Daesh attack kills 8 regime loyalists in east Syria

Daesh attack kills 8 regime loyalists in east Syria
A Russian soldier stands guard as troops accompany a convoy of displaced Syrian civilians leaving for their homes in the northern town of Ain Issa in the countryside of the Raqqa region. (AFP)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Daesh attack kills 8 regime loyalists in east Syria

Daesh attack kills 8 regime loyalists in east Syria
  • More than 387,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes since Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011

BEIRUT: Daesh terrorists killed at least eight regime loyalists in eastern Syria on Monday, the latest in a series of deadly extremist attacks, a Britain-based war monitor reported.
Five Syrian soldiers and three pro-regime militia fighters were among those killed in the Daesh attack on one of their positions in a desert region of Deir Ezzor province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Eleven others were wounded, some of them critically, meaning the death toll could climb, the war monitor added.
Daesh in 2014 overran large parts of Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a cross-border “caliphate” before multiple offensives in the two countries led to its territorial defeat.
The group was overcome in Syria in March 2019, but sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in the vast Badia desert spanning from central Syria eastwards to the border with Iraq.
Since the start of the year, Daesh sleeper cells have upped their attacks on regime forces, killing at least 44, including soldiers and foreign paramilitaries, the Observatory says.

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Since the start of the year, Daesh sleeper cells have upped their attacks on regime forces, killing at least 44, including soldiers and foreign paramilitaries, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

Among these, on Saturday, Daesh gunmen killed seven regime loyalists in the Deir Ezzor town of Al-Shola.
Another 15 Syrian troops have gone missing after a Daesh attack on regime forces in the central province of Hama on Friday, according to the Observatory.
Their bus was found torched at the weekend, but there was no sign of the men who are likely dead or held captive by jihadists, the monitor added. Syrian regime media did not report the incident.
In a separate incident last week, the Observatory said Daesh gunmen in central Syria had ambushed a bus carrying government soldiers as well as fuel tankers in another part of Hama province.
The ambush resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers, four allied fighters and three civilians, the Observatory said.
Daesh said it was behind a December 30 bus ambush in Deir Ezzor province, which killed at least 39 Syrian soldiers.
More than 387,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes since Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011.


Criticism over Israeli ‘terror’ label for Palestinian groups

Criticism over Israeli ‘terror’ label for Palestinian groups
Updated 55 min 37 sec ago

Criticism over Israeli ‘terror’ label for Palestinian groups

Criticism over Israeli ‘terror’ label for Palestinian groups
  • Move by Defense Minister Benny Gantz has even drawn fire from within Israel’s government, an unwieldy eight-party alliance that includes left-wing politicians
  • Representatives from 25 Israeli civil society groups traveled to Ramallah Wednesday to show solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues

JERUSALEM: Israel’s surprise “terrorist” designation of six Palestinian civil society groups has divided its ruling coalition and thrown a spotlight on Marxist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The move announced last Friday by Defense Minister Benny Gantz caused shockwaves, including among European donors who support the targeted groups and from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Israeli non-government organizations, or NGOs, which partner with the implicated Palestinians also voiced astonishment.
So did some in the media, given the prominence of the groups involved — especially Al-Haq, a rights group founded in 1979 by writer Raja Shehadeh, a New Yorker magazine contributor.
Gantz has also taken fire from within Israel’s government, an unwieldy eight-party alliance that includes left-wing politicians.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the dovish Meretz, warned that as an occupying military power Israel needed to be “very careful in imposing sanctions on Palestinian civil organizations because there are political, diplomatic and, more importantly, human rights consequences.”
Transport Minister and Labor leader Merav Michaeli said the way the announcement was made “caused Israel great damage with our greatest and most important friends.”
But Gantz’s office has not wavered, insisting that a joint security establishment investigation had proved the six groups operated “as an organized network under the leadership of the PFLP,” as the Marxist group is known.
The PFLP was founded in 1967 by George Habache — mixing Marxist-Leninism, Arab nationalism and virulent anti-Zionism — ultimately becoming the second most powerful Palestinian armed group after Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.
It currently does not have firepower matching the arsenal of rockets held by Gaza’s rulers Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but it is active in the international campaign to boycott Israel known as BDS, short for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.
The PFLP has been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, and Israel says it is responsible for a 2019 bomb attack in the occupied West Bank that killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Schnerb.
The PFLP leader in Israeli-blockaded Gaza told AFP the designated organizations have “no link” with his group beyond a shared ideology opposing the occupation.
“These NGOs work in complete independence,” Jamil Mazher said.
The PFLP has been a prime target of the Israeli organization NGO Monitor, which tracks funding and activities of non profit groups engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with specific focus on European donors.
Its president Gerald Steinberg told AFP the designations last week “appears to reflect the impact of NGO Monitor’s ongoing research.”
NGO Monitor wrote to the European anti-fraud office OLAF in November 2020 to share what it said was evidence of EU funds being given to Palestinian NGOs with links to terrorist organizations.
OLAF replied in January that it had “dismissed the case on the grounds that there is no sufficient suspicion to open an investigation,” according to a letter seen by AFP.
Israel is not obligated to disclose the evidence it used to support the terrorism designation, with secrecy allowed under the 2016 counter-terrorism act.
The defense ministry has said the groups had hosted PFLP meetings, employed “convicted terrorists” and operated as a “lifeline” for the PFLP through “fundraising, money laundering and recruitment of activists.”
Tel Aviv University law professor Eliav Lieblich, writing on the Just Security website this week, argued that “it simply cannot be accepted that well-known and widely respected Palestinian human rights groups be designated as ‘terrorist organizations’ by executive fiat and on the basis of classified intelligence.”
An Israeli official told AFP that an envoy would soon head to Washington to share evidence after the US said it would be seeking “more information” about the designations.
Meanwhile, pushback persists against the decision.
Representatives from 25 Israeli civil society groups traveled to Ramallah Wednesday to show solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues.
“This attack on Palestinian civil society, on Palestinian organizations, is not new,” Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of Israeli rights group B’Tselem, told AFP at the demonstration.
“What is new,” he added, is that “they’re targeting some of the most respected and oldest civil society organizations in Palestine, like Al-Haq,” and that growing international outrage means Israel may no longer be able to act with “impunity.”


