Two Israeli police shot in Jerusalem attack die: police

Israeli police check the scene and surround a dead body (in foreground) where assailants allegedly fired shots toward Israeli forces on the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem’s Old City on July 14, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2017

Two Israeli police shot in Jerusalem attack die: police

JERUSALEM: Two Israeli police officers shot when Arab assailants opened fire in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday have died from their wounds, authorities said.
Police confirmed the deaths, with the three Arab Israeli attackers also shot dead by security forces after fleeing to an ultra-sensitive holy site in Jerusalem's Old City.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the two officers died in hospital.
The incident was among the most serious in recent years in Jerusalem and was likely to heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
No details were immediately available on the identity of the attackers.
The three were killed at the site known to Muslims as the Haram Al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, the location of regular clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, but gunfire rarely occurs there.
The site includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
A number of attacks have occurred around Jerusalem’s Old City in recent months, but they have often involved knives.
Police locked down the area and the Al-Aqsa compound at the holy site was closed for Friday prayers. Gates leading to the site were sealed off.
Video being shared on social media appeared to show gunshots ringing out at the holy site.
“I was standing here and then I heard the shooting. I thought it was fireworks,” Basem Badawi, a 60-year-old water seller in the Old City, told AFP.
“But then I saw the police coming from everywhere.”
The Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred in Judaism.
It is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it.
It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.
Jews are allowed to visit, but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions. The site is administered by the Islamic Waqf organization.
Waqf officials said its guards at the site had been detained by Israeli police following the attack.
A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of at least 277 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll. 
Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.
Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
The violence has greatly subsided in recent months.

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 26 May 2020

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.