Hundreds of displaced residents returned to inspect the damge to their homes and possessions after rebels vacated areas of the Old City of Homs under a deal with the Bashar Al Assad governmment. AFP / May 10, 2014
Hundreds of displaced residents returned to inspect the damge to their homes and possessions after rebels vacated areas of the Old City of Homs under a deal with the Bashar Al Assad governmment. AFP /Show more

Syrian rebels cut off water supply to both halves of Aleppo



BEIRUT // Residents of Syria’s second city Aleppo have been without water for a week because Islamist fighters have cut supplies into rebel and regime-held areas, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front had cut water supplies from a pump distributing to both the rebel-held east and government-held west of Aleppo.

Last month, opposition forces cut the electricity supply to regime-controlled areas of Aleppo and the surrounding countryside.

But the director of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman said, the groups were unable to cut off water supplies to regime areas without also affecting rebel-held neighbourhoods, calling the move “a crime”.

Once home to about 2.5 million residents and considered Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been divided between government and opposition control since shortly after fighting there began in mid-2012.

At least one million people have been displaced from the city since then by fighting and relentless regime aerial bombardments of rebel areas.

Opposition forces also regularly shell regime-held parts of the city in the west.

The Observatory said the week of water cuts had forced residents to queue at wells to collect water, and the Britain-based group warned that some people were drinking unclean water, risking a spread of disease.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 civilians have fled the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor because of fierce clashes between rival Islamist groups, the Observatory said.

The group said the clashes between Al Nusra Front and the rival Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had killed 230 militants in the past 10 days.

Of those, 146 were members of Al Nusra and other Islamist brigades, including some who were executed by ISIL.

The clashes between the two groups in the oil-rich province began at the end of April and come after a wider backlash against ISIL that started in January.

ISIL, which grew from Al Qaeda’s Iraq branch, has been the target of a joint campaign by moderate and Islamist rebels as well as Al Nusra since early January.

The campaign has pushed it out of much of Aleppo and Idlib provinces, though it has strengthened its presence in the provincial capital of Raqa province.

ISIL was initially welcomed by some of the Syrian opposition, but its abuses of civilians and rebel forces sparked the backlash that begin this year.

In February, ISIL withdrew from most of Deir Ezzor under pressure, but in recent weeks it has advanced once again, the Observatory said, regaining territory in the west of the province.

The infighting among rebel groups has detracted from their objective of overthrowing the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, whose forces have been making gains across the country in recent months.

In a significant victory for the regime ahead of presidential elections on June 3 that Mr Al Assad is expected to win easily, most of the rebel forces in the central city of Homs left last week after holding out against a siege for nearly two years.

On Saturday, hundreds of former residents streamed back into the devastated Old City of Homs, picking through the ruins of their homes after rebels left the area.

They walked, rode bicycles and motorbikes, and pushed strollers down streets strewn with rubble.

Every building bore signs of the conflict, from bullet holes to enormous craters created by the shells that struck almost daily during the nearly two-year siege.

Many were visibly emotional at the sight of their former neighbourhoods, now rendered almost unrecognisable.

“The destruction is just horrible,” said Rima Battah, 37, in the Hamidiyeh district of the Old City.

A final convoy of rebels withdrew from the Old City on Friday, handing control of all but one district of Homs to the government under a deal negotiated between the regime and opposition forces.

As the rebels left, government troops swept the evacuated neighbourhoods for explosives.

The governor of Homs, Talal Barazi, told the state news agency Sana that the areas were now “safe and free of weapons and insurgents thanks to the sacrifices of the Syrian army”.

State television also carried live footage of the influx of residents, interviewing people who offered their thanks to the army and Mr Al Assad.

* Agence France-Presse

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Power: 536hp (including 138hp e-motor)
Torque: 750Nm (including 400Nm e-motor)
Price: From Dh1,380,000
On sale: now

SERIES INFO

Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, Abu Dhabi Sunshine Series

All matches at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Test series

1st Test: Zimbabwe beat Afghanistan by 10 wickets
2nd Test: Wednesday, 10 March – Sunday, 14 March

Play starts at 9.30am

T20 series

1st T20I: Wednesday, 17 March
2nd T20I: Friday, 19 March
3rd T20I: Saturday, 20 March

TV
Supporters in the UAE can watch the matches on the Rabbithole channel on YouTube

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FOLD5

Main display: 7.6" QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity Flex, 2176 x 1812, 21.6:18, 374ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz

Cover display: 6.2" HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2316 x 904, 23.1:9, 402ppi, up to 120Hz

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB (online exclusive)

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; dual nano-SIMs + eSIM

Colours: Cream, icy blue, phantom black; online exclusives – blue, grey

In the box: Fold5, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh6,799 / Dh7,249 / Dh8,149

SHADOWS AND LIGHT: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF JAMES MCBEY

Author: Alasdair Soussi

Pages: 300

Publisher: Scotland Street Press

Available: December 1

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Essentials

The flights
Emirates and Etihad fly direct from the UAE to Los Angeles, from Dh4,975 return, including taxes. The flight time is 16 hours. Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Aeromexico and Southwest all fly direct from Los Angeles to San Jose del Cabo from Dh1,243 return, including taxes. The flight time is two-and-a-half hours.

The trip
Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic’s eight-day Whales Wilderness itinerary costs from US$6,190 (Dh22,736) per person, twin share, including meals, accommodation and excursions, with departures in March and April 2018.

 

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

MO

Creators: Mohammed Amer, Ramy Youssef

Stars: Mohammed Amer, Teresa Ruiz, Omar Elba

Rating: 4/5

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

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company profile

Name: Infinite8

Based: Dubai

Launch year: 2017

Number of employees: 90

Sector: Online gaming industry

Funding: $1.2m from a UAE angel investor

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 

 

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

UAE's role in anti-extremism recognised

General John Allen, President of the Brookings Institution research group, commended the role the UAE has played in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

He told a Globsec debate of the UAE’s "hugely outsized" role in the fight against Isis.

"It’s trite these days to say that any country punches above its weight, but in every possible way the Emirates did, both militarily, and very importantly, the UAE was extraordinarily helpful on getting to the issue of violent extremism," he said.

He also noted the impact that Hedayah, among others in the UAE, has played in addressing violent extremism.