Mossad chief says Iran carried out Gulf attacks, Tehran offers bullish response

The Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous off the port of Fujairah following an attack in the Gulf of Oman. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 01 July 2019

Mossad chief says Iran carried out Gulf attacks, Tehran offers bullish response

  • Worldwide criticism following attacks on a number of oil tankers off the coasts of the UAE and Oman
  • Tensions in the Middle East have risen since the US withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal

JERUSALEM: Iran was behind the recent attacks on oil tankers and pipelines across the Gulf region, according to the chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Yossi Cohen told an annual security conference in Israel on Monday: “I can tell you, with certainty, from the best sources of Israeli and western intelligence, that Iran is behind the attacks.”

There has been worldwide criticism following attacks on a number of oil tankers off the coasts of the UAE and Oman as well as on oil supply lines in Saudi Arabia and Baghdad.

Cohen added that the attacks were “approved by the Iranian leadership” and were carried out “at least mostly, by the Revolutionary Guard and their surrogates.”

Tensions in the Middle East have risen since the US withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and other world powers last year.

The Trump administration have imposed a series of sanctions on Iranian targets in response to Iranian actions in the Gulf region, while the president made a last-minute decision to abort a military strike against Iran in June for downing an American drone, which Tehran denies.

An Iranian official responded to Cohen’s comments by saying that Israel would be “destroyed in half an hour” if the US were to attack Iran.

“If the US attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan,” Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s security and foreign policy body, said on Monday.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.