Archive for November 13th, 2014

Turkish PM criticizes opposition for its silence over Al-Assad’s crimes

Monday, 10 November 2014
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu criticized on Sunday the Turkish opposition for its silence over Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s war crimes, Anadolu news agency reported.
Davutoğlu, who is also the head of the Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, was speaking in front a gathering of his party’s supporters in Ankara.
Criticizing Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party, Anadolu quoted the prime minister as saying that when Al-Assad killed the Syrian people using chemical weapons and Scud missiles, Kilicdaroglu remained silent.
Davutoğlu continued his verbal attack by pointing out that when the attack against Kobani happened, Kilicdaroglu suddenly said “We have to interfere,” even though he does not even know where it is located on the map. Davutoğlu described him of losing “just balance,” in his mind, what helps us to differentiate between the oppressed and oppressor.
Kilicdaroglu suggested that the Turkish parliament should issue a separate mandate for Turkish military action in Kobani. “Are we going to issue a separate mandate for each province or district? It’s such a ridiculous proposal,” Davutoğlu remarked.
The prime minister also criticized the opposition Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), whose leader Salahuddin Damirtash and most members are Kurds.
According to Davutoğlu, the BDP leader has not said a word regarding Al-Assad’s killing of Syrians over the last four years. Giving an example, he said that when the Syrian Kurds invaded the village of Al-Hasakah and reportedly caused a massacre, Damirtash did not comment because he belongs to the same ideology. However, when Kobani was attacked, suddenly he raised his voice.
The prime minister said that his party came to power in Turkey to care for all humans.
He stressed that they take a stance against the oppressor, whoever he is and whatever his faith, as well as stand beside the oppressed no matter what. “The party is entrusted to protect the human with its soul, mind and descendants,” he said.
Source: Middle East Monitor.

19-year-old fighter from Kobani buried in Turkey

November 08, 2014

SURUC, Turkey (AP) — It was an easy decision to make. Barely out of school, Perwin Mustafa Dihap wanted to follow in the footsteps of three of her older siblings and go to war. Before long, she was on the front line in the Kurdish Syrian city of Kobani, her hometown on the Turkish border besieged on three sides by extremists from the Islamic State group.

Just two months later, the 19-year-old lay dying in a hospital across the border in Turkey, wounded in an Oct. 6 mortar attack on her position in the city. The doctor told her family the young woman’s chances were slim, despite her surviving a five-hour operation. Yet Dihap still held out hope.

“We went to the hospital … and I asked her how she was doing, and she said: ‘Don’t worry about me. If I get better, I will go back to fight again,'” said her 34-year-old brother, Kemal Mustafa Dihap.

But she didn’t get better. As her condition deteriorated, doctors transferred her to two other hospitals in larger Turkish towns in an effort to save her. In the last two days, she was too weak to speak. Dihap died in the early hours of Nov. 5.

“Even though she was really young, she was really brave and strong,” her brother said, swallowing hard to keep his emotions in check as he stood outside the morgue in the Turkish border town of Suruc.

He, his mother and his siblings waited to accompany his little sister’s coffin to the nearby cemetery where many of the Kurds who die fighting in Kobani are being buried. The framed photographs they carried showed a fresh-faced young woman in uniform, a wisp of her brown hair crossing her forehead, the ghost of a smile on her lips.

Dihap, the youngest of originally 12 children, was buried alongside Emina Mahmoud, believed to be 22, during a joint funeral. Like many Kurds killed in Kobani, Mahmoud’s family had not been traced in time for the ceremony.

The two were among hundreds of women fighting in the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ. Kurdish women have fought alongside men for decades in a guerrilla war seeking an independent Kurdistan that would encompass parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

After six months of basic training, Dihap was initially assigned to the police force, said her mother, Fatma Isa Dihap. But the girl insisted she wanted to be in the thick of battle. Their town had come under an intense assault by IS fighters in mid-September, with the extremists taking over parts of the city in fierce battles with Kurdish fighters. A U.S.-led coalition is now carrying out airstrikes against IS positions in and around Kobani.

