Saturday Star

Safe zones nixed

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SYRIA President Bashar alAssad has rejected the creation of safe zones for refugees and displaced people in the country, an idea favoured by rebel backers including Qatar and supported by US president Donald Trump, according to a transcript from an interview with Yahoo News released yesterday.

Assad signalled he would welcome co-operation with Washington in the fight against Islamic State, as long as the US took a “clear political position” on Syria’s sovereignt­y and unity.

Erdogan power bid

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has approved a constituti­onal refor m bill paving the way for an executive presidenti­al system, his office said, and a deputy prime minister said a referendum was expected on April 16.

The reform would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament – powers the two main opposition parties say strip away balances to Erdogan’s power.

Erdogan said the refor m would provide stability.

Yemeni ‘war crimes’

GENEVA: The Saudi-led coalition has intensifie­d air strikes on the key Yemeni port of Hodeidah, possibly trapping civilians and hampering a humanitari­an operation to import vital food and fuel supplies, the UN warned.

UN High Commission­er for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said possible war crimes had been documented with “alar ming frequency” since the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels backed by Iran erupted almost two years ago.

Kenya ‘disaster’

NAIROBI: Kenya is declaring the drought a national disaster and appealing for internatio­nal aid, saying lack of rain had affected almost half of its 47 regions.

The Kenya Red Cross said in a statement earlier this week about 2.7 million people were in need of food aid.

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