Israel Hits Gaza After Rocket Attack As Jerusalem Tensions Spike

A general view shows the remains of the Shorouq building, levelled by an Israeli airstrike during the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City on April 19, 2022.  AFP

 

Israel carried out its first airstrike on the Gaza Strip in months early Tuesday, in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave after a weekend of violence around a Jerusalem holy site.

The army also said its special forces had made five arrests overnight in the occupied West Bank, which has seen a string of deadly Israeli raids since several recent fatal attacks against the Jewish state.

The latest tensions have focused on the highly contested Al-Aqsa mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Israeli-annexed Old City.

Palestinian worshippers gathering there for Ramadan prayers have been outraged by visits by religious Jewish under heavy Israeli police protection — as well as restrictions on their own access.

The violence, coinciding with the Jewish Passover festival as well as the Muslim holy month, has sparked fears of a repeat of last year’s events, when similar circumstances sparked an 11-day war that levelled parts of Gaza.

On Monday, warning sirens sounded after a rocket was fired into southern Israel from the blockaded enclave, controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, in the first such incident since early January.

The Israeli military said that the rocket had been intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system.

Hours later, the Israeli air force said it had hit a Hamas weapons factory in retaliation.

Hamas claimed to have used its “anti-aircraft defences” to counter the raid, which caused no casualties, according to witnesses and security sources in Gaza.

Deadly attacks

No faction in the crowded enclave of 2.3 million inhabitants immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket.

But it comes after weeks of mounting violence, with a total of 23 Palestinians and Arab-Israelis killed, including assailants who targeted Israelis in four deadly attacks.

Those attacks claimed 14 lives, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally.

The rocket fire also followed a weekend of Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound that wounded more than 170 people, mostly Palestinian demonstrators.

Diplomatic sources said the United Nations Security Council was to meet Tuesday to discuss the spike in violence.

Israeli police said they had refused to authorise a march Jewish nationalists had planned around the walls of the Old City.

A similar parade last year, following a similar wave of violence, was interrupted by rocket fire from Gaza which in turn triggered the 11-day war.

This month has also seen violence in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Tuesday it had treated 72 people following a demonstration in the village of Burqa, against a march by Israeli settlers demanding the re-establishment of a nearby settlement evacuated in 2005.

The Red Crescent said four people had been directly hit by tear gas canisters and seven had been hit by rubber-coated bullets.

 Regional Arab disquiet

Incidents at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, have triggered repeated rounds of violence over the past century.

Jews are allowed to visit the site at certain times, but they are prohibited from praying there.

The latest spike in violence has strained Israel’s diplomatic relations with some Muslim countries and drawn wider international concern.

On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates summoned Israel’s ambassador to convey “strong protest and denunciation” of events at Al-Aqsa, particularly “attacks on civilians” and “incursions” by Israeli security forces.

The UAE only established ties with Israel in 2020. Jordan, custodian of east Jerusalem’s holy sites, had already summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires on Monday.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken called both Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday.

Blinken’s calls followed State Department spokesman Ned Price announcing the previous day that the US had “urged all sides to preserve the historic status quo” at the Al-Aqsa compound and avoid “provocative” steps.

Abbas stressed his complete rejection of any changes to the legal and historical status quo, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

Lapid meanwhile said he emphasised to Blinken “Israel’s responsible and measured efforts in the face of riots by hundreds of Islamic extremists.”

Hamas has vowed to defend Al-Aqsa’s status as “a purely Islamic site”.

But analysts have said in recent weeks that the movement does not want a war at present, partly because its military capacities were degraded by the last one.

They say Hamas is also wary that a new conflict could prompt Israel to cancel thousands of work permits lately issued to residents of impoverished Gaza.

But Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian faction that Israel says has thousands of fighters and rockets in the enclave, warned Monday that it will not be forced “into silence” over events in Jerusalem.

AFP

Stray Nigeria Airstrike Kills Seven Children In Niger Republic

Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River.
Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River.

