BEIRUT — Syrian activists and state media say rebels have agreed to surrender Daraa, the first city to revolt against President Bashar Assad with Arab Spring-inspired protests seven years ago, to government forces.
Ahmad Masalmeh, a media activist formerly based in the southern city, says fighters have the option of accepting an offer of amnesty from the government, or leaving Daraa with their families to other rebel-held parts of the country. Masalmeh says he left Daraa for Jordan four days ago. He spoke to the Associated Press by Skype.
Daraa governor Mohamad al-Hanous says government forces are in control of 80 percent of the city, according to the government-linked Central Military Media outlet.
Syrian state media reported late Tuesday that rebels in Daraa had agreed to surrender their heavy and medium weapons.
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By AFP — June 20, 2018 12:40 AMA record 68.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution, notably in places like Myanmar and Syria, the UN said on Tuesday. By the end of 2017, the number was nearly three million higher than the previous year and showed a 50-percent increase from the 42.7 million uprooted from their homes a decade ago, according to a report by the UN refugee agency. The current figure is equivalent to the entire population of Thailand, and the number of people forcibly displaced equates to one in every 110 persons worldwide, it said. “We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. But around 70 percent of that number are people from just 10 countries, he told reporters in Geneva ahead of the report’s launch. “If there were solutions to conflicts in those 10 countries, or in some of them at least, that huge figure, instead of rising every year, could start going down,” he said, calling for more political will to halt the crises driving so many from their homes. Every two seconds The report showed that 16.2 million people were freshly displaced last year, and included those forced to flee for the first time as well as those who had been previously displaced. This equates to some 44,500 people being pushed out of their homes every day -- or one person every two seconds, UNHCR said. Most people flee within their own country, and are defined as internally displaced people, or IDPs. By the end of 2017, there were some 40 million IDPs worldwide, down slightly from previous years, with Colombia, Syria and Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for the greatest numbers. Another 25.4 million people -- more than half of them children -- were registered as refugees last year. That is nearly three million more than in 2016, and “the highest known total to date,” it said. South Sudan numbers soar Syria’s seven-year conflict alone had, by the end of last year, pushed more than 6.3 million people out of the country, accounting for nearly one-third of the global refugee population.
By Daily Tribune — July 16, 2018 01:05 AMCHICAGO — An angry crowd shouted and threw bottles at Chicago police after an officer fatally shot a man on the city’s South Side Saturday, prompting the arrest of at least four demonstrators. Chicago police patrol chief Fred Waller told a news conference that the man was shot in the South Shore neighborhood after police officers on foot tried to question him because “the bulge around his waistband” suggested he was armed. The man became combative and eventually broke free from the officers, Waller said. “They thought he appeared to be reaching for a weapon, which he did have a weapon on him, and the officers tragically shot him,” he said. The unidentified man was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead. Waller said police believe the man did not have a concealed carry permit for the semi-automatic weapon. He also had magazines of ammunition, Waller said. Immediately after the shooting, an angry crowd gathered and began jostling with police, who had cordoned off the area. Waller said protesters threw bottles and jumped on top of a squad car. Police then moved in wielding batons to stop them. “It got a little bit out of hand. Several arrests were made,” Waller said. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that four protesters were arrested. Several police officers were slightly injured in the scuffles, Waller said, and some squad cars were damaged. After nightfall, protesters continued to mill around the neighborhood with police occasionally chasing them away. Video showed one protester thrown to the ground surrounded by police holding batons. AP
By AFP — July 4, 2018 12:50 AMOne of the highest-ranked church officials convicted of covering up child sex abuse was Tuesday sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, but Philip Wilson could avoid jail after a court ordered he be assessed for home detention. The Adelaide archbishop, 67, was found guilty in May of concealing abuse by notorious paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the Hunter region of New South Wales state during the 1970s by failing to report allegations against him. He denied the charges and his legal team made four attempts to have the case thrown out, arguing Wilson suffered from Alzheimer’s and so should avoid trial -- even though the diagnosis did not prevent him retaining his position in the church. Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone found him guilty of concealing a serious indictable offence of another person, concluding his primary motive was to protect the church. The same court on Tuesday sentenced him to 12 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months. But Stone adjourned the matter until August 14 to assess whether Wilson was suitable to serve the sentence at his sister’s home. The maximum sentence for the crime was two years in jail. In sentencing, Stone said “there is no remorse or contrition showed by the offender”. “I am of the opinion the sentence should not be suspended. It does not support the terms of general deterrence,” he added. “On that basis, the only available remaining option is full-time imprisonment or home detention.” He justified the home detention option due to Wilson’s age, prior good record and that he was unlikely to reoffend. ‘Shameful history’ There was no dispute during the trial that Fletcher, who is now dead, sexually abused an altar boy, with the hearing focused on whether Wilson, then a junior priest, was told about it. Wilson served as a priest in New South Wales before Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Wollongong in 1996. Five years later he became the Archbishop of Adelaide. Following his conviction, Wilson stood down from his church duties pending sentencing, but did not resign. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, a national body used by bishops to address issues of national significance, said it hoped the sentencing could “bring some sense of peace” to those abused by Fletcher.