Turkey threatens new military operation into Syria

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 28 October 2020

Turkey threatens new military operation into Syria

  • Erdogan condemned Russia for launching an air strike that killed dozens of pro-Ankara rebels in Syria

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Wednesday to launch a new military operation in northern Syria if Kurdish militants are not cleared from areas along its border with Syria.
In an address to his ruling party’s legislators in parliament, the Turkish leader also said a Russian airstrike that targeted Turkey-backed Syrian rebels in Idlib earlier this week was an indication that Moscow was not looking for a lasting peace in the region.
“If all of the terrorists aren’t removed ... as it has been promised to us, I repeat once again that we have a legitimate reason to intervene at any moment we feel the need to,” Erdogan said.
His comments came days after a suspected Kurdish militant — whom officials said had infiltrated into Turkey from Syria — blew himself up in a town in the border province of Hatay, following a police chase. Security officials killed a second militant.
In his first remarks on Monday’s airstrike that killed dozens of fighters, Erdogan said: “Russia’s attack targeting the Syrian National Army forces’ training center is a sign that a lasting peace and calm is not wanted in the region.”
The strike was the deadliest in Idlib since a Turkish-Russian-brokered truce there came into effect in March. It occurred as relations between Russia and Turkey show increasing signs of strain over Ankara’s military involvement in Syria, the Caucasus Mountains and in Libya, where Moscow also has interests. In Syria, Russia is a main supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Turkey has carried out three major forays into Syria since 2016 to drive away Kurdish militants or the Islamic State group from the border area.
Last year, it sent troops into northeastern Syria to expel Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists from the area and to create a “safe-zone” where it hoped to resettle refugees. Turkey halted the offensive following separate deals with the United States and Russia that promised the withdrawal of the Kurdish fighters.

Egypt seeks to free citizens kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast

Updated 03 December 2020

Egypt seeks to free citizens kidnapped by pirates off Nigerian coast

  • Maria Samir, Samir’s sister, said her brother was last contacted as he was about to move from Nigeria to Cameroon

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it was coordinating with Nigerian authorities to free two of its citizens after they were kidnapped by pirates.

According to media reports, Saad Shawky and Kyrolos Samir were taken while they were on board a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria’s southernmost state of Bayelsa.

There are also three Lebanese, four Indians and a Cameroonian in the crew.

The ministry said it had contacted the Egyptian consulate in Abuja about the circumstances and with the latest updates, and that instructions had been issued “to communicate with all officials at the highest level to follow up on ensuring the safety of kidnapped Egyptians.”

Egyptian media reported the two men were on board a Lebanese cargo ship called “Milan-1” that was heading from Nigeria to Cameroon. They also said the ship was owned by a Lebanese national, Adnan El-Kot.

El-Kot said in statements that he had rented the ship to a man called Tavo Lawrence and that the vessel was raising the flag of Saint Kitts. He learned about the kidnapping last Thursday, receiving a call from a Thuraya mobile phone from the pirates who demanded a $1.5 million ransom to release the ship.

The ransom dropped to $300,000, and El-Kot explained that he had told the kidnappers that the ship had been rented to another person living in Nigeria after he made sure all the ship crew were safe.

Maria Samir, Samir’s sister, said her brother was last contacted as he was about to move from Nigeria to Cameroon.

She said in an interview that contact with him was lost a few hours after he moved from Nigeria, adding that it naturally happened due to being in the open seas. She was following up the ship’s route through an app that revealed the vessel had stopped in the middle of the sea and did not move.

She said her brother graduated from university a year ago and that it was his first job for six months. She added he was working on a ship on the Red Sea route and moved to work on board “Milan-1.”

Sherouk Shawky, who is Shawky’s sister, said: “My brother and his colleague Kyrolos Samir have been working together onboard the ship for two years and a half.”

She said her brother left Nigeria en route to Cameroon and they had last contacted each other last Wednesday.

She added: “By Saturday, as he didn't contact us, we became extremely worried about him since the route from Nigeria to Cameroon is only two days. So we contacted Adnan El-Kot, the ship owner, who told us that pirates from Nigeria kidnapped the ship's 10-member crew, which includes officers, engineers and cooks. He said the pirates kidnapped 10 crew members and left one to inform Adnan of the kidnapping.”