Turkey hints at ‘Plan B’ if Idlib agreements violated

Syrian rebel fighters load a Grad rocket launcher in northwestern Syria on Saturday. Since December, regime forces have pressed a blistering assault against the Idlib region with Russian support. (AFP)
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Updated 10 February 2020

Turkey hints at ‘Plan B’ if Idlib agreements violated

  • ‘Ankara will change tack in northwestern Syria if agreements over Idlib continue to be violated’

ISTANBUL: Turkey will change tack in northwestern Syria if agreements over Idlib, a rebel bastion, continue to be violated, the country’s defense minister warned in remarks published on Sunday.

Turkey and Russia have brokered a cease-fire for Idlib where Syrian regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes have pressed ahead with an offensive to retake the province from rebel groups.
“If the agreement kept being violated, we have Plan B and Plan C,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, in an interview with the Hurriyet daily.
“We on every occasion say ‘do not force us, otherwise our Plan B and Plan C are ready’.”
He did not give details, but referred to Ankara’s military campaigns in Syria since 2016.
As part of a 2018 deal with Russia, Turkey set up 12 observation posts in Idlib and Turkish security sources said this week three of them have now been encircled by forces loyal to Syria’s Bashar Assad.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given Damascus until the end of the month to pull back from the outposts and urged Russia to convince the regime to halt its offensive.
Eight Turks were killed on Monday by regime shelling prompting a response by the Turkish army.

FASTFACTS

• Idlib has long been a destination for civilians and rebel fighters who were either displaced or fled the regime’s offensive elsewhere in Syria.

• Turkey keeps on shipping supplies to its outposts in coordination with Russian authorities.

Since Friday, Turkey has shipped large convoys of vehicles carrying commandos, tanks and howitzers to shore up its military posts in Idlib.
“Our observation posts there will remain in place within the agreement,” Akar said. Turkey keeps on shipping supplies to its outposts in coordination with Russian authorities, he added.
“Despite this, if there is any obstacle, we put it clearly that we will do what’s necessary.”
Idlib has long been a destination for civilians and rebel fighters who were either displaced or fled the regime’s offensive elsewhere in Syria. Ankara backs rebels seeking Assad’s ouster.
A Russian delegation on Saturday met with Turkish officials for two rounds of talks in Ankara to discuss steps toward peace and push ahead with a political process in Idlib, according to a Turkish diplomatic source. Ankara and Moscow have worked closely in recent years to resolve the situation in Idlib despite being on opposing sides of the conflict.
“Our primary goal is to prevent migration and humanitarian tragedy. We are working to establish a cease-fire as soon as possible and stop the bloodshed,” Akar said.


So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

Updated 27 May 2020

So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

  • Iranian president Rouhani has urged his cabinet to speed up the introduction of harsher laws against such killings

TEHRAN: The so-called honor killing of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father, who reportedly used a farming sickle to behead her as she slept, has prompted a nationwide outcry.
Reza Ashrafi, now in custody, was apparently enraged when he killed his daughter Romina on Thursday after she ran away with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari in Talesh, some 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.
In traditional societies in the Middle East, including Iran, blame would typically fall on a runaway girl for purportedly having sullied her family’s honor, rather than on an adult male luring away a child.
Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station, from where her father brought her back home. The girl reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.
On Wednesday, a number of national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi reportedly has been used thousands times on social media, with most users condemning the killing.
Proposed legislation against honor killings has apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.
On Wednesday, Romina Ashrafi’s case led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urge his Cabinet to speed up harsher laws against such killings and he pushed for speedy adoption of relevant legislation.
There is little data on honor killings in Iran, where local media occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. It is not known how many women and young girls are killed by family members or close relatives because of their actions, perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms on love and marriage.
Iran’s judiciary said Romina’s case will be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments will soon be in the final stages of approval.
Shahnaz Sajjadi, special assistant to citizens’ rights in the presidential directorate on women and family affairs, on Wednesday told the khabaronline.ir news website “We should revise the idea that home is a safe place for children and women. Crimes that happen against women in the society are less than those that happen in the homes.”