Syrian activists say explosion near Turkish border kills 5

Syrian citizens and civil defense workers gathering next of burning car at the explosion scene, in Azaz town, north Syria, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Azaz Media Office via AP)
Updated 03 May 2017
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Syrian activists say explosion near Turkish border kills 5

BEIRUT: A large explosion shook a rebel-held Syrian town along the border with Turkey on Wednesday, killing at least five people and wounding others.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a car bomb went off in the town of Azaz close to the offices of the Syrian interim government, which represents the opposition in rebel-held areas. The Observatory and the activist-run Azaz Media Center confirmed the toll, which was likely to rise.
The blast came as the Syrian government and the opposition resumed cease-fire talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, that are sponsored by Russia, a close ally of President Bashar Assad.
The United States is sending a senior State Department official to the talks, and President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signaled greater cooperation on Syria in a phone call on Tuesday. The White House said the two discussed setting up safe zones in the country, where a civil war has been raging for more than six years.
Syrian TV said the Astana talks began with a meeting between delegations from Russia and Iran, another close ally of Assad.
Azaz is on a key opposition supply route, and is a hub for fighters and opposition activists. It also hosts people displaced from fighting elsewhere in the country. The town has been the scene of several attacks, some claimed by the Daesh group. A huge explosion in January killed at least 50 people in Azaz.
A video of the aftermath of Wednesday’s explosion posted online by the Azaz Media Center showed burnt-out cars and firefighters struggling to put out a blaze. Gunfire rang out as people gathered at the scene and ambulances arrived.
The Turkish Dogan news agency said some of the wounded were taken to the state hospital in the Turkish border town of Kilis for treatment.


Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

Updated 1 min 12 sec ago
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Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

  • Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation”

JERUSALEM: An Israeli minister boasted Sunday that his country was the only one that “has been killing Iranians,” after tensions between Britain and Iran rose in the Gulf.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s comments to public radio were a reference to Israeli strikes in neighboring Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
But they came after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday, adding to tensions between Washington and Tehran linked to a 2015 nuclear deal.
Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation.”
Asked if he feared that Israel would not receive the backing of the United States in the case of a conflict with Iran, Hanegbi suggested that Tehran would avoid such a scenario.
“Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years,” he said.
“We strike the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes we acknowledge it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it.”
He added that the Iranians “understand that Israel means business.”
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in a similar vein last week with cadets at the national security college.
“At the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran is the Israeli army,” he said.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu warned that Israeli fighter jets “can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran.”
Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules” came some two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker at the mouth of the Mediterranean on allegations of breaching UN sanctions against Syria.