,000 have been displaced within Ukraine, while 197,400 have fled to Russia. A further 14,600 have travelled to Poland and 13,883 to Belarus.
Poroshenko this week said the army was regrouping to continue its push on the separatist hubs of Donetsk and Lugansk and to fragment the rebel-held territory to stop the flow of weapons from Russia.
“Both (Kiev and Moscow) are trying to improve their starting positions,” said political analyst Oleksiy Golubutskyi. “If Ukraine manages to gain control over Lugansk or even Donetsk before these talks, then the issue of demilitarising them disappears.”
Ukraine’s National Guard said it had wrested back control over on the town of Ilovaysk, a key railway hub some 45 kilometers east of Donetsk.
In besieged Donetsk, authorities said water supplies had been restored after fighting cut power to a filtering station over the weekend.
Kiev claims Moscow is ratcheting up arms flows to help the separatists as Ukrainian forces have pushed deeper into dwindling rebel territory.
Western powers also fear Putin could be preparing to send in the 20,000 troops NATO says he has massed on the border as a last role of the dice.
A Ukrainian military spokesman could not confirm claims from a commander in the field Tuesday that a massive convoy of Russian armor entered the second-largest insurgent city of Lugansk.


Muslim World League chief leads delegation to Auschwitz for Holocaust memorial

Updated 23 January 2020

Muslim World League chief leads delegation to Auschwitz for Holocaust memorial

  • Al-Issa and the CEO of the AJC David Harris led the tour to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial
  • The interfaith visit came four days before the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet forces on Jan. 27, 1945

LONDON: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL) led a delegation of Muslim leaders on an interfaith visit to Auschwitz on Thursday.
The visit was part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation from the Nazis.
Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa addressed Muslim leaders and delegates from the US Jewish group the American Jewish Committee (AJC) at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.
“To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor," Al-Issa said.
“The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity. That is to say, a violation of us all, an affront to all of God’s children.”
Al-Issa and the CEO of the AJC David Harris led the tour to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial.
Harris said the visit led by Al-Issa was the “most senior Islamic leadership delegation to ever visit Auschwitz or any Nazi German death camp.”
The AJC said that Al-Issa led a delegation of 62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders, from some 28 countries during the visit.
The interfaith visit came four days before the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet forces on Jan. 27, 1945, and as world leaders gathered in Jerusalem to commemorate the Holocaust.
The Nazis operated extermination and concentration camps in Poland when Germany occupied the country during World War II.
Al-Issa also led prayers next to the memorial monument honouring the more than one million people - mostly European Jews -that Nazi Germany killed at Auschwitz.
The Jewish group’s delegation included children of Holocaust survivors.