Fighting rages in Yemen’s Abyan province

A tank belonging to forces loyal to Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) separatists fires while on the frontline of clashes with pro-government forces for control of Zinjibar, the capital of the southern Abyan province, on its eastern outskirts in the Sheikh Salim area, on May 15, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 18 May 2020

Fighting rages in Yemen’s Abyan province

  • Internationally recognized government seeking to expel the separatist Southern Transitional Council

AL-MUKALLA: Fighting raged on Sunday for the seventh consecutive day between government forces and separatists on the outskirts of the city of Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, residents and local military commanders said.

Government troops launched an offensive on May 11 aimed at expelling the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) from southern provinces including the port city
of Aden. “Fighting has been raging since early Sunday as our forces cut a road between Jaar and Zinjibar,” a local military commander, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News by telephone. He said that more than 20 soldiers on both sides had been killed and dozens injured since early last week.
On Saturday Yemeni government commanders admitted that separatist forces had captured Brig. Saif Al-Qufaish, the commander of Brigade 115 in Abyan, and a number of his associates after besieging their position in Abyan’s Sheikh Salem region.
“Our forces are in their positions and what happened on Saturday happens in every war,” Maj. Gen. Sanad Al-Rahwah, the commander of the government’s 1st Presidential Protection Brigade, told official media, commenting on the capture of Al-Qufaish. “If they captured a commander, we would respond by capturing or killing one or 10 of theirs.”
Over the last couple of days, residents in Zinjibar and Shouqra have reported hearing explosions from battlefields as government forces intensified the shelling of separatists on the outskirts of Zinjibar in an attempt to make headway. Government military commanders admit that separatists have resisted their offensive
and that it could take longer to break through and reach Zinjibar and Aden.

FASTFACTS

• 20 soldiers on both sides have been killed.

• Six Houthi militants killed in Taiz.

There is mounting local and international pressure on the STC to back down and revoke its controversial self-rule declaration that triggered the violence. However, the council’s leaders are defiant and are demanding that government forces stop their offensive and surrender.
Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Iryani said that the STC self-rule declaration in Aden had hampered the government’s efforts to pay public servants and fight the spread of coronavirus.
At least six Houthis were killed on Saturday in clashes with government troops in the southern city of Taiz.
Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesperson in Taiz, said that Houthis shelled the densely populated city with canons, tanks and heavy machine guns before attacking government troops on the western edges of the city. Two government troops were killed and three injured in the clashes that ended on Saturday afternoon when loyalists repelled the Houthi attack.

COVID-19 cases
Local health authorities in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Sunday reported four new coronavirus cases in the coastal areas of the province, including two deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in government-controlled areas to 126. Health authorities also recorded three recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered cases to four.


Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

Pedestrians, wearing face masks, walk in a street of Ankara on November 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 10 min 6 sec ago

Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

  • 20% of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return
  • No PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers entering the country. It is a very big mistake

ANKARA: Unofficial sources have warned that numbers of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are skyrocketing.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimated that daily COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 47,500, of which about 12,500 are in Istanbul. This would represent a 300 percent increase in November compared to the month before.

According to official data, however, Turkey recorded 5,103 new COVID-19 patients on Nov. 20 — the second highest new daily figure since March — and its highest daily death toll with 141 fatalities.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that 186 people died from “infectious diseases” in the city on Nov. 22 — more than the official countrywide death toll. (The Turkish health ministry is accused of classifying some COVID-related deaths as "infection-related deaths")

The TTB, whose data drew on figures from 1,270 medics in 76 provinces, claimed that someone in Turkey dies from COVID-19 every 10 minutes. It declared that “they have lost control of the pandemic.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms. Following this admission Turkey was put on the UK’s quarantine-on-arrival list in early October.

BACKGROUND

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms.

Reports drawing on Israeli health ministry data say that 20 percent of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, which experts consider a worryingly high figure.

Everyone arriving in Israel is obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no such an obligation in Turkey.

“The countries which prove successful in managing the pandemic are those that apply strict quarantine rules and rigorously regulate arrivals in the country. But this is not the case in Turkey nowadays,” said Guner Sonmez, a radiologist from Uskudar University in Istanbul.

“Only one case can again trigger a whole chain of contagion and begin a new wave of pandemic. However, no PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers who enter the country. It is a very big mistake for managing the dynamics of the pandemic.”

Turkey recently re-introduced a partial evening curfew and restrictions on the weekends, although scientists have been urging a full 14-day lockdown.