Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, right, meets with international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus yesterday. Mr Assad has been warned not to use chemical weapons.
Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, right, meets with international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus yesterday. Mr Assad has been warned not to use chemical weapons.

Syrian regime deploys bombs containing killer gas: rights groups



The Syrian regime has deployed bombs containing a killer gas while fighting rebels in the central city of Homs, activists said yesterday.

The allegations came as Russia, a Syrian ally, warned president Bashar Al Assad that it would be "political suicide" for his government to use chemical weapons in Syria.

Russia's foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia Today that Mr Al Assad had given Moscow repeated assurances he had no plans to order such an attack. "I do not believe Syria would use chemical weapons," Lavrov said. "It would be a political suicide for the government if it does."

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday that it had received reports that Assad's military had used a toxic gas during street clashes with rebels. "Activists in Homs say that six rebels died on Sunday night on the Khalidiya-Bayada front line because they inhaled odourless gas and white smoke," said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and doctors to document Syria's raging conflict. "Gas spread in the area after regime troops threw bombs that gave off white smoke as soon as they hit the walls," said the Observatory.

"Those who inhaled the gas felt nauseous and suffered severe headaches. Some suffered fits," it added. "These are not chemical weapons, but we do not know whether they are internationally prohibited," said the Observatory's director Rami Abdel Rahman. "Activists say it is the first time they have recorded these effects," he added. "They are not conventional weapons." The Observatory called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to urgently send a specialised medical team to Homs, several of whose districts have been besieged by army forces for more than six months.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) also reported the use of "bombs containing gases" in Homs. "These gases lead to muscle relaxation, severe difficulty in breathing and the narrowing of the iris," said the LCC, a grassroots network of activists.

Video filmed by activists and distributed online by the LCC showed a man laid out on a stretcher struggling to breathe as an unidentified doctor held an oxygen mask over his face. "It's definitely a poisonous gas, but we don't know what type it is," said a field doctor. "This man has been injured by the gas. We do not know what type of gas it is. It is definitely not sarin," he added.

US president Barack Obama has led international warnings to Mr Al Assad over Syria's chemical weapons arsenal but Damascus has repeatedly insisted it would not use the arms against its own people.

Russia has remained Syria's main ally throughout 21 months of violence that an opposition monitoring group says has claimed more than 44,000 lives. It scuttled three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Mr Al Assad and condemned Washington for recognising the Syrian opposition as the legitimate voice of the country's citizens. Moscow's position has frustrated western attempts to end the bloodshed by forcing Mr Al Assad from power.

But Russia also remains one of the only nations to remain in constant contact with Mr Al Assad - a status the West has urged it to use to pressure him to cede power.

Mr Lavrov said Moscow checks on every report about the movement of Syrian chemical weapons with Damascus to make sure there was no danger of their possible use. "Every time we hear rumours, or pieces of information come to surface that the Syrians are doing something with the chemical weapons we double-check, we triple-check, we go directly to the government and all the time we get very firm assurances that this is not going to be used under any circumstances," Mr Lavrov said.

On the diplomatic front, the international envoy to Syria said after talks with president Bashar Assad yesterday that the situation in the country was still "worrying" and gave no indication of progress toward a negotiated solution for the civil war.

Lakhdar Brahimi said he and Mr Al Assad exchanged views on the crisis and discussed possible steps forward, which he did not disclose. He spoke briefly to reporters after meeting the Syrian leader at the presidential palace in Damascus. "The situation in Syria is still worrying and we hope that all the parties will go toward the solution that the Syrian people are hoping for and look forward to," Brahimi said.

Syria's state news agency quoted Assad as saying his government supports "any effort in the interest of the Syrian people which preserves the homeland's sovereignty and independence". Mr Brahimi has apparently made little progress toward brokering an end to the conflict since starting his job in September, primarily because both sides adamantly refuse to talk to each other.

