Türkiye Earthquake Could Cost $4b in Economic Losses

Rescue teams near a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Türkiye, as a result of a devastating earthquake. (EPA)
Rescue teams near a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Türkiye, as a result of a devastating earthquake. (EPA)
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Türkiye Earthquake Could Cost $4b in Economic Losses

Rescue teams near a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Türkiye, as a result of a devastating earthquake. (EPA)
Rescue teams near a collapsed building in the city of Kahramanmaras, southeastern Türkiye, as a result of a devastating earthquake. (EPA)

Fitch Ratings said insurable economic losses following the quakes (in Türkiye) could exceed $4 billion.

"Economic losses are hard to estimate as the situation is evolving, but they appear likely to exceed" $2 billion and could reach $4 billion "or more," Fitch Ratings said.

Insured losses will be much lower, possibly around $1 billion, due to low insurance coverage in the area, it added.

“We do not expect catastrophe bonds to be significantly affected as the earthquake risk they cover in the region is mostly limited to the Istanbul area,” according to Fitch.

In addition to 12,873 people killed in Türkiye, the country’s disaster management agency said that 62,937 have been injured.

A 7.7-magnitude quake struck early Monday, according to GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. It was followed by a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck at noon in addition to hundreds of aftershocks since then.



NATO Chief Tells Türkiye’s Erdogan That ‘The Time Has Come’ to Let Sweden Join the Alliance

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
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NATO Chief Tells Türkiye’s Erdogan That ‘The Time Has Come’ to Let Sweden Join the Alliance

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to The Associated Press at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he has told Türkiye’s president that “the time has come” to let Sweden become a member of the military alliance.

Türkiye and Hungary are the only NATO countries that have not yet formally approved Sweden’s accession bid.

Stoltenberg told The Associated Press that he urged Türkiye to finalize the process as he met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

“I met with President Erdogan this morning and I reiterated my message that the time has come to finalize the accession process for Sweden,” he said.

Türkiye has delayed ratification for more than a year, accusing Sweden of not taking Türkiye’s security concerns seriously enough, including its fight against Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers to be security threats.

An apparent breakthrough happened at a NATO summit in July when Erdogan said he would submit accession documents to Parliament, but a debate on the matter in the foreign affairs committee was adjourned last month without a decision.

Stoltenberg couldn’t say when he expected the ratification process to be completed.

“I’m not able to give an exact date, but I welcome the fact that just a few weeks ago President Erdogan submitted the papers for ratification to the Turkish Parliament,” the NATO leader said. “My message in the meeting today was, of course, that now the time has come to ensure that the Parliament finalizes its deliberations and concludes the ratification of Sweden as a formal NATO member.”

Sweden and neighboring Finland decided to drop their long-standing policy of non-alignment and apply for NATO membership following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Finland joined NATO in April. New members must be approved by all existing members of the alliance.


US Issues Fresh Sanctions over Shipment of Russian Oil above Price Cap

A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the US Treasury building in Washington, US, January 20, 2023. (Reuters)
A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the US Treasury building in Washington, US, January 20, 2023. (Reuters)
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US Issues Fresh Sanctions over Shipment of Russian Oil above Price Cap

A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the US Treasury building in Washington, US, January 20, 2023. (Reuters)
A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the US Treasury building in Washington, US, January 20, 2023. (Reuters)

The United States on Friday imposed additional sanctions related to the price cap on Russian oil, targeting three entities and three oil tankers as Washington seeks to close loopholes in the mechanism designed to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department in a statement accused those targeted on Friday of using price cap coalition services while carrying Russian crude oil above the agreed price cap.

It marks Washington's latest sanctions action cracking down on the shipment of oil above the Russian price cap as the United States seeks to enforce the punitive measures it has imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine, which has killed or wounded tens of thousands and reduced cities to rubble.

"Enforcement of the price cap on Russian oil is a top priority for the United States and our Coalition partners," Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the statement.

"By targeting these companies and their ships, we are upholding the dual goals of the price cap by restricting Russia’s profits from oil while promoting stable global energy markets."

The Treasury Department on Friday also issued a general license authorizing limited safety and environmental transactions involving those targeted, including transactions necessary for the safe docking and anchoring of the blocked vessels, until Feb. 29.


