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.


Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

Updated 43 min 27 sec ago

Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

  • Gantz said he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank
  • Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on the plan

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state.
Gantz's directive appeared to indicate that the centrist politician had either signed on to the move, or at least believed it would be inevitable, given right-wing support in the Netanyahu-led coalition cabinet.
In public remarks to legislators of his centrist Blue and White party, Gantz noted a recent uptick in anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Palestinians' declaration last month that they were ending security cooperation with Israel over the annexation issue.
He said he had subsequently ordered the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, to "examine all the ramifications and the required preparations" stemming from moving ahead with the peace plan US President Donald Trump announced in January, a blueprint that could ease annexation.
In a separate written statement, Gantz said "preparations by the Israel Defence Forces should be stepped up ahead of pending diplomatic moves regarding the Palestinians".
The Palestinians have rejected Trump's proposal, under which the vast majority of West Bank settlements built by Israel on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war would be incorporated into "contiguous Israeli territory".
The Palestinians and most countries consider such settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.
The Trump plan also envisages a Palestinian state under near-complete Israeli security control, creating what Palestinians leaders say would be an unviable country.
Sami Abu Zuhri, an official with militant group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, another part of Palestinians' hoped-for future state, told Reuters: "The call of the occupation army to get ready for annexation of the West Bank is a call for war, and the occupation will regret this crime, and soon realise they are committing a grave mistake."