 

An airstrike by the Nigerian army targeting ‘bandits’ has left seven children dead and five others wounded “by mistake” in the Maradi region of southern Niger, a local governor told AFP on Sunday.

“There was a mistake with the Nigerian strikes on the border that resulted in victims on our territory in the village of Nachade” on Friday, said Chaibou Aboubacar, governor of the Maradi region, close to Nigeria.

“The victims are 12 children, seven of them dead and five wounded.”

Four children died instantly and three others succumbed “to their injuries while being transported to hospital”, he said.

READ ALSO: 2,038 Persons Died From Air Crashes In Nigeria Between 1969 And 2022 – AIB

According to the governor, “the parents were attending a ceremony and the children were probably playing when the strikes” hit them.

He believes the planes were targeting “armed bandits” in the border areas, but “missed their target” hitting Nachade instead.

Aboubacar said he visited the children’s graves on Saturday as well as the scene of the bombardment.

Several municipalities in the Maradi region are seriously affected by the violence of heavily armed gangs from the Nigerian states of neighbouring Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara.

In 2018, Niamey reinforced military patrols along its border with Nigeria to prevent the incursions of these gangs which carry out assassinations, kidnappings for ransom, attacks on traders and raids on cattle which they then lead into Nigeria.

In April 2021, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said it feared a third jihadist centre could emerge in this region of Maradi, exploiting the actions of Nigerian gangs and conflicts between local communities.

Niger already faces two jihadist fronts. The Nigerian group Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), its dissident branch, are operating in the south-east while groups affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda are at work in the west.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Maradi is host to 100,000 Nigerian refugees, who have fled the relentless attacks in their country.

In mid-February 2015, 36 people were killed  in a bombardment by an “unidentified” plane against a mosque in the village of Abadam in the Diffa region (southeast) where Boko Haram jihadists had just made their first attacks against Niger.

AFP

Israeli Air Strike Hits Syrian Port Of Latakia

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows firefighters battling the blaze at Syria’s Latakia port after an Israeli airstrike early on December 28, 2021. AFP

 

An Israeli airstrike hit Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday, the second such attack on the key facility this month, according to Syrian state media.

Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out airstrikes on its strife-torn neighbour, mostly targeting Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

“At around 03:21 AM, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression with several missiles from the direction of the Mediterranean… targeting the container yard in Latakia port,” Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source as saying.

The strike caused “significant material damage” and led to fires, it added.

Asked about the strike, an Israeli army spokesman said: “We don’t comment on reports in foreign media”.

Firefighters battle the blaze at Syria’s Latakia port after an Israeli airstrike early on December 28, 2021. AFP

 

On December 7, Israel carried out strikes on an Iranian arms shipment at Latakia, located in President Bashar al-Assad’s western Syrian heartland, without causing any casualties.

That earlier attack, which was the first on the facility since the start of the war, triggered a series of explosions, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor with a wide network of sources in Syria.

In November, three soldiers and two Syrian fighters affiliated with Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah were killed in Israeli strikes, according to the monitoring group.

While the Jewish state rarely comments on individual strikes it carries out on its northern neighbour — with which it is officially at war — it has confirmed hundreds since 2011.

According to a report by the Israeli army, it hit around 50 targets in Syria in 2020.

In the deadliest operation since the strikes began, Israel killed 57 regime force members and allied fighters in eastern Syria overnight on January 13, 2021.

The Israeli military has repeatedly defended the operations as a bid to prevent its archfoe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows containers on fire at Syria’s Latakia port after an Israeli airstrike early on December 28, 2021. AFP

 

Israel’s head of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Haliva, has accused Iran of “continuing to promote subversion and terror” in the Middle East.

In a shadow war, Israel has targeted Iran’s military sites in Syria and also carried out a sabotage campaign in Iran against its nuclear programme.

Tehran has been a key supporter of the Syrian government in the decade-old conflict.

It finances, arms and commands a number of Syrian and foreign militia groups fighting alongside the regular armed forces, chief among them Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group.

The conflict in Syria has killed nearly 500,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations.

AFP

Over 20 Farmers Feared Dead In Suspected Borno Airstrike

Map of Borno State.

