How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture

Special How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi joins Coptic Pope Tawadros II during a Christmas Eve Mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral outside Cairo. (AFP)
Special How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi joins Coptic Pope Tawadros II during a Christmas Eve Mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral outside Cairo. (AFP)
Special How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture
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Relatives pray and mourn over the remains of 20 Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christian men who were beheaded by Daesh extremists in Libyan in 2015 and repatriated to Egypt in May 2015. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 02 June 2022

How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture

How Egypt’s Coptic Christians put down roots around the world, but remained grounded in their culture
  • After decades of oppression and adversity, Copts — the ‘original Egyptians’ — are finding hope in Egypt’s ‘new republic’
  • Those raised overseas, like British-born Egyptian artist and iconographer Fadi Mikhail, have remained true to their roots

LONDON: Coptic Christians in Egypt and in scattered migrant communities across the world celebrated on Wednesday the "Entry of the Lord into Egypt,” an annual feast day. That celebration is followed by The Holy Feast of Ascension, commemorating the Christian belief in Christ’s bodily ascension into heaven.

In a sense, the two consecutive feast days bookend the Coptic experience. The one marks their deep-rooted pride in an Egyptian heritage that predates the arrival of Islam, while the other celebrates the spiritual value of self-sacrifice, which would come to define the experience of a church forged in martyrdom soon after Christ’s death on the cross.




Interior details of Saint George Church in Coptic Cairo, Egypt. (Shutterstock)

Back in April, Egypt’s Christians celebrated two other consecutive special days.

Orthodox Easter fell on April 24, a date set by the Julian calendar under which the Church of Alexandria operates, rather than the Gregorian calendar used by the rest of Christianity, with which the Copts parted ways over theological differences in the fifth century.

But the following day, together with Egyptians of all faiths, Copts celebrated the national holiday of Sham Ennessim. The origins of this festival of spring date back millennia to the days of the pharaohs and, like the Copts themselves, survived the Arabization of Egypt in the seventh century to become an integral part of Egyptian society.

Around the world are many Copts, some now second or even third generation, who were born on foreign soil after their parents emigrated in search of a better life, yet who also remain rooted in Egypt and its culture.

The life and work of Fadi Mikhail, a successful artist in the UK, symbolizes the generations who were born overseas to immigrant parents, but maintain strong ties to their Egyptian and Coptic heritage.

Mikhail’s parents, Hany and Salwa, emigrated from Egypt in the late 1970s, his father pursuing his career as a doctor in the UK. “The promise of higher pay and a better life called to him,” said Mikhail.




 British-born Coptic artist Fadi Mikhail trained in Los Angeles under the renowned Egyptian iconographer Isaac Fanous. (Supplied)

Born in Harlow, England, in 1984, Mikhail studied in Los Angeles under the renowned Egyptian iconographer Isaac Fanous before graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Today, he produces icons for Coptic churches around the world, but his art is a visual bridge between East and West — he has a parallel career as a painter in the Western tradition, working in oils to produce landscapes, or drawing inspiration from books he enjoyed as a child.

His work is showcased by British galleries and has led to commissions for notable patrons, including the Prince of Wales.

Mikhail and his wife return to Egypt only for the occasional annual vacation. But, like most Copts scattered around the world, he says that “through the church I do still feel strongly connected to the Coptic faith and, by extension, Egypt.”

His interest in iconography “certainly began as a religious connection but has more recently become equally a part of my identity as an Egyptian.”




One of Fadi Mikhail’s oil paintings, ‘The Swallows Chasing the Amazons.’ (Supplied)

His parents’ generation, he said, “were particularly strong as a community, having banded together as recent immigrants, wanting to retain as much Egyptian culture as possible. Faith was an intrinsic part of this.”

He concedes that, “now in our second and third generation, the Coptic community in the UK is certainly experiencing some challenges of identity and the struggle to feel or appear as unwavering in our ‘Egyptianness’ as our parents.

“Practising one’s faith in a church in the West, where Western thought is certainly more liberal, while remaining in communion with the Eastern church, which is considerably more conservative, is difficult.

“However, I believe we have been very lucky with the wisdom of our leadership here in the UK, and to date I believe the waters have been wisely and deftly navigated.”




