Monday, 7 December 2015

Syria conflict: Coalition denies air strike on army camp

French fighter jet is seen on the runway at an undisclosed location (17 November 2015)
The coalition's air strikes targeting IS in Syria are not co-ordinated with the governmen

The Syrian government has said three of its soldiers have been killed in a US-led coalition air strike, but the coalition has denied responsibility. 

The foreign ministry said jets fired missiles at an army camp in Deir al-Zour province, which is largely controlled by the Islamic State group.

The ministry condemned what it called an act of "flagrant aggression".
However, a coalition spokesman insisted that its forces had carried out no strikes in the area near the camp.

The coalition has been targeting Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria since September 2014, and does not co-ordinate with the authorities in Damascus.

The Syrian foreign ministry said four coalition warplanes fired nine missiles at the camp in Deir al-Zour province on Sunday evening, killing three soldiers and wounding 13 others.

Three armoured vehicles, four military vehicles, heavy machine-guns and an arms and ammunition depot were destroyed, it added.

The ministry did not say which camp was hit, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier reported that coalition jets had bombed part of the Saeqa camp, near the town of Ayyash in northern Deir al-Zour.

The UK-based monitoring group put the death toll at four.

"The Syrian Arab Republic strongly condemns this flagrant aggression by the US-led coalition forces, which blatantly violates the objectives of the UN Charter," the foreign ministry warned.
The ministry called on the UN Security Council to "take urgent measures to prevent such aggressions from occurring again".

It added that such "aggression hinders the efforts to fight terrorism, and proves that the US-led coalition lacks seriousness and credibility to effectively fight terrorism"
However, coalition spokesman Col Steve Warren denied it was responsible.

"We've seen those Syrian reports but we did not conduct any strikes in that part of Deir al-Zour yesterday. So we see no evidence," he told the AFP news agency.

Col Warren said the only strikes in Deir al-Zour targeted a wellhead at an oil field 55km (34 miles) away from the area where the soldiers were reportedly killed.

  "There were no human beings in the area that we struck yesterday," he added.
US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, also wrote on Twitter: "Reports of coalition involvement are false."

IS controls most of Deir al-Zour province, including almost all of its capital.

The province links the group's headquarters in Raqqa with territory controlled by the group in western Iraq, and its oilfields are also a major source of revenue for IS.

If coalition jets did hit the Syrian army camp - reported to be close to ground held by IS - it would be the first time such a thing is known to have happened since the US began air strikes in Syria, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut.

The coalition has been stepping up its attacks in recent weeks on IS positions and oil installations in northern and eastern Syria. Broadening the scope brings with it a risk that unintended targets might be hit, our correspondent adds.

Last week, the UK decided to participate in the air strikes in Syria, extending its existing bombing campaign against IS in Iraq.

Russia has also been bombing IS militants in Syria and other opponents of President Bashar al-Assad since September.

FG sets six pillars, 25 priority areas for 2016 Budget

FG sets six pillars, 25 priority areas for 2016 Budget
The Federal Government has set six sectorial pillars and 25 priority programmes for the 2016 Budget, New Telegraph has learnt. All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been mandated to ensure that their programmes and projects for the 2016 fiscal year are in line with the priority programmes. The six pillars upon which the 2016 budget are to be built on are: Economic, social development, infrastructure, governance, environment, state and regional development.
In the economic sector, New Telegraph learnt that the 2016 budget will factor in seven components: Economic diversification, sustainable reforms in oil and gas, real sector development, strengthening national planning and statistical system, reforming the agriculture sector, tourism and creative industries development and public financial management According to the tem-plate given to the MDAs, under social development sector, the 2016 budget will focus on five key areas.
These priority areas are: Social protection initiatives, development of education infrastructure and critical equipment, capacity building of technical staff, free education at tertiary level for science, technical, mathematics and teacher education, propoor health care services and infrastructure development and develop infrastructure and promote grassroots sports. In the budget template, the Federal Government is focusing on four key priority programmes in the infrastructure sector. Power is top in the 2016 budget. Government is paying premium to electricity generation, transmission and distribution.
The three other priority programmes in the infrastructure sector are: Gas supply pipeline network, road construction and rehabilitation programme and rail network expansion and modernisation. Under governance, the 2016 budget template captures five priority programmes.
These are: Programme for the strengthening of the national security service, anti-corruption, public service reform, judicial services reform programme and strengthen global partnership for sustainable development. The focus in the environment sector is on three priority programmes:
National environment management, climate change and waste-to-wealth In the budget template, the priority programme for the state and regional development is on National Programme for the Improvement of Inter- Governmental Relations and cooperation at all tiers.
To ensure compliance with the 2016 Budget template, the Federal Government set up a technical help desk at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa to conduct clean-up check and integrity test for all the MDAs. New Telegraph learnt that all the MDAs met with officials of the Budget Office, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, between December 2 and 6, on the 2016 Budget. Bilateral discussions between the Ministry of Budget and National Planning with the MDAs will start this week.