Militant convoy leaves Lebanon for Syrian rebel refuge

A convoy of nearly 200 vehicles carrying Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS) militants and their families leaving Lebanon for rebel-held Idlib in Syria. (AN photo by Najia Houssari)
Updated 03 August 2017

Militant convoy leaves Lebanon for Syrian rebel refuge

BEIRUT: A convoy of nearly 200 vehicles carrying Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS) militants and their families finally left northeast Lebanon for rebel-held Idlib in Syria, after two days of tense talks on a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.
JFS had demanded that 20 of its fighters be freed from Roumieh prison east of Beirut, but Lebanese authorities refused. In the end three fighters were released, in exchange for three Hezbollah members held by JFS. Five more Hezbollah fighters held by JFS will be released when the convoy reaches Idlib.
Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Lebanon’s head of general security, said the negotiations involved “no wanted people from Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. It is out of discussion.
“We received a lot of requests in the last few hours. Some wanted persons have symbolic significance. It is impossible to deliver them with their hands stained with Lebanese blood and the blood of the Lebanese army.”
The JFS militants, their families and other displaced people left the town of Arsal in 168 buses that had been waiting in Wadi Humaid for 48 hours, under the protection of the Lebanese army. Some militants took their own pick-up trucks to join the convoy. It is not known if the JFS leader Abu Malek Al-Talli was among those who left.
Hezbollah said the militants burned down their headquarters and destroyed vehicles and military equipment before leaving. It said a total of 7,777 people took part in the evacuation, of whom more than 1,000 were armed militants.
A map on the Facebook page of the Nors Studies Center suggested the convoy would travel through Fleta, Nabek, Qara, Bureij and on to Homs. From there, it will head for Salmyeh then to Al-Sa’an in the countryside of Hama, the last point of control of the Syrian regime.
It will then enter rebel-held areas before moving northward to Idlib.
The convoy was accompanied by vehicles of the Syrian Red Crescent inside Syrian territories, under the terms of the agreement.


Iran says it’s defused 2nd cyberattack in less than a week

Updated 40 min 16 sec ago

Iran says it’s defused 2nd cyberattack in less than a week

  • Iranian minister said the hackers were tracked
  • The country disconnected much of its infrastructure from the Internet after the Stuxnet computer virus

TEHRAN: Iran’s telecommunications minister announced on Sunday that the country has defused a second cyberattack in less than a week, this time “aimed at spying on government intelligence.”
Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said in a short Twitter post that the alleged attack was “identified and defused by a cybersecurity shield,” and that the “spying servers were identified and the hackers were also tracked.” He did not elaborate.
Last Wednesday, Jahromi told the official IRNA news agency that a “massive” and “governmental” cyberattack also targeted Iran’s electronic infrastructure. He provided no specifics on the purported attack except to say it was also defused and that a report would be released.
On Tuesday, the minister dismissed reports of hacking operations targeting Iranian banks, including local media reports that accounts of millions of customers of Iranian banks were hacked.
This is not the first time Iran says it has defused a cyberattack, though it has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the Internet after the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s.
In June, Washington officials said that US military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone in the strategic Arabian Gulf.
Tensions have escalated between the US and Iran ever since President Donald Trump withdrew America last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and began a policy of “maximum pressure.” Iran has since been hit by multiple rounds of sanctions.