Opinion

Stop backing Assad ‘atrocities’, Trump urges Russia

People fleeing from advancing Syrian government forces ride in the back of a truck by Dayr Ballut near the Turkish border in Syria's northern province of Aleppo on Feb. 16, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 17 February 2020

Stop backing Assad ‘atrocities’, Trump urges Russia

  • Trump ‘expressed concern over the violence in Idlib’ in a call with Turkish President Erdogan
  • UN says the Russian-backed offensive has triggered the largest wave of displacement in Syria’s civil war

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has called for Russia to end its support for the Syrian regime’s “atrocities” as he expressed US concern over violence in the Idlib region, the White House said Sunday.
In a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump “expressed concern over the violence in Idlib, Syria and... conveyed the United States’ desire to see an end to Russia’s support for the Assad regime’s atrocities.”
President Bashar Assad’s forces made new gains Sunday in their offensive against the last major rebel bastion in the northwest region of Idlib.
Backed by Russian air strikes, Syrian government forces have kept up the assault in Idlib and areas of neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces since December.

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On Sunday, after clashes and air strikes, regime forces “were in control of all the villages and small towns around Aleppo for the first time since 2012,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Russian-backed offensive has triggered the largest wave of displacement in Syria’s civil war, with 800,000 people fleeing since December, the United Nations says.
In the Saturday phone call with Erdogan, Trump also “reiterated that continued foreign interference in Libya would only serve to worsen the situation.”
Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival administrations vying for power.
States including Russia, France, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt support strongman Khalifa Haftar, while the UN-recognized Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey and Qatar.

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UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

Updated 30 October 2020

UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

  • Husband Richard Ratcliffe: Iran has ordered Nazanin to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen”

LONDON: Britain on Friday warned Iran against throwing detained woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back in jail, after hauling in Tehran’s envoy for a dressing-down over her emotive case.
The Foreign Office summoned Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad on Thursday to hear renewed demands from a senior official for an end to the British-Iranian captive’s “arbitrary detention.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in a “horrific position,” after her husband said Iran has ordered her to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail.
Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen,” Raab said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016. (AFP)

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said this week that the Foreign Office’s handling of the case “seems disastrous,” and that “the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune.”
Raab told the BBC: “We’ve made it very clear we want to try to put the relationship between the UK and Iran on a better footing.
“If Nazanin is returned to prison, that will of course put our discussions and the basis of those discussions in a totally different place. It is entirely unacceptable.”
Richard Ratcliffe linked the latest development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military equipment order.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he said, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”