Assad’s offensive on Idlib creating a ‘Gaza in Syria’, says aid group head

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Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)
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Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)
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Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Assad’s offensive on Idlib creating a ‘Gaza in Syria’, says aid group head

  • 800,000 Syrians flee toward Turkisk border amid relentless Russian-led offensive

ANKARA: Over 800,000 Syrians, the vast majority women and children, have fled their homes from a relentless Russian-led Syrian military campaign in northwest Syria since Dec. 1, David Swanson, a senior UN spokesperson, said on Thursday.
The head of the International Rescue Committee aid group warned that the fighting around an opposition holdout is a “clear and present threat” to regional peace.
David Miliband said that President Bashar Assad’s offensive on Idlib was creating a “Gaza in Syria” with millions of people crammed into a tiny space beset with violence.
Separately, Syria’s parliament recognized the 1915-1917 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, as tensions run high with Turkey after deadly clashes in northwest Syria.




Syrian civilians flee from Idlib in rain toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey on Feb. 13, 2020 amid an offensive by Assad forces. (AP Photo)

The move comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus over deadly clashes between their forces in Syria.
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said Erdogan has responded to escalation by changing the rules of engagement.
“Assad has not fought a regular battle against a state actor since the beginning of the conflict. With the ongoing deployments in Syria, Turkey is building a force that is clearly superior to Assad’s,” he told Arab News.
“Erdogan feels he can cope with the Russia factor thanks to strong support from the US. Not only is Turkey not isolated in Idlib, but it could also decrease its overall isolation through its bold policy in the region,” Unluhisarcikli said.


French extremist trained by Paris attacks leader given 12-year jail term

Updated 37 min 12 sec ago

French extremist trained by Paris attacks leader given 12-year jail term

  • Reda Hame, 34, was sentenced to 12 years in jail

PARIS: A French court on Tuesday handed a 12-year jail term to a computer technician who traveled to Syria to wage war and trained under the suspected ringleader of the 2015 Paris attacks.
Reda Hame, 34, who was convicted of participating in a criminal conspiracy aimed at harming people, received weapons training and a mission from Abdelhamid Abaaoud during his eight-day stay in Syria in the summer of 2015.
Abaaoud, who is believed to have coordinated the November 2015 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris, taught him how to fire an assault rifle and handle a grenade.
He then dropped him off at the Turkish border with orders to return home and carry out an attack on behalf of the Daesh group.
Hame told investigators that Abaaoud, who was killed in a shootout with French police after the Paris attacks, asked him if he would be prepared to shoot into a crowd, giving as an example a rock concert.
But the Paris native, who was arrested on his return to France, insisted that he never had any intention of following Daesh’s orders.
Styling himself an Daesh deserter, he told the court he only pretended to accept his mission to escape the horrors of the Syrian war and regretted ever enlisting with Daesh.
The prosecution had challenged his account of his change of heart, portraying him as a dutiful Daesh “soldier” who had traveled to Syria to join Daesh “at a time when the most hardine, those who will go on to attack Europe and France, are leaving (France for Syria).”
In sentencing Hame to 12 years in jail — the prosecution had sought a 20-year term — the court “showed clemency,” the defendant’s lawyer Archibald Celeyron said.
Hundreds of young French radicals traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from the last holdouts last year.
Dozens have returned home and been jailed in France but some scores more remain in camps in Syria.