US to Impose Visa Bans Soon on Israeli Extremist Settlers

FILE PHOTO: A man stands near damaged objects after an Israeli settlers' attack near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A man stands near damaged objects after an Israeli settlers' attack near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta/File Photo
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US to Impose Visa Bans Soon on Israeli Extremist Settlers

FILE PHOTO: A man stands near damaged objects after an Israeli settlers' attack near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A man stands near damaged objects after an Israeli settlers' attack near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta/File Photo

The Biden administration has informed Israel that Washington will impose visa bans in the next few weeks on Israeli extremist settlers engaged in violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, a senior State Department official said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet have let them know that the United States will take its own action against an undisclosed number of individuals.
The West Bank, among the territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has experienced a surge of violence in recent months amid expanding Jewish settlements and a nearly decade-old impasse in US-sponsored peacemaking.
The violence, at a more-than-15-year high this year, surged further after Israel hurtled into a new war in the separate enclave of Gaza in response to Palestinian militant group Hamas unleashing the deadliest day in Israel's history on Oct. 7.
The United States has repeatedly expressed its concern over the rising violence in the West Bank, saying it must stop. US President Joe Biden, in a Nov. 18 Washington Post opinion piece threatened to take action against the perpetrators.
"I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank," Biden wrote.
The State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said Washington wants Israel to prosecute the perpetrators but has yet to see such a step.
The visa bans could come in the next few weeks, Reuters quoted the official as saying.
Daily settler attacks have more than doubled, UN figures show, since Hamas, which controls the coastal enclave of Gaza to Israel's southwest, killed 1,200 Israelis and took about 240 hostage. Israel has since bombed and invaded Gaza, killing more than 15,000 people.


Russia Says Advancing on All Fronts in Ukraine

Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose unit fire a mortar toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS
Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose unit fire a mortar toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS
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Russia Says Advancing on All Fronts in Ukraine

Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose unit fire a mortar toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS
Members of Ukraine's National Guard Omega Special Purpose unit fire a mortar toward Russian troops in the front line town of Avdiivka, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that the Russian military was advancing in all directions in Ukraine, the state news agency RIA reported.

Shoigu also said that Russia would hold naval drills, called Ocean-2024, next year.

The Ukrainian military shot down 18 out of 25 attack drones launched by Russia in its latest overnight strike, authorities said.

Kyiv's air force also reported destroying one out of two cruise missiles that had been launched.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the attack, which officials said was launched from southwestern Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea and was aimed primarily at eastern and southern Ukraine.


US, Partners Target NKorea with Sanctions after Satellite Launch

HANDOUT - 30 November 2023, North Korea: A picture released by the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) on 1 December 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and his daughter attending a ceremony as they visit the Korean People's Army's 1st Army Division Flight Regiment to commemorate the Air Force Day. Photo: -/kcna/dpa
HANDOUT - 30 November 2023, North Korea: A picture released by the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) on 1 December 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and his daughter attending a ceremony as they visit the Korean People's Army's 1st Army Division Flight Regiment to commemorate the Air Force Day. Photo: -/kcna/dpa
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US, Partners Target NKorea with Sanctions after Satellite Launch

HANDOUT - 30 November 2023, North Korea: A picture released by the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) on 1 December 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and his daughter attending a ceremony as they visit the Korean People's Army's 1st Army Division Flight Regiment to commemorate the Air Force Day. Photo: -/kcna/dpa
HANDOUT - 30 November 2023, North Korea: A picture released by the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) on 1 December 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and his daughter attending a ceremony as they visit the Korean People's Army's 1st Army Division Flight Regiment to commemorate the Air Force Day. Photo: -/kcna/dpa

The United States on Thursday targeted North Korea with fresh sanctions after its launch of a spy satellite last week, designating foreign-based agents it accused of facilitating sanctions evasion to gather revenue and technology for its weapons of mass destruction program.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it also applied sanctions to cyber espionage group Kimsuky, accusing it of gathering intelligence to support North Korea's strategic and nuclear ambitions.

Thursday's action, taken in coordination with Australia, Japan and Korea, comes after North Korea last week successfully launched its first reconnaissance satellite, which it has said was designed to monitor US and South Korean military movements.

