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A wave of deadly explosions rock Iraqi cities, Human Rights Watch blames all sides for crisis in Somalia, Tunisians take to the streets to denounce the transitional government, and more.
Al Jazeera English | Jul 21
As government forces in Syria seek to regain control of rebel-held areas, fighting in the country has gained siginifcant traction in Aleppo, the co...
Syrian army shells Latakia for third consecutive day [New TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Male # 1
The Syrian army renewed its shelling of several neighborhoods in Latakia, stormed the Palestinian camp of al-Ramel, and the city of Hula in Homs province. Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, denies that Syrian security forces used gunboats to shell Latakia.
Reporter, Female # 1
For the third consecutive day, the Syrian scene is of the shelling of Latakia neighborhoods, most notably al-Ramel al-Janoubi, considered one the poorest area in the city. In addition, the Palestinian al-Ramel camp, which is home to 10,000 refugees, and al-Sakanturi were shelled. The outcome was the killing of civilians, including a woman on board a bus carrying a family fleeing al-Sakanturi. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the Syrian army renewed its shelling of several areas in the city and stormed al-Ramel camp. The observatory indicated that security forces sealed off the city's Ugarit Square and set up checkpoints, asking for identification cards and searching cars, and indicated that the number of detainees has exceeded 300 so far. The observatory confirmed that a convoy of tanks, armored vehicles, and personnel carriers entered the area of al-Hula in Homs province and began a wide-scale arrest campaign. And while rights organizations say the Syrian regime used gunships to shell Latakia, a high-ranking Syrian military official categorically denied any naval bombardment of the al-Ramel al-Janoubi neighborhood in the city. SANA confirmed that security forces are pursuing armed men terrorizing citizens and sabotaging private and public properties. It added that gunmen are using machine guns and explosives from behind barricades and are shooting from rooftops. It indicated that two members of a security unit were killed and 14 were injured while carrying out their duties.
Presenter, Male # 2
A Syrian military source denied claims of a naval bombardment of al-Ramel al-Janoubi neighborhood in Latakia as reported by media outlets inciting unrest. The source confirmed the news is completely baseless, adding that gunboats were on a routine patrol to protect the coast and prevent weapons' smuggling into the country, as it has occurred in other areas.
Guest, Male # 3
I am a resident of the Palestinian al-Ramel camp and I deny and condemn all these allegations. There are some armed men who are trying to kill soldiers.
Guest, Male # 5
They want freedom, so they set up checkpoints. They think this is an emirate. They have weapons and are shooting from rooftops. They are firing at the army.
Reporter, Female # 1
The Syrian Observatory announced that the army stormed a number of areas in Hama's countryside amid heavy gunfire and launched an arrest campaign. Syrian state-run TV broadcast videos of Hama, confirming that the city is regaining vitality and that official business has resumed. Politically, the Palestine Liberation Organization issued a statement denouncing the storming of al-Ramel camp in Latakia and the displacement of its residents. UNRWA announced that over 5,000 refugees fled the camp due to the shelling and demanded Damascus allow it to enter the camp. In addition, Jordanian Prime Minister Maaruf al-Bakhit called on his Syrian counterpart Adel Safar to immediately put an end to the violence in Syria and to begin implementing reforms and resort to dialogue.
A wave of deadly explosions rock Iraqi cities [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male # 1
A number of explosions rocked many Iraqi cities today. From Baghdad, we are joined by journalist Abdallah Badran. Mr. Badran, what are the latest developments on the events?
Guest, Male # 2 (Abdallah Badran, Journalist in Baghdad)
Yes, today, the Iraqi capital Baghdad witnessed the injury of dozens of people, including security forces, when a car driven by a suicide bomber exploded in northern Baghdad. In addition, security forces were injured in southern Baghdad, in the Alilam neighborhood, after an explosive device was detonated. The Chairman of Iraq's Technical Education Commission, Mahmoud al-Mulla, escaped an assassination attempt. A booby-trapped vehicle blew up near his motorcade in Baghdad's al-Mansour district, west of Baghdad. These have the most powerful explosions seen in Iraq since the beginning of the year. In Wasit province, an explosive device and a booby-trapped car targeted the market in the heart of Kut, the center of the province. This led to the killing of 34 people and the injury of over 70. Al-Najaf also witnessed a twin car bomb attack, which targeted a checkpoint in the center of al-Najaf and led to the killing of six people and the injury of over 60. Karbala was also the victim of a car explosion that targeted the al-Hindiyah police headquarters in eastern Karbala. As for Ninewa province, one civilian was killed and two others were injured in a sticky bomb that was placed on an electric pole. Another civilian was killed in a sticky bomb in al-Fisaliya district. Babel witnessed an explosion in the northern town of Iskandariyah. The worse explosions after Wasit took place in Diyala province, where five people were killed and over 17 were injured, including three security forces, in a booby-trapped car that exploded in the town of Bani Sa'ad. There was also an armed attack on an Iraqi army checkpoint in northeastern Baqubah, in which four soldiers were killed. A number of police members were injured in a roadside bomb explosion that targeted their patrol in the town of Kanaan. Fourteen people, including security forces, were hit by twin explosions that targeted the passport office in northeastern Baqubah. One policeman was killed and another was injured in an attack on a checkpoint.
