No Iraqi casualties as 22 Iranian missiles hit bases: Iraq military

No Iraqi casualties as 22 Iranian missiles hit bases: Iraq military
Missiles which hit Ain Al-Asad air base were launched from inside Iran. (AP)
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Updated 09 January 2020

No Iraqi casualties as 22 Iranian missiles hit bases: Iraq military

No Iraqi casualties as 22 Iranian missiles hit bases: Iraq military
  • Seventeen missiles hit Al-Asad air base, five other missiles hit Erbil
  • President Donald Trump says on Twitter: ‘All is well!’

TEHRAN, Iran: The Iraqi military on Wednesday said there were no casualties among its troops as a result of an Iranian missile strike at bases in Iraq used by US forces.
The military said in a statement carried by the state news agency that the attack lasted half an hour, starting at 1:45am local time.
The statement said 22 missiles were fired. Seventeen missiles hit Al-Asad air base, including two that did not explode in the Hitan area west of the town of Hit. Five other missiles hit the northern region of Erbil.

State new agency KUNA earlier reported Kuwaiti Defense Minister Ahmad Mansour Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has received an official letter from the commander-in-chief of Camp Arifjan declaring imminent withdrawal of all US military forces in three days.
The receipt of letter from Camp Arifjan was unexpected, Kuwait defense minister was quoted as saying, and they were communicating with the US Department of Defense for more details and information.

The statement was later removed, with KUNA saying their Twitter account was hacked.

Iran struck back at the United States on Wednesday for the killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, in a major escalation that brought the two longtime foes closer to war.

A US official said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, but buildings were being searched.

An adviser to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted saying any adverse military actions by the US would be met with all-out war in the region.

And a senior official in the Iranian supreme leader’s office said the missile attacks against the US targets were the weakest of Iran’s retaliation scenarios.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on all sides to practice self-restraint, adhere to international agreements, and respect Iraqi state. This dangerous crisis threatens a “devastating all-out war” in Iraq, the region, and the world, he added.

Germany’s defense minister condemned the missile attacks, and called on Tehran to end a “spiral” of conflict.
“The German government strongly condemns this aggression ... it is now primarily up to the Iranians to refrain from further escalation,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told broadcaster ARD.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also condemned the attacks on ‘Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces.’
“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles. We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” Raab said.

 

The Iranian army repeated earlier demands for the US to withdraw its troops from the Middle East, state TV reported.

“Now that they have understood our power, it is time for the United States to withdraw its troops from the Middle East,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri said in a statement.

A top commander in Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary network said Wednesday it was time for an ‘Iraqi response’ to a US drone strike that killed the network’s deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

“That response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response. That is a promise,” Qais Al-Khazali, a hardline Hashed commander, threatened in a tweet.

UAE Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, meanwhile, said he was not expecting to see a war, and did not think the US wanted to become more aggressive in the Middle East. He allayed fears of a possible shortage of oil supply, adding that OPEC would respond if necessary but ‘we have limitations as well’ to replace possible oil shortages.

President Donald Trump said he would make a statement on the situation on Wednesday morning.
‘All is well!’ Trump said in a post on Twitter.

 


Soleimani’s killing and the strikes by Iran came as tensions continued to rise across the Middle East after Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

 

 

They also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region. It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two enemies, which have been at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday the US should withdraw from the region and said Tehran’s missile attacks on US targets in Iraq were “a slap on the face” for America.

“Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,” Khamenei said in a televised speech, ruling out any resumption of talks with Washington about a 2015 nuclear deal.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it would ban US carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman. Several foreign airlines also said they would also avoid flying over the affected areas.

 

Iran initially announced only one strike, but US officials confirmed both. US defense officials were at the White House, likely to discuss options with Trump, who launched the strike on Soleimani while facing an upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the US and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack against the Ain Al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province. The Guard issued the warning via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.


“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” The Guard said. It also threatened Israel.
After the strikes, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others Friday in a drone strike in Baghdad.

Iran is not seeking escalation or war, Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted after Tehran hit US targets in Iraq on Wednesday, adding that Tehran would defend itself against any aggression.
“Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

Ain Al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. It houses approximately 1,500 US and coalition forces.
Two Iraqi security officials said at least one of the missiles appeared to have struck a plane at the base, setting it on fire. It was not immediately clear whether it was an Iraqi or US jet. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the attacks, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they had no permission to brief journalists.

About 70 Norwegian troops also were on the air base but no injuries were reported, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said personnel in Iraq are as safe as they can be in the developing circumstances.

