Houthi rocket fire kills 7 children in Yemen

Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed President Abedrabo Abdul Hadi, hold a position during fighting against Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies on June 27, 2016, in Hilan mountains, west of Marib city. A rocket launched by Houthis on Tuesday killed at least seven children, officials said. (AFP / ABDULLAH AL-QADRY)
Updated 05 July 2016

Houthi rocket fire kills 7 children in Yemen

ADEN, Yemen: A rocket fired by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen on Tuesday killed seven children in a residential neighborhood of Marib city, east of the capital, officials said.
The rocket hit a courtyard where the children were playing, said Abdel Ghani Shaalan, Marib’s deputy regional director of security.
Two other rockets hit a house and a shop front, wounding 25 civilians including women and children, he told AFP.
The toll was confirmed by Saleh Al-Shaddadi, the director of Marib’s main hospital, where casualties were admitted.
The Iran-backed Houthis launched the Katyusha rockets from Mount Haylan, 15 kilometers (10 miles) west of Marib, Shaalan said.
Marib city and the majority of the surrounding province are held by government forces who are fighting the Shiite rebels who control areas to the north and west of the oil-rich region.
The attack in Marib came as UN-recognized government of President Abedrabo Abdul Hadi and Houthi negotiators take a break from peace talks after two months of UN-backed negotiations that have made little progress.
The talks are due to resume on July 15 in Kuwait.
The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 6,400 people dead and wounded 30,000 since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015.
Saudi Arabia aims to restore exiled President Hadi to power and assert government control over large parts of the country that had been taken over by the Houthis in 2014.

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 5 min 22 sec ago

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.