Israel fires missiles into south Syria

The missiles were fired into areas close to Golan Heights, which are occupied by and Israel. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Israel fires missiles into south Syria

  • Six civilians died of Israeli strikes in Damascus and in the central province of Homs end of June
  • Israel said they have the right to target areas which they believe might pose a threat to them

BEIRUT: An Israeli missile attack targeted Syrian military positions held by the government and its allies early on Wednesday, Syria’s state news agency said.
The missiles were fired into the south of the country close to the Golan Heights, an area occupied and annexed by Israel.
“The Israeli enemy launched an aggression after midnight against the Tall Al-Hara area,” the SANA news agency said Wednesday, adding that there were reports of damage to property.
The attacks were earlier described as “probably Israeli” by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who said they targeted Tall Al-Hara in Daraa province, south of Damascus, and two areas in the neighboring province of Quneitrathe.
“The regime’s anti-aircraft defense has been activated to counter the attack,” director of the Observatory Rami Abdel Rahmane said.
“Some missiles have been shot down, others have hit their target.”
The Observatory reported “loss of life” without giving further details.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, targeting forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and the regime’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and drawn in world powers since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Israeli strikes have previously targeted Tall Al-Hara where Hezbollah has installed a radar system and the Syrian regime has erected anti-aircraft batteries, according to the Observatory.
At the end of June, six civilians and nine pro-government fighters were killed in Israeli strikes near Damascus and in the central province of Homs, it added.
Israel says it is determined to prevent its arch-foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran backs Assad’s regime.
The Jewish state insists that it has the right to continue to target positions held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah out of self-defense.
The strikes came after Hezbollah’s leader said earlier this month that the group’s rockets could reach key Israeli sites along the Mediterranean coast, including Tel Aviv.
Hassan Nasrallah also said that Iran was “able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force” but “will not start a war.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered that his country would deliver a “crushing military blow” on the both Hezbollah and Lebanon if it were to attack.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

FASTFACT

The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.