Hello from the National’s newsroom in Abu Dhabi.

Pro-government forces were set to enter the northern Kurdish enclave of Afrin to end Turkey’s ongoing offensive there “popular forces will enter Afrin within hours,” reported Al Ikhbariya, Syrian state television reported.

Staying with Syria, and Rob Crilly looks at the political fallout Moscow faces by increasingly relying on mercenaries in its Syrian war. The result is a “cloud of confusion” about what happened and who was responsible for an assault on the Conoco oilfield, a lucrative and strategic prize now held by US allies, he says.

Turning to Yemen: dozens of Al Qaeda members were killed and many more captured in the country as the army seeks to expel them from outposts in the Hadramawt province.
The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, is driving out militants from eastern Yemen and areas considered Al Qaeda strongholds, reports Ali Mahmood from Aden.

Locally, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan was given a hero’s welcome yesterday as he was received by the country’s leadership at Al Bahr Palace in Abu Dhabi. The 27-year-old was injured in a helicopter crash last August in Yemen’s Shabwa province. Two other Emirati soldiers were injured in the crash, while four were killed.

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