Egypt’s Sissi orders cabinet to help resettle Sinai Christians feeing Daesh

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi meets with leaders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Egyptian National Police at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairoon Thursday, in this picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency.
Updated 25 February 2017

Egypt’s Sissi orders cabinet to help resettle Sinai Christians feeing Daesh

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday ordered the government to take all necessary measures to help resettle Christians who have fled Egypt’s Northern Sinai after Daesh killed several members of the community.
Hundreds of Christian families and students have fled to Ismailia, north Sinai’s neighboring province, after seven Christians were killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday.
Daesh, which is waging an insurgency there, claimed responsibility for the killings, five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another set on fire.
Sissi held a meeting on Saturday with the prime minister, ministers of defense, interior, intelligence among other officials to discuss “the importance to resist all attempts to sabotage stability and security in Egypt,” the statement said.
Sissi had also “directed the government to take all necessary measures to facilitate settlements for citizens in their set resettled areas.”
Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, are the Middle East’s largest Christian community. They have long complained of persecution.
In December, Daesh claimed responsibility for bombing a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic papacy, killing 28 people, mostly women and children.


Hezbollah says 2 Israeli drones downed in south Beirut

Updated 46 min 57 sec ago

Hezbollah says 2 Israeli drones downed in south Beirut

  • Israelii jets earlier attacked targets near Syria’s capital of Damascus to pre-empt an alleged Iranian drone attack plot

BEIRUT: A Hezbollah official said Sunday that an Israeli drone went down over the Lebanese capital of Beirut and another exploded in the air, amid regional tensions between Israel and Iran.
Residents of the Iranian-backed group’s stronghold in southern Beirut reported one large explosion that shook the area early Sunday, triggering a fire. They said the nature of the blast in the Moawwad neighborhood was not immediately clear, but said it might have been caused by an Israeli drone that went down in the area amid Israeli air activity in neighboring Syria.
They said they heard an aircraft flying just before the blast and reported later that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group sealed off the area. The blast occurred near the militant group’s media office in the Moawwad district.
The Hezbollah official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the person was not authorized to speak on the record to journalists. No details were immediately available.
Israeli warplanes fly over Lebanon regularly and have struck inside neighboring Syria from Lebanese airspace on numerous occasions.
A few hours earlier, late Saturday, the Israeli military attacked targets near Syria’s capital of Damascus in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region.
The late-night airstrike, which triggered Syrian anti-aircraft fire, appeared to be one of the most intense attacks by Israeli forces in several years of hits on Iranian targets in Syria.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds force, working with allied Shiite militias, had been planning to send a number of explosives-laden attack drones into Israel.
On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack by Israeli warplanes a “major operational effort.”
Syrian state TV said the country’s air defenses had responded to “hostile” targets over Damascus and shot down incoming missiles before they reached their targets.
In recent days, US officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq.