Militants kill 10 Iran Guards at Iraqi border post: Agency

Earlier this month, the Revolutionary Guards said they had killed three militants in a security operation near the border with Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Militants kill 10 Iran Guards at Iraqi border post: Agency

  • The agency quoted a Revolutionary Guards statement as saying that several of the attacking "terrorists" were also killed in the fighting in which a munitions depot was blown up
  • There is little coordination between Iranian and Iraqi forces over security of the porous border that has also been used by Daesh to enter Iran

DUBAI: Militants killed 10 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in an attack on a post on the Iraqi border on Saturday, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, the latest deadly clash in an area where armed opposition Kurdish groups are active.
The agency quoted a Revolutionary Guards statement as saying that several of the attacking "terrorists" were also killed in the fighting in which a munitions depot was blown up.
Provincial security official Hosein Khosheqbal told state television that 11 members of the Guards' voluntary Basij forces were killed in the overnight violence in the Marivan area, which he blamed on the Kurdish armed opposition group PJAK.
"The latest news is that the Basij and Guards forces are in hot pursuit of the attackers," Khosheqbal said.
The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) -- an outlawed group that seeks self-governance for Iran's Kurds and has links to Turkey's militant Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) -- operates in the border area, along with other armed Kurdish groups based in northern Iraq.
Earlier this month, the Revolutionary Guards said they had killed three militants in a security operation near the border with Iraq, and nine militants were reported killed by the Guards last month further north on the border.
There is little coordination between Iranian and Iraqi forces over security of the porous border that has also been used by Daesh to enter Iran.
Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said on Tuesday that security forces in southwest Iran arrested four suspected Daesh operatives who were planning attacks.
In June 2017, Daesh militants carried out coordinated attacks at the parliament building in Tehran and the mausoleum of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini south of the capital, killing at least 18 people.


UN to deliver aid to Syrians trapped near Jordan border

Updated 48 min 7 sec ago
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UN to deliver aid to Syrians trapped near Jordan border

  • An estimated 50,000 women, children and men are stranded at the Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian border
  • Jordan has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed

DAMASCUS, Syria: The UN said it was organizing a joint aid convoy with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in the desert near the Jordanian border.

The world body said the convoy would deliver “humanitarian assistance to an estimated 50,000 women, children and men who are stranded at the Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian border.”

“The overall humanitarian situation inside the Rukban camp is at a critical stage,” said Ali Al-Za’tari, the UN’s top official in Damascus.

Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said the world body was “deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation” at the camp.

A suicide bombing claimed by Daesh in June 2016 killed seven Jordanian soldiers in no-man’s land near the nearby Rukban crossing.

Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones.”

The kingdom, part of the US-led coalition fighting Daesh, has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed. 

The camp, home to displaced people from across Syria, also lies close to the Al-Tanf base used by the US-led coalition fighting IS.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the camp suffers from a severe lack of food and medicines, compounded by its remote desert location, the closure of the Jordanian border and regime forces cutting off all roads to it.

The last delivery of UN aid to Rukban took place in January 2018 through Jordan.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF last week urged warring parties in Syria to allow basic health service deliveries to the camp, saying two babies without access to hospitals had died there within 48 hours.

On Thursday, UN humanitarian aid expert Jan Egeland confirmed the regime had agreed to allow convoys of aid to the Rukban area.

He said Russian officials had told him Syria’s regime had withdrawn a controversial law that allowed for authorities to seize property left behind by civilians who fled fighting in the country’s civil war.

Egeland of the office of UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura also confirmed he will leave his post in November. 

He spoke a day after de Mistura told the UN Security Council that he is leaving for “personal” reasons.

The envoy said that he will make a final effort before stepping down next month to advance toward a new constitution for Syria — a key step in ending the country’s civil war.

De Mistura announced at the end of a Security Council briefing that he is leaving the job in late November for “purely, purely personal reasons” related to his family after four years and four months in one of the toughest UN jobs.

He told council members that objections by the Syrian government are still holding up the launch of the committee meant to draft a new constitution.

While there is agreement on the 50-member government and opposition delegations for the drafting committee, de Mistura said the government objects to a third 50-member delegation that the UN put together representing Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women.

De Mistura said he has been invited to Damascus next week to discuss the committee’s formation.

He said he also intends to invite senior officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran — the guarantor states in the so-called “Astana process” aimed at ending the violence in Syria — to meet him in Geneva, and to talk to a group of key countries comprising Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the US.