Syria regime unleashes its brutal air power on Idlib

Syria regime unleashes its brutal air power on Idlib
People look at the damage in the aftermath of an explosion at a base in an opposition-held area of the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2018

Syria regime unleashes its brutal air power on Idlib

Syria regime unleashes its brutal air power on Idlib

BEIRUT: Regime forces upped the pressure on two of the last opposition bastions in Syria, with airstrikes in Idlib province and a move to break a siege near Damascus Monday.
Syrian and Russian aircraft pounded targets in the northwestern region of Idlib, pressing a week-old operation targeting the last province in the country to escape government control.
Raids Sunday left “at least 21 dead, including eight children and 11 members of the same family" west of the town of Sinjar in the southeast of the province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Regime and Russian strikes are continuing today on several parts of Idlib” province, Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organization, told AFP.
Russian-backed regime forces launched an operation on the edge of Idlib province in the last days of 2017 and have retaken villages every day since.
After the collapse of Daesh group in both Syria and Iraq late last year, President Bashar Assad’s regime is bent on restoring its grip over the country.
Idlib province, which borders Turkey, is almost entirely controlled by anti-government forces that are dominated by an outfit known as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).
An explosion on Sunday in the city of Idlib at a base for the group Ajnad Al-Qawqaz made up of fighters from the Caucasus that operates alongside HTS, left at least 34 dead, including 19 civilians, the Observatory said.
The initial death toll for the attack, the origins of which remain unclear, was 23 but the number went up on Monday when more bodies were found in the wreckage.
Abdel Rahman said the casualty count could yet rise because more victims were believed to be buried under the rubble and many of the wounded were in critical condition.
“Rescue teams are still sifting through the wreckage,” he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the blast was caused by airstrikes or was the result of the kind of internal clashes that sometimes break out between different opposition factions.
After shrinking to barely a sixth of the country at the height of the nearly seven-year-old conflict, the areas under government control now cover more than 50 percent of Syrian territory.
Another pocket where opposition groups are still holding out, however, is Eastern Ghouta, a semi-rural area east of the capital Damascus that is home to some 400,000 people.
Rebels led by the Jaish Al-Islam group had in recent days surrounded the army’s only military base in the area but the state news agency SANA said Monday the siege had been broken.
“Units from the Syrian Arab Army have brought an end to the encirclement of the Armored Vehicles Base in Harasta,” it said, adding that operations were ongoing to fully secure the base.
According to the Observatory, the fighting in Harasta since the base was surrounded in late December left 72 regime fighters and 87 opposition men dead.
The shelling and bombardment of besieged Eastern Ghouta, where the humanitarian conditions have sharply deteriorated in recent months, has also claimed a heavy toll on civilians.
The latest casualties came on Monday when airstrikes killed a child and two other civilians in Madira, a village in Eastern Ghouta, the Observatory said.
More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions have been driven from their homes since Syria’s conflict erupted with anti-government protests in 2011.


Egypt: Ethiopia has delayed reaching agreement on the GERD

Egypt: Ethiopia has delayed reaching agreement on the GERD
Updated 25 January 2021

Egypt: Ethiopia has delayed reaching agreement on the GERD

Egypt: Ethiopia has delayed reaching agreement on the GERD
  • Egyptian irrigation and water resources minister criticizes Ethiopian stubbornness in Renaissance Dam negotiations
  • Ethiopia has announced the completion of 76.3 percent of the dam, stressing that it is aiming for development without harming the downstream countries

CAIRO: The Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Ati has accused Ethiopia of being responsible for the paused negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the failure to reach an agreement.

The minister told the Egyptian parliament that “there is stubbornness on the Ethiopian side in the Renaissance Dam negotiations issue. It retreats from the terms that were agreed upon.”

He said that the GERD delay is a problem for the Egyptian state, noting that the Ministry of Irrigation works on the technical side of the dam, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles political and legal aspects.

Abdel-Ati said that the US mediating side initially assisted in a draft agreement, which Egypt signed, but Ethiopia rejected the draft.

“Four meetings were held under the auspices of the African Union and five six-way meetings, in the presence of the ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs, and no agreement was reached,” he added.

Abdel-Ati noted that Egypt had responded to the initiative of the Sudanese prime minister, and many tripartite meetings were held, but they did not result in any progress.

The Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Yasser Abbas confirmed that there is a direct threat from the GERD to the Rossiris Dam, whose storage capacity is less than 10 percent of the Renaissance Dam’s capacity.

Abbas’ statements came during Khartoum meetings organized by the Ministry for Foreign Ambassadors to explain Sudan’s position on the Renaissance Dam.

Abbas stressed that this vicious cycle of talks cannot be continued indefinitely.

Less than six months remain before Ethiopia begins implementing its plan to start the second filling of the GERD next July, even without an agreement or daily exchange of data with Sudan.

Abbas said: “And because war is not an option, the Sudanese side started from an early stage a diplomatic move to put the international community before its responsibility from the Ethiopian threat and its threat to the lives of half of Sudan’s population on the Blue Nile.”

The minister sent a special message to Ethiopia that Sudan would not allow the filling and operating of the dam without a binding legal agreement that would secure the safety of its facilities and the lives of the Sudanese.

In recent years, Egypt and Sudan — the two downstream countries — fought negotiations with Ethiopia, the upstream country, to agree on the GERD that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, with Cairo and Khartoum fearing its negative effects.

The negotiations have stalled on several occasions, with the most-recent meeting at the end of last year. It remains unclear how to resolve the GERD issue, which presents the three countries with a national security issue.

Recently, Ethiopia announced the completion of 76.3 percent of the dam, stressing that it is aiming for development without harming the downstream countries.