 

No fewer than 20 civilians have died from a supposed airstrike in Dabar Masara, a border town in Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State.

Although military authorities were yet to respond to the incident at the time of filing this report, local sources confirmed the airstrike to Channels Television on Tuesday.

It was gathered that the airstrike occurred on Sunday afternoon when a jet flew over the general area and dropped bombardments in three different locations all within Dabar Masara.

The civilians, mostly farmers, were either on their farms or at the river bank when the tragic event happened.

Dabar Masara is a farming and fishing community located on the Nigerian side of the Lake Chad region in Monguno local government of Borno State.

“In one of the locations attacked, we were told that 10 persons were evacuated and buried that same day,” a source said.

“Maybe they mistook them for Boko Haram for which I won’t blame them, but those were our relatives and they were only out looking for their daily bread because even if they stay at home nobody will give them food.”

Sources claim Boko haram fighters have not attacked locals in a long time as, according to them, they mostly storm the villages to loot food or fish without harming any villagers.

This is, however, not the first time an accidental airstrike by the military will take place in the northeast where the nation has been battling the decade-long insurgency war.

Two weeks ago, more than 10 villagers were killed in a similar airstrike during a pursuit of Boko Haram insurgents in neighbouring Yobe State.

Security sources had said the Air Force launched the airstrike on Buhari village in Yunusari Local Government, north of Yobe from Damaturu, the state capital, while chasing the insurgents into the village.

Yunusari, which shares an international border with the Niger Republic, has an area of 3,790 km2 and a population of 125,821, according to the 2006 census.

A source at Geidam General Hospital told Channels Television that over 20 wounded villagers had been brought to the hospital.

UPDATE: Nine Civilians Killed, 23 Injured In NAF Airstrike On Yobe Community – SEMA

Yobe is situated in North-East Nigeria-yobeeeeeee
A map of Yobe, a state in north-east Nigeria.

 

Nine civilians were killed on Wednesday following an airstrike on Buwari community in Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe State, authorities have said.

The airstrike which locals and the government believe was an accidental fire by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), also left 23 people injured.

Confirming the development, Secretary to the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mohammed Goje, said two of the victims who were critically injured have been transferred to the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital for further treatment.

Goje, who spoke to journalists on Thursday in Damaturu shortly after visiting the victims in Geidam, said all medical expenses have been taken care of by the state government.

He also revealed that the administration has provided food items for the victims’ families and has taken an inventory of the affected households for further necessary actions.

 

‘We Will Work Closely With NAF’

Earlier, Governor Mai Mala Buni commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives and pledged to join hands with the security agencies to unravel the root cause of the incident.

According to him, the government is prepared to work with all security forces to ensure the safety of the residents and to provide a conducive atmosphere for economic activities.

“The government will work closely with the security forces, especially the Nigerian Air Force to establish what actually happened,” the governor promised.

He explained that such a move was important, to forestall future occurrences.

 

NAF Makes U-Turn

When initial reports emerged on Wednesday, suggesting that a fighter jet belonging to NAF had attacked civilians in Yobe State, military authorities denied the claims.

But NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, later affirmed that a fighter jet had been deployed to the region, following intelligence regarding terrorists’ movements along the Kamadougou Yobe River line.

These movements, Commodore Gabkwet said, were consistent with what is obtainable when terrorists sight a jet aircraft overhead.

Gabkwet added that accordingly, “the pilot fired some probing shots”, adding that “the area is well known for continuous Boko Haram /ISWAP activities”.

While describing the reported civilian casualty as unfortunate, he explained that the previous reports were denied because the incident was tagged ‘bombardment’.

According to the commodore, the aircraft detailed for the mission was not carrying bombs and a board of inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.

US Carries Out Air Strike To Stop Car Bomb In Kabul

An Afghan refugee girl, fleeing the Afghan capital Kabul, stands on the tarmac after disembarking from a US air force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airport near Pristina on August 29, 2021. Kosovo has offered to take in temporarily thousands of Afghan refugees evacuated by US forces from Kabul until their asylum claims are processed. Armend NIMANI / AFP

 

The United States said it destroyed an explosive-laden vehicle with an airstrike in Kabul on Sunday, hours after President Joe Biden warned of another terror attack in the capital as a massive airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans entered its last days.

