Syrian airstrikes kill 23; Mugabe 'relieved' over resignation

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  • Syrian government and allied forces launched an airstrike on the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus killing at least 23 people on Sunday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The UK-based information office said the strike raised the death toll to 130 people during 12 days of shelling in the region. Reuters reports that a witness said drones were hovering in Eastern Ghouta since Sunday morning and warplanes had also hit the towns of Mesraba and Harasta. Heavy shelling also hit Eastern Ghouta and dozens had been injured, the witness said.
  • The mediator who led talks to end former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s rule says the leader was relieved when he signed his resignation letter after 37 years in power. Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori said in an interview with The Associated Press that Mugabe wanted a gradual and “smooth” transition of power to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president. “The man had already realized that this is the end of the road.” Mukonori said Mugabe felt forced to resign after Mnangagwa did not return from exile in South Africa at Mugabe’s request.


  • Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo was charged on Saturday with corruption, including trying to defraud the central bank more than a decade ago. Chombo’s lawyer said Chombo was admitted to hospital with injuries sustained from beatings after he was taken into military custody on November 14. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s high court also ruled that the military takeover, which led to the ousting of former president Robert Mugabe, was legal. “The actions of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to stop the usurping of power by those close to former president Robert Mugabe are constitutional,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.
  • Egyptian investigators say the attackers who killed at least 305 people at a Mosque in Sinai were carrying the flag of the Islamic State. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the the assault, which was launched during Friday prayers. Egypt’s public prosecutor said there were up to 30 attackers at the scene.
  • Six people were killed and about 200 people injured in Islamabad in Pakistan when security forces tried to break up a protest by Islamists at the Faizabad Interchange highway. Protesters have been blocking the highway for several weeks, demanding Law Minister Zahid Hamid, whom they accuse of blasphemy, be fired. The government has called for the military to step in. Earlier on Saturday, security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse the demonstrators, Pakistani media report, but were met with rocks and tear gas shells. A leader of the Islamist Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party leader called for a countrywide general strike on Monday against what he called “atrocities” committed by police on Saturday.

What we’re reading

  • For almost four decades the Zimbabwe Herald was the official newspaper of former president Robert Mugabe. Then, after his downfall, it had to scramble to figure out what to do. Should they back Mugabe or the military takeover? Did they still have to echo the party line? What was the party line, anyway? This report from the Washington Post outlines the newspaper’s curious scenario. “Suddenly, a newsroom that had been the mouthpiece of the regime was without a censor.” — Charles Anderson


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