Airstrikes kill 11, including children, in Syria’s Idlib

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A man reacts at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-controlled town of Ariha in Idlib province, Syria on Wednesday. (REUTERS)
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TYRANNY: Smoke rises after a strike by pro-Bashar forces in Shefounieh on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2016

Airstrikes kill 11, including children, in Syria’s Idlib

BEIRUT: At least 11 civilians, including three children, were killed in air strikes on a rebel-held town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Wednesday, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said it was unclear if the strikes on the town of Ariha in Idlib province were carried out by Syrian government or Russian war planes.
The town is controlled by the Army of Conquest, a rebel alliance of militant groups including Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front that holds almost all of Idlib province.
Video uploaded by activists purportedly showed the aftermath of the strikes, with residents and Civil Defense workers picking though debris looking for survivors.
Idlib has regularly been targeted by both Syrian government airstrikes and raids carried out by its Russian ally.
A longtime backer of the government in Damascus, Moscow stepped up its support for Bashar Assad on September 30, when it began an air campaign aimed at bolstering regime positions.
Elsewhere in the country, the Observatory said at least eight people were killed on Wednesday in the town of Rastan in central Homs province.
Five of them died in air strikes on the town’s market place, which also wounded dozens of people. Another three were killed in shelling earlier Wednesday.


Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

Updated 6 min ago

Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

  • Health personnel in protective gear took the temperature of disembarking passengers
  • Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Sunday started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.
The first of four planes touched down at the Beirut international airport late Sunday morning bringing in 78 passengers from Riyadh, local television reported.
It showed health personnel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
The Mediterranean country announced a lockdown and closed its airport on March 18 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 527 people and killed 18 nationwide.
An AFP photographer saw a dozen buses outside the airport waiting to transport the passengers.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had arrived earlier amid heavy deployment of the Lebanese army, he said.
Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month.
Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines has said flights would also land in Beirut on Sunday from Abu Dhabi, Lagos and Abidjan.
It has also announced return trips to Paris, Madrid and Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Lebanese returning home must either test negative for the virus no longer than three days before their return, or be tested immediately upon arrival, according to government guidelines.
They must pay for their own ticket and their families are not allowed to meet them at the airport.
The government has said priority will be given to those with critical health conditions such as diabetes or cancer, those aged over 60 and under 18, and families.
But critics have complained of steep ticket fares, while a financial crisis has severely restricted transactions from Lebanese bank accounts.
Coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, which is already reeling under a crumbling economy.
Due to an acute liquidity crisis, banks have since September increasingly been restricting access to dollars and have halted money transfers abroad.
On Monday, however, the banking association agreed to allow dollar transfers to Lebanese students outside the country to help them face the coronavirus pandemic, the finance ministry said.
Diab on Sunday told reporters the government was studying the possibility of supporting returning Lebanese students with a ticket.
Lebanese expatriates and activists have clamoured online for MEA to lower the price of its tickets and help those who can’t afford it.
The airline on Friday claimed tickets were more expensive — $650 for an economy class seat from Riyadh and $1,800 for a cheaper fare from Abidjan for example — because planes would be empty on the way out to evacuations.