Turkey to keep military posts in Idlib after Syrian government attacks

Turkish military vehicles drive in a convoy along the Bab Al-Hawa highway on May 21, 2019 on their way to reinforce Turkish military observation points in the southern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo province. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Turkey to keep military posts in Idlib after Syrian government attacks

  • Syrian government forces have carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the Idlib de-escalation zone
  • ‘The Turkish Armed Forces will not retreat from where it is located’

ANKARA: Turkey will not evacuate its military observation post in northern Syria’s Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the region, after a suspected Syrian government attack this month, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has said that Syrian government forces have carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the Idlib de-escalation zone, one of 12 posts set up under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran last May.
“Evacuating the observation post in Idlib after the regime’s attack is definitely not happening, it won’t happen anywhere,” Akar told reporters late on Tuesday.
“The Turkish Armed Forces will not retreat from where it is located.”
More than 3 million people live in Idlib and surrounding areas, including many who fled government advances in other parts of Syria in recent years.
At least 180,000 people have fled an upsurge in violence in northwest Syria, and government bombings have killed dozens in the past three weeks.
Since last year, the region has been partly shielded in a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey, but much of the recent fighting has hit that buffer zone.
The possibility of an Idlib offensive has drawn warnings of yet another humanitarian catastrophe, with the United Nations warning that up to 2.5 million people could flee toward the Turkish border in such a scenario.
“The regime is doing its best to disrupt the status quo, using barrel bombs, land offensives and air bombings,” Akar said, adding that 300,000 people had been displaced due to the conflict in the past month.
Akar said the beginning of a “new tragedy” had been prevented and he had discussed preventing a new wave of migrants into Turkey with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.


Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

Updated 25 min 13 sec ago
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Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

  • Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said the UN is trying to politicize a natural death
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the death of Morsi

CAIRO: Egypt accused the United Nations on Wednesday of seeking to “politicize” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi by calling for an “independent inquiry.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicize a case of natural death.”

Colville called Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death.

“Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” he said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr. Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family,” Colville added.

He said the investigation must “encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Mr. Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death.”

Morsi was toppled by then army chief, now President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2013 after a single divisive year in power. He was later charged with an array of offenses including espionage.

Since his ouster, authorities have waged an ongoing crackdown on dissent of all kinds that has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.

A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned Morsi’s detention conditions, particularly inadequate treatment for his diabetes and liver disease, could trigger “premature death.”