The Glaubenskirche in Berlin, Germany, a former Lutheran church, has been owned since 1998 by the Coptic Church, and it is being developed into a Coptic bishop's residence. (Shutterstock)

Wherever emigrating Copts have put down roots, their communities and their church have flourished. In addition to the estimated 15 million Copts in Egypt — some 10 percent of the population — there are now thought to be more than 2 million living abroad, chiefly in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, where they make up mainly a wealthy and educated immigrant class of professionals, such as doctors or engineers.

The first Coptic parish in North America, St. Mark’s, was established in Toronto in 1964. It was followed shortly afterwards by the parish of St. Mark’s in New Jersey, which was founded in the late 1960s and saw the building of the first Coptic church in the West.

But one of the oldest Coptic communities abroad was founded in the 1950s in the UK, where the first Coptic liturgy in Europe was conducted in London on Aug. 10, 1954. The community was founded largely by Copts who studied medicine and moved to Britain to pursue their careers free of the glass ceilings that held them back in Egypt.




Queen Elizabeth II meets Pope Tawadros II and Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church during a private audience at Windsor Castle on May 9, 2017 in Windsor, UK. (Getty Images)

In 1978, the Coptic pope, Shenouda III, traveled from Egypt to the UK to consecrate St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Kensington, London, the first Coptic Orthodox Church in Europe.

Since then, the church in the UK has gone from strength, with in excess of 20,000 faithful across 32 parishes. In 2002 Shenouda returned to lay the foundation stone for the Cathedral of St. George, which was inaugurated in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage, England, in 2006.

The head of the church in the UK is Archbishop Anba Angaelos, whose personal story of migration in many ways echoes that of so many Copts.

Born in Cairo in 1967, as a child he emigrated with his family to Australia. There he obtained a degree in political science, philosophy and sociology and, after postgraduate studies in law, returned to Egypt in 1990, where he became a monk and joined the historic monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun. 




A view of Egypt's historic monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun, Cairo. (Shutterstock)

In 1995, he was sent to the UK as a parish priest. Four years later, he was made a general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church and on Nov. 18, 2017 was enthroned as the first Coptic Orthodox archbishop of London.

Icons in St. George Cathedral were painted by Fadi Mikhail in the modern Coptic style championed by his teacher Isaac Fanous.

The Copts who live abroad, said Angaelos, “don’t look at ourselves as a diaspora community, one that has faced persecution and has dispersed. We are a migrant community, people who have gone to find a better life for themselves and for their children and who still maintain links with Egypt.”




Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II (L) leads the Easter mass at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt on April 11, 2015. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Egypt’s Coptic Christians can justifiably claim to be the original Egyptians, guardians of a language once spoken by the pharaohs and keepers of a faith forged in adversity.

“We are an indigenous people,” said Angaelos. “I can trace my heritage as a Christian back to St. Mark, who established Christianity in Egypt, and even further back to my ancient Egyptian roots.”

According to scripture, Mary and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt with the infant Jesus to escape the massacre of all male children aged 2 or under in Bethlehem ordered by King Herod.

A generation later, it was in the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria that Mark the Evangelist founded the church that would become one of the five great episcopal sees of early Christendom, alongside Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome.




Coptic patriarch and priests celebrate mass on Orthodox Good Friday, in the Holy Sepulchre church of Jerusalem Old City, on April 30, 2021. (Shutterstock)

Copts have not always felt welcome in Egypt. Under Roman rule, Christians throughout the empire suffered persecution for centuries. St. Mark himself was murdered and martyred by a pagan mob in the streets of Alexandria in A.D. 68, and hundreds of Christians died in Egypt during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.

Such was the impact of what became known as the Diocletianic persecution that the years of the liturgical calendar used by the Coptic Orthodox Church are counted from A.D. 284, the beginning of Diocletian’s reign. For the Copts, years are labelled not A.D. (Anno Domini, “the year of our Lord”), but A.M. — Anno Martyrum, “Year of the Martyrs.”

With the rise of Islam in the seventh century, the Copts faced new challenges to their faith and their ancient language, a direct linguistical descendant from the ancient Egyptian tongue. As many Copts converted to Islam, in part to avoid the increasingly onerous taxes imposed on non-Muslims, use of the language was steadily eroded and now survives only in the monasteries and liturgies of the Coptic Church.




Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohamed Goma (C-L) congratulates Pope Tawadros II during his enthronement ceremony as leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian church in Cairo on Nov. 18, 2012. Christians and Muslims lived side by side in harmony in Egypt through times of great unrest and periods. (AFP)

All these obstacles the Copts navigated stoically for many centuries, through times of great unrest and periods during which Christians and Muslims lived side by side in harmony in Egypt.

In the 20th century, however, a series of social, economic and political upheavals — aggravated by Britain’s divide-and-rule policies in Egypt and leading ultimately to the “Free Officers” coup of 1952 and President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s pan-Arab reforms — saw the start of a steady trickle of Copts emigrating in the hope of finding a better life in the West.

Even before the revolution, “Copts were being slowly pushed out of Egyptian politics,” said Michael Akladios, founder and director of Egypt Migrations, a Coptic cultural and archival project set up in Canada in 2016 to preserve the stories of Egypt’s migrants.

“Immediately following the revolution, graduate Copts began to emigrate, going to the UK, Canada and the US, because they were hitting ceilings within the schools and professions.”




A view of Saint Simon the Tanner Monastery, an old Coptic church in Cairo, Egypt. (Shutterstock)

Akladios said it was a mistake to characterize all Coptic emigration from Egypt as the product of fear or persecution. His own family emigrated to Canada when he was 8, joining his father’s siblings who had already settled in Toronto, and the move was “economically motivated.”

“Yes, persecution is an element,” he said. “But the Copts are more than their churches; they’re also human beings with needs and families, and they make decisions as pragmatic migrants just like anybody else.”

For Copts in Egypt today, said Archbishop Angaelos, “there are still challenges. But one of the most important things for Copts, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims.”

One man is the flag-bearer for the new spirit of interfaith harmony abroad in Egypt – Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was elected president in 2014 and has been responsible for a series of gestures of inclusive non-sectarianism.




Daesh terrorists lead blindfolded Egyptian Coptic Christians, wearing orange jumpsuits, to be beheaded on a seashore in the Libyan capital of Tripoli in 2015. (AFP file photo)

When 20 migrant Coptic Egyptian workers and a Ghanaian colleague were beheaded on a beach in Libya by terrorists in February 2015, it was El-Sisi who sent the Egyptian Air Force to exact revenge on Daesh.

When a series of attacks against Copts and Coptic churches was unleashed in 2017, claiming dozens of lives, the wave of terror was crushed by an overwhelming response by the Egyptian army.

In 2018, El-Sisi’s government paved the way for the return of the Libyan martyrs’ bodies to Egypt. In the village of Al-Aour in Upper Egypt, where many of the men had lived, they were laid to rest in the newly built Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland, the construction of which had been funded by the Egyptian government.

And Copts everywhere were delighted when El-Sisi joined Coptic Pope Tawadros for Christmas Mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital on Jan. 6 this year. In a speech, El-Sisi spoke of a “new republic” in Egypt “that accommodates everyone without discrimination.”




Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (R) speaking alongside Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria during a Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral near Cairo on January 6, 2022. (AFP)

As if to underline the point, just over a month later the first Coptic Christian was appointed head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.

For Michael Akladios, and for the Coptic community in Egypt and the wider world, the appointment of Judge Boulos Fahmy Eskandar on Feb. 9, 2022, was “a promising step on the road to greater Coptic inclusion and representation in Egypt’s public sphere.”

Although it was “still too early to judge what ramifications this appointment will have for Coptic communities in Egypt and across its diasporas,” it was nevertheless “symbolic of the state’s continued big gestures for cementing national unity as a prevailing feature of the character of the nation.”

