Turk­ish leader slammed for song de­mand

ISIS suf­fers an­other set­back af­ter los­ing con­trol of town

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

A week af­ter tak­ing back the his­toric town of Palmyra, gov­ern­ment troops and their al­lies have cap­tured an­other town con­trolled by ISIS in cen­tral Syria.

State me­dia re­ported that the push into the town of Qary­atain took place un­der the cover of Rus­sian airstrikes and dealt an­other set­back to the ex­trem­ists.

How­ever, an ac­tivist group that mon­i­tors the civil war said the gov­ern­ment forces for the mo­ment con­trol more than half of Qary­atain but have not fully se­cured the town.

The ad­vance came a week af­ter Syr­ian forces re­cap­tured Palmyra from ISIS and is strate­gi­cally sig­nif­i­cant for the gov­ern­ment side.

The town of Qary­atain used to be home to a size­able Chris­tian pop­u­la­tion and lies mid­way be­tween Palmyra and the cap­i­tal, Da­m­as­cus.

Ac­tivists said last sum­mer that Qary­atain had a mixed pop­u­la­tion of about 40,000 Sunni Mus­lims and Chris­tians, as well as thou­sands of in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple who had fled from the nearby city of Homs. Many of the Chris­tians fled the town af­ter it came un­der ISIS at­tack.

Dozens of Chris­tians and other res­i­dents were ab­ducted by the ex­trem­ists. While the town was un­der ISIS con­trol, some were re­leased and oth­ers were made to sign pledges to pay a tax im­posed on non-Mus­lims.

While ISIS blew up and de­stroyed some of the world’s most pre­cious relics in Palmyra dur­ing their 10-month reign of ter­ror there, the an­cient Saint Eliane Monastery near Qary­atain was also bull­dozed and de­stroyed shortly af­ter ISIS took the town in Au­gust.

Mean­while, an ISIS af­fil­i­ate in Saudi Ara­bia claimed that its mil­i­tants det­o­nated two ex­plo­sive de­vices in front of a police sta­tion in the city of Al Dalam, set­ting fire to three police ve­hi­cles.

The at­tack took place late on Satur­day. No deaths or in­juries were re­ported. The head of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has crit­i­cised Tur­key for com­plain­ing about a Ger­man satir­i­cal song that poked fun at Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. Martin Schulz said in an in­ter­view pub­lished yes­ter­day that “it’s in­tol­er­a­ble that the pres­i­dent of an­other coun­try de­mands we re­strict demo­cratic rights in Ger­many be­cause he feels ridiculed.” Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry sum­moned the Ger­man am­bas­sador to de­mand the clip’s re­moval from the web­site of Ger­man pub­lic broad­caster ARD. Ger­man weekly Bild am Son­ntag quoted Schulz call­ing the move “com­pletely un­ten­able”. Schulz, who is Ger­man, said Europe shouldn’t re­main silent about hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Tur­key ei­ther “just be­cause we’re co­op­er­at­ing with them on the refugee is­sue.” Un­der a deal with Ankara, refugees ar­riv­ing in Greece from Tur­key be­gin­ning today will be sent back to Tur­key. The plan sparked demon­stra­tions by res­i­dents in both coun­tries on Satur­day, with pro­test­ers in Idomeni in Greece de­mand­ing the evac­u­a­tion of a camp there and hun­dreds in the Turk­ish town of Dik­ili protest­ing against the prospect of host­ing peo­ple ex­pelled from the nearby Greek is­lands.

FORCES: Syr­ian and Rus­sian troops stand near a car with a col­lage of the faces of Vladimir

Putin and Bashar Al As­sad

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