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Canadian extremist says Daesh foreign fighters ‘hung out to dry’

HASAKEH, Syria: A Canadian extremist detained in Syria told AFP on Sunday he has been “hung out to dry” by the Daesh group like other foreign fighters and appealed to his government for help.Mohammad Ali, 28, was captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) some nine months ago while trying to flee north into…

Canadian extremist says Daesh foreign fighters ‘hung out to dry’

HASAKEH, Syria: A Canadian extremist detained in Syria told AFP on Sunday he has been “hung out to dry” by the Daesh group like other foreign fighters and appealed to his government for help.Mohammad Ali, 28, was captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) some nine months ago while trying to flee north into Turkey with his Canadian wife and two children.He was interviewed at a detention center in the northeastern city of Hasakah in the presence of two members of the SDF, who are holding hundreds of foreign extremists.Ali, who joined Daesh in 2014 under the nom de guerre Abu Turab Al-Kanadi, said he had been interrogated by the American FBI, CIA and US defense officials, but never visited by a Canadian official.“Every time I get taken for an interrogation or an interview, I’m hoping it’s with someone from the Canadian government, someone that can clarify my situation and give me a bit of hope.”“Up until now, nothing,” he said. “I have nowhere else to go… How can they leave me sitting here like this in limbo?“The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria wants to send the prisoners back for trial, but governments in their countries of origin are often reluctant.Canada’s foreign ministry said it had opened a communication channel with Kurdish authorities but that there was no agreement on repatriation.The Families Against Violent Extremism (FAVE) non-profit said it knew of 25 Canadians held by the SDF.Ali was dressed in a grey robe, matching cap and tattered black sandals.He repeatedly said he was “exhausted” and often paused for long periods before mumbling an answer.Like many other captured accused Daesh members, he said he joined the group to fight President Bashar Assad’s government.He first worked in Deash’s lucrative oil ministry for four months because of his previous experience in Canada as an oil worker.During that time, he used a prominent Twitter account to call on others to join the extremists, but said he was never part of Daesh’s formal media apparatus.He spent the following three years as a fighter and trainer, but said he always refused to shoot civilians.“That’s not why I came here,” he said.AFP could not immediately verify the details of the account he gave of his time in the “caliphate.”Ali said he began doubting his decision to join Daesh in late 2016, as the extremists began to lose territory and turn against foreigners, including a Dutch friend of his who was executed by the group.“The foreigners feel they were left out, hung out to dry, they’ve been used and abused,” he said.He paid a smuggler to take his Canadian wife, who he met under Daesh in Syria, and their two young girls north from Deir Ezzor province to the Turkish border.Ali said he was planning to go to the Canadian embassy in Ankara but was caught by the SDF before crossing into Turkey.He said he has been unable to speak to his wife or daughters, or his family in Canada, since being detained.“All I think about is my wife and kids,” he said.Hundreds of Daesh-affiliated men, women and children have streamed out of the group’s shrinking pocket in east Syria in the past two months, but journalists and advocates have limited access to them.Ali said he was not aware of any SDF legal proceedings against him.Asked what kind of future he was most afraid of, he said he feared being handed over to Syrian regime forces.He is resigned to serving jail time at home but insisted he should not be considered in the same category as accused British Daesh executioners Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, also held by the SDF.“Now the foreigners are trying to leave, trying to get back home,” Ali told AFP.“But a lot of the Syrians and the Iraqis, they’re just melting back into the population, holding down for a while, and when things start again, they will rise back up.“It doesn’t really take a genius to figure this out. They have pockets in the desert, they have people intermingling with the population, acting as civilians, just biding their time.”

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Middle East News

Israel: Palestinian killed, 2 Israelis hurt in car ramming

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to protecting its country in the face of the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah.It came during his meeting in Washington with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. David Schenker, the assistant secretary of near eastern affairs, and David Hill,…