 

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EU to host donor conference on Syria, Turkiye quake aid

EU to host donor conference on Syria, Turkiye quake aid
Updated 58 min 9 sec ago

EU to host donor conference on Syria, Turkiye quake aid

EU to host donor conference on Syria, Turkiye quake aid
  • "Turkiye and Syria can count on the EU," von der Leyen wrote on Twitter
  • The European Union said the conference would be held early next month in Brussels

BRUSSELS: The EU plans to host a donors conference in March to mobilize international aid for Syria and Turkiye following this week’s devastating earthquake, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
“We are now racing against the clock to save lives together. Soon we will provide relief aid, together. Turkiye and Syria can count on the EU,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
The European Union said the conference would be held early next month in Brussels in coordination with Turkish authorities “to mobilize funds from the international community in support for the people” of both countries.
“No one should be left alone when a tragedy like this hits a people,” von der Leyen said in a statement.
The event is aimed at coordinating the international response to the disaster and “will be open to EU Member States, neighboring countries, UN members” and international lenders, the bloc said.
Sweden, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, will co-chair the conference, at a moment when it is facing a block from Turkiye on its push to join NATO.
“Sweden wants to ensure that the EU’s assistance is adequate to meet the need of the Turkish and Syrian people in this terrible time,” Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said.
The European Union was swift to dispatch rescue teams to Turkiye after the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Monday close to the border with Syria.
But it initially offered only minimal assistance to Syria through existing humanitarian programs because of EU sanctions imposed since 2011 on the government of President Bashar Assad in response to his brutal crackdown on protesters, which spiralled into a civil war.
On Wednesday, Damascus made an official plea to the EU for help, the bloc’s commissioner for crisis management said.
Now that Damascus has made the move, through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism that coordinates aid, Janez Lenarcic said the commission was asking European countries “to respond favorably to this request.”
The participants in the EU mechanism comprise the 27 EU countries plus eight neighboring non-EU nations that include Norway and Turkiye.


Lebanese victim pulled from rubble 2 days after Turkiye quake; several remain trapped

Lebanese victim pulled from rubble 2 days after Turkiye quake; several remain trapped
Updated 08 February 2023

Lebanese victim pulled from rubble 2 days after Turkiye quake; several remain trapped

Lebanese victim pulled from rubble 2 days after Turkiye quake; several remain trapped
  • Ambassador Ghassan Al-Muallem said about 10 to 15 Lebanese were known to have been in the area and most are safe, ‘however 4 or 5 people are still under rubble’
  • Caretaker PM Najib Mikati sent a ministerial delegation to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss rescue and aid efforts with Turkish officials, including President Bashar Assad

BEIRUT: Rescuers in Turkiye pulled Lebanese citizen Basel Habqouq alive from the rubble on Wednesday, 48 hours after the massive earthquake that caused devastating damage and loss of life in the southeast of the country and neighboring Syria.
Meanwhile, teams continue their efforts to free Lebanese youths Elias Haddad and Mohammed Al-Mohammed who are trapped in the debris of the hotel in which they were staying. The efforts to track down other victims from Lebanon continue.
Ghassan Al-Muallem, the Lebanese ambassador to Turkiye, said: “The embassy is working with the Turkish authorities … to ascertain the fate of the missing Lebanese citizens.
“We have been informed that there were 10 to 15 Lebanese in the area that was hit by the earthquake. Most of them are in good condition and we succeeded in communicating with them. However, there are four to five people still under rubble.”
It is difficult to accurately calculate the total number of Lebanese nationals who were in the area at the time of the earthquake because some were not registered as residents and others were visiting as tourists or on business trips.
It is known that Lebanese doctor Wissam Mohammed Khair Al-Asaad died, along with his daughter, though his wife survived.
The Roman Catholic patriarchate in Syria said that Father Imad Daher, a Lebanese priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Aleppo, Syria, had died. His body was found under the rubble of the building in which he lived in Al-Azizia district, Hama.
There are also reports that Lebanese novelist Dalal Zain Al-Din is trapped under rubble in Antakya. Meanwhile, Mohammed Shamma and his son, Sarhan, survived but Shamma’s wife Susan is missing.
Relatives and friends of Lebanese who are missing have posted messages on social media seeking help to find loved ones they have been unable to contact. Among those whose fate remains unknown is Abdel Nour Ajaj, who lives with his family and his brothers in Turkiye, and Fatima Ramiz Zakaria from Tabbaneh, Tripoli.
The Lebanese army said two units of its engineering regiment sent to help the rescue efforts in Turkiye and Syria “continue search and rescue work in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross and the Lebanese Civil Defense.” Members of the first unit arrived in the Turkish city of Adana and then traveled to the city of Al-Bustan, while the second unit went to the Syrian city of Jableh.
“Immediately upon their arrival, the two units began working to remove the rubble and search for survivors in difficult weather conditions, low temperatures and an unsafe working environment as a result of the continued aftershocks that could cause additional collapses in the damaged buildings,” officials said.
Beirut Municipality said a rescue team it supplied, consisting of members of Beirut Fire Brigade and the city’s ambulance service, “saved a pregnant Turkish woman and her child who were pulled from the rubble of a completely destroyed building. They also saved a family and many children who were stuck inside a building, part of which had collapsed.”
Ambassador Al-Muallem described the situation rescuers are faced with as “very difficult” and added: “The scenes are more devastating than what we see on television. Some roads are cut off and cannot be accessed as a result of the massive destruction.
“Turkish rescue teams are working to respond to the calls and we are waiting to know the fate of the missing Lebanese.”
In Syria, Talal Daher, charge d’affaires at the Lebanese Embassy in Damascus, said that a family of four from Lebanon had survived in Aleppom but that two Lebanese citizens died in the coastal city of Jableh in Latakia Governorate.
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati sent a ministerial delegation to Damascus on Wednesday to discuss rescue and aid efforts, the repercussions of the earthquake, and Lebanese relief capabilities.
The delegates spent 45 minutes with Syrian President Bashar Assad and also met Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. During the meetings, officials said, they passed on “Lebanon’s solidarity with the Syrian people in this ordeal” and pledged to deploy “available capabilities to help in the areas of relief.”


