50 Pakistani fighters killed in Turkish strikes in Syria — Pakistan officials

A screengrab taken from a video released by the Turkish Defence Ministry on March 1, 2020 shows an airstrike by the Turkish military on Syrian regime positions. (Handout/Turkish Defence Ministry via AFP)
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Updated 07 March 2020

50 Pakistani fighters killed in Turkish strikes in Syria — Pakistan officials

  • The deceased likely belong to Zainebiyoun Brigade, a militant group comprising Pakistani Shias fighting in Syria and Iran
  • Iranian news agency said 21 members of Fatemiyoun and Zainebiyoun brigades killed in recent military action

KARACHI: Up to 50 Pakistani fighters have been killed in military action by the Turkish army and Syrian regime forces in Syria’s last major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country, officials told Arab News this week.
Fighting has escalated dramatically in recent days in Idlib in northwest Syria, where Turkey has sent thousands of troops and military vehicles in the last month to counter Syrian government forces’ advances in the last remaining bastion held by rebels. On the opposite side in Syria’s nine-year conflict is Russia, which supports President Bashar Assad and has also carried out airstrikes in recent days.
On Thursday, Turkey and Russia agreed to a cease-fire deal after talks in Moscow to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months.
“The number of those [Pakistanis] killed is more than 50,” an official told Arab News on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media about the issue.
Another government official confirmed that 50 Pakistanis had been killed.




A poster showing 47 Pakistani militiamen associated with Zainebiyoun Brigade is being shared by Zainebiyoun on its Facebook page on March 1, 2020 with an Urdu caption that reads “today is Shabb-e-Jumma (Night of Juma) Surah Fateh for the martyrs of Zainebiyoun). (Photo courtesy: Zainebiyoun/Facebook)

Pakistan’s foreign office did not respond to Arab News queries when contacted to comment on this news.
The deceased likely belong to Zainebiyoun Brigade, a militant group that was placed on the US Treasury’s financial blacklist in January 2019 and comprises Pakistani Shias fighting in Syria and Iran.
According to media reports, Zainebiyoun Brigade has over 800 Pakistanis fighting in Syria. The group’s fighters are allegedly trained by Iran’s Quds Force, the military unit responsible for projecting Iran’s influence via proxies across the Middle East.
“Following the clashes in Syria’s Idlib [region], 21 members of Fatemiyoun and Zainebiyoun brigades were martyred,” Iran’s Hawzah News Agency reported on Sunday, adding that 18 of the deceased belonged to the Zainebiyoun Brigade.
“This is not the first incident where Pakistanis have been killed in Syria,” Pakistani security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana said, adding that Pakistani militants fighting for both Daesh and Assad’s forces, had been killed in Syria in the past. He said many Pakistanis had also been arrested upon their return from Syria but could not provide an exact number of fatalities.




Coffin of Naver Khan, a Pakistani militiaman of Zainebiyoun Brigade, is being taken for funeral at Qom city of Iran on March 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy: IRIB News)

Defense analyst Brig. (R) Mahmood Shah said a small number of Sunni militants had also gone to Syria to join Daesh.
“People from the Shia community have religious affinity with Iran, Iraq and Syria and sacred places over there, so their number may be high,” Shah told Arab News. “With war intensifying in the coming days, more deaths [of Pakistanis] are expected.
Last month, Pakistani police claimed to have arrested an important member of the Zainebiyoun brigade from the port city of Karachi.


General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

Updated 51 min 45 sec ago

General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

  • The American business tycoon praises the army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring its reach and coverage 
  • The army chief passes on the credit to ‘grassroots workers’ 

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and American business tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates spoke on telephone about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response and resumption of anti-polio campaign, said an official handout prepared and circulated by the military’s public relations wing, ISPR, on Saturday.
Gates applauded the Pakistan Army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring the program’s proper reach and coverage.
In response, the army chief said that the effort to make Pakistan polio-free was a “national cause,” adding that the credit for running an effective campaign went to “grassroots workers, including mobile teams, law enforcement agencies and healthcare representatives.”
The two also discussed how to carry out a safe anti-polio drive for everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“​Mr. Gates also appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints,” said the statement. “The COAS attributed the success to a true national response executed through the mechanism of [National Command and Operation Center] which allowed optimization of resources.”
The American businessman reiterated the Gates Foundation’s ongoing commitment “to fight pandemics” around the world and to support Pakistan in its goals of ending polio and improving health for every child.