About 200,000 people have fled into neighboring Turkey, which borders the north side of Kobani. It was Dihap’s mother who took her to join up. Two of her other children were already fighters: a son in the battle for Kobani and a daughter fighting in the Syrian region of Afrin, near Aleppo.

“I took her to the comrades and told them: ‘I present my daughter to Kurdistan,'” she said. It was a sacrifice she was prepared to bear despite already having buried three of her children, explained her son Kemal. One of her sons was killed in 1996 fighting in the Kurdish guerrilla war, another was killed in a car crash and a third accidentally drowned.

“I am happy and I am proud of my daughter; she is the martyr of Kurdistan and Kobani,” said Dihap as she prepared to bury her youngest child. Cheering defiantly and ululating for her daughter outside the morgue and at the cemetery, the mother finally broke down when the coffin arrived at the gravesite.

“Perwin!” she cried, as her daughter’s shrouded body was lifted out of her wooden coffin and placed in her grave.

Mohammed Rasool in Suruc, Turkey, contributed.

Istanbul protesters furious over Israel’s Al-Aqsa raid

07 November 2014 Friday

Pro-Palestinian activists chanted slogans and raised flags following Friday prayers in Istanbul as part of nationwide protests over an Israeli security forces raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Around 1,000 protesters gathered in the yard of Istanbul’s Fatih Mosque, condemning what they called “Zionist aggression on the holy temple.”

Israeli security forces had raided the Jerusalem mosque and fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets Wednesday following clashes with Palestinian protesters. The mosque is located on a site holy to both Jews and Muslims in the divided city.

Addressing the crowd, Turkish newspaper columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak described the Israeli forces’ actions as “violent, crazy and hazardous.”

Tension was already high in East Jerusalem due to the closure of the Al-Aqsa compound to Palestinians after an extremist rabbi, who had called for the compound to be liberated from “Islamic occupation,” was shot and wounded.

Palestinians were further outraged as Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian man who was claimed to have been been a suspect in the shooting.

Wednesday’s raid was first since 1967, when the Israeli army occupied the city.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the incursion as “barbaric.”

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews refer to the area as the ‘Temple Mount,’ claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Demonstrations against the incursion also took place in many other Turkish provinces led by NGOs and activist groups in solidarity with Palestine.

Source: World Bulletin.


Erdogan terms Israeli attack on al-Aqsa ‘unforgivable’

07 November 2014 Friday

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel on Friday for storming the third holiest site in Islam, the al-Aqsa mosque, in Jerusalem recently.

He made the remarks during his official visit to Turkmenistan.

Erdogan termed the Israeli attack “unforgivable” and said the mosque belonged not just to the Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world.

Israeli security forces and a large number of Jewish settlers had stormed the mosque Wednesday. Eyewitnesses at the time said the security personnel shot rubber bullets at worshipers and students which left scores injured.

The violence came in the aftermath of calls made by several extremist Jewish groups to storm the mosque when Rabbi Yehuda Glick was attacked a week ago.

Al-Aqsa represents Islam’s third holiest site, while Jews refer to the same area as the Temple Mount, which they consider as the site of two ancient Jewish temples.

Source: World Bulletin.


Syrian air raids kill at least 21 in IS-held town

November 09, 2014

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government helicopters and warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes overnight on a northern town controlled by the Islamic State group, killing at least 21 people, activists said Sunday.

The air raids struck the town of al-Bab in Aleppo province late Saturday and lasted through early Sunday morning. The Aleppo Media Center activist collective and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights both reported the attacks.

Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said there were 10 strikes in total, including seven so-called barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. He said at least 21 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

The Aleppo Media Center put the death toll at 30, with 85 wounded. Differences in casualty figures are common in the chaotic aftermath of attacks in Syria. President Bashar Assad’s air force routinely bombs towns held by the Islamic State group, as well as areas controlled by mainstream rebel brigades.

A U.S.-led coalition also is conducting an aerial campaign against the Islamic State group and other extremists in Syria. Washington says it does not coordinate its airstrikes with Damascus. The international coalition has recently focused much of its firepower on Islamic State fighters attacking the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani on Syria’s northern border with Turkey. The extremists launched an offensive against the town, which is also known as Ayn Arab, in mid-September. After making initial gains in Kobani, the Islamic State group’s assault has slowed to a bitter grind.