Syrian man digs for 30 relatives buried by quake

Syrian man digs for 30 relatives buried by quake
Updated 08 February 2023

Syrian man digs for 30 relatives buried by quake

Syrian man digs for 30 relatives buried by quake
  • So far, he has managed to retrieve 10 bodies, helped by residents and rescuers in Besnaya
  • He, his wife and his children managed to get out of their home in Idlib city alive

BESNAYA, Syria: Malek Ibrahim made it out of his home after the earthquake hit Syria and thought he could breathe a sigh of relief. But 30 relatives were still unaccounted for elsewhere.
For the past two days, Ibrahim has been doggedly tearing at the rubble with his hands as he searches for family members who were buried when Monday’s deadly earthquake struck both Syria and Turkiye.
So far, he has managed to retrieve 10 bodies, helped by residents and rescuers in Besnaya, a village in the northwest on the Turkish border that was hard-hit by the disaster.
His uncle, his cousin and their families were all trapped under the debris.
“The whole family is gone. It’s complete genocide,” said the 40-year-old covered in dirt.
He, his wife and his children managed to get out of their home in Idlib city alive.
But he said he had little hope that any of his extended family members pinned down by the collapsed building in Besnaya had survived.
“Every time we recover a body, I remember the beautiful times that we spent together,” he said, weeping as he used a pickaxe to remove yet more wreckage.
Piles of rubble are now strewn across a once quiet and idyllic landscape dotted with olive trees.
“We used to have fun and joke around, but never again... I will never see them again.”
The earthquake killed more than 11,700 people, including more than 2,600 in war-torn Syria.
When the 7.8-magnitude quake hit at dawn on Monday, Ibrahim, his wife and eight children fled their home in Idlib, in the rebel-held northwest.
They had moved there from the southern part of the province after violence in Syria’s long-running war which has killed around half a million people and displaced millions more since 2011.
Ibrahim’s family stayed outside in the street for hours in the pouring rain, as dozens of buildings crumpled to the ground.
As soon as he heard that his family’s building in Besnaya had collapsed, he rushed the 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Idlib city.
“We dig without sleep, hoping that someone may be alive,” he said, although he knows in his heart that the chances of this are slim.
“It’s a feeling I can’t describe, a tragedy,” he said, “We are a doomed people in every sense of the word.”
The earthquake flattened entire blocks of buildings in Besnaya.
Dozens of residents, fighters and rescuers gathered on top of the ruins, digging through the rubble and calling out to any survivors underneath — in the hope that someone will respond.
They have cried with joy when they rescue a survivor, and consoled families anxiously awaiting news of trapped relatives.
Some 20 kilometers to the south, in the village of Ramadiya, Ayman Diri wept as he looked for his brother and eight nephews in the rubble.
After digging for hours, rescuers pulled out the body of his 12-year-old nephew.
Diri said he refused to give up hope that someone might be alive, especially after he managed to rescue others trapped under the collapsed building with the help of rescuers.
“All we can do is hope for the best... although we can see the state of the building,” he said, gazing at the pulverised concrete slabs.
“May God have mercy on my brother, whether he is alive or dead.”


