Syria: Returning refugees face grave abuse (Human Rights Watch)
“Syrian refugees who returned to Syria between 2017 and 2021 from Lebanon and Jordan faced grave human rights abuses and persecution at the hands of the Syrian government and affiliated militias, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Returnees also struggled to survive and meet their basic needs in a country decimated by conflict.” Read more
The anguish of being Lebanese: Interview with author Racha Mounaged (The Markaz Review)
“Born in 1982 in Beirut, Racha grew up during the end of the 15-year civil war that engulfed the country and killed more than 100,000 people. She recalled enduring memories of extended family gatherings, picturesque views of countryside and seaside landscape, but also bombings, images of a Beirut scorched. ‘I lived some episodes and moments where we hid in closets because bombs were exploding around me,’ she said.” Read more
Bashar al-Assad steps in from the cold, but Syria is still shattered (The New York Times)
“For a man who has spent the last decade battling armed rebels, being shunned in international forums and watching a brutal civil war dismantle his economy, the past few weeks have been good to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Senior officials from Lebanon appealed for his help with chronic electricity cuts. His economy minister rubbed shoulders with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates at a trade expo in Dubai. The United States, which has heavily sanctioned him and his associates, backed a plan to revive a gas pipeline through his territory. And he spoke by phone with King Abdullah II of Jordan, his neighbor to the south, for the first time in 10 years.” Read more
'Syria Is like a planet in my head': Novelist Samar Yazbek on writing in exile (Democracy in Exile)
“Soon after Syria's uprising began, Samar Yazbek knew where she stood: with her fellow citizens braving bullets to protest Bashar al-Assad's regime and decades of his family's dictatorship. A successful novelist, screenwriter and journalist in Damascus, Yazbek had a public platform, including in the pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi, and she used it to document the early days of the peaceful demonstrations against Assad and how they were violently suppressed by his regime—directly contradicting its own propaganda about ‘terrorists’ and foreign agitators. Her outspoken support for the protests meant she was cast out of her own community.” Read more
Turkish intelligence helped Iraq capture Islamic State leader, sources say (Reuters)
“Turkish intelligence helped Iraq capture a senior Islamic State leader who had been hiding out in northwestern Syria, three security sources said on Tuesday, in an operation that points to closer cooperation against remnants of the jihadist group.
Iraq announced on Monday that its security forces had captured Sami Jasim, an Iraqi national, in what it described as ‘a special operation outside the borders.’ It did not give details on when or where he was seized.” Read more