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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Syria - Russian strikes on Idlib kill 8 including children

BEIRUT - At least eight people, including five children, were killed Tuesday in Russian air strikes on a school in northwest Syria sheltering displaced civilians, according to a war monitor.
The strikes targeted the village of Jubass near the town of Saraqeb in southern Idlib province, killing civilians sheltering in and near a school, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Since Thursday, regime forces supported by Russian airstrikes have taken control of dozens of towns and villages in the area.
They are now less than four kilometres (two miles) from the strategic city of Maaret al-Numan, the head of the Britain-based monitor, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
On Tuesday, jihadist fighters and rebels managed to retake Talmanes and an adjacent village, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources across Syria.
Idlib is dominated by the country's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The region hosts some three million people including many displaced by years of violence in other parts of Syria.
The Damascus regime, which now controls 70 percent of Syria, has repeatedly vowed to take back the area.
Backed by Moscow, Damascus launched a blistering offensive against Idlib in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people.
Despite a ceasefire announced in August, the bombardment has continued, killing hundreds of civilians and fighters.
Syria's war has killed over 370,000 people and displaced millions since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Iraqi protesters mourn dead activist

DIWANIYAH - Hundreds of anti-government protesters marched Wednesday in southern Iraq to mourn a dead activist after a night during which the headquarters of two pro-Iran militias were set on fire, a correspondent reported.

The demonstrators oppose the political class that has run the oil-rich yet poverty-hit country since a 2003 US-led invasion overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein. They accuse leaders of enriching themselves and of being beholden to neighbour Iran.
Thaer al-Tayeb, a prominent activist from the city of Diwaniya, went to Baghdad's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the unprecedented revolt shaking Iraq, when the rallies started nearly three months ago.
A suspicious explosion hit Tayeb's car on December 15, badly wounding him and fellow activist Ali al-Madani, back in Tayeb's hometown 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Baghdad.
After Tayeb's death in hospital was announced Tuesday, crowds of demonstrators rushed to the two local headquarters of pro-Iran militias and torched them.
First they set fire to the building of the powerful Badr organisation, run by the parliamentary head of the pro-Iran paramilitaries, Hadi al-Ameri.
Then they torched the headquarters of Assaib Ahl al-Haq, a group whose head Qais al-Khazali is subject to sanctions by the United States, accused of "kidnapping, murder and torture".
Protesters also blocked roads with burning car tyres in the southern city of Basra.
Around 460 protesters have been killed since the start of the demonstrations in early October and 25,000 have been wounded.
Rallies have continued despite a campaign of intimidation that has included targeted killings and abductions of activists, which the United Nations blames on militias.
After dwindling in recent weeks following a string of killings, the protest campaign has rediscovered its vigour at a time when political factions are wrangling over a replacement for outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi.
He quit in November in the face of the massive protests, and negotiations to fill his post have remained deadlocked since the latest in a series of deadlines expired at midnight on Sunday.

KANO, NIGERIA - Boko Haram jihadists have killed seven people on Christmas Eve

KANO, NIGERIA - Boko Haram jihadists have killed seven people on Christmas Eve in a raid on a Christian village near the town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, local militia and residents told AFP Wednesday.
Dozens of fighters driving trucks and motorcycles stormed into Kwarangulum late Tuesday, shooting fleeing residents and burning homes after looting food supplies.

Boko Haram and its IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction have recently stepped up attacks on military and civilian targets.
"They killed seven people and abducted a teenage girl in the attack," local vigilante David Bitrus said.
"They took away food stuff and burnt many houses before leaving," he said, adding that a church was also burnt.
The jihadists were believed to have attacked from Boko Haram's nearby Sambisa forest enclave, said Chibok community leader Ayuba Alamson who confirmed the toll.
In April, Boko Haram raided Kwarangulum, 16 kilometres (10 miles) from Chibok, stealing food and burning the entire village.
Residents had managed to flee before the arrival of the jihadists following tip-off from people who saw the gunmen heading toward the village.
Chibok is the scene of the mass kidnap of 276 schoolgirls in 2014 by Boko Haram which sparked global outrage and drew international attention to the group's notoriety.
Fifty-seven of the girls escaped shortly after the kidnap. Another 107 have been either rescued or released after negotiations while 112 remain in captivity.
Troops have been stationed in Chibok since the kidnap but deadly Boko Haram raids continue in the area.
The decade-long conflict has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in the northeast, according to the United Nations.
The violence has spread to nearby Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the jihadist groups.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Italy: Serie A slammed for anti-racism campaign showing 3 monkeys (Western, Asian, Black)

Italy's top football league, Serie A, has received widespread criticism after selecting paintings of three monkeys to adorn the walls of its Milan headquarters as it launched an anti-racism campaign on Monday.

The artwork was commissioned following ongoing accusations of racism within Italian football.
Sports website Football Italia tweeted an image of the video, commenting: "Yes, it's really real."
"With this trio of paintings, I would like to show that we are all the same race," artist Simone Fugazzotto said.
"In fact, when the Lega commissioned a work against racism last May, I immediately thought to paint a western monkey, an Asian monkey and a black monkey, because I would like to change people's perceptions by my work," he added.