Presenter, Male # 1
So Mr. Abdallah, there was a large number of explosions and victims. You can barely catch your breath. How do you explain all these explosions seeing that it was calm at the beginning of Ramadan, and lasted until the middle of the month?
Guest, Male # 2
Yes, in truth, it's not unusual in light of the political and security situation in Iraq. The political coalitions have still not reached an agreement on the candidates for the interior, defense, and national security ministers, and the head of the intelligence agency. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is still the head of the government and the head of the intelligence agency, and the minister of defense, and the interior minister, and the minister of national security. For this reason, the political dispute is being reflected in the security situation. This is what Iraq is witnessing right now. There is a security agreement. The Americans are trying to keep their forces in Iraq or at least, the proposal is to maintain a force that would train Iraqi security forces. There are also regional pressures. Iran rejects the American presence in Iraq. There are a number of regional powers interfering in Iraq. The political coalitions say al-Maliki is responsible for the extension, or the departure, of Iraq's US forces. He says the coalitions want to blame him and hold him completely responsible while at the same time, he has rejected the candidates for the interior and defense ministries and the heads of security agencies.
Tunisians take to the streets to denounce the transitional government [Press TV, Iran]
In Tunisia, security forces have clashed with protestors outside the interior ministry. Several hundred protestors tried to gather in front of the interior ministry headquarters. Police used tear gas and truncheons to disperse them. Protestors have called on the caretaker government to step down. Tunisia has seen street protests and strikes on a regular basis since the ouster of former President Zine el Abindine Ben Ali. Many Tunisians are angry over the lack of political reforms. They are also demanding speedy and transparent trials of old regime elements.
Clashes erupt between Saleh's forces and the opposition in Taiz [Press TV, Iran]
In Yemen, clashes between forces loyal to embattled ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition join by defected Republican Guards have erupted in the city of Taiz. Heavy gunfire and explosions have been heard near the international airport in the city. Witnesses say tanks and warplanes have also been seen in the area. The clashes come after government officials blamed tribal chief and business tycoon Hamid al-Ahmar of being behind the attack on the presidential palace back in June.
Kashmiris observe Indian Independence Day as black day [Press TV, Iran]
India has celebrated its 64th Independence Day, while people in the Indian administered Kashmir have observed a complete shut down as a sign of protest. They believe Indian control is forcibly imposed on their region. As India celebrates its 64th Independence Day from the British rule, Kashmir shuts down in protest. It has been over two decades that people in Indian-controlled Kashmir observe the day as black day marked by protest rallies and strike, as they believe India is forcibly controlling the region.
HRW: All sides to blame in Somalia crisis [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
According a report issued by Human Rights Watch, all sides of the Somali conflict have committed human rights violations, which are contributing to the country's famine crisis. The report added that the suffering of civilians is not only due to a famine but also due to a failure by all political sides to protect them.
Reporter, Female #2
It seems that all parties in the Somalia conflict are guilty. Inside this hospital in Mogadishu, there is proof that the civilians are the ones paying the price of hostility, regardless to who is winning the battle. They may have been injured by mortar shells fired at populated areas by al-Shabab Movement or in counter attacks launched by the transitional government. Government-backed forces have recaptured most areas of Mogadishu, following the withdrawal of al-Shabab from the capital. However, human rights groups are blaming Somali troops of failing to protect the residents and accused them of carrying out arbitrary detentions. Meanwhile, HRW is accusing Western countries of failing to mount pressure on the Somali authorities to put an end to the violations. Somalis have witnessed the worst wave of violence this year. Somali families are trying to escape the fighting, seeking refuge anywhere possible, even between the ruble of this Mogadishu Cathedral. In absence of security, activists are warning that none of these families are expected to bid loyalty to the government. The residents who fled the country are facing bigger problems. The road to this camp in Kenya is filled with dangerous activities, including rape and blackmail at the hands of some Kenyan police officers. Right activists are demanding greater international involvement in Somalia, where the residents are in as much need of peace as rain.
Mubarak trial postponed until September [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
At the Cairo Criminal Court, Chancellor Ahmed Rifaat has ordered that former President Hosni Mubarak's trial be merged with proceedings against his former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, into one case for the murder of protestors. The Chancellor also decided to end live television coverage of the court sessions. He adjourned the case until September 5. This decision was announced during a brief session following a long recess that lasted over an hour. The Cairo Criminal Court held its second session today for the trial of the former president and his two sons, Ala'a and Jamal, on charges of murder and power abuse. Chaos and altercations between lawyers erupted during the session. Elsewhere in Egypt, one person was killed and ten others detained during a predawn sweep operation by the Egyptian army and police in northern Sinai. The suspects are members of an Islamic group suspected of carrying out the attacks on the pipelines exporting gas to Israel and the attack on a police headquarters in the city of Arish at the end of last month.
