Syrian insurgents shell government-held rural area, kill 12

This image provided by Hawar News Agency, ANHA, an online Kurdish news service, shows people inspecting debris at the scene of a car bombing in the town of Qamishli, eastern Syria on Monday, June 17, 2019. (ANHA via AP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Syrian insurgents shell government-held rural area, kill 12

  • The attack late Sunday took place in the village of Wadehi, south of Syria’s Aleppo city
  • A car bomb went off near the headquarters of the Kurdish security forces in Qamishli

DAMASCUS, Syria: Syrian insurgents fired rockets into residential parts of the government-held northern province of Aleppo, striking a wedding party and killing at least 12 civilians and wounding 15, state media said Monday.
The attack late Sunday took place in the village of Wadehi, south of Aleppo city, which abuts the last rebel-held enclave.
Syria’s state TV Al-Ikhbariya said children were among those killed and some of the wounded were in critical conditions. The TV said more rockets landed as people tried to escape from the scene of the attack.
One woman told the TV that a missile landed in a room where four girls were, killing them. Another girl said her two sisters and one brother were killed in the strike.
A doctor speaking to the TV station said three of the wounded were in critical condition. Images from inside an Aleppo hospital broadcast on Al-Ikhbariya TV show men and children lying on stretchers, some with their heads bandaged, while others have what appears to be abdomen wounds.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported fatalities, saying four children were killed in the attack.
Al-Ikhbariya TV said the military responded to the source of fire, areas controlled by insurgents in the nearby rebel stronghold.
Fighting has raged over the last seven weeks in northwestern Syria as government forces press an offensive toward the last rebel stronghold in the country’s eight-year civil war.
The violence has displaced hundreds of thousands inside the rebel enclave, which is home to 3 million people, most of them already displaced from earlier violence in Syria. At least 300 civilians were killed in government bombings, and over two dozen health facilities were put out of service following airstrikes.
Separately, in eastern Syria’s town of Qamishli, a car bomb went off near the headquarters of the Kurdish security forces, leaving several people injured. Qamishli is run by Kurdish-led administrators and forces, but Syrian government troops hold pockets of territory there, including the airport.
The area has largely been spared much of the violence that has wrecked Syria. But attacks, mostly blamed on Daesh militants, have occurred recently in areas in eastern Syria after the extremists were kicked out of their last territorial enclave in Syria earlier this year.
In a video by the Kurdish news agency Hawar, the explosion appeared to have damaged a number of cars nearby. Then authorities lifted the mangled car bomb from the area.
The Observatory said seven were injured when a suicide bomber detonated the car bomb after failing to drive into the Kurdish security forces headquarters.


Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

Updated 41 min 8 sec ago

Militant sentenced to 19 years for role in Benghazi attacks

  • Al-Imam is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel
  • The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison

NEW YORK: A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Libyan militant to more than 19 years in prison for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.
A jury convicted Mustafa Al-Imam last year of conspiring to support the extremist militia that launched the fiery assaults on the US compounds but deadlocked on 15 other counts.
The attacks, aimed at killing American personnel, prompted a political fracas in which Republicans accused the Obama administration of a bungled response.
Al-Imam was sentenced to a total of 236 months behind bars. He is the second militant convicted in the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, communications specialist Sean Smith and security officers Tyrone Snowden Woods and Glen Anthony Doherty.
The head of the extremist militia who directed the siege, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted in 2017 on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Khattala was accused of driving to the diplomatic mission on Sept. 11, 2012, and breaching the main gate with militants who attacked with assault rifles, grenades and other weapons.
The initial attack killed Stevens and Smith and set the mission ablaze. Woods and Doherty were later killed at a CIA annex.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Washington asked US District Judge Christopher Cooper to send a message to others contemplating attacks on Americans overseas, saying Al-Imam deserved the maximum 35-year sentence.
“In the current geopolitical environment, terrorists must understand that there are harsh consequences for attacking diplomatic posts and harming US personnel — particularly a US ambassador,” Assistant US Attorney John Cummings wrote in a court filing.
Defense attorneys said Al-Imam made a “tremendous mistake” by damaging and looting US property after the attacks. But they insisted there was no evidence he intended to harm any Americans, noting jurors could not reach a verdict on the murder charges Al-Imam faced.
“Mustafa Al-Imam is a frail, uneducated and simple man,” they wrote in a court filing. “He is not a fighter, an ideologue or a terrorist. He is a former convenience store clerk whose main loves in life are soccer and family.”
Al-Imam was tried in a civilian court despite the Trump administration’s earlier contention that such suspects are better sent to Guantanamo Bay. His arrest, five years after the attack, was the first publicly known operation since President Donald Trump took office targeting those accused of involvement in Benghazi.
Prosecutors acknowledged there was no evidence that Al-Imam “directly caused” the killings at the US compounds. But they said he aligned himself with Khattala and acted as his “eyes and ears” at the height of the attacks.
During a four-week trial in Washington, prosecutors pointed to phone records that showed Al-Imam was in the vicinity of the mission and placed an 18-minute call to Khattala during a “pivotal moment” of the attacks.
Al-Imam also entered the US compound, prosecutors said, and took sensitive material that identified the location of the CIA annex about a mile away from the mission as the evacuation point for Department of State personnel.
In interviews with law enforcement following his 2017 capture in Misrata, Libya, he admitted stealing a phone and map from the US mission.