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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Conflict watch: From Syria to Afghanistan, all you need to know about the week that was

Satellite images confirmed that Islamic State had begun its destruction of ancient sites in Syria’s Palmyra, blowing up a 2,000-year-old temple.

August 31, 2015 1:11:59 am

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban fighters fought off repeated US air strikes and seized a district headquarters in Afghanistan’s Helmand province last week, an area heavily fought over for its opium farms and trade routes. On the same day, an unidentified man in Afghan uniform opened fire in a former British base, killing two US service personnel, before being shot and wounded. Another man in Afghan uniform was wounded in the return fire. With the latest gain, the Taliban controls three districts in northern Helmand and have partial control of several others, including Kajaki, where they frequently disrupt supplies from a large hydroelectric dam powering the province.

SYRIA: Satellite images confirmed that Islamic State had begun its destruction of ancient sites in Syria’s Palmyra, blowing up a 2,000-year-old temple. This came just days after IS fighters beheaded an 82-year-old retired archaeologist, sparking widespread outrage. The UN called the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple a “war crime”. One UN official said the true intent of such attacks was to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history.
NIGERIA: Nigerian troops are on high alert after intelligence officials warned of a possible attack on the main airport in its capital. Authorities raised the alarm last week after arresting a 14-year-old boy for “spying” on security procedures at Abuja airport. They said they were now looking for the militants who were directing the boy. The country’s home department later said the boy’s arrest had “disrupted a spying network mounted by the Boko Haram terrorists”.

TURKEY: Turkish warplanes have for the first time joined raids by the US-led coalition against Islamic State positions in Syria, the Turkish foreign ministry said last week. Turkey has, in the past, been accused of complacency towards fighting the IS in neighbouring Syria. Last month, however, Turkey had launched what it called a war on terror on two fronts: targeting IS fighters in Syria and also Kurdish PKK rebels and their bases in northern Iraq.

SOUTH SUDAN: A ceasefire aimed at ending one of the most brutal and longstanding civil wars came into effect last week, hours after clashes between government forces and rebels. The truce was brokered by a regional eight-nation bloc, along with the UN, African Union, China, Britain, Norway and the US. Since December, 2013, conflict in this country has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2.2 million from their homes, with many fleeing to neighbouring states. Most of the nation’s 11 million people depend on foreign aid to survive.

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