Daesh prisoners riot again in northeast Syria

In this Tuesday, July 23, 2019 file photo, an Iraqi soldier searches for Daesh militants during search operation in Taramiyah, north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
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Updated 03 May 2020

Daesh prisoners riot again in northeast Syria

  • Kurdish forces sent reinforcements to the prison in the eastern Hassakeh province and US military helicopters flew overhead
  • Further details were not immediately available on the size of the riot

BEIRUT: Militants from the Daesh group rioted in a northeast Syrian prison Sunday, a month after similar violence at the facility allowed four extremists to escape, an opposition war monitor and a Kurdish activist collective said.
Kurdish forces sent reinforcements to the prison in the eastern Hassakeh province and US military helicopters flew overhead, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, and North Press Agency, a media platform operating in the Kurdish-administered areas.
Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 Daesh fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans.
Further details were not immediately available on the size of the riot, and it was not clear if the unrest was triggered by concerns about the coronavirus’s potential spread in the prison.
In late March, two days of riots broke out at the same facility when former Daesh members began knocking down doors and making holes in the walls between cells. Four prisoners escaped but were caught a day later.
The riots were put down by the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Afterward, the SDF’s top commander Mazloum Abdi urged the home countries of foreign fighters to find a solution for the prisoners. The riot was one of the most serious uprisings by the prisoners since Daesh was defeated a year ago, when the SDF seized control of the last sliver of land controlled by the extremists in eastern Syria.
A resurgence of Daesh attacks in both Syria and Iraq has raised concerns that the militant group is taking advantage of governments absorbed in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing slide into economic chaos.
Last month, the US-led coalition said it had handed over hygiene and medical supplies to detention facilities across northeastern Syria, such as hand-washing stations, disinfectant wipes, face masks and examination gloves.
One coronavirus death was reported in Kurdish-held areas of Syria in April. The central government in Damascus has registered 43 cases and three deaths.


Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

Updated 18 January 2021

Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

  • An EgyptAir flight took off from Doha to Cairo, making it the first commercial flight in three and a half years between both countries
  • It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE

DOHA: The first direct flights since 2017 between Qatar and its former rivals Egypt and the UAE took to the skies on Monday, following the end of a regional crisis.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of being too close to Iran and of backing Islamic extremists, charges Doha denies.
The quartet agreed to heal the rift at a Gulf summit on January 5 in Saudi Arabia, after a flurry of diplomatic activity by outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration.
The first commercial flight from Qatar to Egypt in three and a half years, an EgyptAir service to Cairo, took off from windswept Doha airport.
It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE.
The resumption of flights from Doha to Cairo will simplify travel for the large contingent of Egyptians living in Qatar.
As many as 300,000 Egyptians call Qatar home, according to official statistics, but many were unable to travel home during the crisis.
In May 2020, frustrated Egyptians protested outside the compound housing Egypt’s then-empty embassy.
Following the demonstration, 18 repatriation flights operated via neutral Oman to comply with Cairo’s ban on direct air traffic.
A Qatar Airways plane was due to also make the trip to Cairo later Monday.
Flights between Doha and Saudi Arabia, which has also opened its land border to Qatar, resumed on January 11.
The row complicated regional travel, divided families and raised costs faced by Qatari businesses.
Mustafa Ahmed, 38, an Egyptian technical engineer, said he was “very happy.”
“With direct flights, life will be easier, especially for families and children, avoiding the torment of changing airports and planes and waiting for hours for transit flights,” he told AFP.
Egyptians in Qatar work in a number of sectors including education, health care and engineering.
Thousands of Qatar’s majority-expatriate workforce, however, have lost their jobs as a result of a downturn caused by the coronavirus epidemic.