Two fighters killed in drone attack: Iraq paramilitary force

Two fighters killed in drone attack: Iraq paramilitary force
Updated 25 August 2019

Two fighters killed in drone attack: Iraq paramilitary force

Two fighters killed in drone attack: Iraq paramilitary force
  • Two unidentified drones killed two Iraqi members of an Iran-backed paramilitary force
  • No one claimed responsibility, and the PMF statement did not assign blame

BAGHDAD: Two paramilitary fighters were killed on Sunday in an unclaimed drone attack near Iraq’s western border with Syria, the powerful Hashed Al-Shaabi force said in a statement.
The deaths come after a month of mysterious blasts at Hashed Al-Shaabi arms depots and training camps that some of the force’s top officials blamed on the US.
“Two unidentified drones targeted a Brigade 45 position belonging to the Hashed Al-Shaabi in the Anbar district, 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the Iraqi-Syrian border,” the statement said.
The attack “killed two fighters from the unit, wounded another and burned two vehicles,” it added.
The statement did not accuse any particular force and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The Hashed was established from disparate armed groups and volunteers that united to fight back Daesh’s sweep across a third of Iraq in 2014.
The network is mostly Shiite and has received Iranian training and advice, but operates officially under Iraq’s armed forces and uses military unit names.
Brigade 45 is one of several units made up of Kataib Hezbollah fighters, designated by the US as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
Over the last month, a string of suspicious explosions and drone sightings at Hashed bases have sparked concerns that escalating tensions between the US, Israel and Iran are boiling over into Iraq.
Hashed chief and Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh Al-Fayyadh has said preliminary investigations found the incidents were premeditated but had not yet revealed the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, his deputy Abu Mehdi Al-Muhandis, whom analysts say holds the real reigns in the Hashed, has been unequivocal in blaming Washington.
The Pentagon has denied involvement, and US officials have told the New York Times that Israel had carried out multiple strikes in Iraq this month.
Israel has not claimed responsibility but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at involvement last week, saying his country would “act against (Iran) whenever necessary.”


Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
Updated 9 min 27 sec ago

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 

Syrian White Helmets given funds to make PPE 
  • With millions living in tents across country’s northwest, threat of COVID-19 is severe
  • $1.6m awarded by non-profit organization funded by UK, US, Canadian, Dutch governments

LONDON: Syria’s White Helmets, the civilian rescue group that recovers victims from rubble after airstrikes in the war-torn country, is now making personal protective equipment (PPE) to further its life-saving mission.
The civil defense service, which has worked to reduce the harm of indiscriminate shelling from the Assad regime, has received a $1.6 million award for the production of PPE from a non-profit organization funded by the UK, US, Canadian and Dutch governments.
Funds from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge group have led to the creation of a PPE-producing facility that has manufactured some 2 million masks.
It is also producing protective gowns and face shields — key equipment in the fight against COVID-19 — and handling the disposal of used PPE for northwest Syria’s population, who live in a precarious area that is predominantly out of the regime’s control. 
“The COVID-19 pandemic was the most difficult challenge the White Helmets faced in 2020,” said Munir Mustafa, its deputy general manager for humanitarian affairs.
“We witnessed the spread of the virus in north-western Syria among humanitarian workers and medical personnel, while the global pandemic made cross-borders logistics almost impossible.”
The White Helmets has enhanced community efforts to keep people safe from COVID-19 amid pressing security challenges.
“Our volunteers and fellow humanitarians, health care providers and other essential workers are safer now and can continue caring for Syrian civilians and responding to the pandemic,” Mustafa said.
The White Helmets, established in 2014, was originally formed for search-and-rescue efforts and to broaden the provision of first responders. It claims to have saved some 120,000 lives.
Its role has developed as challenges facing the Syrian people have grown. Violence in the country has demolished health care facilities, decimating communities and cutting off millions from crucial medical care. 
The bombing of civilian areas has forced many to flee to temporary refugee facilities that are often cramped and in poor condition.
With millions living in tents across the country’s northwest, the threat of COVID-19 is severe.
Around 500 cases of COVID-19 are being recorded per day in northwest Syria, but experts say the true number is much higher due to inadequate testing infrastructure.
The Humanitarian Grand Challenge said: “The White Helmets’ ability to manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment inside Syria will not only protect those working in the overwhelmed health system, but reduce the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable.”