Dozens attend funeral of Daesh-slain priest in northeast Syria

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People attend the funeral of Father Joseph Hanna Ibrahim and his father at the Saint Joseph Church in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in the northeastern Hasakah province on November 12, 2019. (AFP)
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A priest leads prayers during the funeral of Father Joseph Hanna Ibrahim and his father at the Saint Joseph Church in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in the northeastern Hasakah province on November 12, 2019. (AFP)
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A priest leads prayers during the funeral of Father Joseph Hanna Ibrahim and his father at the Saint Joseph Church in the Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in the northeastern Hasakah province on November 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Dozens attend funeral of Daesh-slain priest in northeast Syria

  • Men, women dressed in black and children gathered to celebrate the lives of Joseph Hanna Ibrahim and his father in Qamishli
  • Ibrahim and his father were slain on Monday on the road to Deir Ezzor

QAMISHLI: Dozens of mourners filled a church Tuesday for the funeral of an Armenian Catholic priest and his father killed by the Daesh group in northeastern Syria.
Men, women dressed in black and children gathered to celebrate the lives of Joseph Hanna Ibrahim and his father in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli.
Clerics led prayers in Armenian and Aramaic before congregation members lined up to say their farewells by coffins decorated with flowers and lit candles.
Ibrahim and his father were slain on Monday on the road to the eastern province of Deir Ezzor where they were to inspect a church being restored, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Their killing came the same day as a triple bombing in a market and near a school in Qamishli killed six civilians, the Britain-based war monitor said.
The France-based association L’Oeuvre d’Orient said Ibrahim had worked on “reconstruction projects” as well as to support displaced people in eastern Syria.
Around a million Christians live in Syria, including in Qamishli where Kurdish forces and others loyal to the Syrian regime both ensure security.
Kurdish fighters led the US-backed battle against Daesh in Syria, expelling the Sunni extremists from the last scrap of their self-proclaimed “caliphate” in March.
But the militants have continued to claim deadly attacks in northeastern and eastern Syria.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
In the latest phase of the conflict, a Turkish-led cross-border operation in northeast Syria against Kurdish fighters expelled hundreds of thousands from their homes last month.
But a fragile Turkish-Russian cease-fire deal has more or less halted that offensive and seen Kurdish forces withdraw from areas along the Turkish border, except Qamishli.


Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

Updated 05 June 2020

Syria Kurdish-led force launches new anti-Daesh campaign

  • Operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria announced Friday a fresh campaign to hunt down remnants of the Daesh group near the Iraqi border following a recent uptick in attacks.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led paramilitary alliance that has spearheaded the ground fight against Daesh in Syria since 2015, said that the new campaign is being carried out in coordination with the Iraqi army and the US-led coalition.
“This campaign will target ISIS’s hideouts and hotbeds,” it said, using a different acronym for the militant group.
It said operations will focus on the vast east Syria desert near the border with Iraq where Daesh has conducted a spate of attacks in recent months.
Since the loss of its last territory in Syria in March 2019, Daesh attacks have been restricted to the vast desert that stretches from the heavily populated Orontes valley in the west all the way to Iraqi border.
It regularly targets SDF forces and has vowed to seek revenge for the defeat of its so-called “caliphate”.
The SDF, with backing from its coalition allies, launched a campaign to hunt down sleeper cells after it forced Daesh militants out of their last Syrian redoubt in the desert hamlet of Baghouz in March 2019.
A raid in October by US special forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant group which once controlled large swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
Last month, the United Nations accused the Daesh group and others in Syria of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to step up violence on civilians, describing the situation as a “ticking time-bomb”.
Across the border in Iraq, Daesh has exploited a coronavirus lockdown, coalition troop withdrawals and simmering political disputes to ramp up attacks.
Iraq declared Daesh defeated in late 2017 but sleeper cells have survived in remote northern and western areas, where security gaps mean the group wages occasional attacks.
They have spiked since early April as militants plant explosives, shoot up police patrols and launch mortar and rocket fire at villages.