UPDATED AT 3:49 PM (EST)
Ballistic missile strikes hit oil tankers and markets across northern Syria on Friday near the Turkish border.
The strikes killed one person and wounded at least 11 others, Turkish state media and a source from the Turkish-backed faction that controls the region told Reuters.
Explosions rocked local oil refineries near the northern Syrian towns of al-Bab and Jarablus, sparking huge fires, a witness and Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency said, according to Reuters.
The source in the National Army, which controls areas of northwest Syria where Turkish troops have a presence, told Reuters that missile strikes had caused the blasts, injuring 11 individuals.
Anadolu said that they were ballistic missiles and that it was not clear who carried out the strikes, which it said injured 18 people, according to Reuters.
Turkey has supported insurgents who sought to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though al-Assad, with Russian and Iranian assistance, has pushed back the fighters to an area in the the war-torn country’s northwest.
At the time of publication, reports are indicating that strikes were carried out by either Russian or Syrian government forces, specifically against oil markets controlled by opposition forces in northern Syria. Moreover, the reports are conflicting about whether the missiles were the Syrian Army’s OTR-21 Tochka-U or the Russian’s Iskander.
One strike hit oil tankers in al-Hamran, which is near Jarablus and northwest of the northern Syria town of Manbij, resulting in a massive explosion.
The exact location of theses strikes was determined as the al-Hamran crossing between the TFSA (Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army) and SDF-controlled (Syrian Democratic Forces) areas, according to a report. The supposed target were reportedly trucks smuggling oil.
Three missiles hit the al-Hamran crossing, according to Syrian journalist Mohamed Rasheed, “causing huge explosions and burning fuel vehicles at the targeted place.”
It has also been reported that a subsequent strike hit an oil market in the TFSA-held town of Tarhin, which is north of al-Bab. Reporting thus far has indicated that two missiles were launched from the major city of Aleppo.
These missile strikes come one week after U.S. President Joe Biden in his first known use of force as commander-in-chief launched an airstrike against an Iranian-backed militia target in Syria, which drew harsh criticism from both the political left and right.
The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that there was initially supposed to be a second airstrike the same day as the aforementioned one, but that Biden called it off at the last minute due to an intelligence report saying that there was a woman and some child at the site of the second Iranian-backed militia target.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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