 




Trump visited the same base in 2018. (Reuters)

Trump visited the sprawling Ain Al-Asad air base, about 100 miles or 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. He did not meet with any Iraqi officials at the time, and his visit inflamed sensitivities about the continued presence of US forces in Iraq. Vice President Mike Pence also has visited the base.
Iranian state TV said the Guard’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack, which it said was part of an operation dubbed “Martyr Soleimani.” Iran said it would release more information later.
The US also acknowledged another missile attack on a base in Irbil in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners and allies in the region,” said Jonathan Hoffman, an assistant to the US defense secretary.

The US blames Soleimani for killing US troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before he was killed. Soleimani also led forces supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Assad in Syria on Tuesday amid the tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Soleimani’s slaying already has led Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vow to take revenge.
In Iraq, pro-Iranian factions in parliament have pushed to oust American troops from Iraqi soil following Soleimani’s killing. Germany and Canada announced plans to move some of their soldiers in Iraq to neighboring countries.

The US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said it would work with shippers in the region to minimize any possible threat.
The 5th Fleet “has and will continue to provide advice to merchant shipping as appropriate regarding recommended security precautions in light of the heightened tensions and threats in the region,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Joshua Frey told The Associated Press.
Iran’s parliament, meanwhile, has passed an urgent bill declaring the US military’s command at the Pentagon and those acting on its behalf in Soleimani’s killing as “terrorists,” subject to Iranian sanctions. The measure appears to be in response to a decision by Trump in April to declare the Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization.”
The US Defense Department used that terror designation to support the strike that killed Soleimani.

 


Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister accuses Israel of flagrant violations against the Palestinians

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister accuses Israel of flagrant violations against the Palestinians
Updated 32 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister accuses Israel of flagrant violations against the Palestinians

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister accuses Israel of flagrant violations against the Palestinians

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has accused Israel of committing flagrant violations against the Palestinians.
“Israel is committing flagrant violations against the Palestinians. We condemn Israeli takeover of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem,” Prince Faisal said in his opening speech during the emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“East Jerusalem is a Palestinian land that we do not accept to harm it,” he said.
Prince Faisal likewise called on the “international community to shoulder its responsibilities in front of Israel’s violations.”

WATCH THE ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION EMERGENCY MEETING:


“The international community must intervene urgently to put an end to Israeli practices,” Prince Faisal said.
Israeli air strikes killed 26 Palestinians, including eight children, in Gaza early on Sunday, Gaza health officials said, and rockets were fired into Israel as hostilities stretched into a seventh day.
The pre-dawn attacks in the center of Gaza City brought the death toll in Gaza to 174, including 47 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
The United Nations Security Council was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.


Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza Strip

Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza Strip
Updated 16 May 2021

Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza Strip

Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza Strip
  • Yahya Sinwar is the Islamist movement’s de facto leader in the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israeli air strikes hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political wing in the Gaza Strip, the army said Sunday, but without saying if he was killed.
“Among the targets struck are the residences of Yahya Sinwar, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau in Gaza, as well as of his brother, Muhammad Sinwar, Head of Logistics and Manpower for Hamas,” Israel’s army said in a statement, releasing a video showing plumes of smoke and intense damage.
“Both residences served as military infrastructure for the Hamas terror organization.”
Witnesses confirmed to AFP a strike had hit Sinwar’s house.
Sinwar, a former commander of Hamas’s military branch, served more than two decades in an Israeli jail before he was released in 2011 as a part of a prisoner exchange.
First elected as the head of Hamas’s political wing in Gaza in 2017, he was re-elected in March, extending his tenure as the Islamist movement’s de facto leader in the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave.
Hamas overall chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently based in Qatar.
The army said it had also carried out strikes targeting Hamas tunnel systems.
As of 07:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) Sunday, Israel’s army said that Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired some 2,900 rockets toward Israel.
The army said 450 rockets fell short inside Gaza, while Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system has intercepted approximately 1,150 rockets.


Philippines starts barring travelers from Oman, UAE as COVID-19 safety precaution

Philippines starts barring travelers from Oman, UAE as COVID-19 safety precaution
Updated 16 May 2021

Philippines starts barring travelers from Oman, UAE as COVID-19 safety precaution

Philippines starts barring travelers from Oman, UAE as COVID-19 safety precaution
  • All existing travel restrictions of passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are extended until May 31

DUBAI: The Philippines has started barring the entry of travelers from Oman and the United Arab Emirates as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly the COVID-19 variant from India.

“All existing travel restrictions of passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are extended until 2359H of May 31, 2021,” Philippine presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said in a statement.

“The Department of Transportation should ensure that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the country pursuant to travel restrictions imposed by the Office of the President and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) resolutions except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government,” Roque added.