Israel: Palestinian killed, 2 Israelis hurt in car ramming

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to protecting its country in the face of the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah.It came during his meeting in Washington with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. David Schenker, the assistant secretary of near eastern affairs, and David Hill, undersecretary of state for political affairs, were also present.Pompeo also reassured Hariri of “the commitment of the United States to support Lebanon and its institutions, to preserve its security and stability, and to procure the needs of the Lebanese people.”He also praised “Lebanon’s commitment to providing support to more than one million Syrian refugees residing on its soil, who have fled the injustice of the Assad regime.”“We call for continuing the discussions related to the remaining points related to the Blue Line (the UN’s border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel) and the Lebanese maritime borders (with Israel). We are ready to mediate the maritime dispute between Lebanon and Israel and hope to reach concrete results,” Pompeo added.After the meeting, Hariri said he hoped to “reach a conclusive decision in the upcoming months regarding the border demarcation negotiations.” He thanked the US for its “continuous support for the Lebanese Army,” and restated Lebanon’s commitment to fighting terrorism.He also noted Lebanon’s “continuous support for the Cedar Conference (of international investors) and its investment plan, which is highly necessary to the Lebanese economy.” During a Cedar conference in Paris in April 2018, Lebanon secured pledges of $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants, which are dependent on economic reforms.Earlier, Hariri spent more than an hour with David Malpas, president of the World Bank, during which he assured the financier: “Lebanon’s relationship with the World Bank is very important and we continue to cooperate in various sectors, especially electricity, telecommunications and waste management.”The prime minister said that he also explained to Malbas “the challenges that we face in Lebanon on the economic and political levels.”Regarding the IMF’s reluctance to cooperate with Lebanon, Hariri said: “The IMF focuses mainly on the financial situation, while the World Bank is our partner and we are executing many projects with them.”Asked whether or not his meetings in Washington made him optimistic that Lebanon’s credit rating will improve, Hariri said: “I know that Lebanon’s financial figures are critical and we have a great challenge with (credit rating agency) Standard & Poor’s, and we are working on improving our rating. However, this does not mean that our situation is not good; on the contrary, we are taking all necessary steps that would lead us to safety. The most important thing is not to respond to bad news by not performing our duties, and to reach safety.”Lebanese authorities are awaiting the latest Standard & Poor’s report, which is due to be released on Aug. 23. They fear the nation’s credit rating will be downgraded to CCC, which would have negative repercussions on its economy, the banking sector and on the value of the Lebanese pound, especially given the strained political situation in the country at a time when it needs to begin implementing reforms required by Cedar investors.Hariri was concluding a visit to Washington that comes less than a week after the Lebanese government reconvened following 40 days of inactivity in the wake of an incident in Mount Lebanon on June 30, during which two bodyguards working for Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh Al-Gharib were shot and killed. This led to a political standoff between Druze leaders Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, and Talal Arslan, leader of the Democratic Party and an ally of Al-Gharib, who each blamed the other’s supporters for the violence. A reconciliation agreement was reached on Aug. 9.During his visit, Hariri also met Undersecretary of Defense John Rudd. They discussed “ways to support the Lebanese army and the security forces,” according to the prime minister’s office. He also met with Treasury officials, including Marshall Billingslea, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, in light of the announcement by the US of fresh sanctions on Hezbollah officials. On July 9, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Hezbollah MPs Amin Sherri and Mohammad Raad, and on Wafiq Safa, Hezbollah’s security chief.The US accuses Hezbollah of “using its members in the Lebanese Parliament to manipulate institutions to support the financial and security interests of the terrorist group and to promote malicious activities of Iran.” It also accuses Hezbollah of “threatening economic stability and security in Lebanon and the region as a whole, at the expense of the Lebanese people.”

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Pompeo praises Lebanese government for standing firm against Iranian threat

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to protecting its country in the face of the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah.It came during his meeting in Washington with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. David Schenker, the assistant secretary of near eastern affairs, and David Hill,…