Brahimi's two-day visit was to end later Monday. It is his third to Damascus as an envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League. The security situation in Damascus and elsewhere in the country has declined since Brahimi's previous visits. Instead of flying in to the Damascus International Airport as he did on earlier visits, Mr Brahimi drove to Damascus over land from the Lebanese capital Beirut because of fighting near the Damascus airport.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

'Nope'

Director: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Steven Yeun
Rating: 3.5/5

VEZEETA PROFILE

Date started: 2012

Founder: Amir Barsoum

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: HealthTech / MedTech

Size: 300 employees

Funding: $22.6 million (as of September 2018)

Investors: Technology Development Fund, Silicon Badia, Beco Capital, Vostok New Ventures, Endeavour Catalyst, Crescent Enterprises’ CE-Ventures, Saudi Technology Ventures and IFC

The specs

Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: nine-speed

Power: 542bhp

Torque: 700Nm

Price: Dh848,000

On sale: now

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

About Krews

Founder: Ahmed Al Qubaisi

Based: Abu Dhabi

Founded: January 2019

Number of employees: 10

Sector: Technology/Social media 

Funding to date: Estimated $300,000 from Hub71 in-kind support

 

Married Malala

Malala Yousafzai is enjoying married life, her father said.

The 24-year-old married Pakistan cricket executive Asser Malik last year in a small ceremony in the UK.

Ziauddin Yousafzai told The National his daughter was ‘very happy’ with her husband.

The five pillars of Islam
Best Foreign Language Film nominees

Capernaum (Lebanon)

Cold War (Poland)

Never Look Away (Germany)

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
Five calorie-packed Ramadan drinks

Rooh Afza
100ml contains 414 calories
Tang orange drink
100ml serving contains 300 calories
Carob beverage mix
100ml serving contains about 300 calories
Qamar Al Din apricot drink
100ml saving contains 61 calories
Vimto fruit squash
100ml serving contains 30 calories

The specs: 2018 BMW R nineT Scrambler

Price, base / as tested Dh57,000

Engine 1,170cc air/oil-cooled flat twin four-stroke engine

Transmission Six-speed gearbox

Power 110hp) @ 7,750rpm

Torque 116Nm @ 6,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined 5.3L / 100km

The specs: Hyundai Ionic Hybrid

Price, base: Dh117,000 (estimate)

Engine: 1.6L four-cylinder, with 1.56kWh battery

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 105hp (engine), plus 43.5hp (battery)

Torque: 147Nm (engine), plus 170Nm (battery)

Fuel economy, combined: 3.4L / 100km

Third Test

Day 3, stumps

India 443-7 (d) & 54-5 (27 ov)
Australia 151

India lead by 346 runs with 5 wickets remaining

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Director: Jon Watts

Stars: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon 

Rating:*****

HOW TO ACTIVATE THE GEMINI SHORTCUT ON CHROME CANARY

1. Go to chrome://flags

2. Find and enable Expansion pack for the Site Search starter pack

3. Restart Chrome Canary

4. Go to chrome://settings/searchEngines in the address bar and find the Chat with Gemini shortcut under Site Search

5. Open a new tab and type @ to see the Chat with Gemini shortcut along with other Omnibox shortcuts to search tabs, history and bookmarks

Company profile

Name: WonderTree
Started: April 2016
Co-founders: Muhammad Waqas and Muhammad Usman
Based: Karachi, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Delaware, US
Sector: Special education, education technology, assistive technology, augmented reality
Number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Growth
Investors: Grants from the Lego Foundation, UAE's Anjal Z, Unicef, Pakistan's Ignite National Technology Fund

Your Guide to the Home
  • Level 1 has a valet service if you choose not to park in the basement level. This level houses all the kitchenware, including covetable brand French Bull, along with a wide array of outdoor furnishings, lamps and lighting solutions, textiles like curtains, towels, cushions and bedding, and plenty of other home accessories.
  • Level 2 features curated inspiration zones and solutions for bedrooms, living rooms and dining spaces. This is also where you’d go to customise your sofas and beds, and pick and choose from more than a dozen mattress options.
  • Level 3 features The Home’s “man cave” set-up and a display of industrial and rustic furnishings. This level also has a mother’s room, a play area for children with staff to watch over the kids, furniture for nurseries and children’s rooms, and the store’s design studio.
     
KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

MATCH INFO

Manchester City 1 (Gundogan 56')

Shakhtar Donetsk 1 (Solomon 69')

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

No.6 Collaborations Project

Ed Sheeran (Atlantic)

The specs

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 660hp
Torque: 1,100Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 488km-560km
Price: From Dh850,000 (estimate)
On sale: October