Abdurrahman, the director of the Observatory, said Sunday that more than 1,000 people have been killed in the battle of Kobani, including 609 Islamic State militants. The toll also includes 363 fighters from the Kurdish militia known as the YPG, as well as 24 civilians and more than a dozen Syrian rebels.

In southern Syria, meanwhile, Islamic rebel brigades and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front seized the town of Nawa from forces loyal to Assad, the Observatory said. “Nusra and the rebels control the whole town and the area around it,” Abdurrahman said. “The Syrian regime pulled out because they are weak there.”

Activists say more than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against Assad spiraled into violence in 2011. United Nations envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday in Damascus, the SANA state news agency reported. It said the two men discussed several issues, including the envoy’s recent initiative on establishing local cease-fires as a way to try to halt the fighting in the country.

A Syrian state newspaper on Saturday criticized de Mistura for pursuing his idea of local truces, saying he deviated from the “limits of the international mission” with which he was entrusted.

Children in Aleppo Forced Underground to Go to School

By Shelly Kittleson

ALEPPO, Nov 6 2014 (IPS) – Winter has not yet hit this nearly besieged city, but children are already attending classes in winter coats and stocking hats.

Cold, damp underground education facilities are less exposed to regime barrel bombs and airstrikes but necessitate greater bundling to prevent common seasonal viruses from taking hold in a city from which most doctors have fled or been killed.

Only one perilous route leads out of the city and northwards to the Turkish border and better medical care, if required.

On the way to an underground school IPS visited in late October, the children must necessarily pass by shop fronts blown out by airstrikes, a few remaining signs advertising what used to be clothing, hairdressers’ or wedding apparel shops with the ‘idolatrous’ images spray-painted black by the Islamic State (IS) when they briefly controlled the area, before being pushed out by rebel groups.

The jihadist group is still battling to retake terrain in the area, with the closest frontline against them being in Marea, an estimated 30 kilometers away from opposition-held areas of eastern Aleppo.

They must also witness the destruction wrought by the regime, which is trying to impose a total siege on opposition areas and which would need to take only a few kilometers more of terrain to do so.

Even if they only live a block away, the children are forced to walk by buildings entirely defaced by barrel bombs, floors hanging down precariously above the heads of fruit, vegetable and sweets street vendors. A pink toilet and part of a couch are still visibly wedged between the upper, mutilated and dangling levels of one such building on their way.

A few of the children in the co-ed primary school seem shell-shocked, but many smile and laugh readily on the crowded wooden benches stuffed into the cramped, cold spaces. Two boys at the front of one of the rooms sway back and forth with their arms around each other’s shoulders, singing boisterously.

Some of the rough walls have been painted sky blue or festooned with holiday-type decorations to ‘’brighten the children’s spirits’’, one of teachers says. A few comic-strip posters have been pasted in the corridor.

The classes run from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon during the week, one of the instructors – Zakra, a former fifth-year university student in engineering – told IPS.

Zakra, who now teaches mathematics, English and science at the school, said that she gets paid about 50 dollars a month. All of the school’s 15 teachers are women wearing all-covering black garments. Some cover their faces as well, some do not. IPS was told not to photograph them in any case, because many still have family members in regime areas.

‘’The school opened last year,’’ Zakra said, ‘’but then stopped between October 2013 and July 2014, as the barrel-bombing campaign made it too dangerous for parents to send their children to school,’’ even to underground ones.

The young teacher said that she plans on leaving at some point to continue her studies in Turkey but was not sure when, primarily due to economic reasons.

Older students are mostly left to their own devices, because this school and others like it only provide for those ages 6 to 13.

The head of the education department of the Aleppo City Council – who goes by the name of Mahmoud Al-Qudsi – told IPS that some 115 schools were still operating in the area, but that most of them were former ground-level flats, basements or other structures.

Only about 20 original school buildings were still operating, he said, from some 750 in the area prior to the uprising.

