Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, August 2015
Creative Destruction of the Middle East:
Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen
August 17, 2015
English news stories are below the following Arabic news stories from Iraq, reported by http://www.yaqen.net/
Death toll in Syrian air strike on market nears 100: activists
Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:55am EDT
BEIRUT, Reuters --
The death toll from a Syrian government air strike on a market in Douma northeast of Damascus neared 100, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday, a day after one of the single bloodiest attacks of the four-year war.
A Syrian military source said the air force launched strikes on Sunday on the rebel-held town of Douma and the nearby area of Harasta against an insurgent group, Islam Army, following recent attacks on government-held Damascus.
The Observatory reported that 96 people were killed in the air strike on the market, which is about 10 miles (16 km) from the center of Damascus. Separately, rescue workers said 95 bodies had been identified and that a further nine victims had yet to be named.
An estimated quarter of a million people have been killed in the Syrian civil war that has splintered the country, driven 10 million people from their homes, and drawn in regional states that support the warring sides.
The Syrian political opposition group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said the attack on Douma aimed to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible.
In a statement, the Turkey-based coalition said "the feeble position of the Security Council and the international community is a factor helping in the escalation of massacres against Syrian civilians".
The war in and around Damascus - President Bashar al-Assad's seat of power - has escalated in recent days.
Islam Army, one of the most powerful rebel groups in the eastern Damascus region, launched an attack on government positions in Harasta on Saturday.
Last Wednesday, a barrage of insurgent rockets killed 13 people in Damascus, while government air strikes in the nearby Eastern Ghouta region killed 31 people, the Observatory reported.
The Syrian military source said Sunday's air strikes were a response to the insurgent attacks on Damascus. "If there is any escalation toward Damascus there will be a very strong and decisive response," the source said.
Denying targeting of civilians, the source said rebel groups had sought to position their headquarters in residential areas.
A senior U.N. official, in a statement issued from Damascus, said attacks on civilians were "unlawful, unacceptable and must stop".
"I am particularly appalled about reports of yesterday’s air strikes, causing scores of civilian deaths and hundreds injured, right in the center of Douma, a besieged part of Damascus," United Nations Humanitarian Chief and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said.
O'Brien was wrapping up a three-day visit.
(Writing by Tom Perry; editing by John Stonestreet and Digby Lidstone)
IS militants kidnap 70 Kurds in northern Syria
DAMASCUS, Aug. 17, 2015 (Xinhua) --
Islamic State (IS) militants have kidnapped 70 Kurds in northern Syria and hustled them to an unknown location, a monitor group reported Monday.
The IS abducted the Kurds in the countryside of Bab, a city under IS control in Aleppo province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Kurdish activists accuse the IS group of using the Kurds as human shields, apparently against airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition.
The London-based Observatory says it relies on a network of activists on the ground inside Syria for information on the war-torn country.
Kurdish fighters of the People's Protection Units, who are backed by the U.S.-led coalition, have been making strides in their battle against the IS in predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Syria along the border with Turkey.
Algeria fears "chaos" in Libya leads to regional insecurity
ALGIERS, Aug. 16, 2015 (Xinhua) --
Algeria on Sunday voiced its fears that "chaos" in Libya could lead to regional insecurity, urging Libyan disputing parties once more to establish a national unity government, said a statement from the Foreign Ministry quoted by APS news agency.
The statement "strongly" condemned the recent "terrorist acts" which targeted the locality of Sirte in northern Libya.
However, Algeria's Foreign Ministry remains "certain" that Libyans will "take charge of the security challenge" and "preserve national unity, territorial integrity, Libya's sovereignty and its community cohesion."
The source added that this is possible due to "the political will and the Libyan peoples' high sense of responsibility to redouble their efforts to promote the conclusion process of inter-Libyan negotiations in the interest of Libya and the entire region."
Algeria reiterated its commitment to work with all "Libyan parties, with the exception of UN-ranked terrorist groups," in a bid to end this four-year-long crisis.
Violent clashes were reported Tuesday between Islamic State (IS) militants and local fighters over control of the city of Sirte.
According to the LANA news agency, an IS linked group hung 12 Libyan fighters, raided a local hospital in Sirte and beheaded 12 fighters who were receiving medical treatment there before setting the hospital ablaze.
The internationally recognized Libyan government requested Saturday that the Arab League adopt a resolution allowing them to launch air strikes against IS camps in Sirte.
The Arab League will decide on the request Tuesday at a special meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
Anti-Houthi fighters poised to seize key central Yemen city
Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:34am EDT
Militia forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government fought their way deep into the central city of Taiz on Sunday, local officials said, largely pushing out Houthi militiamen from the country's third largest city.
The tribal fighters seized a mountaintop citadel and an intelligence headquarters in battles with the Houthis and allied Yemeni army units, who control two military bases in the city.
Tank battles and air strikes have rocked Taiz since April, when the militia forces backed by Gulf Arab warplanes rose up against the Houthis. The combat has left much of the city in ruins and its residents pinned down inside their homes.
A civil war in Yemen erupted in late March when the Iran-allied Houthis, who had seized the capital Sanaa last September, drove southwards, forcing the government to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia and triggering a Gulf military intervention.
The Arab states say the Houthis are a proxy for Iran, an accusation the movement denies, countering that its advance a revolution against corrupt officials backed by the West.
More than 4,300 people have died in the conflict as hunger, disease and suffering have spread in the impoverished country.
Fighting had been stalemated for almost four months but the Houthis' opponents have gained the upper hand with training and weapons deliveries by the Gulf states, and have seized several southern provinces in an advance northward toward Sanaa.
Residents in the capital reported the first Gulf Arab air strikes on the city for about a month on Sunday targeting the main military airport and a weapons depot.
The United Nations' envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has been shuttling between the warring sides, including the Houthis' representatives in neighboring Oman, in an attempt to secure Houthi withdrawals from cities and spare Yemen's ancient capital from a devastating final battle.
"There is great progress in the ongoing negotiations in Muscat. The Houthis have agreed to the plan of the international envoy and the response of the Yemeni government is expected tomorrow," a Yemeni politician told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
(Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noor Chehayber; Editing Noah Browning and Angus MacSwan)
Video showing the sites of a Saudi air strike on a residential area in Jabla, Ibb Province, in which four civilians were killed, and 19 were injured on August 18, 2015, according to the Motamar.net ( http://www.almotamar.net/news/124460.htm ).
In another Saudi air strike on Al-Hudayida, 22 Yemenis were killed, most of them were security officers and prisoners. In another air strike, a refugee neighborhood and the sea port warehouses were targeted, resulted in fire and damages to the port area.
Saudi air strike on Al-Hudayida, August 18, 2015.
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