Archive for December 9th, 2014

Replacement battalion of peshmerga arrive at Kobani

07 December 2014 Sunday

A replacement battalion of 150 Kurdish peshmerga troops joined the fighting against the ISIL on Saturday, a Kurdish commander said on Saturday.

The peshmerga battalion reached the ongoing battle in the besieged border town Kobani, by traveling through Turkey.

“We have launched an operation against ISIL militants overnight with the support of US-led coalition’s warplanes,” said peshmerga Commander Farhat Abdollah.

Abdollah also said the Kurdish groups cleared some streets of militants, and that the airstrikes were continuing to support their battle in the field.

Shaban Ramazan, a captain of the peshmerga forces, said the ISIL fighters attacked their position from Kobani’s southern and eastern sections with heavy arms in the early hours of the morning. The peshmerga forces met the fire with the same kind of attack.

“Street clashes still continue, and the international coalition continues to hit the ISIL targets without pause,” Ramazan said. The ISIL fighters were forced to retreat from some positions as they suffered heavy losses.

The second group of peshmerga forces, a convoy of seven minibuses, replaced the first group on Tuesday that had reached Kobani in October by passing through Turkey.

Kobani, also known as Ayn al Arab, has seen fierce battles between ISIL militants and Kurdish fighters since mid-September.

Source: World Bulletin.


EU offers 180 million euros for refugees in Lebanon, Jordan


BRUSSELS – The EU offered 180 million euros Thursday to help Lebanon and Jordan cope with a massive influx of refugees from Syria, where there is no end in sight to the civil war.

The European Commission said the aid package would help deal with the longer-term problems of the 1.1 million refugees in Lebanon and 630,000 in Jordan.

Some of the funds will also go to Syria itself where the conflict has displaced around half of the population — nearly 11 million people.

As the conflict rages, with the death toll mounting steadily to now some 200,000, there is little prospect that the more than three million Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries and beyond will be able to return home any time soon.

The package “addresses in particular the education of children and young adults… as well as measures to improve the resilience of the refugees as well as the communities hosting them through economic development activities,” a Commission statement said.

The announcement comes after the UN’s World Food Program said Wednesday it was halting food aid to some 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of funding shortfalls.

The WFP said it needed $64 million (51 million euros) to fund its food voucher program for December alone and that “many donor commitments remain unfulfilled”.

The EU is a major humanitarian aid donor in the region. It has provided about 1.5 billion euros since the conflict erupted in 2011 while the 28 member states have separately provided about 1.4 billion euros, according to Commission figures.

“We are ready and willing to bring a continued support to the people of Syria and to the neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees,” EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said.

“We are determined to play our role to the full and bring a lasting political solution to this regional crisis,” Mogherini said.

Source: Middle East Online.


Israeli parliament dissolves itself, sets election

December 08, 2014

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli lawmakers unanimously voted Monday to dissolve parliament, officially ending the legislature’s term two years ahead of schedule and kicking off the country’s election campaign ahead of a March 17 nationwide vote.

A week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government dramatically disintegrated, the 120-seat Knesset voted 93-0 favor of disbanding and ending one of the shortest serving parliaments in Israeli history.

Early polls show Netanyahu likely returning to power. But a growing coalition of anti-Netanyahu factions threatens to depose the longtime leader. Israel’s government, which took office in early 2013, had been riven by divisions from the outset over major issues facing the country. Netanyahu’s fractious center-right Cabinet had been bickering for weeks over the budget, a housing tax break and a bill that would enshrine into law Israel’s status as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu is looking to secure a fourth term as premier by increasing support for his hardline Likud Party. He hopes to secure a strong majority for a “national bloc” that includes his traditional allies of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction and the hard line Jewish Home party, which is strongly linked to the West Bank settler movement. This bloc tends to take a hard line in peace talks with the Palestinians.

In the last vote, the parties earned a combined 61 out of 120 seats in parliament. The majority proved too slim for Netanyahu to rule effectively and he was forced to reach out to two centrist parties, Yesh Atid and Hatnuah, to shore up his majority. Netanyahu’s feuds with these parties led to his decision to fire their ministers and call a new election.

Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni appears to be on the brink of sealing an alliance with Isaac Herzog and his center-left Labor party. A poll published Monday showed the potential joint list surging past Likud to become the largest party in the next Knesset. But it would still likely need the support or either Lieberman or the ultra-Orthodox for Herzog to replace Netanyahu as prime minister.