"Today's actions by the United States, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea reflect our collective commitment to contesting Pyongyang's illicit and destabilizing activities," Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

"We will remain focused on targeting these key nodes in the DPRK's illicit revenue generation and weapons proliferation," Nelson added, calling North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korea's foreign ministry said on Friday that it had blacklisted 11 North Koreans for involvement in the country's satellite and ballistic missile development, banning them from any financial transactions.

The list includes senior officials from the National Aerospace Technology Administration, which oversaw the satellite launch, and the munitions industry department.

Since the launch of the satellite, North Korea said that its leader, Kim Jong Un, has reviewed spy satellite photos of the White House, Pentagon and US aircraft carriers at the naval base of Norfolk. Its state media has also reported that the satellite photographed cities and military bases in South Korea, Guam, and Italy, in addition to Washington.

Kim has called for his military to be ready to respond to any "provocation" by the enemy, state media said on Friday, after Pyongyang vowed to deploy stronger armed forces and new weapons along its border with the South.

Visiting North Korea's air force command on Thursday to the branch's airmen day, Kim rolled out guidelines to improve the military's combat posture and increase "its capabilities to fight a war to the full," news agency KCNA reported.
"He set forth operational and tactical policies ... so as to counter any military provocation and threat of the enemy immediately and powerfully," KCNA said.
That stop was followed by a visit to a fighter wing, where pilots staged a demonstration flight, it said.
Photographs released by state media showed Kim and his daughter, both dressed in long leather jackets, watching the show.
Kim praised the air force for being "fully prepared to perfectly carry out their air combat missions under any unfavorable situation," KCNA said.


Do Not Ignore Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Warns Grossi

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner
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Do Not Ignore Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Warns Grossi

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has urged world powers to relaunch talks with Iran and not lose sight of the risks posed by its stockpiling of enriched uranium while attention has turned to the war between Israel and Hamas.

“There needs to be some recreation of a system of dialogue with Iran,” Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Financial Times.

“People may not be looking at [Iran’s nuclear ambitions], but the problem exists.”

The war has upended efforts by the US government to de-escalate tensions with Iran as it sought to contain the nuclear crisis.

In September, the US and Iran completed an exchange of prisoners after months of negotiations and Washington unfroze $6 billion of Iranian oil funds held in South Korea.

Alongside the prisoner swap deal, Tehran and Washington agreed to de-escalatory measures that some hoped could lay a platform for more talks on reducing Iran’s nuclear activity.

Grossi said talks with Iran might require a new framework, rather than an attempt to revive the 2015 accord — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — that has floundered since the US abandoned it in 2018 under former president Donald Trump.

“Trying to put [a nuclear deal] back into the JCPOA box wouldn’t work,” Grossi said. “You can still call it a JCPOA but it should be a JCPOA 2.0 or something because you have to adapt.”

He also said the situation surrounding Iran’s nuclear program was “very uncertain” and urged nations to “sit down and re-engage.”

Iran has ramped up its nuclear activity since 2019 in response to the US exit from the JCPOA and the imposition of crippling sanctions on it. It is enriching uranium at its highest-ever level, although Tehran has denied wanting nuclear arms.

Tehran’s stockpiling of uranium enriched to nearly weapons-grade was continuing, although it had slowed in recent months, Grossi added.

Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent, close to weapons grade, grew nearly 7 kg from mid-August to the end of October, the latest IAEA reports showed, when it had been increasing at a pace of 15 kg or more previously.

US officials say Iran has the capacity to produce enough fissile material required to develop a nuclear weapon in about two weeks.

Grossi said other obstacles to the pursuit of nuclear talks with Iran included domestic distractions, pointing to “the political situation in individual countries” that was preventing some from fully engaging, without naming who he was referring to.

Iran will hold parliamentary elections in March, while the US is due to hold a presidential election at the end of next year.

“We’re not asking for people to put pressure on Iran but to engage with us,” Grossi said. “For this thing to succeed there must be a minimum level of consensus in the international community.”


US Says Helping Prepare Ukraine for Expected Russia Winter Attack

Rescues work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine November 30, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Donetsk region/Handout via REUTERS
Rescues work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine November 30, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Donetsk region/Handout via REUTERS
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US Says Helping Prepare Ukraine for Expected Russia Winter Attack

Rescues work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine November 30, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Donetsk region/Handout via REUTERS
Rescues work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine November 30, 2023. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Donetsk region/Handout via REUTERS

The US has been working with Ukraine to prepare for Russia's expected winter attack, including helping to provide equipment and supplies to keep people from losing heat and electricity, said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

Kirby said the US expects Russia will try to destroy Ukraine's critical energy infrastructure this winter.

