2 killed children among liberated Syrian hostages held by Daesh

A handout picture released by SANA on November 9, 2018 shows one of a group of Druze women, who were abducted in July from Sweida by Daesh, talking to the media upon their arrival overnight in their hometown in Sweida. (AFP / SANA)
Updated 09 November 2018
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2 killed children among liberated Syrian hostages held by Daesh

  • Daesh militants shot and killed two children during an operation to liberate a group of hostages from southern Syria that were being held by the extremist group since July
  • Nashaat Abu Ammar said his 8-year-old son Raafat was among the two boys shot dead during the Syrian army raid to free the hostages

DAMASCUS: Daesh militants shot and killed two children during an operation to liberate a group of hostages from southern Syria that were being held by the extremist group since July, a father and activists said Friday.
Nashaat Abu Ammar, a resident of Sweida whose wife, two sons and daughter were among those being held by Daesh, said his 8-year-old son Raafat was among the two boys shot dead during the Syrian army raid to free the hostages. A 13-year-old boy, Qusay, was also killed.
“They shot him in his mother’s lap,” Abu Ammar told The Associated Press by telephone from Sweida, his voice breaking up with emotion.
State media reported Thursday evening that troops liberated the 19 women and children held by Daesh in a military operation in central Syria, triggering celebrations in Sweida. “My happiness is huge,” Abu Ammar, reached by the AP, said then.
His happiness was crushed hours later when the group of hostages arrived in Sweida. Among them was the body of Raafat and his 13-year-old cousin. His wife appeared very frail, he said, adding that the group was barely being fed to stay alive.
The 19 women and children were among 30 people kidnapped by Daesh in Sweida on July 25 when militants of the extremist group ambushed residents and went on a killing spree that left at least 216 people dead.
The rare attacks in the province, populated mainly by Syria’s minority Druze, came amid a government offensive elsewhere in the country’s south. The coordinated attacks across the province, which included several suicide bombings, shattered the calm of a region that had been largely spared from the worst of the violence of Syria’s seven-year long civil war.
Since July, one woman died in Daesh custody while another was shot dead by the extremists. In August, a 19-year-old man was also killed in detention.
Six other hostages, two women and four children, were freed in an exchange with the government last month. Negotiations were expected to free the remaining hostages but the talks failed and Syrian troops launched a broad offensive against Daesh in southern Syria.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.