More than 60 Taliban fighters killed by troops after US base takeover, Kabul says
KABUL: The Afghan government on Monday said that it had killed more than 60 Taliban insurgents in a series of offensives against the group after assuming control of a key US military base a day earlier.
“Backed by aerial support, the operations were conducted independently by local forces without any aid, cooperation or involvement of foreign troops,” Fawad Aman, a defense ministry spokesman, told Arab News.
“During the past 24 hours, 62 Taliban were killed, and 58 others were wounded in these operations,” he said.
The assaults covered several provinces in the south, northeast and eastern regions of the war-torn country, with a focus on the Ghazni province, to the southwest of Kabul, and the southern Helmand province where the US military formally handed over control of the Camp Antonik base to the government on Sunday.
Aman said that the operations were in response to the Taliban’s “provocations” and were aimed at “destroying their planning centers, used for attacking government forces.”
He declined to share the exact number of casualties suffered by the Afghan forces during the clashes. However, two security sources, requesting anonymity, said that more than 40 Afghan police and troops had died in the crackdown.
Meanwhile, in comments to Arab News on Monday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, accused Kabul of “showing and testing its force by launching the operations on Taliban-held areas, forcing the Taliban to prevent and respond.”
He refused to comment on how many Taliban members had been killed in the attacks.
With the fate of the US-sponsored peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in limbo, there has been an escalation of violence in recent weeks.
It is expected to spike in the coming months as US-led troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, amid fears of the country descending into another civil war.
By formally ending its most protracted conflict in history, which Washington started in late 2001 by ousting the Taliban from power, the US military began withdrawing the remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan on Saturday, based on a directive issued by American President Joe Biden last month.
All foreign troops were expected to exit the country by May 1 — the original deadline set by the Taliban before signing a landmark deal with Washington in Doha, Qatar, more than a year ago.
The Taliban have blamed Washington for violating the key condition of the Doha accord, which also pushes Kabul and the Taliban to hold talks and draw a political roadmap for a future government in Afghanistan.
Based on the deal — which also required the Taliban to cut ties with Al-Qaeda and other militants and not use Afghan soil to launch attacks on any other country, including America — the insurgents had halted attacks on foreign troops, but not on Afghan forces.
In comments to reporters last week, Afghan spy chief, Ahmad Zia Saraj, said that the Taliban had ramped up attacks by 24 percent since the Doha deal was signed, highlighting a spike in violence after Biden extended the troops’ presence to Sept.11, the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil by suspected Al-Qaeda members.
The same year, US troops invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban from power for refusing to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders, which Washington accused of staging the twin tower bombings.
In a statement on the 10th anniversary of the raid that killed Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, Biden said that the US would “remain vigilant about the threat from terrorist groups that have metastasized around the world.”
“As we bring to an end America’s longest war and draw down the last of our troops from Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda is greatly degraded there. We will continue to monitor and disrupt any threat to us that emerges from Afghanistan,” he said.
Taliban spokesman, Mujahid, however, said that “the threat to America is clear,” adding: “We have repeatedly said and want to say again that we will allow no side to harm from Afghanistan the near, the far countries and the United States.”
“This (future threat posed from Afghanistan) is a propaganda for the continuation of occupation and keeping of the troops here,” he told Arab News.
He added that the Taliban were “willing to settle Afghanistan’s more than four decades of crisis through talks,” provided “Kabul shows sincerity” after the departure of foreign troops.
Washington’s withdrawal has created concerns both at home and abroad that the Taliban may seize power by force again and step up their attacks on the Afghan government, which has long relied on the US for financial, logistical and defense aid.
Ghulam Wali Afghan, a lawmaker from Helmand, a part of the Taliban’s main bastion, said that the insurgent group had “increased pressure on Helmand and there is a risk it will fall.”
“With the withdrawal of foreign forces, they will gain control of towns, highways and provinces such as Helmand. The government does not have the means to supply and provide aid (to the troops) on the ground,” he told Arab News.
Retired Gen. Attiqullah Amarkhail agrees. “Afghan forces were vulnerable to Taliban attacks due to lack of coordination, the prevalence of corruption in the system and absence of military doctrine,” he said.
“We have sufficient troops, which is unprecedented in our history, but those factors will play a big role in the future war. There is disunity in government on a peace plan, like other matters, while the Taliban speak with one voice,” he told Arab News.
Amarkhail added that Kabul needed to convince the US that “without putting pressure on Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to join the peace talks,” Washington’s rivals such as Iran, Russia and China will consolidate their influence in Afghanistan.
“But America cannot push Pakistan much either because Russia has managed to establish heavy influence in Pakistan, and if America loses Pakistan, then it will lose its presence in the region to a large extent,” he said.
