‘Missiles Fired At Passenger Jet Over Syria’



Source: news.sky.com


A passenger jet with 200 people on board is forced to take evasive action as it is targeted by two missiles, says Russian media.

Two missiles have been fired at a Russian passenger plane flying over Syria, according to Russian media.

About 160 people were on board the charter aircraft at the time of the attack, the origin of which remains unknown, a source told the Interfax news agency.

An unnamed source is understood to have said: “Syrian [officials] informed us that on Monday morning, unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian airline.”

The source said the pilots managed to manoeuvre but it was only because they did so that lives were saved.

The source added: “It remains unclear whether the attackers knew whether it was Russian or not.”

Russia is an ally of the embattled regime of Bashar al Assad, who is struggling to hold on to Syria amid a civil war that he seen 70,000 killed.

The targeted plane belonged to Nordwind Airlines – a Russian charter air carrier.

According to other sources, it was en route to the city of Kazan, in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, from Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el Sheikh.

Russia’s Agency For Tourism later confirmed an incident had taken place, saying: “No one was injured, and the plane was not damaged. The aircraft landed in Kazan as it had been planned.”

Russia’s foreign ministry later issued a statement about the incident.

A spokesman said: “On April 29, at 0455 moscow, a Northern Wind plane was travelling in Syrian airspace from Sharm el Sheikh to Kazan and the pilot crew has recorded military activities on the ground that could have endangered the plane and 159 passengers.

“The Russian authorities are taking urgent measures to clarify the situation including in contact with Syrian authorities.”

The Syrian regime is battling a diverse range of opposition fighters, with some following an ideology akin to that shared by al Qaeda, and others supported by western allies who are seeking to achieve democracy.


Link: http://news.sky.com/story/1084647/missiles-fired-at-passenger-jet-over-syria

UN agency ‘broke’ as Syria refugee funds run out



Source: bbc.co.uk

A UN agency has said it will soon be unable to provide “life-saving” aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan and other countries due to funds running out.

“The needs are rising exponentially and we are broke,” said Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for children’s charity Unicef.

Some 1.2 million Syrians have fled since the uprising began in March 2011.

Around 385,500 have escaped to Jordan, with figures set to triple by the end of the year, Ms Mercado said.

This would bring the number of Syrian refugees there close to 1.2 million – the equivalent of one-fifth of Jordan’s total population.

“Since the beginning of year, more than 2000 refugees have streamed across the border [into Jordan] every day,” Ms Mercado told reporters at a UN news conference in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday.

“We expect these numbers to more than double by July and triple by December.”

Many of the refugees are children, the spokeswoman added.


Unicef is currently providing water, sanitation, vaccines, education and other essential services in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which houses nearly 150,000 refugees.

So far the agency has only received $12m (£7.8m), or 19%, of the $57m it appealed for to fund its Jordan operations this year.

As a result, it will soon need to “scale back life-saving support”, Ms Mercado said.

“In concrete terms, this means that by June, we will stop delivering 3.5m litres of water every day to Zaatari camp.”

She added that the money shortage also meant Unicef would be unable to provide supplies to two new camps slated to open in the coming weeks.

UN officials said the lack of funding did not only apply to Jordan, but also to other countries hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, including Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

The head of the UN’s refugee agency, UNHRC, echoed Ms Mercado’s warning, saying Syria’s conflict was on the verge of overwhelming the UN.

“This is the type of crisis that humanitarian agencies at some point cannot handle,” Filippo Grandi told the New York Times on Thursday.

“It is unmanageable and dangerous.”

The UN estimates that at least 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began, just over two years ago.