Syria returns to capture the headlines of Arab media on Sunday, alongside coverage of a horrific series of terror attacks in Baghdad.
“Regime aircraft bombard Raqqa and the Latakia hinterland,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, reporting on a “massacre” carried out against the city of Raqqa through an air attack that killed 13 civilians, including seven children, in the rebel-controlled eastern city.
Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdish politician Salah Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union party, tells Al-Hayat that the Iranian regime has agreed to Kurdish self-rule in northeastern Syria and on the need to fight the “common enemy”: jihadist opposition fighters. Muslim has just returned from a two-day visit to Tehran, where he met high-ranking officials at the foreign ministry and the Revolutionary Guards, at the invitation of the foreign ministry.
“Iran is an important state, and is the only state in the region which the [Syrian] regime listens to,” Muslim said.
Meanwhile, Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat leads with a threat by Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barazani to intervene in Syria and defend his Syrian brethren from “the forces of terrorism,” amid reports of mass killings and arrests of Kurds by Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front fighters.
Saadi Ahmad Bira, a member of Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), tells A-Sharq Al-Awsat that “the barbaric acts perpetrated against our Kurdish brothers on the Syrian side have a clear purpose: turning the conflict raging there to a racist war between Kurds and Arabs. This worries us greatly in the Autonomous Kurdish region [of Iraq].”
A Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament warned, meanwhile, that Islamist extremists have been flocking to Syria from Turkey to take part in the fighting against Syria’s Kurds, the daily reports.
Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera displays footage of a young girl who was “lucky” to be rescued from the ruins in Raqqa following a government aerial attack of exploding barrels.
Syrian oppositionists reported detonating a car bomb near a group of pro-Syrian militiamen (shabiha) and Hezbollah fighters, killing 40 of them, Al-Jazeera reports.
On holiday, violence returns to Iraq
A series of 16 car bomb explosions rocked Iraq on Saturday, killing at least 50 people in open market places, reports Al-Hayat.
“Violent acts have escalated in Iraq despite the government’s launching of a military campaign ten days ago in the vicinity of the capital, to hunt down gunmen and escapees from the prison. The army has reported that some 1,000 of them have been arrested,” reads the article.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat, displaying an image of children in Baghdad mimicking a kidnapping with plastic guns, report the number of 250 “dead and injured” in the Baghdad attack.
“The Eid holiday in Iraq did not pass peacefully. Following relative come during the first two days of Eid, violence exposed its bloody face once again,” reads the article in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, reporting that the ministry of interior intends to launch a new security plan for the country which will include the use of blimps to monitor the movement of gunmen and thwart their attacks.
Reporting a much higher number of casualties, 400, Saudi news site Elaph cites the reaction of parliament speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi, who criticized Iraq’s security apparatus for failing to bring safety to citizens during the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“The promises made by the security apparatus regarding new plans and strategies to be implemented during Eid Al-Fitr … are but promises constituting nothing more than pure media propaganda,” said Al-Nujaifi.