Assad regime protests to UN over coalition airstrike in east

Syrian Democratic Forces plan to resume their offensive against Daesh. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2018

Assad regime protests to UN over coalition airstrike in east

  • The coalition is supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in an attempt to defeat Daesh in the area it controls near the border with Iraq
  • Syrian regime media said the Foreign Ministry had written to the UN secretary general and the president of the security council about “the crime” in Hajjin

BEIRUT: The Syrian regime has protested to the UN about an airstrike by the US-led coalition against Daesh which it said killed 26 civilians in Hajjin in the eastern Deir Ezzor region, pro-Assad media reported on Saturday.

Asked about reports of airstrikes in that area on Friday, the coalition’s spokesman said it had “successfully struck and destroyed a Daesh observation post and staging area in Hajjin, void of civilians at the time.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 41 people, including 17 children, had been killed in two waves of coalition airstrikes on Friday in Hajjin and the nearby village of Al-Shafa on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

It said the casualties were mostly Iraqi and family members of Daesh fighters.

The coalition is supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in an attempt to defeat Daesh in the area it controls near the border with Iraq.

Syrian regime media said the Foreign Ministry had written to the UN secretary general and the president of the security council about “the crime” in Hajjin.

Col. Sean Ryan, the coalition spokesman, said: “Our team looks into all strikes to determine the credibility of any civilian casualty claims they see in open media.”

The Observatory said earlier that militants had killed at least eight Syrian regime troops near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major rebel bastion.

The Observatory said the attack took place late on Friday in the north of Hama province near the planned buffer zone around opposition-held territory in neighboring Idlib.

The attack was led by fighters of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda branch which is the dominant force in Idlib, the monitoring group said.

“An assault by HTS targeted a Syrian regime position on the outskirts of the de-militarized zone” and was followed by clashes in which eight regime forces were killed, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. Two militants also died.

The de-militarized zone was announced by Ankara and Moscow in September to separate regime troops from rebel fighters in Idlib and adjacent areas.

Under the deal, the militants were supposed to have removed all heavy weapons from the buffer zone by Oct. 10 but skirmishes have continued to pit regime forces against militants and other insurgents on the ground.

Aid organizations had warned that a fully-fledged offensive on Idlib could spark the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the civil war so far.

Militant factions have said they withdrew their heavy weapons from the zone but HTS and other hard-line groups have refused to pull out their fighters.

The deadly militant assault came hours after regime troops killed 23 fighters of a formerly US-backed group inside the planned buffer zone.

On Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they were resuming their offensive against Daesh in eastern Syria.

The (SDF), joint Arab-Kurdish units, had announced a suspension to their operation on Oct. 31 after Turkey shelled Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria.

The SDF said the resumption followed “intensive contacts” with the international coalition.


From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

Updated 01 June 2020

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

  • Doors open again after virus lockdown
  • Internal flights resume from Saudi airports

JEDDAH/AMMAN: It began at dawn. As the first light appeared on the horizon and the call to Fajr prayer rang out, Muslims from Riyadh to Madinah and Jeddah to Jerusalem returned to their mosques on Sunday after a two-month break that for many was unbearable.

More than 90,000 mosques throughout Saudi Arabia were deep cleaned and sanitized in preparation for the end of the coronavirus lockdown. Worshippers wore face masks, kept a minimum of two meters apart, brought their own prayer mats and performed the ablution ritual at home.

“My feelings are indescribable. We are so happy. Thank God we are back in His house,” said Abdulrahman, 45, at Al-Rajhi mosque in Riyadh, where worshippers had their temperatures checked before entering.

Television screens inside the mosque displayed written instructions, including the need to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Jerusalem, at 3:30 a.m. thousands crowded outside three gates assigned to be opened to allow Muslims to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Young and old, men and women, many with their phone cameras on, chanted religious songs as they waited to return for the first time since the virus lockdown began.

“Those wishing to pray were checked for their temperature and those without a mask were given one by Waqf staff. All were asked to stay a safe distance from each other when they prayed,” Mazen Sinokrot, a member of the Islamic Waqf, told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque told Arab News that enabling Muslims to pray in large numbers and according to health requirements had gone smoothly.

“People cooperated with the local Muslim authorities and followed the regulations.” The people of Jerusalem had shown a high degree of responsibility, he said.

Israeli police spokesman Miky Rosenfeld told Arab News that extra police units had been  mobilized in the old city of Jerusalem for the reopening of Al-Aqsa. 

“People arrived in the areas scheduled according to health and security guidelines,” he said.

Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former Minister for Jerusalem in the Ismael Haniyeh government in 2006, said people were happy to be able to pray once more at Islam’s third-holiest site.

“It is time to open a new page in cooperation with local institutions and with Jordan to regain all that has been lost over the years,” he told Arab News.

“The Waqf council has done a good job in dealing with the contradictions and pressures that they are under, which is like walking on a knife’s edge as they deal with the occupiers on the one hand and the health situation on the other, while also trying to be responsive to the desires of worshippers.”

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, commercial flights took to the air again, office staff returned to work and restaurants resumed serving diners as life began a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown.

Eleven of the Kingdom’s 28 airports opened on Sunday for the first time since March 21. “The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowds inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” civil aviation spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.

No one without an e-ticket will be allowed into an airport, face masks must be worn and safe distancing observed, and children under 15 may not travel unaccompanied.