US President Joe Biden asked Congress last month to approve $106 billion in national security funding, including aid for Ukraine as it battles the Russian invasion, support for Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and money for additional security at the US border with Mexico.

Russian missiles tore through apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, local officials said Thursday, killing at least two people and burying families under rubble as the Kremlin’s forces continued to pound the fiercely contested area with long-range weapons.
Russian military units simultaneously launched six S-300 missiles toward the Donetsk region during the night, according to Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko. Another two were fired separately in the same area, the Ukrainian air force said.
The simultaneous missile strikes hit three Donetsk cities — Pokrovsk, Novohrodivka and Myrnohrad, Klymenko said. The cities lie 25-40 kilometers (15-25 miles) from the front line.
The battlefield has seen few major changes in recent months. A Ukrainian counteroffensive that started in June dented deep Russian defenses in some areas but has failed to change the complexion of the 22-month war.
Moscow has held firm in most of the areas it occupies while using the long-range weapons to inflict damage on Ukraine, including civilian areas.
Emergency workers pulled the body of a 62-year-old man from the wreckage of a destroyed multi-story building in Novohrodivka. Another death was reported in the same city by Ukraine’s Emergency Service. Four more people may be under the rubble, including a child, authorities said.
In Pokrovsk, the strikes destroyed a multi-story building, nine houses, a police office and cars. Emergency crews helped rescue a man with a 6-month-old baby, covered in blood, in his hands, officials said.
The head of the city administration, Serhii Dobriak, said it was fourth time Pokrovsk came under attack in the past month.
“They are striking the city center, the houses,” he said. “They are just destroying the civilian population.”
He urged people to evacuate because “the intensity of strikes is increasing.”
All three of the targeted cities are close to Avdiivka, a city where a fierce battle has taken place in recent months.
Avdiivka is a gateway to parts of the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control.
Ukrainian officials said recently that Russian forces have ramped up attacks in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to gain ground near Avdiivka and around Bakhmut, another key front-line city.
In southern Ukraine, Russian forces shelled residential areas in the Kherson region, damaging critical infrastructure and a school, the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. One person was killed, the office said.
Ambulance paramedics came under fire in the village of Kindiika, where a doctor was wounded on Wednesday evening, according to the president's office. In Darivka, another Kherson region village, four people were injured as 10 houses, a hospital and a kindergarten were damaged during the night, the office said.
Zelenskyy on Thursday visited troops in Kupiansk, an area of fighting in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
“I know that every day you are losing your close people, your war buddies,” he told soldiers, according to a video posted on his Telegram channel. “You should know that everyone is aware that this is the highest price. That’s why I ask you to take care of yourselves.”
It was the Ukrainian leader's second straight day of touring battle areas across the country. On Wednesday he visited cities in southern Ukraine.
He has frequently made such visits during the war as he tries to keep up morale.


Germany Arrests French Woman who Allegedly Committed War Crimes after Joining ISIS

A giant ferris wheel stands on the Christmas market near the Berlin palace in Berlin, Germany November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
A giant ferris wheel stands on the Christmas market near the Berlin palace in Berlin, Germany November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
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Germany Arrests French Woman who Allegedly Committed War Crimes after Joining ISIS

A giant ferris wheel stands on the Christmas market near the Berlin palace in Berlin, Germany November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
A giant ferris wheel stands on the Christmas market near the Berlin palace in Berlin, Germany November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

German authorities said Thursday they had arrested a French woman who allegedly committed war crimes in Syria after joining ISIS.

Germany's federal prosecutor said the woman, who was only identified as Samra N. in line with German privacy rules, was arrested Tuesday in the western city of Trier.
The woman is suspected of having participated as a member of two foreign terrorist organizations as a teenager, the prosecutor's statement said, according to The Associated Press.
She allegedly traveled to Syria in September 2013, where she first joined Jabhat al-Nusra and married one of the group's fighters. In November 2013, the couple joined ISIS.

