Houthi killing spree jeopardizes truce

Updated 18 May 2015

Houthi killing spree jeopardizes truce

SANAA: Fierce clashes between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and pro-government forces killed dozens across south Yemen on Saturday, threatening to derail a humanitarian cease-fire drawn up to bring vital aid to the war-wracked country.
In the latest violence, at least 12 civilians were killed and 51 wounded when the Houthis shelled several neighborhoods in Yemen’s third city of Taez, military and local sources said.
The clashes came after overnight fighting killed 26 Houthi rebels and militiamen loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh as well as 14 pro-government forces, military sources said.
Some aid has begun to trickle into Yemen since the pause in fighting, but residents of areas where clashes persist complain they remain without the most basic supplies. The fighting in Taez forced many to flee to the countryside.
“Humanitarian aid hasn’t reached Taez, where we haven’t received fuel, food or medical equipment,” said a government official in the city.
And in southern Daleh province, five Houthis were killed overnight when their convoy was ambushed, an official said.
Morocco’s armed forces, meanwhile, said they have located the body of one of their pilots downed over Yemen. A plane has been sent with DNA experts to identify the body of Yassine Bahti, whose F-16 was shot down Monday.
The Yemeni embassy in Riyadh held Saturday a press conference announcing a series of measures taken ahead of peace talks.
Abdul Aziz Jabari, the head of the committee preparing for the talks, said the dialogue would result in effective decisions that would be obligatory for all parties.


Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

Updated 56 min 24 sec ago

Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

  • Iranian outbreak, already the worst in the Middle East, is far more serious than initially reported.
  • Tehran’s cover up of the true virus toll is consistent with their reaction to previous embarrassing incidents.

LONDON: A data leak from within Iran has revealed that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 is nearly three times higher than the figures reported by the government.

The data, which was passed to the BBC Persian service, shows almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to July 20, nearly triple the 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of infections is also far higher than that admitted by the government: 451,024 as opposed to the 278,827 disclosed by Tehran.

Undercounting cases is common across the world due to limited testing capacity, but the BBC’s information reveals that Iranian authorities reported significantly lower daily numbers, despite having a record of all deaths — suggesting the figures were deliberately suppressed.

The data leak also shows that the first recorded case of the virus in Iran was on Jan. 22 — a month before the government acknowledged any cases.

Already the center of the Middle East’s virus outbreak, Tehran’s cover-up of early cases and its failure to swiftly act on the outbreak likely accelerated the spread of the virus across the region.

The BBC received the data from an anonymous source, who told them they shared the data to “shed light on the truth” and to end “political games” over the epidemic.

The data supplied includes details of daily admissions to hospitals across Iran, including names, age, gender, symptoms, date and length of periods spent in hospital, and underlying conditions patients might have.

The overall trend of cases and deaths in the leaked data is similar to official reports, but different in size.

Dr Nouroldin Pirmoazzen, a former Iranian MP who was an official at the health ministry and is now living in the US, told the BBC that the government was “anxious and fearful of the truth” when COVID-19 hit Iran.

He said: “The government was afraid that the poor and the unemployed would take to the streets.”

The Iranian health ministry maintains that the country’s reports to the World Health Organization on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are “transparent” and “far from any deviations.”

The cover-up of the true scale of their COVID-19 crisis is not unusual behaviour from the regime. A number of incidents have brought a similar response in 2020 alone.

In January, Iran shot down a Ukrainian jet near Tehran, killing all passengers on board. The regime hid its actions for three days, only acknowledging wrongdoing as public pressure mounted through protests.

Then Iranian nuclear and military facilities were the target of a series of sabotages, explosions, and cyberattacks, but Tehran has attempted to conceal what happened at virtually every step of the way.