US-led coalition says targeted Al-Qaeda in northwest Syria

Syrian government forces have increased attacks in the northwest of Syria since April. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 July 2019

US-led coalition says targeted Al-Qaeda in northwest Syria

  • US officials said the targets were planning attacks that threaten the safety of US citizens and partners as well as civilians
  • The killed commanders were from different nationalities

BEIRUT: The US-led coalition said Monday its aircraft carried out a strike in northwestern Syria a day earlier that a monitor reported had killed eight extremists, including commanders, from an Al-Qaeda-linked group.
“This operation targeted AQ-S operatives responsible for plotting external attacks threatening US citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,” US Central Command said in a statement, using an acronym for Al-Qaeda in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said six commanders were among the slain extremists from the Hurras Al-Deen group in Aleppo province.
The killed commanders included two Tunisians, two Algerians, an Egyptian and a Syrian, the Observatory added.
“With our allies and partners, we will continue to target Daesh and Al-Qaeda to prevent both groups from using Syria as a safe haven,” US Central Command said.
Hurras Al-Deen maintains ties to Al-Qaeda and fights alongside the global extremist network’s former Syria branch, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham — which dominates most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighboring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.
Since its formation in 2014, the US-led coalition against Deash has targeted extremist leaders in Syria’s northwest, but the strikes have dropped off significantly since 2017.
In March 2017, the Observatory said a US-led strike on a mosque in the north of Aleppo province killed 49 people, most of them civilians.
The Pentagon denied that large numbers of civilians were killed or that it had targeted the religious building, acknowledging only one possible civilian death.
The greater Idlib area was supposed to be protected by a buffer zone under a September agreement between Russia and Turkey.
But backed by its ally Moscow, Damascus has since late April ramped up its bombardment of the region, home to some three million people — nearly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria.
That came after HTS took over administrative control of the Idlib region at the start of the year.
Hurras Al-Deen was established in February 2018 and has some 1,800 fighters, including non-Syrians, according to the Observatory.


Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

Updated 07 December 2019

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

  • Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption

BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. 

Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats.

Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”

Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister.

Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate.

Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects.

“The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. 

He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors.

His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”

Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.

On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”

Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida.

In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army.

In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”

Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. 

Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.