Extremists opposed to Syrian government are now turning on each other



BEIRUT // Dozens of extremists have been killed in clashes between two militant factions in northwestern Syria, raising fears of more deadly violence ahead of peace talks this month brokered by the United Nations.

The fighting between the Al Qaeda-led coalition known as the Levant Liberation Committee and the extremist Jund Al Aqsa group left nearly 70 fighters dead in some of the fiercest clashes between insurgents in years. The fighting centred on areas where the central province of Hama meets the northwestern province of Idlib.

A Syrian rebel commander speaking from Turkey said Jund Al Aqsa has recently proven itself to be a branch of ISIL, which is the arch-rival of Al Qaeda’s Fatah Al-Sham Front. The commander said Jund Al Aqsa fighters stormed several areas controlled by the Levant Liberation Committee and killed some of its members.

“There is no solution but to uproot Jund Al Aqsa,” the commander said. Idlib province is held almost entirely by opposition factions, and was captured by an alliance of fighters dubbed the Army of Conquest, led by Fateh Al-Sham.

Jund Al Aqsa is reviled by most rebels in the region, and is designated a “terrorist group” by Washington. Despite that, in October Fateh Al-Sham announced it had taken Jund Al Aqsa under its wing, although clashes between the two groups erupted shortly afterwards.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian war, reported that the Levant Liberation Committee has captured six villages from Jund al-Aqsa so far, and lost 39 soldiers. Jund Al Aqsa lost 30 soldiers, including four suicide bombers who blew up the vehicles they were driving. .

Abdul-Rahim Attoun, a senior Al Qaeda religious official in Syria, said Jund Al Aqsa was blocking roads used by the Levant Liberation Committee to attack government forces.

A Jund Al Aqsa commander who goes by the name of Karmo said the fighting started because the Levant Liberation Committee attacked Jund Al Aqsa’s positions.

The fighting reflects the growing strained relations between different factions in Idlib province that once fought alongside each other against president Bashar Al Assad’s army.

Some reports on Tuesday said Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and president Assad’s forces have created a security corridor to avoid clashes in the battle to capture the flashpoint town of Al Bab from ISTLhadists. If confirmed, it would mark a rare case of contact in the conflict between the Damascus regime and the rebels seeking to oust it

The two-day conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, beginning on Wednesday is aimed at strengthening a December 30 ceasefire. The government has long referred to all those fighting against it, including mainstream rebels, as “terrorists.”

But an editorial in the government-supporting Al-Baath daily said “without fighting terrorism and defeating terrorists, any solution will not be fruitful.”

Fatah Al-Sham Front and ISIL are excluded from the truce.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister in charge of Arab countries, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, said a ceasefire and reconciliation in Syria are on the agenda in the Astana talks.

“Consolidation of the ceasefire, inspecting cases of violation and finalisation of regulations for monitoring of the ceasefire will be carried out in the talks,” said Mr Ansari upon arrival in Astana. “Political issues related to the trend of reconciliation in Syria are on the agenda in Astana.”

In Damascus, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Syria appealed to all parties to reach an agreement for immediate access to the besieged villages of Zabadani, Madaya, Foua and Kfarya, with a combined population of 60,000, which have received no aid since November 28.

Syrian rebels have been laying siege to Foua and Kfaraya in the northwestern province for years while government forces have besieged the mountain resorts of Zabadani and Madaya near the border with Lebanon.

* Associated Press

* Reuters

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

UAE v United States, T20 International Series

Both matches at ICC Academy, Dubai. Admission is free.

1st match: Friday, 2pm

2nd match: Saturday, 2pm

UAE squad: Mohammed Naveed (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Rameez Shahzad, Amjad Gul, CP Rizwan, Mohammed Boota, Abdul Shakoor, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Amir Hayat

USA squad: Saurabh Netravalkar (captain), Jaskaran Malhotra, Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Ali Khan, Jannisar Khan, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Timil Patel, Roy Silva, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor, Hayden Walsh

Springtime in a Broken Mirror,
Mario Benedetti, Penguin Modern Classics

 

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylturbo

Transmission: seven-speed DSG automatic

Power: 242bhp

Torque: 370Nm

Price: Dh136,814

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

ILT20 UAE stars

LEADING RUN SCORERS
1 Nicholas Pooran, 261
2 Muhammad Waseem (UAE), 248
3 Chris Lynn, 244
4 Johnson Charles, 232
5 Kusal Perera, 230

BEST BOWLING AVERAGE
(minimum 10 overs bowled)
1 Zuhaib Zubair (UAE), 9 wickets at 12.44
2 Mohammed Rohid (UAE), 7 at 13.00

3 Fazalhaq Farooqi, 17 at 13.05
4 Waqar Salamkheil, 10 at 14.08
5 Aayan Khan (UAE), 4 at 15.50
6 Wanindu Hasaranga, 12 at 16.25
7 Mohammed Jawadullah (UAE), 10 at 17.00

The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki

Rating: 5/5

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

The Letter Writer

Director: Layla Kaylif

Stars: Eslam Al Kawarit, Rosy McEwen, Muhammad Amir Nawaz

Rating: 2/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre V6

Power: 272hp at 6,400rpm

Torque: 331Nm from 5,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 9.7L/100km

On sale: now

Price: Dh149,000

 

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Super Mario Bros Wonder

Developer: Nintendo EPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Console: Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

Sinopharm vaccine explained

The Sinopharm vaccine was created using techniques that have been around for decades. 

“This is an inactivated vaccine. Simply what it means is that the virus is taken, cultured and inactivated," said Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, chair of the UAE's National Covid-19 Clinical Management Committee.

"What is left is a skeleton of the virus so it looks like a virus, but it is not live."

This is then injected into the body.

"The body will recognise it and form antibodies but because it is inactive, we will need more than one dose. The body will not develop immunity with one dose," she said.

"You have to be exposed more than one time to what we call the antigen."

The vaccine should offer protection for at least months, but no one knows how long beyond that.

Dr Al Kaabi said early vaccine volunteers in China were given shots last spring and still have antibodies today.

“Since it is inactivated, it will not last forever," she said.

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre turbo 4-cyl
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 298hp
Torque: 452Nm
Towing capacity: 3.4-tonne
Payload: 4WD – 776kg; Rear-wheel drive 819kg
Price: Price: Dh138,945 (XLT) Dh193,095 (Wildtrak)
Delivery: from August

SPECS

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo
Power: 268hp
Torque: 380Nm
Price: From Dh208,000
On sale: Now

THE SWIMMERS

Director: Sally El-Hosaini

Stars: Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Ahmed Malek and Ali Suliman 

Rating: 4/5