The Philippines on Saturday reported 10 new COVID-19 cases of the so-called ‘double mutant’ variant first detected in India, bringing the total to 12. The India coronavirus variant carries two mutations, E484Q and L425R.

Experts say the E484Q mutation is similar to the E484K mutation or the ‘escape mutation’ which helps the virus gets past the body’s immune system, while L452R is found to be an efficient spreader of the coronavirus.

The first two reported cases were overseas Filipino workers who separately arrived from Oman and the UAE, which prompted Philippine authorities to consequently impose the travel ban until the end of the month.

Both Gulf countries host a huge community of Filipino expatriate workers, and the Philippine government has implemented measures to ensure those returning to the country follow stringent protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


As Palestinians observe ‘Nakba’ worldwide, Israeli forces go on rampage in Gaza

People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
Updated 16 May 2021

As Palestinians observe ‘Nakba’ worldwide, Israeli forces go on rampage in Gaza

People demonstrate in Los Angeles on May 15, 2021 in support of Palestinians under attack by Israeli occupation forces. (AFP / Patrick T. Fallon)
  • Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza
  • Protesters march in major North American, European cities in support of the Palestinian cause

GAZA CITY/LONDON/NEW YORK: Palestinians on Saturday marked the anniversary of the Nakba, the “catastrophe” when more than 700,000 were driven from their homes to establish the state of Israel in 1948.

Israel observed the day by killing two women and eight children from one family in an airstrike on a refugee camp.

Three heavy missiles also destroyed the 12-story Al-Jala’a Tower in Gaza City, which housed the offices of media outlets including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, and bombed the home of Khalil Al-Hayeh, a senior Hamas leader.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least 139 people, including 39 children and 22 women.

 

 

Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel and killed eight people, the latest on Saturday when a man died in a rocket strike on the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

There was outrage over the attack on the AP building, which also contained residential apartments. The Israeli military said Hamas was operating inside the building, but offered no evidence.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” AP chief executive Gary Pruitt said. “We are shocked and horrified.”

Earlier, an Israeli air raid on the densely populated Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City killed 10 Palestinians from one family, Israel’s deadliest single strike of the conflict.

Palestinians burn an Israeli flag in the occupied-West Bank town of Bethlehem on May 15,2021, as they commemorate the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948. (AFP / HAZEM BADER)

Missiles targeted the three-story home of Alaa Abu Hatab, 35, killing his wife, four of his five children, his sister, and four of her five children. A five-month-old baby survived, along with Abu Hatab’s daughter, who is in intensive care.

Abu Hatab’s brother-in-law Muhammad Al-Hadidi wept as he told Arab News how his children had insisted on spending the night at their uncle’s house to play with their cousins.

“I heard the sound of the bombing, but I did not know it was the building my wife and children were in. I received a call to tell me Abu Hatab’s house was targeted. I went quickly, to find all my children with my wife, under the rubble.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

As Israeli airstrikes continued, Heba Al-Attar, 45, told Arab News: “The feeling I have is, when will I be killed? When will our house be destroyed? How will my three children live without me if they survive? I feel scared every day, I can’t sleep at night.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on Saturday for an immediate ceasefire. They urged “the international community to confront the aggressive Israeli practices against the brotherly Palestinian people.”

Tens of thousands march

As Israeli forces stepped up the bombardment of Gaza, tens of thousands of protesters marched in major European cities including London, Berlin, Madrid and Paris in support of the Palestinian cause.

In London, several thousand protesters carrying placards reading “Stop Bombing Gaza” and chanting “Free Palestine” converged on Marble Arch, near the British capital’s Hyde Park, to march toward the Israeli embassy.

 

 

Packed crowds stretched all along Kensington High Street where the embassy is located.

“This time is different,” Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot told the demonstrators.

“This time we will not be denied any more. We are united. We have had enough of oppression.”

Simon Makepace, a 61-year-old accountant told AFP he had joined the protests because “the whole world should be doing something about it, including this country.”


Click here to read our previous stories about the Nakba 



'Palestine will be free'

In cities across North America, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators also called for an end to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The protests were held on the anniversary of Nakba Day, or “catastrophe,” that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced during Israel’s creation in 1947-1948.

Gatherings to show solidarity with Palestinians on the anniversary of Nakba Day, took place in cities including New York, Boston, Washington, Montreal and Dearborn, Michigan.

Several Jewish people attended, carrying placards that said “Not in my name” and “Solidarity with Palestine” as the protesters took over a street in the area which has a large Arab population.

Protesters and activists gather near the Washington Monument in the US capital to voice their anger at Israeli military action in Gaza that has left many civilians dead. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)

“I’m here because I want a Palestinian life to equal an Israeli life and today it doesn’t,” said 35-year-old Emraan Khan, a corporate strategist from Manhattan, as he waved a Palestinian flag.