Arab coalition says 95 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says 95 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
Updated 28 October 2021

Arab coalition says 95 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah

Arab coalition says 95 Houthis killed in strikes on Juba and Al-Kasarah
  • On Thursday, the Arab coalition destroyed five Houthi ballistic missiles fired toward Jazan, Saudi Arabia
  • 11 military vehicles were destroyed in the 22 strikes carried out on Juba and Al-Kasarah

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Thursday that 95 Houthis were killed during air strikes on two districts near the central Yemeni city of Marib.
The coalition added that 11 military vehicles had also been destroyed in the 22 strikes carried out on Juba and Al-Kasarah during the last 24 hours.
Juba is some 50 km south of Marib, whilst Al-Kasarah is 30 km northwest of the city.
The coalition has reported heavy strikes around Marib in recent weeks.
Earlier on Thursday, the Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed five Houthi ballistic missiles fired toward the southwestern Saudi city of Jazan.


UN calls on Sudan’s military to restore civilian-led government

UN calls on Sudan’s military to restore civilian-led government
Updated 28 October 2021

UN calls on Sudan’s military to restore civilian-led government

UN calls on Sudan’s military to restore civilian-led government
  • The council called for the immediate release of all those detained by the military authorities
  • Statement is the product of days of laborious talks among council members and was watered down under pressure from Russia

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council called Thursday on Sudan’s new military rulers to restore the civilian-led government that they toppled this week.
The council passed unanimously a statement that expressed “serious concern” about the coup Monday in the poverty-stricken African nation which has enjoyed only rare periods of democracy since gaining independence in 1956.
The council called for the immediate release of all those detained by the military authorities and urged “all stakeholders to engage in dialogue without pre-conditions.”
The British-drafted statement is the product of days of laborious talks among council members and was watered down under pressure from Russia. The council met in an urgent session Tuesday after the putsch.
The statement expresses concern over the “suspension of some transitional institutions, the declaration of a state of emergency” and the detention of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. He was taken Monday by the military and is now under guard at his home, where he was moved after an international outcry. Other ministers remain under full military arrest, however.
One diplomat said that, at the insistence of China, the text notes explicitly that Hamdok did return home on Tuesday evening. But the UN maintains that it considers him as being denied freedom of movement.
The discussions among the Security Council members came against a backdrop of a renewed struggle between Western nations and Russia for influence in Sudan.
A first draft statement floated early this week condemned the coup “in the strongest terms” but this wording was eventually dropped.
In the version that was ultimately adopted, the council “called upon all parties to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and emphasized the importance of full respect for human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”


US sanctions two Lebanese businessmen and a member of parliament

US sanctions two Lebanese businessmen and a member of parliament
Updated 28 October 2021

US sanctions two Lebanese businessmen and a member of parliament

US sanctions two Lebanese businessmen and a member of parliament
  • Jihad Al-Arab and Dany Khoury were sanctioned for alleged corruption related to state contracts
  • Lawmaker Jamil Sayyed was sanctioned for allegedly seeking to transfer $120 million abroad

BEIRUT: The US Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two top Lebanese contractors and a lawmaker close to the Hezbollah movement over alleged large-scale corruption that undermined the rule of law in Lebanon.
Businessmen Jihad Al-Arab and Dany Khoury, close to former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and Christian politician Gebran Bassil respectively, were sanctioned for alleged corruption related to state contracts.
Lawmaker Jamil Sayyed was sanctioned for allegedly seeking to “skirt domestic banking policies and regulations” and transfer $120 million abroad, “presumably to enrich himself and his associates,” a Treasury statement said. 


Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say
Updated 28 October 2021

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say
  • The World Bank would finance the deal, Lebanese energy minister Walid Fayad said
  • Lebanon is suffering from an acute energy crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have reached a final deal to transfer electricity to Lebanon which is suffering an acute energy crisis, ministers from the three neighboring countries said in a joint news conference on Thursday.
The World Bank attended a joint meeting for the participating countries and would finance the deal, Lebanese energy minister Walid Fayad said.
"The Americans have given the green light to the project," he added.