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the incident, saying a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed — and that a possible second strike had hit a nearby house.

The US said it had only struck the vehicle, but added that secondary blasts indicated “a substantial amount of explosive material”.

Local media reported possible civilian casualties, which the US said it was assessing.

And with just two days to go until the agreed-upon date for US withdrawal, the Taliban revealed their supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was in southern Afghanistan and planning to make a public appearance.

“He is present in Kandahar. He has been living there from the very beginning,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

“He will soon appear in public,” added deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi of the leader, whose whereabouts have remained largely unknown and who has never made a public appearance.

The US airstrike came after a suicide bomber from the Islamic State group on Thursday targeted US troops stopping huge crowds of people from entering Kabul’s airport. About 114,000 people have been evacuated since August 15, when the Taliban swept back into power.

More than 100 people died in the attack, including 13 US service personnel. Biden traveled Sunday to an air force base in Delaware to attend the somber ritual transfer of their remains.

The attack and terror threats have slowed the airlift ahead of Biden’s deadline for evacuations to end by Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that some 300 Americans still in Afghanistan were seeking to leave the country.

“They are not going to be stuck in Afghanistan,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on the Fox network, adding that the US had “a mechanism to get them out”.

The Pentagon said Saturday that retaliation drone strikes had killed two “high-level” IS jihadists in eastern Afghanistan, but Biden warned of more imminent attacks from the group.

The US embassy in Kabul later released a warning of credible threats at specific areas of the airport, including access gates.

In recent years, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in those countries.

They have massacred civilians at mosques, public squares, schools, and even hospitals.

While both IS and the Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamists, they are bitter foes — with each claiming to be the true flag-bearers of jihad.

Unthinkable Co-operation

The IS attack has forced the US military and the Taliban to co-operate in ensuring security at the airport in a way unthinkable just weeks ago.

On Saturday, Taliban fighters escorted a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to US forces for evacuation.

After a 20-year war, the foes were within clear sight of each other, separated by just 30 metres.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said US troops had started withdrawing — without saying how many were left.

Heartbreaking

Western allies that helped with the airlift have mostly ended their evacuation flights. Some voiced despair at not being able to fly out everyone at risk.

The head of Britain’s armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter, told the BBC it was “heartbreaking” that “we haven’t been able to bring everybody out”.

A White House official said 2,900 people were evacuated in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday, a drastic reduction from earlier in the week.

France and Britain will on Monday urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a “safe zone” in Kabul to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

But Macron said discussions with the Taliban about evacuations do not indicate France is recognizing the hardline group as the new rulers of Afghanistan.

“The Taliban are the ones in control… we have to have these discussions from a practical point of view. This does not mean there will be recognition,” Macron told TF1 television during a visit to Iraq, insisting the Taliban must meet “conditions” on humanitarian matters, especially women’s rights.

And on Sunday, approximately 100 countries announced in a joint statement they would continue processing documents for both Afghans and foreign nationals to leave the country even after the US withdrawal deadline of Tuesday.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban” that all those with the right travel documentation “will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner,” the statement, released by the US State Department, said.

Also on Sunday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he and foreign ministers from France, Germany, Britain, Turkey, NATO and other “key partners” would meet virtually to discuss an “aligned approach” on Afghanistan going forward.

The UN said it was bracing for a “worst-case scenario” of up to half a million more refugees from Afghanistan by the end of 2021.

Military Airstrikes Decimate Boko Haram Camps In Borno – Spokesman

File: A screengrab from an Air Force video shows the scene of the airstrikes on Boko Haram Logistics Base in Borno State. Credit: Defence Headquarters.

 

The Nigerian military on Saturday said it has neutralised scores of terrorists in Borno state through airstrikes.

According to a statement signed by spokesman John Enenche, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole under subsidiary Operation Hail Storm 2, recently destroyed Boko Haram camps in Tongule, Bone and Isari B Musa areas of Borno state.

