Assad says West is fueling Syria war, hoping to topple him

A man sits near a poster of Syrian President Bashar al Assad during the re-opening of the road between Homs and Hama in Talbisi, Syria June 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 June 2018

Assad says West is fueling Syria war, hoping to topple him

  • Assad reiterated his position that the uprising against his rule was part of a conspiracy to remove him from power.
  • Assad also dismissed reports that Israel has conducted recent airstrikes in Syria with tacit Russian cooperation.

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Sunday that the West is fueling the devastating war in his country, now in its eighth year, with the aim of toppling him.
Assad told the Mail on Sunday that Western nations have lied about chemical attacks in Syria and supported terrorist groups there, while Russia has supported his government against the foreign “invasion.”
Assad reiterated his long-held position that the uprising against his rule was part of a conspiracy to remove a leader that did not go along with Western policies in the region. Syria is allied with Iran and Russia, and has had turbulent relations with the West. Syria is technically at war with Israel, which occupies the Syrian Golan Heights, but a cease-fire has largely held since the 1970s.

“The whole approach toward Syria in the West is, ‘we have to change this government, we have to demonize this president, because they don’t suit our policies anymore.’” Assad said. They tell lies, they talk about chemical weapons, they talk about the bad president killing the good people, freedom, peaceful demonstration.”
Syria’s conflict began in 2011 with peaceful protests against the Assad family’s decades-long rule. The government’s violent response to the protests, and the eventual rise of an armed insurgency, tipped the country into a civil war that has claimed nearly half a million lives.
Since then, Western nations and independent experts have accused the government of carrying out several chemical weapons attacks, most recently in April, in an attack near Damascus that reportedly killed dozens of people and prompted Western airstrikes. The government has denied ever using chemical weapons.

Assad also dismissed reports that Israel has conducted recent airstrikes in Syria with tacit Russian cooperation. Russia has provided crucial military support to Assad’s forces, waging an air campaign since 2015 that turned the tide of the war in Assad’s favor. Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have also provided extensive military support.
“Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily,” Assad said. “How could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?“

Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes against Iranian forces in Syria last month. The lack of any Russian response, despite the heavy Russian presence in the skies over Syria, suggested that Moscow might have been notified ahead of time.

On Sunday, airstrikes killed at least nine people in the town of Taftanaz and another two people in nearby towns in the northern Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory and an activist-run media center in Taftanaz said a local pediatric hospital was struck, putting it out of order.

 


Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

Pedestrians, wearing face masks, walk in a street of Ankara on November 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

  • 20% of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return
  • No PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers entering the country. It is a very big mistake

ANKARA: Unofficial sources have warned that numbers of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are skyrocketing.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimated that daily COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 47,500, of which about 12,500 are in Istanbul. This would represent a 300 percent increase in November compared to the month before.

According to official data, however, Turkey recorded 5,103 new COVID-19 patients on Nov. 20 — the second highest new daily figure since March — and its highest daily death toll with 141 fatalities.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that 186 people died from “infectious diseases” in the city on Nov. 22 — more than the official countrywide death toll. (The Turkish health ministry is accused of classifying some COVID-related deaths as "infection-related deaths")

The TTB, whose data drew on figures from 1,270 medics in 76 provinces, claimed that someone in Turkey dies from COVID-19 every 10 minutes. It declared that “they have lost control of the pandemic.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms. Following this admission Turkey was put on the UK’s quarantine-on-arrival list in early October.

BACKGROUND

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms.

Reports drawing on Israeli health ministry data say that 20 percent of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, which experts consider a worryingly high figure.

Everyone arriving in Israel is obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no such an obligation in Turkey.

“The countries which prove successful in managing the pandemic are those that apply strict quarantine rules and rigorously regulate arrivals in the country. But this is not the case in Turkey nowadays,” said Guner Sonmez, a radiologist from Uskudar University in Istanbul.

“Only one case can again trigger a whole chain of contagion and begin a new wave of pandemic. However, no PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers who enter the country. It is a very big mistake for managing the dynamics of the pandemic.”

Turkey recently re-introduced a partial evening curfew and restrictions on the weekends, although scientists have been urging a full 14-day lockdown.