Lebanon helped foil bomb attack on Australia-UAE flight: Interior minister

Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Updated 22 August 2017
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Lebanon helped foil bomb attack on Australia-UAE flight: Interior minister

BEIRUT: Lebanese intelligence helped to foil a Daesh plot last month to blow up a plane with 400 passengers flying from Australia to the UAE, Lebanon’s interior minister said on Monday.
Amer Al-Khayyat, one of four brothers from northern Lebanon involved in the plot, tried to board an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on July 15 carrying explosives packed into a meat grinder and a child’s doll. His baggage was rejected because it was overweight.
Al-Khayyat and two of his brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud, had been under surveillance for more than a year by authorities in Lebanon and Australia, interior minister Nohad Machnouk said. A fourth brother, Tarek, a Daesh leader in Raqqa, Syria, gave orders for the attempted bombing.
Amer was arrested in Lebanon, and Khaled and Mahmoud were among four people detained in raids this month by Australian counter-terrorism police in suburbs in Sydney.
The three brothers made frequent trips between Australia and Lebanon, Machnouk said.
The role of Lebanese intelligence was to “provide the security services in Australia with the necessary information and assistance in monitoring the brothers,” he said.
When asked whether the operation would have been successful if the luggage had not exceeded the weight limit, Machnouk said: “Probably, yes.”
“The plane had 120 Lebanese on board in addition to other nationalities,” he said, according to AFP.
“When four Lebanese brothers in Australia decide to blow up an Emirati jet this means that the whole world should work together to fight terrorism,” Machnouk said, according to AP.


Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

Updated 29 min 24 sec ago
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Syria state media says US-led coalition hits regime position in east

  • In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh
  • Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said overnight Sunday to Monday that US-led coalition aircraft had carried out a deadly strike on a regime position in the country’s east near the Iraqi border.
Both US-backed Kurdish-led fighters and Russia-supported regime forces are separately fighting the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
“Aircraft of the American coalition bombarded one of our military positions in the area of Al-Hari southeast of Albu Kamal” town in Deir Ezzor, state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying, adding a number of people had been killed.
IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the jihadists have since lost most of that territory, in Syria seeing their presence largely reduced to the country’s vast desert and a few villages near the frontier with Iraq.
In the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian government forces have carried out parallel but separate offensives against Daesh.
Regime forces control land west of the Euphrates River that runs through the province, while the SDF are battling to expel IS from a string of villages on the river’s eastern banks near the Iraqi border.
Both sides have mostly avoided running into each other and a deconfliction line exists to avoid such incidents.
But there have been exceptions.
In April, rare clashes broke out between both sides, killing more than a dozen combatants.
In February, the US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes in Deir Ezzor province that killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters.
Washington said the strikes were in retaliation for an attack on its own personnel and SDF forces.