ISIS Retakes Nearly Half of Syria’s Albu Kamal

People inspect damaged areas in Deir Ezzor on March 3, 2013. Reuters Photo
People inspect damaged areas in Deir Ezzor on March 3, 2013. Reuters Photo
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ISIS Retakes Nearly Half of Syria’s Albu Kamal

People inspect damaged areas in Deir Ezzor on March 3, 2013. Reuters Photo
People inspect damaged areas in Deir Ezzor on March 3, 2013. Reuters Photo

ISIS militants have retaken nearly half of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria in a counter-attack on what had been the last significant town under their full control, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday.

"ISIS started counter-attacking on Thursday night and retook more than 40 percent of the town of Albu Kamal," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitor, told Agence France Presse.

Syrian regime forces and allied fighters, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, had recaptured the town, which lies on the border with Iraq in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, from the militants on Thursday.

Albu Kamal lies at the heart of what used to be the sprawling "caliphate" the extremist organization declared in 2014 over swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"The militants went back in and retook several neighborhoods in the north, northeast and northwest," Abdel Rahman said. "ISIS is trying to defend its last bastion."

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition told Reuters on Friday that it does not have "any releasable information concerning the whereabouts" of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A military media unit run by Hezbollah said on Friday that Baghdadi was reported present in Albu Kamal during the operation to clear it.

The military unit did not say what had happened to Baghdadi, give further details or identify its sources.



Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Egypt needs to import around $1.18 billion worth of mazut fuel oil and natural gas to end persistent power cuts exacerbated by consecutive heat waves, its Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised address on Tuesday.

It hopes the shipments will arrive in full around the third week of July, by which point the government aims to stop cutting power during the remaining summer months, he added.

It has already started contracting for 300,000 tons of mazut worth $180 million to boost its strategic reserves which are expected to arrive early next week.

Egypt's government on Monday extended daily power cuts to three hours from two hours previously in response to a surge in domestic electricity consumption during the latest heat wave.

These three-hour cuts will continue until the end of June, before returning to two hours in the first half of July with the aim of stopping completely for the rest of the summer, Madbouly said on Tuesday.

Egyptian social media has lit up with complaints about the impact of the blackouts, with some saying they have been forced to purchase private power generators.

The problem has particularly affected teenagers preparing for the crucial high school certificate, with some posting about students studying by candlelight and others in coffee shops.

A wedding hall owner in the coastal city of Port Said said he would turn one of his ballrooms into a study hall.

Since July last year, load shedding linked to falling gas production, rising demand and a shortage of foreign currency has led to scheduled two-hour daily power cuts in most areas.

"We had said that we planned to end load shedding by the end of 2024... we do not have a power generation problem or a network problem, we are unable to provide fuel," Madbouly said on Tuesday.

"With the increase in consumption related to the major development and population increase, there has been a lot of pressure on our dollar resources," he added.

He said production in a neighboring country's gas field had come to a full halt for 12 hours leading to an interruption in the supply, without naming the country or the gas field.

Egypt's Abu Qir Fertilizers said on Tuesday three of its plants had halted production because their supply of natural gas was cut.