Over 30 regime troops killed in blast at Syrian air base: Monitor

A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied fighters at a military airport in central Syria Saturday. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Over 30 regime troops killed in blast at Syrian air base: Monitor

  • The Shayrat airbase is one of the regime's most significant installations in the centre of the country
  • In 2017, US air strikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people

BEIRUT: A munitions blast killed 31 regime and allied forces at a military airport in central Syria on Saturday, a war monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of sources on the ground, said it was unclear what had caused the deadly explosion at the Shayrat Airbase in Homs province.
But state news agency SANA reported that a “technical fault during the transport of expired ammunition” had killed an unspecified number of victims.
The Shayrat Airbase is one of the regime’s most significant installations in the center of the country.
Iranian fighters — who support the regime in Syria’s ongoing civil war — are based there, according to the Observatory.
In 2017, US airstrikes hit the base in response to a suspected sarin gas attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria that killed more than 80 people.
According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.
The opposition dominating Idlib warned that regime violations would effectively “nullify” the cease-fire, which Damascus said will depend on rebel backer Turkey implementing a buffer zone in the area.

FASTFACT

The Shayrat Airbase is one of the regime’s most significant installations in the center of the country.

Most of Idlib province and parts of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia are controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.
The region is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a Turkish-Russian deal struck in September in the Russian resort of Sochi.
On Thursday, a new ceasefire went into effect as Syria peace talks resumed in Kazakhstan between Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,00 people since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

 


Israeli Cabinet postpones vote on West Bank annexation

Updated 29 January 2020

Israeli Cabinet postpones vote on West Bank annexation

  • A Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations
  • Hard-line Israeli nationalists have called for the immediate annexation of West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM: A senior Israeli minister said on Wednesday that a Cabinet vote to endorse annexation of parts of the West Bank will not take place early next week, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge a day earlier to act quickly after the US released a peace plan rejected by the Palestinians.
Netanyahu said he would ask the Cabinet to advance the extension of Israeli sovereignty over most Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would likely spark international outrage and complicate the White House’s efforts to build support for the plan.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that a Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations, including “bringing the proposal before the attorney general and letting him consider the matter.”
Hard-line Israeli nationalists have called for the immediate annexation of West Bank settlements ahead of the country’s third parliamentary elections in under a year, scheduled for March 2.
They have eagerly embraced the part of President Donald Trump’s peace plan that would allow Israel to annex territory but have rejected its call for a Palestinian state in parts of the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinians angrily rejected the Trump plan which largely adopts the Israeli position on all the thorniest issues of the decades-old conflict, from borders and the status of Jerusalem to security measures and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
Levin, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump peace plan is “roughly the same Palestinian Authority that exists today, with authority to manage civil affairs,” but lacking “substantive powers” like border control or a military.
Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, has warned against any Israeli “annexation of Palestinian lands,” reaffirming its commitment to an independent Palestinian state formed on the basis of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future independent state. Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted Wednesday that “that which is postponed to after the elections will never happen.”
“If we postpone or reduce the extension of sovereignty (in the West Bank), then the opportunity of the century will turn into the loss of the century,” said Bennett, a hawkish Netanyahu ally with the New Right party.
Nahum Barnea, a veteran Israeli columnist, stridently criticized the Trump plan in Wednesday’s Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, saying it would create a Palestinian state “more meager than Andorra, more fractured than the Virgin Islands.”
He cautioned that annexation would lead to “a reality of two legal systems for two populations in the same territory — one ruling, the second occupied. In other words, an Apartheid state.”