Syrian government forces have targeted educational and medical facilities in opposition areas throughout the conflict, and efforts are made to keep the locations secret.

Those preparing for the baccalaureate – the Syrian secondary school diploma – study at home, he said. They then come to centers on established dates to actually take the exams in late June and early July. Word is spread of where they will be held via the Aleppo Today television channel, which broadcasts out of Gaziantep, and posters are put up around the city to announce the times and places.

Turkey, Libya and France currently recognize the baccalaureate exams, Qudsi noted, but ‘’French universities only accepted five of our students last year.’’

Most of the curriculum remains that approved by the regime, but ‘nationalistic’ parts praising the Assad family have been cut and religion classes now teach that ‘’fighting against the Assad regime is a religious duty.’’

‘’We also want to change the curricula, but we can’t right now. We want it to be a Syrian-chosen one – one designed and wanted by all Syrians – but we can’t do that now, given the situation,’’ said Qudsi, ‘’and we obviously don’t have the money to print new books.’’

Most of the low salaries the teachers receive are necessarily funded by various international and private associations because the city council just does not have the funds, he noted.

The council, ‘’was only able to pay the equivalent of 70 dollars each for the entire academic year but the teachers were happy about it nonetheless, since it shows that we appreciate what they are doing.’’

Qudsi was also adamant that even the most fundamentalist parents had not interfered with their teaching.  ‘’We are all in this together. Their children attend our schools, too.’’

The barrel bombs stopped entirely for a number of days earlier this autumn after rebel forces closed in on the Aleppo air defense factories where the crude bombs made of scrap metal and explosives are assembled by regime forces. The bombing has since resumed following regime gains.

On arriving at the scene of one such attack in late October, IPS saw a body pulled from the rubble by the civil defense forces before they rushed with flashlights around the block to get to the other side of the collapsed building, where three young children had been trapped underneath the rubble. All were later found dead.

Families were crowded on the steps outside of other buildings down the street, and flashlight beams illuminated the faces of clutches of frightened children, an adult or two nearby in the dust raised by the concrete slabs brought down in the impact.

The schools at least give the children a chance to focus on something other than the destruction and death surrounding them, Qudsi told IPS, and ‘’are the only chance of Syria having any future at all.’

Source: Inter-Press Service (IPS).


Hamas creates ‘popular army’ in Gaza to confront Israel

Sat Nov 8, 2014

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has announced the formation of a “popular army” in the besieged Gaza Strip to counter the Israeli regime’s aggression.

A spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said at a ceremony at the Jabaliya refugee camp on Friday that “the first section of the popular army for the liberation of al-Aqsa and of Palestine” would consist of 2,500 recruits.

Hamas said the new force is tasked with confronting any future Israeli aggression, particularly against the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Mohammed Abu Askar, a Hamas official, also noted that individuals over 20 years old could sign up “to be prepared for any confrontation” with Israel, adding that the popular force has been created “at a moment when the al-Aqsa Mosque is subject to serious Israeli violations.”

The announcement comes as the resistance movement and the people of Gaza are angry over the recent Israeli aggression against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Friday, Palestinian protesters held a demo at the Qalandia checkpoint, Beit Lahm and al-Khalil (Hebron) to express their anger at Israel’s decision to deny Palestinians under the age of 50 entry into the holy al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli regime’s troops used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Earlier in the day, Tel Aviv deployed some 1,300 soldiers in and around the occupied Old City of al-Quds to suppress Palestinians protesting Israel’s violations in the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The mosque has recently been the scene of clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israelis.

Israel closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to Muslim worshippers a day after a 32-year-old Palestinian, Moataz Hejazi, made an attempt on the life of Yehuda Glick, an American-born Israeli settler, on October 29.

The Israeli rabbi ran campaigns for expansion of Israeli access to the mosque.

The al-Aqsa compound, located in the Israeli-occupied Old City of al-Quds, is a flashpoint holy Islamic site. The location of the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is the holiest site in Judaism. The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Over the past decades, Israel has tried to change the demographic makeup of al-Quds by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.

Source: PressTV.