While in Syria, N. allegedly tried to persuade people living in Germany to also go to Syria to become a member of Jabhat al-Nusra. She also temporarily took in a woman who had been persuaded to leave the country in this way.
The suspect ran the household for her husband and helped him procure military equipment for ISIS, according to the charges.
On two occasions, when her husband was away on combat missions, she stayed in women’s houses that ISIS had occupied after driving out the original residents, which Germany considers a “war crime against property.”
N. returned to Germany at the beginning of 2014, but remained a member of ISIS until at least February 2015, prosecutors said. It was not immediately clear why, as a French citizen, she went to Germany.


Suspected Syrian Pro-regime Fighter Goes on Trial in the Netherlands

A police officer walks near an Apple store in central Amsterdam during a hostage incident in the store, in Amsterdam, Netherlands February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
A police officer walks near an Apple store in central Amsterdam during a hostage incident in the store, in Amsterdam, Netherlands February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
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Suspected Syrian Pro-regime Fighter Goes on Trial in the Netherlands

A police officer walks near an Apple store in central Amsterdam during a hostage incident in the store, in Amsterdam, Netherlands February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
A police officer walks near an Apple store in central Amsterdam during a hostage incident in the store, in Amsterdam, Netherlands February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

A suspected Syrian pro-government militia member on trial in the Netherlands on Thursday refused to answer any questions from judges about allegations that he was involved in the arrest and torture of at least two people in Syria in 2012.

The 35-year-old man, identified only as Mustafa A., faces charges of war crimes and crimes again humanity for arresting at least two people and handing them over to Syrian Air Force intelligence officials who ran a prison where they were tortured.

It is the first Dutch war crimes trial of a suspect accused of fighting on the side of the government of President Bashar al-Assad during the Syrian conflict.

According to prosecutors, Mustafa A. was a leading member of the Liwa al-Quds, or the Jerusalem Brigade. Liwa al-Quds is a militia made up mostly of Palestinian refugees living in Syria founded during the early years of Syria's 12-year war.

On the first day of the trial, judges quoted witnesses who said the suspect was a prominent Liwa al-Quds member involved in their violent arrests and gave details of beatings and torture they endured in prison.

Despite being asked numerous times for a reaction to the declarations and excerpts from his own police interviews and intercepted phone calls Mustafa A. invoked his right to remain silent at every turn, Reuters reported.
The suspect, arrested last year, had been living in the Netherlands since 2020 and had applied for asylum there.


Khamenei: Al-Aqsa Flood Operation Aims to ‘Eradicate America’

A picture distributed by the Fars Agency of Khamenei’s address to supporters on Wednesday.
A picture distributed by the Fars Agency of Khamenei’s address to supporters on Wednesday.
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Khamenei: Al-Aqsa Flood Operation Aims to ‘Eradicate America’

A picture distributed by the Fars Agency of Khamenei’s address to supporters on Wednesday.
A picture distributed by the Fars Agency of Khamenei’s address to supporters on Wednesday.

Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that the Al-Aqsa Flood operation ostensibly targeted the “Zionist occupation entity”, but in reality its goal was to “eradicate America.”
Fars News Agency quoted Khamenei as saying: “These operations have been able to confuse the agenda of US policies in the region, and they will continue, God willing.”
He added that the attacks committed by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza have unveiled the true image of the West.
“The brutal and inhumane operations committed by the Zionist entity against the people of Gaza did not only expose this entity and America, but also exposed well-known European countries and Western civilization and culture.”
Khamenei went on to say: “[...] When the Zionists kill 5,000 Palestinian children by throwing phosphorus bombs, the Westerners support this crime and say: Israel has the right to defend itself. This is Western culture.”
Khamenei also pointed to the American position on Lebanon, stressing that the US plans have failed.
“They were saying that they wanted to create a new Middle East... They failed to achieve this goal... They wanted to eliminate Lebanon’s Hezbollah, but their plan has led to increasing Hezbollah’s strength tenfold.”
On Iraq and Syria, the Iranian leader noted that the US administration was far from reaching its objectives.

“The Americans wanted to swallow Iraq, but they failed to do so, and they wanted to seize Syria by sending their elements to fight against ISIS and Al-Nusra... and they provided all kinds of support to them over 10 years... but could not achieve this goal...” he stated.