Arab League Council holds urgent session to discuss attack on Jerusalem
BEIRUT: All Lebanese doctors have stopped working from Monday until the end of the week in protest against a court verdict. The medical profession in Lebanon is protesting against the judicial decision to pay high compensation to Ella Tannous, who had her limbs amputated due to a medical error six years ago. The protesting doctors…
BEIRUT: All Lebanese doctors have stopped working from Monday until the end of the week in protest against a court verdict.
The medical profession in Lebanon is protesting against the judicial decision to pay high compensation to Ella Tannous, who had her limbs amputated due to a medical error six years ago.
The protesting doctors have been joined by private hospitals, which have stopped receiving patients, except in emergency cases.
The girl’s father Hassan Tannous, however, praised the “honest judiciary.”
Many doctors, including the head of Lebanese Order of Physicians, Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf, and the head of the Syndicate of Private Hospital Owners, Suleiman Haroun, staged a sit-in in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, calling the ruling “unfair.”
The Tannous case goes back to February 2015, when she was admitted to Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil due to her high temperature.
Ella was diagnosed with a cold at the time, but her condition deteriorated and the child suffered septic shock, which led to gangrene that caused the amputation of her limbs.
The girl’s father had taken her to the Hotel Dieu Hospital, which refused to receive her.
He transferred her to the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where doctors decided to save her life by amputating her four limbs.
The tragedy led her parents to file a complaint in March 2015 before the Lebanese Order of Physicians against the doctor who examined her and Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil, on charges of neglecting the child’s health and not providing her with the necessary care.
More than one doctor was arrested and released on bail.
Those involved in the case exchanged accusations for years. The girl’s family objected to a medical report issued by the medical committee of the Lebanese Order of Physicians two months after the incident, calling it a “distortion of the facts.”
The final ruling, issued unanimously at the end of last week, by the Beirut Appeals Court, headed by Tarek Bitar, gave the girl’s family a positive surprise, while the Lebanese medical profession reacted to the ruling in a state of amazement and condemnation.
The ruling obligated the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Beirut, Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil and the two doctors — Essam M. and Rana Sh. — “to pay in joint and several liabilities to the child Tannous an amount of LBP 9 billion ($5.9 million) for damages, in addition to a monthly income for life estimated at four times the minimum wage.”
The ruling also stipulated “obliging the convicts to pay in joint and several liabilities an amount of LBP 500 million to the father of the child and LBP 500 million to her mother in exchange for damages.”
Medical errors committed against patients have often resulted in settlements. Some cases are still pending in the courts.
The head of the National Health Authority, Dr. Ismail Sukkarieh, told Arab News that the judicial ruling “is based more on emotions than wisdom, justice and scientific facts.”
Sukkarieh added: “The judiciary focused on the tragedy of the child’s condition, which cannot be compensated with money, without checking the stages of the disease and the accumulation of its causes.”
He said: “Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil was not equipped with intensive care for children. As for the doctors who saved the child through the amputation, they were spiritually affected.”
Hassan Tannous said that although the ruling “does not compensate for the loss of Ella to her limbs, it is a moral compensation.”
The father said the ruling “is a very strong message in the face of the perpetrators of medical errors, that there is an honest judiciary capable of restoring the rights of the owners.”
The girl’s family moved to France for her rehabilitation but continued to pursue the lawsuit until the end.
“It is a public rights issue to protect all Lebanese children from medical neglect,” said Hassan.
During the sit-in at the Palace of Justice on Monday, Dr. Abu Sharaf said: “There are complications that occur as a result of the medicines, and mistakes happen sometimes, but the doctors have no criminal intent. After today, no doctor will dare to work on difficult and rare cases.”
Dr. Ashraf called for “work to remove the effect of the judicial decision, and to establish a body specialized in medical matters in the judiciary to study medical problems.”
Hotel Dieu Hospital de France announced that it would stop receiving patients in all its departments and private clinics.
“It is unacceptable for doctors to pay the price for a health policy that does not exist in the first place,” said Elias Shallal, head of the hospital’s medical committee.
“It is unacceptable to applaud doctors for their role in the fight against coronavirus and after the Beirut Port explosion, and then attack them because of a medical error.”
The administration of Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil described the ruling as “unfair.”
It stopped receiving patients except in emergency cases.
The American University Medical Center in Beirut closed its clinics until further notice and stopped receiving patients, except for emergency cases.
Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title
MADRID: Aryna Sabalenka is glad she changed her mind about playing at the Madrid Open.Two weeks after nearly withdrawing from the tournament because of a muscle injury, Sabalenka was standing on center court with the winner’s trophy in her hands on Saturday.Sabalenka defeated top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 for her 10th WTA title —…
MADRID: Aryna Sabalenka is glad she changed her mind about playing at the Madrid Open.Two weeks after nearly withdrawing from the tournament because of a muscle injury, Sabalenka was standing on center court with the winner’s trophy in her hands on Saturday.Sabalenka defeated top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 for her 10th WTA title — and first on clay.In the men’s final on Sunday, 2018 champion Alexander Zverev will face eighth-seeded Matteo Berrettini.Sabalenka’s victory, coming two weeks after she was hurt in a loss to Barty in the Stuttgart final, will move the Belarus player to No. 4 in the world next week.“To be honest, after the final in Stuttgart I was injured, I couldn’t even move, I really wanted to withdraw from here,” she said. “And I don’t know how, but my team … the recovery was really good. In four days they made me feel much better. Somehow I’m here standing as the champion of this tournament.”Sabalenka injured an adductor muscle in the three-set loss in Germany to Barty, who had won all of her three previous finals this year.It was the second title for Sabalenka this year after winning the season-opener in Abu Dhabi. She also lost to Barty in the Miami quarterfinals.In the men’s semifinals, Zverev followed his triumph over Rafael Nadal with a win over Dominic Thiem to reach another Madrid Open final. He will face No. 10-ranked Berrettini, who beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4.No. 6 Zverev defeated No. 4 Thiem 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final again after beating Thiem for the 2018 title. He will be trying to win his second title this year after triumphing in Acapulco in March.Zverev broke Thiem’s serve once in the first set and twice in the second on the Magic Box center court.The German has yet to drop a set, including against Nadal in the Friday quarterfinals.“They’re probably the two clay-courters that you think of right now when you’re thinking about Roland Garros and the biggest chances of winning,” Zverev said of Nadal and Thiem. “Rafa is the favorite no matter what. Probably Novak (Djokovic) second, Dominic a close third. It’s been so far a good week for me. The job is not done yet.”Berrettini didn’t face a break point as he defeated Ruud to return to a final after winning Belgrade two weeks ago. He will be trying to win his first Masters 1000 final.“The key today was putting pressure on his serve,” Berrettini said. “I was always trying to get the momentum and attacking even his first serve. I know that he likes to have time, run around the forehand. I tried to do that. It worked out pretty well.”Thiem was playing in his first tournament since March after consecutive losses in Dubai and Doha. He has mostly struggled since winning the US Open for his first grand slam title.“In general I’m super happy with the week,” Thiem said. “I would have never expected to be in the semifinals, to play in the semifinals a player like him. I cannot complain about anything. Just, of course, there are many things to improve.”In the women’s doubles final, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both from the Czech Republic, defeated Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Demi Schuurs of France 6-4, 6-3.
After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows
BEIJING: A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the Chinese space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-ton object would come down. Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which…
BEIJING: A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the Chinese space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-ton object would come down.
Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China’s new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.
But the US space agency NASA and some experts said China had behaved irresponsibly, as an uncontrolled re-entry of such a large object risked damage and casualties.
“After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has re-entered the atmosphere,” the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement, providing coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
It added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during descent.
The US military’s Space Command said the rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 8 (0215 GMT Sunday).”
“It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water.”
Monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, said that the location in Saudi Arabia was where American systems last recorded it.
“Operators confirm that the rocket actually went into the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives,” it tweeted.
The segment’s descent matched expert predictions that any debris would have splashed down into the ocean, given that 70 percent of the planet is covered by water.
Because it was an uncontrolled descent, there was widespread public interest and speculation about where the debris would land.
American and European space authorities were among those tracking the rocket and trying to predict its re-entry.
Objects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate. But larger ones such as the Long March-5B may not be destroyed entirely.
Their wreckage can land on the surface of the planet and may cause damage and casualties, though that risk is low.
Last year, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.
That, and the one that came down Sunday, are tied for the fourth-biggest objects in history to undergo an uncontrolled re-entry, according to data from Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
The uncertainty and risks of such a re-entry sparked accusations that Beijing had behaved irresponsibly.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested last week that China had been negligent, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson echoed that after the re-entry on Sunday.
“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” Nelson said in a statement.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”
To avoid such scenarios, some experts have recommended a redesign of the Long March-5B rocket – which is not equipped for a controlled descent.
“An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely,” McDowell tweeted.
“It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives). But it was still reckless.”
Chinese authorities had downplayed the risk, however.
“The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or (on people and activities) on the ground is extremely low,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday.
Beijing has poured billions of dollars into space exploration to boost its global stature and technological might.
The launch of the first module of its space station – by the Long March rocket that came down Sunday – was a milestone in its ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.