Pompeo praises Lebanese government for standing firm against Iranian threat

BEIRUT: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday praised the commitment of the Lebanese government to protecting its country in the face of the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah.It came during his meeting in Washington with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. David Schenker, the assistant secretary of near eastern affairs, and David Hill, undersecretary of state for political affairs, were also present.Pompeo also reassured Hariri of “the commitment of the United States to support Lebanon and its institutions, to preserve its security and stability, and to procure the needs of the Lebanese people.”He also praised “Lebanon’s commitment to providing support to more than one million Syrian refugees residing on its soil, who have fled the injustice of the Assad regime.”“We call for continuing the discussions related to the remaining points related to the Blue Line (the UN’s border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel) and the Lebanese maritime borders (with Israel). We are ready to mediate the maritime dispute between Lebanon and Israel and hope to reach concrete results,” Pompeo added.After the meeting, Hariri said he hoped to “reach a conclusive decision in the upcoming months regarding the border demarcation negotiations.” He thanked the US for its “continuous support for the Lebanese Army,” and restated Lebanon’s commitment to fighting terrorism.He also noted Lebanon’s “continuous support for the Cedar Conference (of international investors) and its investment plan, which is highly necessary to the Lebanese economy.” During a Cedar conference in Paris in April 2018, Lebanon secured pledges of $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants, which are dependent on economic reforms.Earlier, Hariri spent more than an hour with David Malpas, president of the World Bank, during which he assured the financier: “Lebanon’s relationship with the World Bank is very important and we continue to cooperate in various sectors, especially electricity, telecommunications and waste management.”The prime minister said that he also explained to Malbas “the challenges that we face in Lebanon on the economic and political levels.”Regarding the IMF’s reluctance to cooperate with Lebanon, Hariri said: “The IMF focuses mainly on the financial situation, while the World Bank is our partner and we are executing many projects with them.”Asked whether or not his meetings in Washington made him optimistic that Lebanon’s credit rating will improve, Hariri said: “I know that Lebanon’s financial figures are critical and we have a great challenge with (credit rating agency) Standard & Poor’s, and we are working on improving our rating. However, this does not mean that our situation is not good; on the contrary, we are taking all necessary steps that would lead us to safety. The most important thing is not to respond to bad news by not performing our duties, and to reach safety.”Lebanese authorities are awaiting the latest Standard & Poor’s report, which is due to be released on Aug. 23. They fear the nation’s credit rating will be downgraded to CCC, which would have negative repercussions on its economy, the banking sector and on the value of the Lebanese pound, especially given the strained political situation in the country at a time when it needs to begin implementing reforms required by Cedar investors.Hariri was concluding a visit to Washington that comes less than a week after the Lebanese government reconvened following 40 days of inactivity in the wake of an incident in Mount Lebanon on June 30, during which two bodyguards working for Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh Al-Gharib were shot and killed. This led to a political standoff between Druze leaders Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, and Talal Arslan, leader of the Democratic Party and an ally of Al-Gharib, who each blamed the other’s supporters for the violence. A reconciliation agreement was reached on Aug. 9.During his visit, Hariri also met Undersecretary of Defense John Rudd. They discussed “ways to support the Lebanese army and the security forces,” according to the prime minister’s office. He also met with Treasury officials, including Marshall Billingslea, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, in light of the announcement by the US of fresh sanctions on Hezbollah officials. On July 9, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Hezbollah MPs Amin Sherri and Mohammad Raad, and on Wafiq Safa, Hezbollah’s security chief.The US accuses Hezbollah of “using its members in the Lebanese Parliament to manipulate institutions to support the financial and security interests of the terrorist group and to promote malicious activities of Iran.” It also accuses Hezbollah of “threatening economic stability and security in Lebanon and the region as a whole, at the expense of the Lebanese people.”

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Saudi-UAE committee in Aden ‘to oversee separatists withdrawal’

JEDDAH: A Saudi-UAE committee arrived in Aden Thursday to oversee the withdrawal of southern separatist troops from positions they seized last week from the government. The delegation arrived in the temporary Yemeni capital to ensure troops loyal to the Southern Transitional Council leave government institutions, Al Arabiya reported, citing a Yemeni government source. Yemeni presidential…

Saudi-UAE committee in Aden ‘to oversee separatists withdrawal’

JEDDAH: A Saudi-UAE committee arrived in Aden Thursday to oversee the withdrawal of southern separatist troops from positions they seized last week from the government.

The delegation arrived in the temporary Yemeni capital to ensure troops loyal to the Southern Transitional Council leave government institutions, Al Arabiya reported, citing a Yemeni government source.

Yemeni presidential guard forces took over Al-Maasheeq palace after the STC withdrew following calls from the Arab Coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the source said.

The government has ruled out talks with the STC until it hands over to the presidential guard all the positions it captured.

The separatists and the government, who are meant to be on the same side in the fight against the Houthis, clashed for several days after tensions overspilled at a commander’s funeral. 

The separatists seized the palace on Saturday and at least 40 people, including civilians, were killed in the fighting.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Monday urged forces in the city to observe a ceasefire.

The call followed talks in Mina between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Also Thursday, thousands of Yemenis rallied in Aden in support of the separatists.

South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990.

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