Secret Libyan talks held in Tunisia as rebels claim control of Zawiya [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Female # 1
In an audio message on Libyan television, Libyan Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi called on his supporters to get ready to cleanse the cities controlled by the revolutionaries, predicting a swift end to the opposition and NATO. This comes after the revolutionaries announced their control of the city of az-Zawiyah, situated near the capital Tripoli. In another development, a source told Reuters news agency that talks were held between representatives of the revolutionaries and al-Gaddafi in a hotel in southern Tunisia on Monday night.
Guest, Male # 1
Get ready! Arm yourselves! To the battlefield! For the sake of liberating Libya inch by inch from the traitors.
Reporter, Male # 2
Out of sight, Colonel al-Gaddafi sent his supporters an audio message through the official state television channel. In it, he urged them to prepare to fight and recapture cities controlled by the revolutionaries. Al-Gaddafi challenged the opposition and NATO, predicting their end to be near. He also responded to rumors of his readiness to leave the country. Libyan TV broadcast live images from Green Square in the heart of Tripoli, where hundreds of regime supporters gathered, holding photos of al-Gaddafi and waving green flags. Al-Gaddafi's speech came after the revolutionaries scored their most notable victory on the battlefronts by entering the city of az-Zawiyah, in the western part of the country. They celebrated their victory after gaining control of this strategic city, located only 50 kilometers from the capital Tripoli. Following fierce battles between the Libyan revolutionaries and forces loyal to al-Gaddafi, these revolutionaries managed to exert control over the city that has the only oil refinery in the region. In addition, it is located on the government's main supply route. In the first statement issued after entering az-Zawiyah, the revolutionaries said they are in the process of reinforcing their positions in the city in anticipation of advancing toward the capital. They confirmed their determination to cut off the supply line to Tunisia through the coastal road, which provides the capital with food and fuel. In the same context of dealing with these developments, al-Gaddafi forces sent large military reinforcements from Ras Jadeer on the Tunisian border. This was also confirmed by eyewitnesses. To deal with developments on the ground, there are talks of political action between the opposition and the government. A source who requested anonymity told Reuters news agency that talks were held between representatives of Libyan revolutionaries and al-Gaddafi in a hotel in southern Tunisia last Monday night. The source added the talks were held in a close-door session in a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba, near the border with Libya.
Israeli social movement leaders appoint own expert team [IBA, Israel]
Leaders of the social protest movement today presented their own team of experts who will work to prepare the movement's socio-economic recommendations for presentation to the government. The so-called alternative team will work independently of the panel headed by Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, set up by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the same purpose. Sixty academics and public figures are volunteering their expertise to formulate a new socio-economic policy for the nation. Speaking at a Tel Aviv press conference this morning, the group vowed to present practical recommendations for changing policies, including options for funding.
Palestinians living in Israel join housing protest [IBA, Israel]
Arab-Israelis join the protest against the high cost of living on Saturday night, and now the community has staged a demonstration of its own in Jaffa to bring attention to their financial woes. Protestors called on the government to implement economic reform. They also decried what they said is discrimination in the housing market, saying that Jewish property owners often refuse to rent to Arabs.
Pakistan launches "Cheap Market" initiative to help poor families during Ramadan [Dubai TV, UAE]
Presenter, Female #1
Pakistanis are spending the holy month of Ramadan amid long hot summer days. Despite their limited resources, they have found ways to help ease the hardship of fasting. One way is to serve Ramadan buffets for the needy and poor. In addition, some popular markets have reduced their prices during Ramadan, with street vendors offering all sorts of affordable merchandise. Mahyub Khuder reports from Islamabad.
Reporter, Male #1
This band is playing religious melodies and poems. The objective is to inspire residents who are fasting to come out of their homes. They travel across neighborhood streets and alleys during the holy month of Ramadan, reflecting on ancient Ramadan tradition. They receive a warm welcome by the residents.
Guest, Male #2
These bands play music before Iftar. They play religious songs suitable for the month of Ramadan. They play tunes that help us overcome the difficulty of fasting.
Reporter, Male #1
The Bakura and spinach pies are part of this Iftar table. Bakura is a hot commodity during Ramadan, as people tend to buy it everyday, as if it were part of the fasting ritual. Sasta Bazaar, or the cheap market, is a Ramadan initiative launched by the regional government of Punjab, to support the needy and poor during the holy month of Ramadan.
Guest, Male #3
After wandering in this market, I found out that the prices of food products are too high for the poor to afford. I'm not only talking about the price of meat but also about the prices of fruits and vegetables.
Reporter, Male #1
This painful situation has prompted some of the financially able to serve street buffets. This buffet here is free for the needy and for travelers. It's a humanitarian gesture that has touched the hearts of the needy.
Guest, Male #4
I'm a worker. I come here everyday to eat Iftar. This has removed a huge burden off my chest.
Reporter, Male #1
Financial insolvency is not the only thing stealing the joy of Ramadan. Absence of security and the fear of violence are still fresh in the minds of Pakistanis, whose mosques are being placed under 24-hour protection. Amid the nightmare of security breaches and financial hardship, Pakistanis are spending the holy month of Ramadan with many unable to secure their Iftar meal. Mahyub Khuder, Dubai TV, Islamabad.