Le­banon’s protesters main­tain a united front

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES HAINES-YOUNG Beirut

Road­blocks set up by protesters near the cen­tre of Beirut were lifted yes­ter­day morn­ing.

The move, how­ever, was not a vic­tory for the se­cu­rity forces, who made sev­eral un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts on Satur­day to open the main ring road. It was in­stead a move by those on the streets to al­low more to join their ranks for what ac­tivists said was go­ing to be a ma­jor rally on the 11th day of na­tion­wide protests.

At the main protest sites around Mar­tyrs and Riad Al Solh squares, com­mu­nity spa­ces sprang up, run­ning arts and crafts work­shops for chil­dren. Peo­ple gath­ered there to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the anti-govern­ment move­ment and the coun­try as traders did brisk busi­ness sell­ing wa­ter and snacks.

On Satur­day, po­lice and the army tried to clear protesters from a stretch of the ring road that con­nects east and west Beirut, be­fore an­other group blocked the road far­ther along. After sev­eral hours go­ing back and forth, the po­lice ap­peared to give up about night­fall and cede

from north­ern Syria, which led to a Turk­ish of­fen­sive against al­lied Kur­dish fight­ers in which dozens were killed.

At least seven other peo­ple were killed in the raid, which was named after mur­dered ISIS hostage and US cit­i­zen Kayla Mueller. They in­cluded Al Bagh­dadi’s two wives, his son, his body­guard Gazwan Al Rawi, his per­sonal as­sis­tant Abu Saaed Al Iraqi, Abu Al Ya­man Al Shami, the fig­ure in charge of ISIS’s se­cu­rity in Syria, and Abu Mo­hammed Al Hal­abi, a se­nior leader of a mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion in Idlib known as the Hur­ras Al Din, or Re­li­gious Guards, a se­cu­rity ad­viser to the Iraqi govern­ment told The Na­tional.

Al Bagh­dadi was liv­ing at Al Hal­abi’s house. The lo­ca­tion was hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres from where he was be­lieved to be hid­ing.

It had long been thought in in­tel­li­gence cir­cles that Al Bagh­dadi was in ISIS-con­trolled pock­ets along the Syr­ian-Iraqi bor­der.

But ISIS lost their last sliver of ter­ri­tory in March when the ham­let of Baghouz was re­claimed by the Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces, an Arab-Kur­dish coali­tion of fight­ers lead­ing the ground bat­tles against the ter­ror­ist group in Syria.

Iraq con­firmed yes­ter­day that its Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice found Al Bagh­dadi’s lo­ca­tion and pro­vided it to the United States.

“After con­stant mon­i­tor­ing and the for­ma­tion of a spe­cial task force over an en­tire year, the Iraqi Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, act­ing on ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion, was able to lo­cate the den in which … Al Bagh­dadi and those with him were hid­ing in the Syr­ian prov­ince of Idlib,” the Iraqi mil­i­tary said.

“The Iraqi in­tel­li­gence ser­vices man­aged to re­cruit a mem­ber of that net­work in ex­change for a large sum of money,” he said.

An­other Iraqi of­fi­cial said that the coun­try’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vices pro­vided the ex­act co-or­di­nates of Al Bagh­dadi’s lo­ca­tion after ar­rest­ing two mem­bers of his in­ner cir­cle. The ar­rests led them to a safe house in west­ern Iraq and more ev­i­dence about his plans in Syria, the of­fi­cial told Reuters.

Al Bagh­dadi has been in hid­ing for five years and the US had of­fered a re­ward of $25 mil­lion (Dh91.8m) in re­turn for his cap­ture or death.

He last ap­peared on Septem­ber 16 in a 30-minute au­dio mes­sage.

Al Bagh­dadi had been er­ro­neously re­ported dead on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.