READ ALSO: Buhari Condemns Attack On Zulum’s Entourage

The strike on Tongule, which was carried out at night on September 24, was “undertaken after surveillance missions revealed continued assembly of the terrorists within the settlement at nighttime,” Enenche said.

“Accordingly, the Air Task Force dispatched Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter gunships for a night attack on the location, with their barrage of rockets neutralizing several of the terrorists.”

The airstrike operations at Bone and Isari B Musa were carried out during the day on September 25.

“Bone, a settlement along the Yale-Kumshe axis, on the other hand, was attacked by a force package of NAF fighter jets and helicopter gunships after credible intelligence reports established that the location served as a staging area from where the terrorists launch attacks,” the statement said.

“The NAF attack aircraft engaged the location in multiple bomb and rocket runs, destroying several of their structures and neutralizing scores of terrorists.

“Similarly, at Isari B Musa several terrorists, who were observed both within and in bushes surrounding the settlement, were taken out as the NAF attack aircraft took turns in engaging the target area.”

Air Force Kills Several Armed Bandits In Kaduna

 

The Nigerian Air Force says its airstrikes have killed several armed bandits at Walawa, Yadi and Kuduru hills in Kaduna State.

In a statement issued on Wednesday by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, some of their logistics supplies were destroyed in the process.

This follows a special operation conducted in coordination with the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to smoke out the bandits.

Daramola explained that the operation was carried out “after credible intelligence reports and days of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions revealed that the bandits, after driving away from the original inhabitants of the area, had continued to operate from the locations with impunity.”

READ ALSO: NYSC Suspends Ongoing Orientation Course

“The NAF detailed its attack aircraft to conduct series of air raids at the bandits’ camps resulting in the destruction of some of the logistics facilities and structures housing the armed bandits as well as the neutralization of several of them.

“The airstrikes also paved the way for ground forces to conduct mop-up operations, supported by NAF combat helicopters.

“In all, no fewer than 5 commanders of Ansaru and a dozen armed bandits were neutralized in the operation,” the statement read in part.

Daramola also reiterated the commitment of the Air Force to flush the armed bandits out of the Northwest region.

See photos below:

Five Pro-Iran Fighters Killed By Air Strikes

Syrians stand next to a destroyed building in Balyun in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on December 8, 2019, the day after a reported Russian airstrike on a market in the village. 
Aaref WATAD / AFP

 

Airstrikes by unidentified warplanes have killed five pro-Iran fighters in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border, a Britain-based war monitor said on Sunday.

The strikes late Saturday targeted “positions of Iranian forces and allied militias” on the edge of the town of Albukamal, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Five non-Syrian fighters were killed,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, without being able to provide their nationalities.

READ ALSO: At Least 43 Killed In Delhi Factory Fire

Regime troops, Iranian forces and allied Iran-backed fighters, including from Iraq, are present in the area on the western banks of the Euphrates River, he said.

According to the Observatory, 10 Iraqi fighters were killed in September in airstrikes of unknown origin in the same area.

At the start of that month, air raids killed 18 pro-Iran fighters, the monitor reported.

In June 2018, strikes near the Iraqi border killed 55 pro-regime forces, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, the Observatory said.

An American official said at the time that Israel was responsible, but the Jewish state declined to comment.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria on what it says are positions of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and Iranian forces, which it has vowed to prevent gaining a foothold in Syrian territory.

But the US-led coalition that has been fighting the Islamic State group has in the past also admitted to carrying out airstrikes against pro-regime fighters.

The coalition is backing Kurdish-led fighters on the eastern shores of the Euphrates.

AFP

US, UN Disagree Over Syria Air Strikes

syrian ceasefire

 

Washington’s top envoy for Syria rejected Thursday an allegation put forward in a UN report that some US-led air strikes in the conflict-torn country could possibly be categorised as indiscriminate attacks, amounting to “war crimes”.

