Air strikes kill 12 civilians in northwest Syria

The village of Al-Tahh, in Idlib province, following Syrian government airstrikes. (AFP)
Updated 26 August 2019

Air strikes kill 12 civilians in northwest Syria

  • Russian air raids on several areas in the south of Idlib province left six civilians dead
  • Regime air raids killed an additional six civilians in the same region

BEIRUT: Regime and Russian air strikes on Monday killed 12 civilians in northwest Syria, where heightened bombardment has claimed hundreds of lives since late April, a war monitor said.
Russian air raids on several areas in the south of Idlib province left six civilians dead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Regime air raids killed an additional six civilians in the same region, which is controlled by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Britain-based monitor added.
The bombardment wounded 27 other civilians in total, it said.
Regime forces have since last week been chipping away at the extremist-dominated region of Idlib on the Turkish border after months of deadly bombardment.
The gains come despite a deal reached between rebel backer Turkey and regime ally Russia last year to set up a buffer zone around the region to protect its three million inhabitants.
Since Wednesday, the Syrian military has seized the key town of Khan Sheikhun from extremists and allied rebels and overran the countryside to the south, encircling a Turkish observation post in northern Hama.
On Saturday, pro-government fighters gathered north of Khan Sheikhun in an apparent bid to press on with the offensive.
After Khan Sheikhun, Maaret Al-Numan is the next town on a key highway running across Idlib province that analysts say is coveted by Damascus.
Total government control of that road would allow it to connect the capital with second city Aleppo, fully retaken from opposition fighters in late 2016.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

Updated 17 min 25 sec ago

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

AMMAN: Pundits and politicians appear to agree that the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, as well as the failed attack in Damascus against Akram Ajoury was committed to assuage domestic Israeli political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a corruption indictment and possibly about to lose power to opponent Benny Gantz, apparently acted in his own self-interest, disrupting political talks and potentially destabilizing Gantz’ support from the Arab Joint List.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Center, told Arab News the Israeli attack in Gaza had all but ended the possibility of the Joint List supporting any Israeli government.

“Before the attack, 10 out of the 13 elected members of the Knesset were on board with the idea of supporting, externally, a minority government. Now the number of those supporting this has been reduced, as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality are opposed to supporting any government,” he said.

Gantz, who apparently was briefed before the attack, has come out publicly in support of Israel’s actions, which killed over 20 Palestinians including women and children.

Michel Oun, Middle East professor at Haifa University, told Arab News that a major reason behind the Israeli attack was internal politics. “If we can use football terms, we were in the last minutes of the game, time was running out on Netanyahu, he had to do something,” Oun said, adding that the attack had ended any possibility of an Israeli minority government with the Arab Joint List supporting it.

“I was always skeptical about this issue even before the attacks on Gaza, because of the paternalistic and racist way Israelis were talking about it in which the very idea of having Arab members of the Knesset supporting a government, even from the outside, was seen as unacceptable and treasonous.”

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Labor Party, told Arab News that the way Netanyahu used the attack in Gaza was suspicious. 

“I saw the chief of staff and head of the secret service standing and talking about the necessity and opportunity that was provided to them. I believe that the Israeli civil service officials are telling the truth, although the attack was greatly exploited and abused politically. The very fact that Netanyahu had to bring these military officials to the press conference shows that half of Israel does not trust him and he had to have them confirm their position,” she said.

Pundits had opposing views as to who would benefit from the stretch of the cycle of attacks with Gaza. “Regardless of politics I hope that the violence ends as soon as possible,” Michaeli told Arab News.