Algeria army chief calls for ‘dialogue’ with protesters

1 / 4
A demonstrator uses a bullhorn to shout protest slogans during a May Day march on Labour Day in Algiers, Algeria, May 1, 2019. (Reuters)
2 / 4
Algerian protestors shout slogans during a demonstration marking May Day in Algiers on May 1, 2019. (AFP)
3 / 4
Police officers prevent demonstrators from marching during a May Day protest on Labour Day in Algiers, Algeria, May 1, 2019. (Reuters)
4 / 4
Algerian protestors shout slogans during a demonstration marking May Day in Algiers on May 1, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 01 May 2019

Algeria army chief calls for ‘dialogue’ with protesters

  • Salah was for years an ardent supporter of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until demanding on April 2 that impeachment proceedings be launched against the ailing leader
  • An interim president has been put in place and elections set for July 4, but protests which pushed Bouteflika from power have not abated

ALGIERS: Algeria’s army chief called Wednesday for dialogue between protesters and state institutions, a day after pushing back against demonstrators’ demands for top politicians to quit.
“I remain entirely convinced that adopting constructive dialogue with the institutions of the state, is the only way to exit from the crisis,” General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a statement published by the defense ministry.
This is “the wisest way to present constructive proposals, bring points of view closer and reach a consensus around the available solutions,” he added.
Salah was for years an ardent supporter of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until demanding on April 2 that impeachment proceedings be launched against the ailing leader — who stepped down the same day.
An interim president has been put in place and elections set for July 4, but protests which pushed Bouteflika from power have not abated.
On Wednesday hundreds of people rallied outside the General Workers’ Union in the capital Algiers, marking May Day, where they clutched Algerians flags and shouted slogans against the “system.”
Police prevented them from joining other protesters gathered outside the city’s iconic post office, the focal point of demonstrations which began in February and have regularly drawn vast crowds.
Salah on Tuesday rebuffed calls by demonstrators for interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah, the former upper house speaker, and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui to step down.
In a speech, the army chief said the upcoming polls — which fall within the timeframe allowed by the constitution — amount to “the ideal solution to end the crisis.”


Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

Updated 57 min 17 sec ago

Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

  • UN says it was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing from Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
  • Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence

BEIRUT: Turkish shelling Monday killed nine regime fighters in northwest Syria, where Ankara-backed rebels are fighting off advancing regime forces, a monitor said.
Syrian regime forces have since December clawed back parts of the last major opposition bastion of Idlib in violence that has displaced almost a million people.
Fighting raged on Monday, killing almost 100 fighters on both sides around the jihadist-dominated bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
Those included 41 pro-regime fighters, as well as 53 jihadists and allied rebels.
Overall on Monday, the regime advanced rapidly in the south of the bastion, but lost the town of Nayrab along the M4 highway to Turkish-backed rebels in the southeast.
Turkish shelling in that area killed four regime fighters near Nayrab and another five near the town of Saraqeb to its east, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Opposition fighters had already broken back into Nayrab last week after the regime seized it at the start of the month, but then lost it again several hours later.
Saraqeb, which lies at the intersection of the M4 and another important highway the M5, has been under regime control since February 8.
Earlier Monday, Russian air strikes killed five civilians in the Jabal Al-Zawiya area in the south of the bastion, the Observatory said.
In fighting on the ground, regime forces seized 10 towns and villages south of the M4, which links the coastal regime stronghold of Latakia to government-held second city Aleppo, it said.
State news agency SANA, for its part, said “units of the Syrian army continued to progress in the south of Idlib” province.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the regime’s aim was to wrest back control of stretches of the M4 still under the control of jihadists and allied rebels.
That would require operations against the towns of Ariha and Jisr Al-Shughur, both along the M4.
Analysts expect a tough battle for Jisr Al-Shughur, held by the jihadist Turkistan Islamic Party whose fighters mainly hail from China’s Uighur Muslim minority.
They are allied to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate which dominates the Idlib region.
Loyalist forces have already taken back control of the M5, which connects the capital with Aleppo.
They have also secured the region around the northern city, a major pre-war industrial hub.
Fighting in northwest Syria since December has forced some 900,000 people to flee their homes and shelters amid bitter cold.
The United Nations said Monday that the latest fighting was coming “dangerously close” to encampments of the displaced, risking an imminent “bloodbath.”
Mark Cutts, a UN humanitarian coordinator, also told reporters in Geneva that the world body was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing with Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.