Yemeni doctor among Turkiye quake victims

Yemeni doctor among Turkiye quake victims
Updated 08 February 2023

Yemeni doctor among Turkiye quake victims

Yemeni doctor among Turkiye quake victims
  • The embassy said it had received alerts about more Yemenis missing after the quake, but did not specify their number
  • At least five Yemenis are believed to be trapped under rubble

AL-MUKALLA: A Yemeni doctor working in southern Turkiye and his wife were among the thousands killed by the earthquake that devastated the region, authorities said.
The Yemeni Embassy in Ankara said on Tuesday that Hamedi Al-Ghazali and his wife were in the city of Malatya in the Eastern Anatolia region when the magnitude-7.8 quake struck in the early hours of Monday.
The embassy said it had received alerts about more Yemenis missing after the quake, but did not specify their number.
At least five Yemenis are believed to be trapped under rubble.
The Yemeni Students Union in Turkiye described Al-Ghazali as an exceptional student who received his Ph.D. in medicine from Recep Tayyip Erdogan University in the Turkish city of Rize in 2021 and went to Malatya as a resident doctor two months ago.
The union said that five Yemenis, all students or their families, were still missing under debris in earthquake-hit areas.
About 300 Yemeni students and their families are believed to have been affected by the quake, including at least half that number who were injured or lost property.
Following the Houthi takeover of Yemen in 2014, thousands of Yemeni politicians, tribal leaders, military personnel and journalists fled to Turkiye amid fears of militia violence in their home districts.
In a separate development, two military officers were killed and five others injured by a roadside bomb set by Al-Qaeda on Tuesday in the Omaran valley in Yemen’s southern Abyan province.
Local officials said the blast ripped through a car, killing Col. Abdullah Saad Barajelah and Meshal Abdul Majed Al-Aleani, both military commanders of the Fifth Reinforcement and Support Brigade.
More than 70 Yemeni troops, including many officers, have been killed since late August when the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council launched a military offensive in the southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan to drive Al-Qaeda out of its long-held strongholds.
According to some analysts, Al-Qaeda has collaborated with local tribesmen to plant land mines and IEDs along roads and carry out hit-and-run operations that have killed or wounded more than 200 troops.
Local military leaders said they will continue their offensive until both provinces are free of Al-Qaeda, despite the mounting number of casualties.
Yemen’s army said on Wednesday that sporadic fighting between government troops and the Houthis erupted outside the southern city of Taiz, the latest in a series of militia raids on troops defending the beleaguered city.
The army also announced on Tuesday that it had shot down a Houthi drone over its positions east of Hazem, capital of the northern province of Jouf.


UK man travels 3,000 km to childhood home in Turkiye rescue bid

UK man travels 3,000 km to childhood home in Turkiye rescue bid
Updated 08 February 2023

UK man travels 3,000 km to childhood home in Turkiye rescue bid

UK man travels 3,000 km to childhood home in Turkiye rescue bid
  • Ahmat Yilmaz made journey after his brother died in Monday’s earthquakes
  • ‘It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen this before. I’m really shocked’

LONDON: A man from South Wales in the UK has traveled more than 3,000 km to Turkiye in an effort to search for his family after Monday’s deadly earthquakes.

Ahmat Yilmaz was discovered by a Sky News team at an airport in Turkiye’s Adiyaman province. 

He said he was traveling to search for family members who are still buried under rubble, and was making the trip to his childhood home in Tut village after hearing that his brother Ali had died in the earthquakes.

Reporters offered to drive Yilmaz to the remote village, which is located on a treacherous mountain road.

Upon arrival, he was greeted by his sister Fara and niece Sidka, who are likely the only surviving members of his family in the country.

Standing in front of his destroyed childhood home, Yilmaz said the building had once been “full of joy and love.”

He added: “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen this before. I’m really shocked. I’ve never seen this happen before in my life ... never.”

Turkiye has said about 13.5 million people were affected by the earthquakes across a 450-km area.