Israeli army ‘uncovers’ Hezbollah unit led by notorious commander

Israeli forces “will act with all our might to force this terrorist organization out” — signaling possible new actions by the Israeli military inside Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 March 2019
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Israeli army ‘uncovers’ Hezbollah unit led by notorious commander

  • Israel said the new unit had been established without Assad’s knowledge
  • According to Israel’s military, the new unit was seeking to revive infrastructure left behind by the former one

JERUSALEM: Israel’s army said Wednesday it has uncovered a unit created by Hezbollah across the cease-fire line in the Syrian Golan Heights and led by a commander previously jailed over an attack on US forces.

With President Bashar Assad regaining control of southern Syria with the help of Russia and Hezbollah backer Iran, Israel is concerned a front against it could be established there.

Hezbollah, based in neighboring Lebanon, has also been supporting Assad in Syria’s civil war.

The Shiite group is among Israel’s main enemies and the two fought a war in 2006.

Israel said the new unit had been established without Assad’s knowledge, and some Israeli media reported that part of the aim in publicizing it was in hopes Syria and Russia would move to stop it.

It alleged the new unit, “masterminded” by Hezbollah, had been set up “to eventually control teams of Syrian operatives who will launch attacks against Israel.” “We are not going to allow Hezbollah to establish a terror infrastructure on the Golan capable of striking Israeli civilians,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Israeli military spokesman.

“We hold the Syrian regime responsible for anything that happens inside Syria aimed at Israel.” The army said the unit was in the establishment and recruitment stage and was not yet operational.

Hezbollah began establishing it in the summer of 2018, it said.

It said it is led by Hezbollah commander Ali Musa Daqduq.

In 2012, Daqduq was released by Iraq due to lack of evidence after being accused of plotting to kill five US soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala.

Daqduq was captured in 2007 on suspicion he had helped organise an attack that led to the deaths of the five soldiers. 

He was held by American troops until he was handed over to Iraqi officials in December 2011.

Israel says a previous such unit was established in the Syrian Golan under the command of Samir Kantar and Jihad Mughniyeh. Kantar was killed in a 2015 airstrike in Damascus blamed on Israel. Mughniyeh was also killed in an air raid attributed to Israel earlier that year.

According to Israel’s military, the new unit was seeking to revive infrastructure left behind by the former one.

“The field operatives who fill the ranks of the network and act exclusively in Syria are composed of various groups and networks who previously took part in terrorist activity in the Golan Heights under the notorious network of Kantar and Mughniyeh,” the army said.


UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

Updated 19 March 2019
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UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

  • The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war
  • The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations will present a new plan for the pullback of forces from Yemen's flashpoint city of Hodeidah following talks with the government and the Houthis, a UN envoy said Tuesday.
The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
"Following constructive discussions with both parties, there is significant progress towards an agreement to implement phase one of the redeployments of the Hodeida agreement," said a statement from Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen.
"Operational details will be presented to the parties in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) for endorsement shortly," he added.
The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation.
Griffiths said he "looks forward to the swift endorsement of the plan."
The United Nations announced a deal on the two-stage pullback from Hodeidah city and its ports on February 17, but the redeployment failed to materialize on the ground.
UN diplomats said the Houthis were refusing to pull away from the ports as part of the first stage. 
Griffiths and head of the RCC, Danish General Michael Lollesgaard, have been holding talks with all sides to overcome the final hurdles.
The Red Sea port of Hodeidah is the entry point for the bulk of imported goods and relief aid to Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian conflict.