Israel has bombed Iranian-backed militias in Syria — Netanyahu

A man watches a presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the International Homeland security Forum in Jerusalem on June 14, 2018. (AFP / THOMAS COEX)
Updated 15 June 2018
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Israel has bombed Iranian-backed militias in Syria — Netanyahu

  • Netanyahu accused Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, of bringing in 80,000 Shiite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and “convert” Syria’s Sunni majority.
  • About half Syria’s pre-war 22 million population has been displaced by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.

JERUSALEM: Israel has attacked Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, casting such actions as potentially helping to stem a Syrian Sunni refugee exodus to Europe.
Israeli officials have previously disclosed scores of air strikes within Syria to prevent suspected arms transfers to Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas or Iranian military deployments.
But they have rarely given detail on the operations, or described non-Lebanese militiamen as having been targeted.
Netanyahu accused Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, of bringing in 80,000 Shiite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and “convert” Syria’s Sunni majority.
“That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war — I should say a theological war, a religious war — and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on ... And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries,” Netanyahu told an international security forum.
“Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We’ll fight them. By preventing that — and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shiite militias — by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world.”
Netanyahu did not elaborate. About half Syria’s pre-war 22 million population has been displaced by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.
Syria’s population is mostly Sunni Muslim. President Bashar Assad is from the Alawite religious minority, often considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Under recent deals between Assad’s government and mainly Sunni rebels, insurgents have left long-besieged areas sometimes in exchange for Shiite residents moving from villages surrounded by insurgents.
The political opposition to Assad says the deals amount to forced demographic change and deliberate displacement of his enemies away from the main cities of western Syria. The Damascus government says the deals allow it to take back control and to restore services in the wrecked towns.


Iran indicates talks with US on nuclear program unlikely

Updated 19 July 2018
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Iran indicates talks with US on nuclear program unlikely

  • Trump earlier this year pulled America out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon
  • Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff claims the president rejected eight requests from President Donald Trump last year for one-on-one talks

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff claims the president rejected eight requests from President Donald Trump last year for one-on-one talks.
It’s the latest comment from Tehran suggesting Iran isn’t prepared to embark on bilateral negotiations with Washington.
Trump earlier this year pulled America out of the international deal meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. He said last week that with increased American sanctions, “at a certain point they’re going to call me and say ‘let’s make a deal.’“
State-owned IRAN newspaper quoted Rouhani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi saying Thursday that “it’s been the reverse, so far,” with Trump seeking to initiate talks.
He says Iran rejected the requests from the US for the two presidents to meet at last year’s UN General Assembly meeting.