Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Moscow after convoy hit in Syria

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his supporters after Friday prayers, in Ankara. Erdogan discussed the situation in Syria with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, telling his Russian counterpart that violations of the cease fire in Idlib is paving the way to a ‘humanitarian crisis.’ (AP Photo)
Updated 23 August 2019

Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Moscow after convoy hit in Syria

  • The surprise visit comes as the forces of President Bashar Assad made advances into the last rebel stronghold of Idlib in Syria’s northwest
  • The talks, on Tuesday, will take place during the Maks international air show – about 40 kilometers from Moscow

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Moscow on Tuesday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the presidency said in a statement, days after a Turkish convoy was hit by an air strike in Syria.
The surprise visit comes as the forces of President Bashar Assad made advances into the last rebel stronghold of Idlib in Syria’s northwest and upped the stakes with Turkey in its months-long offensive backed by Russia.
Erdogan will pay a one-day visit to Moscow, the presidency said, without giving further details.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the Putin-Erdogan meeting on August 27 to the Russian agencies.
He told the Interfax news agency that the talks would take place during the Maks international air show – about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Moscow.
Turkey is a vocal opponent of Assad in Damascus and instead backs rebels fighting for his ouster.
But Ankara last year struck a deal with Moscow to protect the Idlib province from a massive government offensive.
Turkish officials on Monday “strongly” condemned an air strike on its military convoy heading through Idlib province, saying it was a violation of agreements with Syria.
Ankara blamed “regime forces” for the attack which it said killed three civilians, and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was carried out by Syrian and Russian air forces, and was aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province.
The announcement of the visit also comes shortly after Erdogan and Putin on Friday agreed to “activate mutual efforts” to ease the situation in Idlib, according to the Kremlin.
“They agreed to activate mutual efforts with the goal of liquidating the terrorist threat coming from this region,” during a phone call initiated by Erdogan, it said.
According to the Turkish presidency, Erdogan told the Russian leader regime forces’ attacks in Idlib “very seriously” threatened Turkey’s national security and led to “a grave humanitarian crisis.”
“These attacks damage the efforts to regulate the Syrian conflict,” it said.
Erdogan is set to host Putin and Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, for a summit on Syria in Ankara on September 16.
Iran and Russia are allies of Assad, but work closely with Turkey for a political solution to the conflict.
Since late April, Syria and Russia have upped their bombardment of the extremist-ruled Idlib region of some three million people, killing around 900 civilians.
Idlib sits on the Turkish border.
One of Turkey’s 12 observation posts set up along the front line between government forces and the extremists and their rebel allies last year were surrounded by Syrian troops this week.
That drew Turkey’s wrath, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying that Turkish troops would not leave the observation post.

Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

Updated 06 April 2020

Global rights groups condemn deadly attack on Yemen jail

  • Internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out the attack

LONDON: Two international rights groups on Monday condemned an attack on a prison in Yemen’s besieged city of Taiz that left six women and a child dead.

The internationally-recognized government has accused Iranian-backed Houthi militia of carrying out Sunday’s attack.

The Houthis targeted the female section of the prison with mortar shells, according to the government’s Saba news agency.

“This is a criminal and bloodthirsty gang that has long targeted civilian gatherings and residential areas. In addition to the carnage in the prison, they gunned down today two children in eastern Taiz, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News, adding that the prison is almost 12km from the nearest battlefield.

“They targeted the prison with a Katyusha rocket followed by five mortal shells which show that they deliberately sought to kill civilians.”

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its hospital in Taiz received the casualties.

“MSF-supported Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz city received the bodies of six women and one child who were killed in an attack on the central prison in Taiz,” it said on Twitter.

The government said 28 other female prisoners were wounded.

“Taiz citizens continue to suffer from the ongoing violence in the sixth year of the protracted conflict in Yemen,” MSF said.

“These attacks on civilians, whether indiscriminate or targeted, are unjustifiable breaches of international humanitarian law.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said attacks on prisons were banned under international law.

“The ICRC deplores yesterday’s attack on Taiz central prison that left women and children dead and injured,” the ICRC said on Twitter.

“Prisons and their inmates are protected under international humanitarian law and can not be a targeted, it said.

Meanwhile, the UN's envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths condemned the attack on Twitter, saying: "I condemn the heinous attack on Taiz's central prison which killed and injured several women and children.Civilians and civilian objects including prisons must be protected as per international humanitarian law."



The attack was also blasted by the International Committee for the Red Cross in Yemen.



Taiz, a city of 600,000 people in southwest Yemen, is under government control but has been under siege by Houthi militia for the past six years.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in more than five years of fighting.

Yemen’s health care system has so far recorded no case of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic. The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

(With AFP)