“When you have a nuclear-armed state and another state of villagers with rocks it is clear who is to blame,” he added.

Alison Zambrano, a 20-year-old student, traveled from neighboring Connecticut for the demo.

“Palestinians have the right to live freely and children in Gaza should not be being killed,” she told AFP.

Mashhour Ahmad, a 73-year-old Palestinian who has lived in New York for 50 years, said “don’t blame the victim for the aggression.”

 

 

“I’m telling Mr. Biden and his cabinet to stop supporting the killing. Support the victims, stop the oppression.

“The violence committed by the Israeli army recently is genocide,” he added, raising a poster above his head that said “Free Palestine, End the occupation.”

President Joe Biden spoke separately Saturday with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, expressing his “grave concern” over six days of violence that has left scores dead or wounded.

He expressed Washington’s “strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the White House said.

People in Montreal attend a demonstration on May 15, 2021, to denounce Israel's military actions in the Palestinian territories. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Throngs of people gathered in Copley Square in Boston, while a few hundred rallied on the Washington Monument grounds in the US capital.

Several thousand demonstrated in Montreal, Canada, calling for “the liberation of Palestine.”

Protesters also denounced “war crimes” committed by Israel in Gaza and carried placards accusing Israel of violating international law during the protest in the center of the Canadian city.

(With AFP)

Decoder

What is the Nakba?

The Nakba, or "catastrophe", is commemorated by Arabs worldwide as the day more than 710,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their villages and cities by rampaging Israeli Zionist forces in 1948. Palestinian society has never been the same since, with many still living until today in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza.


UN chief: Foreign fighters in Libya are violating ceasefire

UN chief: Foreign fighters in Libya are violating ceasefire
Updated 16 May 2021

UN chief: Foreign fighters in Libya are violating ceasefire

UN chief: Foreign fighters in Libya are violating ceasefire
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said progress must continue on the political, economic and security tracks in Libya to enable elections to go ahead on Dec. 24

NEW YORK: The UN chief said foreign fighters and mercenaries remain in Libya in violation of last October’s ceasefire agreement and called for their withdrawal and an end to violations of the UN arms embargo, saying these are “critical elements” for lasting peace in the north African country and the region.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the UN Security Council obtained by The Associated Press that the smooth transfer of power to a new interim government, which took power in March, “brings renewed hope for the reunification of the country and its institutions and for a lasting peace.”

But he said progress must continue on the political, economic and security tracks to enable elections to go ahead on Dec. 24.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, and split the North African country between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

In April 2019, east-based commander Khalifa Haftar and his forces launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. 

His 14-month-long campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-backed regime with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries. An October cease-fire agreement that included a demand for all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days led to a deal on the transitional government and December elections.

The UN estimated in December that there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians. But at an informal council meeting in late April, speakers said there were more than 20,000, including 13,000 Syrians and 11,000 Sudanese, according to diplomats.

Guterres said in the new report that while the ceasefire continues to hold, the UN political mission in Libya has received reports of fortifications and defensive positions being set up in central Libya on the key route between the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals, and Jufra.

“Despite the commitments made by the parties, air cargo activities reportedly continued with flights to various air bases in Libya’s western and eastern regions,” the secretary-general said. “Reports indicated that there was no reduction of foreign fighters or of their activities in central Libya.”

Guterres said the Government of National Unity must prioritize security sector reform including filling senior civilian and military appointments, producing a roadmap for reunifying the Libyan army, and addressing the proliferation of armed groups.

“Bringing one of the world’s largest uncontrolled stocks of arms and ammunition under state control is vital,” he said. 

“I reiterate my call on member states and Libyan national actors to put an end to violations of the arms embargo and to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the country.”

Last month, the Security Council approved a resolution urging all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya and authorizing a small UN team to monitor the cease-fire agreement. In an April 7 letter to the council, Guterres proposed an initial maximum of 60 monitors for a phased deployment as part of the UN mission, known as UNSMIL.

In his new report, Guterres said that the monitors’ deployment to Libya is contingent on the UN General Assembly approving the resources to cover security, logistical, medical and operational requirements, which will be submitted “in the near future.”

He also raised human rights violations, especially the continuing detention of migrants and refugees. 

According to the International Organization for Migration’s most recent report, there are more than 571,000 migrants in Libya. And as of May 2, Guterres said over 4,300 migrants and refugees were being held in detention centers across the country.

Guterres called on Libyan authorities to release migrants and refugees from detention centers “on an urgent basis,” and put in place measures to protect them from sexual violence.