US urges Russia to end 'escalation' in Syria's Idlib

A member of the Syrian Civil Defence (The White Helmet) checks the rubble and debris at a medical center following reported shelling by the Syrian government. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2019

US urges Russia to end 'escalation' in Syria's Idlib

WASHINGTON:   The United States on Tuesday urged Russia to abide by its commitments and end an "escalation" in Syria's northwestern Idlib region after a monitor said air strikes killed 10 civilians.
"The violence must end. The United States reiterates that any escalation in violence in northwest Syria will result in the destabilization of the region," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
"We call on all parties, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to abide by their commitments to avoid large-scale military offensives, return to a de-escalation of violence in the area, and allow for unhindered humanitarian access to address the humanitarian disaster created by the ongoing violence," she said.
Idlib is under the control of a former al-Qaeda affiliate in one of the last areas that President Bashar al-Assad has not taken back in his ruthless, Russian-backed campaign to crush an uprising against his rule.
Russia and Turkey, which backs Syria's rebels, in September agreed to a buffer zone to prevent a potentially devastating offensive in Idlib and nearby regions which are home to some three million people.
But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Friday reported Russian air strikes in two towns that killed 10 people, including a boy and a girl.
The monitor also blamed Moscow and Damascus for shelling of a medical center, which the UN humanitarian office called "completely unacceptable."
Violence has separately flared in Aleppo province, where the monitor said that jihadist groups killed at least 22 Syrian government troops and militiamen on Saturday.


Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

Updated 17 November 2019

Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

  • Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad
  • More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies.
Protesters made a barricade of old cabinets, trash cans and metal sheeting on the bridge while security forces took positions behind blast walls installed to prevent protesters from crossing to the other side. Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.
On Saturday, Iraqi demonstrators reoccupied part of adjacent Sinak Bridge and a nearby tall building in Baghdad that security forces had pushed them away from a week before. They have held a third bridge, Jamhuriya, since October 25.
More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.
In Basra in the south, dozens of protesters burned tires and briefly blocked some roads on Sunday, before police managed to restore control and reopen them, police said.
The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.