Russia and Syria begin joint air patrols near the Golan Heights

Military pilots of Russia and Syria conducted the first joint air patrol along the Golan Heights and the Euphrates, TASS reports with reference to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The ministry clarified that the patrol route ran along the Golan heights, then along the southern border, up along the Euphrates and over the northern territory of the SAR.  

The Russian military took off from the Khmeimim air base, the Syrian pilots – from the Seikal and Dumayr airfields.

The Russian Aerospace Forces were represented by the crews of the Su-34, Su-35 and early warning radar A -50, MiG-23 and MiG-29 took part in the patrol from the SAR.

During the patrol, training missile launches were carried out at air targets, ground targets were hit at one of the training grounds located in the central part of the republic.

“Pilots of the two friendly countries have gained skills in interaction in various situations,” summed up the Defense Ministry. The military department added that such joint flights will now become regular.

Meanwhile, in December it became known that the restoration of the triumphal arch destroyed by terrorists in Syrian Palmyra will begin in 2022. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation will take over air transportation, transport support, as well as a number of logistics and security measures.


The United States decided to impose an embargo on Russia by analogy with Cuba, North Korea and Syria

If Moscow shows aggression against Ukraine, then the United States can add Russia to the list of countries that are subject to severe export restrictions. Now the group of such states includes Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria

The United States may add Russia to the list of countries subject to the most stringent export restrictions if Moscow imposes troops into Ukraine, the Associated Press (AP) reports, citing senior US officials. This is also reported by Bloomberg, citing a source familiar with the negotiations in the White House.

This list now includes Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Syria.

According to AP interlocutors, Russia will be hit hard by economic sanctions if it intervenes in Ukraine's affairs. They noted that, in addition to direct sanctions against Russian entities, these sanctions may include significant restrictions on goods exported from the United States to Russia, and possibly some foreign-made goods “ created under U.S. jurisdiction. ''

On the evening of January 8, The New York Times (NYT), citing American officials, announced details of Washington's plan to impose sanctions on Russia. According to the newspaper, the restrictions will take effect a few hours after the “ invasion '' Russian military to Ukraine. In addition to sanctions on energy and consumer goods, the United States and its allies are considering a ban on the export of advanced electronic components and software to Russia. In addition, Washington's sanctions could target critical Russian industries, including its defense and civil aviation sectors.

At the end of last year, a number of Western media wrote that the United States and its allies intend to impose sanctions against Russia in the event of aggression against Ukraine. This included, among other things, sanctions against the largest Russian banks and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Restrictions on the conversion of rubles into other currencies were mentioned as one of the most likely measures. In addition, it was reported about possible sanctions against the sovereign debt of Russia and the disconnection of the country from the interbank SWIFT system.

At the same time, the White House did not rule out that the sanctions, which would have the most disastrous consequences for Russia in the event of a possible escalation of the situation around Ukraine, including against Gazprom or the central bank could harm the global economy. 'These negative consequences' can “ boomerang come back '' The United States in the year of the presidential election, to damage the country's economy and allies of the United States, they said in the White House.

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NYT: Pentagon underestimated the number of civilians killed in Syria


The New York Times writes that the Pentagon underestimated the number of Syrian civilians killed in airstrikes. The newspaper made such a conclusion after examining more than a thousand documents of the US Department of Defense.

At the same time, the newspaper cannot name the exact number of victims. According to official US statistics, 1,417 Syrian civilians were killed in the airstrikes. Another 188 people became victims of attacks in Afghanistan.

The newspaper points out the mistakes made in counting the victims. It is also said that this was often done by stakeholders who authorized the airstrikes.


UAE authorities ban Belavia from transporting citizens of Syria and Iraq

The airline said it has tightened visa controls on all flights. Earlier, against the background of the migration crisis on the border of Belarus and Poland, the Turkish authorities banned Belavia from transporting Iraqis and Syrians

Belarusian airline Belavia will not accept citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria on board aircraft flying from Dubai to Belarus, according to a statement published on the company's website.

Belavia; notes that such a measure was taken “ in accordance with the decision of the competent authorities of the UAE '', the ban is in effect from November 14.

In this regard, Belavia strengthens control over the verification of documents during check-in of passengers for flights from Dubai. Passengers subject to this prohibition will be able to refund the full cost of air tickets at the place of purchase '', & mdash; the statement reads.

Belavia performs regular flights Minsk & mdash; Dubai from February 2021. In the summertime, when Dubai was 'low' the tourist season, the airline operated three flights a week, and since October, after the growth in demand for travel to the UAE, & mdash; five flights a week.

The company explains that most of the seats on flights Minsk & mdash; Dubai is sold in blocks to tour operators, the number of tickets sold with the starting point of the trip is “ Dubai '' was minimal.

