Turkey urges end to regime attacks on Idlib

Syrian regime forces together with their Russian allies have increased air strikes and shelling in the militant-controlled northwestern province since last April. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 May 2019

Turkey urges end to regime attacks on Idlib

  • “We expect Russia to take effective and decisive measures to ensure regime forces end their attacks on the south of Idlib,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said
  • Akar made his comments during a visit to the Turkish border with Syria, joined by top military commanders

ANKARA: Turkey on Friday called for an end to regime attacks on Idlib, accusing Damascus of seeking to extend its control of the province’s south in violation of previously agreed boundaries.
Syrian regime forces together with their Russian allies have increased air strikes and shelling in the militant-controlled northwestern province since last April.
“We expect Russia to take effective and decisive measures to ensure regime forces end their attacks on the south of Idlib and the (forces) immediately withdraw to the borders agreed as part of Astana Process,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
“The regime is trying to widen its area of control in Idlib’s south in violation of the Astana agreement,” Akar added, quoted by state news agency Anadolu.
He said the attacks were also a “risk” to Turkey’s 12 military observation posts around the region.
Akar made his comments during a visit to the Turkish border with Syria, joined by top military commanders.
While Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ankara has called for his ouster and supports Syrian rebels in the civil war which began with anti-government protests in 2011.
Despite being on opposing sides of the war, Turkey has been working closely with regime backers Russia and Iran to find a political solution to the Syrian civil war.
Their talks have been known as the Astana process which was launched in early 2017 in the Kazakh capital now called Nur-Sultan.
A separate deal agreed by Moscow and Ankara last year aimed to set up a buffer zone around Idlib, and avoid a massive Syrian regime assault on the province.


For Lebanese families made poor by crisis, dinner means bread and no meat

Updated 19 min 27 sec ago

For Lebanese families made poor by crisis, dinner means bread and no meat

  • People are eating less, with butchers complaining of shrinking sales, restaurants empty, and families making do with simple carbohydrates
  • At a Beirut market, a fish seller said his sales have dipped 75% as his prices have more than doubled

BEIRUT: At a street market in southern Beirut, Lebanese crowd around volunteers handing out free rations of bread and pasta, staples that have become a lifeline to families whose living standards have plunged during a financial crisis.
“People can’t buy meat or fish anymore. Chicken is getting more expensive. They can only afford vegetables and bread,” said Salwa Hable, an organizer helping distribute the privately donated food.
Lebanon’s economic crisis has brought mounting hardship for its roughly 6 million people. Prices have soared, the result of a dollar crunch that has sunk the local currency since October and eviscerated purchasing power.
“It’s going to soon turn into hunger protests,” said Hable.
It was getting harder to solicit donations from better-off Lebanese, themselves feeling the pinch of the most destabilising crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, she said.
The worsening conditions have already threatened more serious unrest. Last month protesters defying a coronavirus curfew rioted, burning banks and leaving a demonstrator dead.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab said last week the double-blow of the financial meltdown and coronavirus pandemic could tip Lebanon into a full-blown food crisis as basics like bread become unaffordable.
People are eating less, with butchers complaining of shrinking sales, restaurants empty, and families making do with simple carbohydrates — even during the holy month of Ramadan, typically a time of nightly feasts.
“We stopped buying fruits for ourselves. We get something small for my daughter, but that’s it,” said George Ortass, 46, a taxi driver.
At a Beirut market, fish seller Noureddine Mhaysa said his sales have dipped 75% as his prices have more than doubled.
“You used to see overcrowding at the market, with people buying food, clothes, sweets. Ramadan has passed, and no one bought anything — no sweets, no clothes, no food,” said Mhaysa.
Lebanon defaulted on its sovereign debt in March and has entered talks with the International Monetary Fund. Beirut hopes an economic reform plan will draw billions of dollars in financing to re-launch its economy, but the near-term austerity is likely to bring further pain.
Even before the coronavirus lockdown, hundreds of businesses were shuttered and workers laid off. As the government has eased restrictions, many businesses have remained shut anyway, the rising dollar making costs too expensive at a time when customers are scant.
At Snack Henri, where previously people would line up outside for mid-day sandwiches, the restaurant sat entirely empty at noon.
“I’ve been here 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, said Henri, the owner.