Airstrike on Libyan hospital leaves 5 dead, say officials

A fighter loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces checks the ruins of a building near the the Yarmouk military compound, following airstrikes south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Airstrike on Libyan hospital leaves 5 dead, say officials

  • Armed groups have proliferated, and the country has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty for a better life in Europe

CAIRO: Libyan health authorities say an airstrike hit a field hospital south of the capital, Tripoli, killing at least four doctors and a paramedic.
Malek Merset, a spokesman for the Health Ministry of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) says the attack took place late on Saturday in the Zawya district.
Forces based in the country’s east are currently fighting for control of the capital’s southern outskirts against militias allied with the Tripoli-based government.
Health authorities did not say which side was behind the airstrike, which wounded eight health workers.
The GNA blamed the airstrike on Libyan National Army (LNA), led by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar. The LNA could not immediately be reached for comment.
Haftar’s LNA began its offensive on Tripoli in early April. In past weeks, the battle lines have changed little.
The battle for control of the Libyan capital raged amid increased fighting over the past 24 hours, officials said on Saturday, with both sides relying heavily on airpower to make progress in the stalemated conflict.
LNA has been advancing into the city’s southern outskirts, clashing with an array of militias loosely affiliated with the GNA.
Libyan officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said Haftar’s LNA launched airstrikes overnight against an air base in the western city of Misrata.
The officials said the LNA also took control of the Al-Naqliyah military camp in the south of Tripoli.
They said Haftar’s forces were also fighting to cut off a major route linking Mistrata to Tripoli, which, if they succeeded, would be a major blow to the UN-supported government.
In past weeks, the battle lines have changed little, with both sides dug in and shelling one another in the southern reaches of the capital.
The LNA is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias, and enjoys the support of Egypt, the UAE and Russia. But it has faced stiff resistance from fighters aligned with the UN-recognized government, which is aided by Turkey and Qatar.

HIGHLIGHT

Khalifa Haftar’s LNA is the largest and best organized of the country’s many militias, and enjoys the support of Egypt, the UAE and Russia.

The Libyan officials said the LNA airstrikes on the Air Force Academy in Misrata came after armed groups allied with Tripoli launched an air attack a day earlier against Al-Jufra air base, the LNA’s main forward airfield in the Tripoli offensive.
The officials also said heavy fighting was underway in Abu Salim district, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Tripoli’s center, and in Salah Al-Deen, an area that saw previous clashes between rival militias in September.
The LNA’s media office said in a statement that over 10 airstrikes had targeted a control room for Turkish-made drones, along with other targets in Misrata and the western coastal city of Sirte.
A spokesman for the Tripoli-based militias confirmed they had launched an air attack Friday against Al-Jufra air base.
The LNA released a statement saying its forces had taken control of the Al-Naqliyah military camp and advanced in different parts of southern Tripoli.
Fighting for the capital has emptied entire neighborhoods of civilians. Thousands of African migrants captured by Libyan forces supported by the European Union are trapped in detention centers near the front lines. An airstrike on one facility earlier this month killed more than 50 people, mainly migrants held in a hangar that collapsed on top of them.
On Saturday, Libya’s coast guard said it had intercepted 89 Europe-bound migrants in a rubber boat the previous day. The coast guard is continuing its search for the bodies of up to 150 people, including women and children, whose boats capsized Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to cross to Europe.
Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed long-ruling dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Armed groups have proliferated, and the country has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty for a better life in Europe.


Ahlam Al-Nasr: Daesh poet of poison

Updated 15 December 2019

Ahlam Al-Nasr: Daesh poet of poison

  • Al-Nasr is thought to have been originally named Shaima Haddad, a young girl from Damascus who fled after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011

LONDON: “There is no life but through jihad and its honor … jihad is our life and our victory It is what the soldiers of the enemy fear … and it is what created happiness in our lives.”

The above two stanzas are taken from a poem by the poet and writer Ahlam Al-Nasr encouraging women from around the world to join the terror group Daesh.

While little is known about Al-Nasr, her unconditional support for Daesh’s extremist, expansionist aim of imposing strict Shariah law on the world is obvious — and clearly evident through her writing.

“Ahlam Al-Nasr’s poetry was punchy and fresh, while still using mainly classical Arabic and the traditional monorhyme and focusing on the timeless tasks of praise, celebration, lament and lampoon,” Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford University, told Arab News.

“Al-Nasr’s most powerful and enduring poems are simple clipped compositions that are ideal for conversion into nashids (anthems).

BIO

  • Nationality: Syrian
  • Place of residence: Unknown
  • Occupation: Poet,
  • Daesh propagandist
  • Medium: Poetry, book entitled ‘The Blaze of Truth’

“Set to non-instrumental music and sometimes with violent video footage, their catchy sing-along rhythms can appeal to aspiring Daesh fighters in the West even if their Arabic is weak.”

Al-Nasr, whose real name cannot be verified, is thought to have been originally named Shaima Haddad, a young girl from Damascus who fled after the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011. A report by the New Yorker magazine claimed that firsthand experience of the Syrian regime’s air raids had triggered her radicalization.

“Their bullets shattered our brains like an earthquake/Even strong bones cracked then broke. They drilled our throats and scattered/our limbs — it was like an anatomy lesson!/They hosed the streets as blood still/Ran/Like streams crashing down from the/Clouds,” reads one of her earlier poems on the bloody conflict.

Al-Nasr’s family fled to Kuwait shortly after fighting broke out, but the writer did not plan on staying in the small Gulf state for long.

She returned to Syria in June 2014 and, four months later, wed Vienna-born extremist Abu-Usama Al-Gharib in the terror group’s de-facto capital Raqqa, which capitalized on her recruitment into Daesh’s ranks.

Al-Nasr quickly rose to prominence among the extremists. Her poems covering death and destruction, of loyalty to the caliphate and the beheading of apostates, spread like wildfire among militants and commanders, spurring them even further through romanticized versions of their plight.

“Poetry is an incredibly powerful medium of communication in the Arab world, much loved among educated and illiterate alike,” Kendall said. “The Arab version of ‘Pop Idol’ features aspiring poets and has over 70 million viewers.

“More importantly, poetry endures. Militant jihadi Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and chat forums can be closed down, but the poetry remains lodged in the collective memory.”

Al-Nasr was a court poet in Raqqa and was used as an official propagandist for Daesh — an ironic move given the strict restrictions the terror group places on women.

Her book “The Blaze of Truth” is a collection of 107 poems praising the militants’ goals and supporting their “journey,” with the poetic, elegant prose designed to recruit even more extremists.

In one of her poems, she incites Muslims across the world to kill and burn the enemies of Islam, saying: “Our innocent children have been killed and our free women were horrified/Their only crime was being Muslim/They have no savior/Where are the heroes of Islam?/Kill them and burn them and do not worry about the consequences/follow your almighty sword, and you will make the best news.”

Opinion

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Other poems include praise for Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliph and Preacher of Hate Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who committed suicide during a US raid in October, as well as a poem titled “Osama, You Have Left” in which she mourns Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and refers to him as a “reformer.”

Al-Nasr not only writes poems, but has also delivered a 30-page essay detailing her support for Daesh’s decision to burn captured Jordanian pilot Muath Al- Kasasbeh.

Much is yet to be discovered about Al-Nasr and her place within Daesh as the organization crumbles in the face of international coalition raids, but one thing is certain — her poetry will continue to be sung by the militants.

“My own survey work in Yemen shows that 74 percent of the population consider poetry either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in daily life,” Kendall said.

“No surprise, then, that extremists use it to spread their message,” she added.