Belavia also stated that she did not perform regular or charter flights to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and “ never facilitated the transportation of illegal migrants to the Republic of Belarus. ''

Earlier, on November 12, the airline said that the Turkish authorities had forbidden it to take on board the aircraft traveling to Belarus, citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Belavia operates flights to Minsk from Istanbul, which is considered one of the largest transfer hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

The Turkish airline Turkish also announced its refusal to carry citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen to Minsk Airlines, and the authorities of Turkey and Poland agreed to cooperate in solving the problem of the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border.

The crisis on the border of the two countries began in early November. The situation escalated on November 8, when several thousand migrants approached the border with Poland in Belarus, wishing to enter the EU. Migrants, mostly from the Middle East, attempted to cross the border and set up camp in the border zone.

Poland mobilized additional military units to guard the border and increased the number of border guards in the area where migrants gather. President of the country Andrzej Duda accused the Belarusian authorities of deliberately sending migrants to the border.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, in response, said that migrants were deliberately brought into Belarus by some transit countries. “ There are dozens of transients who throw people up, & mdash; these are Germans and, first of all, Poles, also Ukrainians, Lithuanians. That is, it has its own mafia structure, which provides transit '', & mdash; said Lukashenko.

Last week, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that in response to the migration crisis, the EU and the US are preparing a new package of sanctions against Belarus. Bloomberg reported that the sanctions may include airlines that facilitate the transport of migrants to Belarus, as well as the insurance sector of Belarus. The agency's source said that the Russian Aeroflot may also be on the sanctions list. Later at Aeroflot denied accusations of involvement in the transport of migrants and declared their readiness to defend their position in court.

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Remembering Sarah Hegazi, the Egyptian LGBTQ activist arrested for unfurling the rainbow flag

Remembering Sarah Hegazi, the Egyptian LGBTQ activist arrested for unfurling the rainbow flag

Sarah Hegazi will be remembered as someone who just wanted to be herself — and was imprisoned and tortured for doing so. On Saturday, the Egyptian LGBTQ activist died by suicide in exile in Canada. She was 30 years old. 

The World staff

Joyce Hackel

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Crowds listening to Mashrou Leila concert in Cairo in 2017. 


Egyptian Streets/Wikimedia Commons


Sarah Hegazi will be remembered as someone who just wanted to be herself — and was imprisoned and tortured for doing so. On Saturday, the Egyptian LGBTQ activist died by suicide in exile in Canada. She was 30 years old. 

Hegazi’s friends trace the lead-up to her death to a moment in 2017 during a music festival in Cairo. As the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila played, Hegazi hoisted a rainbow flag above the crowd — a daring move in a country where homosexuality is taboo. A friend took her photo, and Hegazi became famous after the image spread across on social media.

But Hegazi’s friend, Aya Hijazi, says that moment came back to haunt her. The two women are both activists who have spent time in Egyptian prisons.

Hegazi was arrested after her photo spread on social media. Upon her release, she fled to Canada, where she was granted asylum.

“She told us, I always felt depressed and not able to express myself, and I wasn’t trying to make any political statements, I wasn’t being courageous, I was joyous,” Hijazi told The World.

    View this post on Instagram         

السما احلى من الارض! وانا عاوزه السما مش الارض.

A post shared by Sarah Hegazi (@sarahhegazi89) on Jun 12, 2020 at 10:57am PDT

Today, activists in Lebanon, Egypt and Syria are remembering Hegazi. Upon learning of her death, Hamid Sinno, the openly gay lead singer of Mashrou’ Leila, sang a few stanzas in her honor — taken from Hegazi’s own last words.

Hegazi posted these lines online before her death: The sky is more beautiful than the Earth. And I want the sky, not the earth.

The World’s Marco Werman spoke with Hijazi about how people Hegazi is being remembered and the consequences of her decision to wave the rainbow flag.

Related: Egypt is raiding its LGBTQ community after rainbow flags flew at a concert. The West is silent.

Marco Werman: Aya, take us back to 2017, if you would, and that moment when a friend of Sarah’s snapped that picture and what became an iconic photograph. The Lebanese pop band Mashrou’ Leila just taken the stage at a festival in Cairo. What happened? 

Aya Hijazi: Right. She raised that flag and then some people put it on social media. It wasn’t her. And then after that, people posted it, it was a week later that she was arrested. She was sexually harassed by the authorities. And she was asked very private questions. She was electrocuted and she was tortured just because of raising the flag, nothing else. 

Which was a horrible experience and a complete 180 from the kind of jubilation that she was feeling at that concert, right?

