Libyan strongman Haftar opens mission in Syria

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad stands next to Eastern Libya's foreign minister Abdulhadi Lahweej at a ceremony to open the embassy of Libya's eastern-based government led by military commander Khalifa Haftar in Damascus, Syria March 3, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 March 2020

Libyan strongman Haftar opens mission in Syria

  • The Libyan flag was raised above its embassy in Damascus for the first time since 2012
  • Syria's Al-Meqdad attended the flag hoisting, which he said came as both sides faced a common enemy

DAMASCUS: Representatives of Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar on Tuesday opened a diplomatic mission in the Syrian capital Damascus — strengthening ties between two bitter foes of Turkey.
The Libyan flag was raised above the North African country’s embassy in the Syrian capital for the first time since 2012, AFP reporters said.
The Russia-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is battling forces sent into its strife-torn northwest by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
And in Libya, Erdogan is backing Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli, which is fighting against troops loyal to Haftar who launched an offensive on the capital last April.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Meqdad attended the flag hoisting, which he said came as both sides faced a common enemy.
“When Syria decides to renew ties with... Libya, it is recognition that we are waging a single battle in Syria and Libya against terrorism and those supporting it,” he said, using a term to signify rebels and jihadists.
“The Turkish regime and its leader — who has lost touch with reality — are escalating their attack,” he said.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with the two rival authorities now vying for power.
Turkey backs Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord in the capital Tripoli, and has dispatched troops and pro-Turkish Syrian fighters there.
Haftar’s move in Syria came as tensions have spiralled between the Assad regime and Turkish forces in the northwest, where Turkey has downed several regime jets and bombs have killed dozens of troops on each side.
Haftar’s parallel administration sent its foreign minister Abdulhadi Lahweej and deputy prime minister Abdul Rahman Al-Ahiresh.
“This is not the embassy of the east or of the west” of Libya, Syria’s Meqdad claimed.
“We believe in a single Libya ... Our enemy is he who sells the country to the colonizer, especially the Turkish colonizer,” he added.
Syria’s conflict, sparked by the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011 as the death toll mounted.
Several regional powers, betting on the demise of Assad’s regime, suspended diplomatic ties with Damascus.
“We hope that those who froze Syria’s membership will recall their Arabism,” Meqdad said.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain re-opened their diplomatic missions in the Syrian capital in December 2018.


Palestine prevents movement between governorates for 2 weeks

Updated 13 min 28 sec ago

Palestine prevents movement between governorates for 2 weeks

  • Palestinian Authority imposes night-time, weekend curfew for 14 days
  • Travel will be prohibited daily from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 am in all governorates

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Authority on Sunday imposed a night-time and weekend curfew on the occupied West Bank for the coming 14 days to try and rein in rising coronavirus numbers.
“Travel will be prohibited daily from 8:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am in all governorates,” as well as from Thursday evening to Sunday morning, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told a news conference.

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