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SYRIA

Kerry in Oslo: US patience on Syria ‘very limited’

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Wednesday that US patience on the Syria conflict and the issue of President Bashar al-Assad's fate is running out.

Kerry in Oslo: US patience on Syria 'very limited'
Kerry's visit to Norway included a working lunch with PM Erna Solberg. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB scanpix / POOL
“Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite, in fact it is very limited with whether or not Assad is going to be held accountable,” Kerry said during his visit to Norway, where he will attend the Oslo Forum. 
 
“We also are prepared to hold accountable members of the opposition” who have been involved in continuing violence, he said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose mere presence at the Oslo Forum peace conference was slammed by Israel.
 
Peace talks aimed at ending the five-year conflict have stalled and Damascus has stepped up its military campaign against the Islamic State group and rebels in the second city of Aleppo.
 
“It is very clear that the cessation of hostilities is frayed and at risk and that it is critical for a genuine cessation to be put in place. We know that, we have no illusion,” Kerry said.
 
“This is a critical moment and we are working very. very hard to see if we can in the next week or two come to an agreement that has a capacity to more fully implement a ceasefire across the country and deliver humanitarian access in a way that then provides for a genuine opportunity to bring people to the table and start talking about a transition.”
 
Syria's war has killed more than 280,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in March 2011.
 
Following his time in Oslo, Kerry will visit Denmark and Greenland

ISIS

Ex-jihadi housewife jailed in Norway for joining IS

A Norwegian court on Tuesday sentenced a woman who lived as a housewife in Syria to prison for being a member of the Islamic State group (IS), despite not actively fighting herself.

Ex-jihadi housewife jailed in Norway for joining IS
The Kurdish-run al-Hol camp which holds suspected relatives of Islamic State fighters.Photo: Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

The Oslo court sentenced the Norwegian-Pakistani woman to three and a half years in prison for “participating in a terrorist organisation” by taking care of her household and enabling her three husbands to fight.

“By travelling to an area controlled by IS in Syria… by moving in and living with her husbands, taking care of the children and various tasks at home, the defendant enabled her three husbands to actively participate in IS fighting,” judge Ingmar Nilsen said as he read out the verdict.

Being a housewife to three successive husbands did not render her a passive bystander, the judge said.

“On the contrary, she was a supporter who enabled the jihad, looked after her three husbands at home and raised the new generation of IS recruits,” he said.

The young woman, who admitted having “radical ideas” at the time, left for Syria in early 2013 to join an Islamist fighter, Bastian Vasquez, who was fighting the regime.

Although she did not take up arms herself, she was accused of having allowed her husbands to go fight while taking care of her two children and household chores.

The trial was the first prosecution in Norway of someone who had returned after joining IS.

“This is a special case,” prosecutor Geir Evanger acknowledged during the trial.

“This is the first time that, to put it bluntly, someone has been charged for being a wife and mother.”

The prosecution had called for a four-year sentence, while the defence had called for her acquittal and immediately appealed Tuesday’s verdict.

The woman’s lawyer, Nils Christian Nordhus, argued that his client had quickly wanted to leave Syria after being subjected to domestic violence.

She had also been a victim of human trafficking because she had been held against her will, he added.

But the judge stressed that she had participated in the organisation “knowingly” and of her own will.

The woman was repatriated to Norway in early 2020 on humanitarian grounds with her two children, including a young boy described as seriously ill.

At least four other Norwegian women and their children are being held in Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria.

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