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.


Lebanese protests swell as cabinet to hold key meeting

Updated 21 October 2019

Lebanese protests swell as cabinet to hold key meeting

  • Hundreds of thousands of people from across Lebanon’s sectarian divides rallied on Sunday
  • The protests have grown steadily since public anger first spilled onto the streets Thursday

BEIRUT: Lebanese protesters were expected to return to the streets for a fifth day Monday, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri holding a cabinet meeting to try to calm the unprecedented demonstrations.
Hundreds of thousands of people from across Lebanon’s sectarian divides rallied against corruption and the entire political class Sunday, the largest such demonstrations in the country for years.
Early Monday morning protesters began to block main roads and prevent employees going to work, while calls on social media urged people to boycott work.
Banks, universities and schools closed their doors Monday, with Hariri expected to offer reforms in a bid to stem the anger.
“It’s a day of destiny for us. All our hard work and efforts in previous days and years were to get us to this moment,” said Roni Al-Asaad, a 32-year-old activist in central Beirut.
“If they could have implemented these reforms before, why haven’t they? And why should we believe them today?”
At the nerve center of the demonstrations near the country’s houses of government in central Beirut, volunteers were once again collecting rubbish from the streets, many wearing face masks and plastic gloves.
The protests have grown steadily since public anger first spilled onto the streets Thursday evening in response to a proposed tax on calls via WhatsApp and other messaging services.
While the government quickly dropped that plan, the leaderless protests morphed into demands for a sweeping overhaul of the political system, with grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.
Hariri had given his coalition partners three days to support reforms he said were crucial to get the economy back on track.
On Sunday evening a cabinet official said that the parties had agreed.
The cabinet will hold a meeting chaired by President Michel Aoun at 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) to discuss the reforms.
Demonstrators said Hariri’s proposals would not be enough, with demands for the entire political class to resign.
“All of them are warlords,” said Patrick Chakar, 20. “We waited 30 years or more for them to change and they didn’t.”
More than a quarter of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line, the World Bank says, while the political class has remained relatively unchanged since the end of a devastating 15-year civil war in 1990.
Lebanon ranked 138 out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2018 corruption index, and residents suffer chronic electricity and water shortages.
Lebanese media hailed the demonstrations.
Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is close to Shiite Muslim militant party Hezbollah, published a picture of protesters carrying a giant flag on its front page with a commentary on “Test Day: Power or People?”
The French-language newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour said “The hour of truth has arrived,” while the English-language The Daily Star said: “Lebanon’s only paths: reform or abyss.”