Daesh abducts hundreds of civilians from Syrian refugee camps

The militants raided the displacement camp, taking “more than 100 families” including relatives of Daesh defectors and of militants killed in fighting. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2018

Daesh abducts hundreds of civilians from Syrian refugee camps

  • The Daesh militia took “more than 100 families” during a raid in a displacement camp in east Syria
  • A number of fighters of the Kurdish-led SDF died trying to defend the camp in a battle that lasted several hours

JEDDAH: Daesh militants have abducted hundreds of civilians after storming a displacement camp in eastern Syria during a battle with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Several SDF fighters died trying to defend the camp in a battle on Friday night that lasted several hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Daesh gunmen seized up to 130 families by force and took them to areas in the last pocket of territory they control in the region. The families are mostly made up of foreign women, including widows of Daesh members killed earlier in the Syrian war. The observatory warned that Daesh may kill them.

The US-backed SDF launched a major assault on Sept. 10 on the small stretch of the Euphrates Valley around the town of Hajin, where they estimate about 3,000 Daesh militants are holed up.

But they have sustained heavy casualties in the operation being conducted with US-led air support.

Since Wednesday, 37 SDF fighters have been killed in militant counterattacks and Daesh has lost 58 fighters, most of them in retaliatory coalition air strikes, the observatory said.

“Daesh is pressing its attacks in the Hajin area as the SDF battles to hold them off with the support of the international coalition,” observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

But a prolonged sandstorm has made it difficult for the coalition to carry out airstrikes.

Founded in 2015, the SDF is spearheaded by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a powerful Kurdish armed movement.

Hundreds of foreigners have joined the YPG to battle Daesh, which has its own notorious contingent of foreign fighters.

Meanwhile the UN, Israel and Syria have reached an agreement to reopen the Quneitra crossing in the occupied Golan Heights on Monday.

“The United States welcomes the reopening of this crossing, which will allow UN peacekeepers to step up their efforts to prevent hostilities in the Golan Heights region,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), with about 1,000 troops, was established in 1974 and monitors a cease-fire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria.

UNDOF resumed its patrols in the area of the crossing point in August, after withdrawing in 2014 when Al-Qaeda-linked forces overran the area.


Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

Updated 29 October 2020

Arab coalition commander renews support to Yemen

  • Assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport
  • Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month

AL-MUKALLA: The coalition will continue backing Yemeni military forces fighting the Houthis until the country returns to normal, the commander of Arab coalition forces in the southern city of Aden has said.

During a meeting with Aden’s new governor, Ahmed Lamlis, Brig. Gen. Nayef Al-Otaibi said that the coalition would continue its support till Yemen recovered from the war and its state bodies functioned normally, Yemeni state media said on Wednesday.

The coalition’s assurance comes as the governor of Aden thanked it for helping local security authorities intercept a major cargo of drugs at Aden seaport. The governor told the Arab coalition commander that local authorities in Aden were looking forward to receiving more support from the coalition, enabling them to bring back peace and stability to Aden and fix vital services there.

The Arab coalition and local security authorities at Aden seaport recently announced a 500kg cocaine and heroin bust worth millions of dollars. The drugs were hidden inside sugar bags in a large sugar shipment originating from Brazil. There was no information about arrests in connection with the drugs bust but local security officials said that investigations were underway.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s defense minister said on Wednesday that at least 800 Houthi fighters, including senior field commanders, had been killed since the beginning of this month in fighting with government troops or in Arab coalition airstrikes.

Based on Houthi burial statements carried on their media, the rebels have buried more than 600 fighters, including 154 field leaders, since Oct. 1, in different provinces under their control. In the capital, Sanaa, the rebels have arranged funeral processions for 178 dead fighters, including 67 field commanders with different military rankings, the ministry said in a statement on its news site.

Most of the Houthi deaths occurred in the provinces of Marib and Jouf, where rebel forces are engaging in heavy fighting with government forces and allied tribesmen, backed by Arab coalition warplanes.

State media also quoted the governor of Jouf, Ameen Al-Oukaimi, as saying that government forces had inflicted a huge defeat on the Houthis during the latest intense fighting in the province. Yemeni Army commanders said that they foiled Houthis attempts to recapture the liberated Al-Khanjer military base and surrounding areas in Jouf.

In the western province of Hodeidah, the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said that a Houthi field military leader, Mohammed Yahya Al-Hameli, was killed during a foiled rebel assault in the province on Wednesday.

Fighting has continued across Yemen despite repeated calls by the UN and western diplomats for Yemeni factions to halt hostilities and focus on approving the UN-brokered peace initiative known as the Joint Declaration. On Thursday, British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron called on the internationally recognized President of Yemen Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthis to engage in serious talks to end the war.

“President Hadi and the Houthi leadership must work seriously and urgently with the UN Yemen envoy to end the war in Yemen by concluding the Joint Declaration in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe,” the ambassador said on Twitter.

The declaration proposes a nationwide truce ahead of the implementation of economic and humanitarian measures. When the fighting stops, the Yemeni parties will be asked to engage in direct talks to discuss postwar political arrangements.