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Showing posts from April 8, 2016

Israel starts building new part of controversial West Bank wall

BEIT JALA, Palestine: Israel began construction on a controversial part of its separation barrier in the occupied West Bank Thursday, near a Palestinian Christian town, an AFP journalist reported.

Cranes began lifting eight-meter(yard)-high blocks into place near Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem and close to Bethlehem, a photographer witnessed.

This part of the wall could cut Palestinians from their olive groves.

Nicola Khamis, mayor of Beit Jala, condemned what he saw as a land grab.

"This land is for our families, our children," he said by phone from the bridge next to the construction site.

The Israeli army referred questions to the defence ministry, which did not immediately respond.

Residents of Beit Jala fear the construction of the wall may lead to the expansion of the nearby Israeli settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo.

Khamis said they hoped to battle the wall's construction, with emergency strategy meetings planned, but he conceded they had no further appeals within the Isra…

China's new Syria envoy praises Russian military mission

BEIJING: China's first special envoy for the Syrian crisis praised Russia's military role in the war Friday, and said the international community should work harder together to defeat terrorism in the region.

Russia's military intervention in Syria in September helped turn the tide of war in President Bashar Assad's favor after months of gains in western Syria by rebel fighters, who were aided by foreign military supplies including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles.

While President Vladimir Putin announced last month that "the main part" of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, the Russian air force has continued to carry out strikes on targets in the country.

Russia says it has targeted ISIS militants. But rebels on the ground and Western officials say the strikes have mainly targeted moderate rebel groups, including U.S.-trained fighters, not associated with Islamic State.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing after being appointed last week, China's…

Syrian Islamist group Jaysh al-Islam admits using banned weapons against Kurds in Aleppo

The Jaysh al-Islam militant group fighting government forces in Syria has admitted to using “forbidden” weapons against Kurdish militia in Aleppo. The group’s statement comes after reports of chemical gas being used in shelling Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsood district.

The hardline Islamist group did not not specify what substances were used, but claimed that it will punish those responsible.

The group’s statement reads: “During the clashes one of the Jaysh al-Islam brigade leaders used [weapons] forbidden in this kind of confrontations.”

The group claims that the brigade commander in question was summoned to a military court, where it was decided he is to be held accountable. “This situation is contrary to the charter of Jaysh al-Islam,” says the group.

Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood was shelled with mortars containing chemical agents earlier on Thursday.

The Kurdish Red Crescent confirmed reports that chemicals had been used in the attack. “The symptoms of those affected by the attack suc…