Kurdish and Turkey-backed fighters clash in Syria, 11 killed

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been backed by the US and played a major role in defeating the Daesh group in Syria. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Kurdish and Turkey-backed fighters clash in Syria, 11 killed

  • Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fighters were repelling a Turkey-backed attack

BEIRUT: Clashes between Kurdish fighters and Turkey-backed opposition gunmen in northern Syria left at least 11 fighters dead in some of the most intense fighting in weeks between the two sides, an opposition war monitor and a Kurdish spokesman said Tuesday.
Exchange of fire and shelling between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkey-backed opposition gunmen who identify as the Syrian National Army have not been uncommon since Turkish troops invaded parts of northern Syria in October of last year.
The Monday night clashes near the town of Ein Issa were triggered by an attack by Turkey-backed gunmen on SDF positions, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor. The Observatory said Turkey-backed fighters lost 11 gunmen in the battle and an unknown number of SDF fighters were also killed or wounded.
An SDF spokesman who goes by the name of Mervan Qamishlo confirmed the clashes, saying that the group’s fighters were repelling a Turkey-backed attack. He did not comment on how many SDF gunmen were killed.
A spokesman for the Turkey-backed fighters did not respond to requests for comment.
Turkey says Kurdish fighters in Syria are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, that has led a decades-long insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast region and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The US-backed SDF played a major role in defeating the Daesh group in Syria that lost its last sliver of land in March last year. The SDF is holding thousands of Daesh militants in jails it runs.


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.