Daesh attacks kill 17 pro-regime fighters in south Syria

Syrian regime soldiers gather in the town of Kafr Batna, Syria, in this file photo. 17 pro-regime combatants were killed, including nine Iranians, in surprise attacks by Daesh in southern Syria. (AP)
Updated 08 June 2018
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Daesh attacks kill 17 pro-regime fighters in south Syria

  • At least 17 pro-regime fighters including six soldiers were killed by Daesh militants in surprise attacks in southern Syria.
  • Nine extremists also lost their lives in the assaults in the desert of the southern province of Sweida.

BEIRUT: Daesh militants on Thursday killed at least 17 pro-regime fighters including six soldiers in surprise attacks in southern Syria, a monitor said.
Nine extremists also lost their lives in the assaults in the desert of the southern province of Sweida, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
They were the first attacks of their kind in the area, where no Daesh presence had been noted in more than a year, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The 17 pro-regime combattants killed also included nine Iranians and fighters belonging to pro-Iran Shiite militias, as well as two unidentified fighters, he said.
Daesh has ramped up its attacks against pro-regime forces since its fighters last month left their last stronghold near Damascus under an evacuation deal with the regime.
The new toll brings to 179 the number of pro-regime troops killed in more than two weeks in extremist attacks across the country since May 22. At least 89 militants were killed during that same period.
Daesh in 2014 proclaimed a cross-border “caliphate” in Syria and neighboring Iraq, but has since lost most of that territory to separate offensives by Russia-backed regime troops and a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance.
The extremists now control no more than three percent of Syria, the Observatory says, mostly in the eastern desert near the border with Iraq.
Earlier this week, Daesh assaults in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor killed 45 pro-regime fighters.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

Updated 56 min 46 sec ago

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda throws weight behind vote frontrunner

  • Karoui came second with 15.6 percent
  • The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment

TUNIS: Tunisia’s influential Islamist-inspired party Ennahda said on Friday it will support law professor and political outsider Kais Saied in a presidential runoff against jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui.

“Ennahda has chosen to support the people’s choice,” party spokesman Imed Khemiri told AFP after last Sunday’s first round of polling in which Saied finished ahead with 18.4 percent of the vote.

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Karoui came second with 15.6 percent, said the electoral commission ISIE, while Ennahda, a main force in Parliament, scored 12.9 percent with its first-ever candidate to run for the presidency, Abdelfattah Mourou.

The result was a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment, in place since the fall of late leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali eight years ago after mass protests that sparked the Arab Spring revolts.

HIGHLIGHT

The surprise result of the election, contested by more than 20 candidates, thrust to the fore both Saied and Karoui, likewise from outside the world of traditional Tunisian politics.

Saied, a fiercely independent academic aged 61, advocates a radical decentralization of power, with local democracy and the ability to remove elected officials from office during their mandates.

He is also perceived as very conservative on social issues, and has defended the death penalty, criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

Karoui, a 56-year-old media magnate, has been held in prison since Aug. 23 under investigation for alleged money laundering.

He remains eligible to run as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to ISIE.

Karoui has in recent years used his popular television channel Nessma to launch high-profile charity campaigns, often appearing in designer suits as he criss-crosses the country to meet with some of its poorest.