Turkey tells Russia: Syria regime attacks on Idlib must stop

A picture taken on February 16, 2020, shows a convoy of the Turkish army in the commercial area of the Syrian town of Sarmada in the northwestern province of Idlib. The situation in Syria has become more tense as pro-regime forces intensify their assault on the last major rebel bastion of Idlib, where Turkey has 12 observation posts as part of a 2018 Ankara-Moscow agreement, four of which are surrounded by regime forces according to Turkish officials. (AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2020

Turkey tells Russia: Syria regime attacks on Idlib must stop

  • Assad has been intensifying his assault on the holdout northwestern province of Idlib

ANKARA: Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday he has told his Russian counterpart that the Damascus regime’s attacks on the last rebel-held bastion in Syria must stop.
Backed by Russian air power, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been intensifying his assault on the holdout northwestern province of Idlib.
And tensions have been running high between Ankara and Moscow after 14 Turks were killed in shelling by Syrian government forces in the region.
“I stressed that the attacks in Idlib must stop and it was necessary to establish a lasting cease-fire that would not be violated,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists in Germany.
Cavusoglu met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday during the Munich Security Conference.
Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib as part of a 2018 deal reached between Ankara and Moscow in the Russian resort of Sochi to prevent a regime offensive.
But despite the agreement, Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have pressed ahead with an assault to retake the province, killing hundreds of people.
Four of the Turkish posts are believed to be encircled by Syrian forces, and Ankara has threatened to attack Damascus if they do not retreat by the end of February.
A Turkish delegation will head to Moscow on Monday, after Russian officials visited Ankara last weekend but no concrete agreement emerged.
Rebel supporter Turkey and Damascus ally Russia have worked closely on Syria in recent years despite being on opposing sides of the nine-year conflict.


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

Updated 51 min 32 sec ago

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.”