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.


UNGA adopts Pakistan-sponsored resolution on respect for ‘sacred religious symbols’

Updated 54 min 18 sec ago

UNGA adopts Pakistan-sponsored resolution on respect for ‘sacred religious symbols’

  • Protests broke out in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan last month, over cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 
  • Deliberate vilification and negative stereotyping of Islam perpetuates ‘clash of civilizations,’ Pakistan’s envoy to the UN says

ISLAMABAD: Despite opposition from the European Union and other western nations and India, the UN General Assembly Wednesday adopted a Pakistan and Philippines sponsored resolution on inter-religious dialogue that emphasized the need to respect “sacred religious symbols,” Pakistan’s state news agency reported on Thursday. 

The resolution received a majority of 90 votes, none against, with 52 abstentions, APP said.

Protests broke out in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan last month, over France’s response to a deadly attack in October on a teacher who showed cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to pupils during a civics lesson.

For Muslims, depictions of the Prophet are blasphemous.

Pakistan has condemned the recent re-printing of the cartoons. The French president has paid tribute to the murdered teacher, fueling further anger in the Muslim world. 

“Facing strong opposition from the powerful western bloc mainly based on freedom of expression, the Pakistan Mission worked hard to rally the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] and other developing countries to garner support for inclusion of new elements in the resolution,” APP reported. 

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated calls to the international community and the United Nations to counter Islamophobia and promote respect for religious sensitivities.

“Ambassador Akram also emphasized that the deliberate “vilification and negative stereotyping of adherents of one of the largest religions in the world –Islam — only perpetuates dangerous self-fulfilling prophecies such as the ‘clash of civilizations’ and must be addressed on urgent basis,” APP quoted the ambassador as saying. 

“After some intensive lobbying, the resolution acknowledges — for the first time — the significance and respect for religious symbols,” the state news agency added. “It also stressed that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and must therefore be subjected to legitimate restrictions.”

“The resolution condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination,” APP said, “and underlines the importance of interrelgious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.”