Car bomb kills governor of Hama

Updated 15 September 2013
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Car bomb kills governor of Hama

DAMASCUS: Syrian state television says a car bomb has killed the governor of the central province of Hama.
State TV says Anas Abdul Razaak Naem was assassinated Sunday in the Jarajima neighborhood of the city of Hama, the provincial capital. No further details were immediately available.
Assassinations of politicians, army officers and journalists who support Presidnet Bashar Assad’s regime are common in Syria’s civil war.
Syria reached an agreement with the United Nations on Sunday to allow a team of international experts to visit the site of alleged chemical weapons attacks last week outside Damascus, state media and the UN said.
A statement on Syrian state television said Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem and UN disarmament chief Angela Kane struck the deal during talks in Damascus, and that the two sides are working to finalize the date and time of the visit.
The world body said that a team of UN experts already in Syria has been instructed to focus on investigating the purported attack on Wednesday. The mission “is preparing to conduct on-site fact-finding activities’” on Monday, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
Anti-government activists and Doctors Without Borders say that more than 300 people were killed in the alleged toxic gas attack on the eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital. Images purporting to show the aftermath of the attack are filled with people gasping for breath and dead children unmarked by any wounds.
The eastern Ghouta area where the attack took place is under opposition-control, which makes arranging a trip across the front lines difficult. Rebels and the main Western-back opposition group have said they would guarantee access and the safety of a UN team to facilitate an investigation.
Nesirky said the Syrian government “affirmed that it will provide the necessary cooperation, including the observance of the cessation of hostilities at the locations related to the incident.”
He added that UN chief Ban Ki-moon “would like to reiterate that all relevant parties equally share the responsibility of cooperating in urgently generating a safe environment for the mission to do its job efficiently and providing all necessary information.”
The deal appears to meet the demands of the world powers, including the US, Britain, France and Russia, all of whom called on the Syrian government to cooperate with the UN and grant inspectors access to the sites.
Confirming whether chemical weapons were indeed used carries enormous stakes, and could play a large role in determining the future course of a Syrian conflict. It has reinvigorated debate about the possible use of foreign military action in Syria’s civil war.
Last week, France said that if an independent investigation confirms that chemical weapons were indeed employed, then military force could be used in Syria.
The UN team arrived in Syria last week to investigate three earlier purported chemical attacks. The mission is led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.