I think that was the last moment of joy she ever felt. She was taken afterwards to solitary confinement as well. And then she was placed with two women in a cell, and they were forbidden from talking to her. And then ultimately, of course, she was deported and made to leave Egypt. And her mother died, as well. And so she just felt depressed afterwards.

How did Sarah get out of prison in Cairo? 

There was advocacy for her case, and then she was just released. She wasn’t acquitted. And then she was basically deported, never allowed to go back home. And I want to say that she never felt comfortable living in exile. She told us repeatedly that she wants to go back home, even if she’s going to go back to prison.

Related: Egypt is ramping up its harsh crackdown on the LGBTQ community

She then struggled with depression and she took her life this past Saturday, what’s been the reaction in Cairo to her death? 

I mean, it is mixed, an unequal mix, with 90 percent of the people just being vile. [But] fellow activists and friends said if this was 10 or 15 years ago, no one would have been outspoken in her support. But now, even 10 percent are able to be outspoken and really speak their opinion freely about the issue and even changing their profiles to the rainbow flag. It is very taboo. That is change. And we think this change is made by Sarah. So she left, but I think her legacy for rights and freedoms and peace and love will live past her.

We’ve been reflecting on the Supreme Court decision here in the U.S. to support protection for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Clearly, different countries are seeing the urgency for LGBTQ equality and justice through different lenses. When you think about what needs to be accomplished in Egypt, where do you even begin? 

In America, all of this happens, even legislation banning discrimination, it’s because of democracy. It is because there is freedom of speech and you can’t have rights, if you’re ruled by a tank and a government.

Aya, you spoke about the legacy of Sarah. What do activists in the Middle East do with this moment?

So people are arranging vigils for her in Beirut. They’ve already lit candles for her yesterday, even in Syria — it’s war-torn and people are dying. Because she was a strong supporter of Syria, Syrian activists did a vigil for her and raised banners. A lot of people really loved her and came out in support of LGBTQ rights and this was the first time that I seen Egypt people changing their profiles to the rainbow flag.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Hussain Manawer – I’m Ashamed lyrics

I’m ashamed

I’m ashamed to be citizen of this world
Where we breed corruption, deceit, and inequality between boys and girls
I’m ashamed of myself
Indulged in temptation, desire and wealth

I’m so ashamed I don’t cry I laugh
I’m ashamed my grandparents fought for my education whilst I bunked in
The park
I’m ashamed at my work rate, the generation before us kept it together
And worked hard
I’m ashamed we let the smallest things get
Political and tear us apart

I’m ashamed we value success via likes and shares
I’m ashamed we spend our pay cheques dancing to techno sounds, drums and
House parties, raves, west end bottles and flares
I’m so ashamed that I don’t even care

I’m ashamed we are so connected and equally disconnected similuationaly
I’m ashamed we watch polar ice caps melt and think it’s happened

I’m ashamed that when I look up to the sky and think of my contribution
Its halfhearted prayers from my attic window and bags full of pollution

I’m ashamed my footprint is made of carbon
I’m ashamed I find more peace and solace with eesa watching in the night

I’m ashamed I burden my friendships with Ahmed and Sajid
And then send messages in the morning saying sorry about that its cool now
I can manage

I’m ashamed we are looked at by color
I’m ashamed our phones connect quicker to the Internet in someone’s
Home then our hearts do with each other

I’m ashamed the media has become a weapon of mass distraction
I’m ashamed the greatest hero of us all was a man made out of plastic but
We called him action

I’m ashamed that the people of Rohingya are dissolving within our eyes
I’m ashamed to be alive in a time were we are still using words like the
Holocaust and genocide
I’m ashamed it’s even a debate that Sandra Bland committed suicide

I’m ashamed freedom doesn’t come freely
I’m ashamed we don’t know the story of aafia sadiqee

I’m ashamed, that in my throat I feel a lump
And ashamed till the death of me that hundreds of years of slavery is only
Taught in a single month

I’m ashamed we did the mannequin challenge whilst the orphans were
I’m ashamed that Syria has lost its children and Aleppo has fallen

Im ashamed we didn’t focus in history and ran through our corridors
When we should have been learning about kunte kente, anne frank and how
Much heart it took to escape from sobibor

I’m ashamed our intelligence is artificial and cannot breathe
I’m ashamed we created a virtual world because we destroyed the world we
Can really see,
I’m ashamed we elected world’s leaders that cannot lead

I’m ashamed terror has depressed the planet
I’m ashamed anxiety is imbedding itself in the granite

I’m ashamed we will take this moment for what it is
And in a few hours be even more ashamed because I’ll continue like it
Didn’t exist

We travelled fast
But we moved slow,
We developed quick,
We didn’t grow

I learnt it all on Wanstead Park Bridge, in valentine’s park and belgrave
One thing I’m not ashamed to say is this, is home sweet home,