James Jeffrey, the US special representative on Syria, dismissed findings published in a UN report on Wednesday suggesting that the US-led coalition had with a number of air strikes in the country “failed to employ the necessary precautions to discriminate adequately between military objectives and civilians”.

The UN Commission of Inquiry, which has been investigating human rights violations in Syria’s drawn-out war for the past eight years, pointed to a series of air strikes carried out by the coalition in January in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, including one that killed 16 civilians.

“The Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international coalition forces may not have directed their attacks at a specific military objective, or failed to do so with the necessary precaution,” the report said.

“Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly,” stressed the Commission, which has also suggested in previous reports that US-led strikes in Syria could amount to war crimes.

The Commission has also repeatedly accused the Syrian government and its main backer Russia, as well as other actors in the conflict of a wide range of war crimes.

“We take extreme care in every military operation,” Jeffrey told journalists in Geneva when asked about the report.

“We do not accept the findings of that particular body,” he said.

Jeffrey was in Geneva Wednesday for consultations with the UN envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

Pedersen, a seasoned Norwegian diplomat who took over the job in January, is trying to help create a committee to draft a post-war constitution for Syria.

His predecessor, Staffan de Mistura, stepped down after his four years in the post ended with a year-long abortive push to form the constitutional committee.

But Pedersen, who has been consulting extensively with the various Syrian actors, as well as with countries with influence in the conflict, voiced optimism that the constitutional committee could soon see the light of day.

Following his meeting with representatives from Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States Thursday, he told journalists he was “confident that we are moving forward.

“Hopefully I can have positive news on this in the very near future.”

Numerous rounds of UN-led peace talks have failed to end a war that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

AFP

Russian Airstrike Kills 19

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the “White Helmets”, search for bodies or survivors in a collapsed building following a reported airstrike in Kafar Roma in the outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in the southern Idlib province on July 21, 2019. Abdullah Hammam / AFP

 

Sixteen civilians were among 19 people killed Monday in a Russian airstrike on a market in northwest Syria, a monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the opposition bastion.

At least 45 other people were wounded in the air raid that hit “a wholesale vegetable market in the town of Maaret al-Numan” in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The death toll could still rise as many of those wounded are in a critical condition and some people are still trapped under rubble, the Britain-based monitor said.

Observatory head Rami Abdelrahman said 16 of those killed were civilians while three other bodies remain to be identified.

The latest strike comes one day after air raids by Damascus and its Russian ally on Syria’s jihadist-run Idlib region killed 18 people, including a young citizen journalist.

READ ALSO: Hong Kong Police Fire Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas At Anti-Government Protesters

Anas al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets rescue group who also contributed to AFP.

He was killed in Russian airstrikes in his hometown of Khan Sheikhun on Sunday, rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Damascus regime and its Russian ally have stepped up their deadly bombardment of Idlib since late April, despite a September buffer zone deal to protect the region of some three million people from a massive military assault.

The spike in violence has killed more than 650 civilians, caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, and damaged or knocked out of service two dozen health facilities.

Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in January took full administrative control of the region, although other jihadists and rebels are also present.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

AFP

U.S. Airstrike Kills 27 Terrorists In Somalia

FILE PHOTO                                                                                                                     Rami al SAYED / AFP

 

US forces have carried out their second Horn of Africa airstrike in three days, killing another 27 Shabaab jihadists, the American military said on Monday.

The latest strike occurred on Saturday in Somaliland, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) southwest of Bosasso port in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region.

A statement from the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) gave no further details of the operation but said it was carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government.

On Friday, AFRICOM said a US airstrike had killed 12 militants from the Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Mogadishu on Thursday.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, to the south.

Somali commandos often carry out operations side-by-side with the American forces that train them. Air assaults and missile strikes have increased in recent months.

This was the 12th American strike against the Shabaab since the beginning of the year.

US forces also partner with the United Nations-backed African Union Mission in Somalia which has about 21,600 troops in the country.

Different Islamist groups are active in Puntland, including one that split from the Shabaab in 2016 pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 but is not recognized by any country.

In May, deadly clashes occurred between forces from Puntland and those of Somaliland.

AFP