Security Council warns of ‘risk of dispersion’ of Syria extremists

Iraqi security forces secure the Iraq-Syria border around the Rabiaa border crossing on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 16 October 2019

Security Council warns of ‘risk of dispersion’ of Syria extremists

  • All 15 Council members including Russia agreed on the danger of Daesh regrouping

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council warned in a unanimously adopted statement Wednesday of a risk of “dispersion” of extremist prisoners in Syria, but stopped short of calling for a halt to Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces there.
“Members of the Security Council expressed deep concerns over the risks of dispersion of terrorists from UN-designated groups, including ISIL,” the statement said, using an acronym for the Daesh group.
All 15 Council members including Russia, a key player in the conflict, declared themselves “very concerned (about) a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation” in northeastern Syria.
All were in agreement on the danger of Daesh regrouping, summed up a Western ambassador, who requested anonymity.
The short text proposed by France was adopted following a brief meeting held at the request of European members of the Council.
It does not condemn the Turkish offensive — which the United States is seen as having green-lighted by withdrawing troops from northeastern Syria — nor does it call for the operation to stop.
At a previous meeting late last week, Russia and China blocked the Council adoption of two separate texts calling for a halt to the offensive — one sponsored by European members Germany, Belgium, France, Britain and Poland — and the other by the United States.
Europeans and Americans on the Security Council have since been coordinating their efforts more closely, said a Western diplomat under cover of anonymity.
Almost a week of deadly bombardment and fighting in northeastern Syria has killed dozens of civilians, mostly on the Kurdish side, and prompted at least 160,000 to flee their homes.
The Turkish invasion has also forced the withdrawal of several non-governmental organizations providing assistance to victims of the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 59 min 30 sec ago

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.