Turkish patrol kills protester amid shaky truce in northeastern Syria

Turkish and Russian patrol is seen near the town of Darbasiyah, Syria, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (AP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Turkish patrol kills protester amid shaky truce in northeastern Syria

  • Syrian monitor said the man was killed in the village of Sarmasakh near the border
  • Turkish authorities said they will begin repatriate foreign Daesh fighters

IDIL, Turkey: A Syrian protester was killed after he was run over by a Turkish military vehicle conducting a joint patrol in northeastern Syria with Russian troops Friday, a Kurdish spokesman and Syria war monitor said.
The man was among a group of residents who were pelting the convoy with shoes and stones. Videos circulating online showed the group trying to mount one of the vehicles and then the men shouting, apparently after the man is run over.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the man was run over in the village of Sarmasakh near the border by a Turkish vehicle during the third joint patrol under a cease-fire deal brokered by Moscow that forced Kurdish fighters to withdraw from areas bordering Turkey.
The patrols are aimed at allowing Turkey to ensure that the Syrian Kurdish groups have evacuated the border zone. The agreement with Russia — and a separate one with the US — halted the Turkish invasion of Syria last month that targeted groups it considers a security threat for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.
Other videos from the area showed men, women and children pelting armored vehicles as they drove near a cemetery before speeding away.
The pelting of the Turkish-Russian patrol occurred east of the border town of Qamishli, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory, an opposition war monitor, and the Kurdish Hawar news agency.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian or Turkish military about the incident.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said the troops were patrolling a region between Qamishli and Derik, east of the Euphrates River. It said the patrols were being supported by drones, but provided no further details.
An Associated Press journalist saw four Turkish armored personnel carriers cross into Syria to join the Russian forces.
Mutafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, tweeted that Turkish troops fired tear gas on protesters in Derik, injuring 10 people. The town is controlled by SDF and American forces, but the Turkish troops were passing through on the patrol.

Meanwhile, Turkey will start sending foreign Daesh fighters back to their home countries next week, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told state news agency Anadolu on Friday.
“Now we are telling you that we are going to send them back to you. We are starting this on Monday,” Soylu said, referring to members of Daesh.
Earlier this week, Soylu said Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of Daesh in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.
Turkey has criticized Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship.
It remains unclear whether Turkey will be able to repatriate those who have lost their citizenship.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained this week that Syrian Kurdish fighters were still present in areas along the border, despite the separate agreements with Russia and the United States.
Erdogan also said Turkish troops were being attacked by some Syrian Kurdish fighters from areas they had retreated to, adding that Turkey would not “remain a spectator” to these assaults.
The UN said on Friday that 92 civilians have died so far as a result of Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN human rights office, said the death toll was based on “verified incidents” that included to Nov. 5.
Also in northern Syria, the Observatory and the Thiqa news agency, an activist collective, said on Friday a suicide attacker detonated a truck outside a police station in the northern town of Rai that is controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.
The Observatory said the blast killed three people, while Thiqa reported two civilian deaths.
Bombings in areas held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria are not uncommon. Last week, 13 people were killed in a blast in the town of Tal Abyad, which Turkish troops and opposition fighters they back captured last month.

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”