Hezbollah leader says Israel turns attention to hitting missile-making sites in Syria

Hassan Nasrallah charged that Israel had been waging an "imaginary battle" against Iranian troops in Syria. (AFP)
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Updated 13 May 2020

Hezbollah leader says Israel turns attention to hitting missile-making sites in Syria

  • Nasrallah denied that Israeli air strikes have pushed either Hezbollah or Iran to retreat from Syria

BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Wednesday that Israel is now concentrating its attacks in Syria on missile-manufacturing sites.
Israel has conducted many raids inside Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. It sees the presence of Hezbollah and its ally Iran there as a strategic threat.
The heavily armed Lebanese Shiite movement has played a vital role in the war, helping Syrian President Bashar Assad reclaim much of the country.
In rare comments on Israeli attacks in Syria, Nasrallah said that with Assad firmly in control, Israel has turned its attention more recently to striking Syrian targets for precision missile manufacturing seen as a threat.
He denied that Israeli air strikes have pushed either Hezbollah or Iran to retreat from Syria, calling Israel’s insistence that they have done so “imaginary victories.”
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said in April that the Israeli military was working to drive Tehran out of Syria.


Turkey will inform UNESCO about Hagia Sophia moves – foreign minister

Updated 13 July 2020

Turkey will inform UNESCO about Hagia Sophia moves – foreign minister

  • President Tayyip Erdogan declares Hagia Sophia a mosque, said the first prayers would be held there within two weeks
  • UNESCO would review the status of the monument as a World Heritage Site

ISTANBUL: Turkey will inform the United Nation’s cultural body UNESCO about changes to Istanbul’s ancient Hagia Sophia after Ankara converted the museum back into a mosque, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
On Friday, a Turkish court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum in 1934 was unlawful and President Tayyip Erdogan, declaring it a mosque, said the first prayers would be held there within two weeks.
UNESCO said on Friday it would review the status of the monument as a World Heritage Site following Erdogan’s enouncement.
Cavusoglu said Ankara was surprised by UNESCO’s reaction and would let it know of further steps that will be taken regarding Hagia Sophia, which was a Byzantine church for nine centuries before the Ottomans converted it to a mosque.
Turkey is sensitive about protecting its historical character, he said. “We have to protect our ancestors’ heritage. The function can be this way or that way — it does not matter,” Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
Asked about criticism and expressions of concern from Greece, Pope Francis and others, Cavusoglu said the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque was lawful.
“We respect everyone’s view even if we don’t agree with it but we strongly reject comments made in a way that infringes on Turkey’s sovereign rights,” he said.
Greece condemned the decision on Friday, saying it would have repercussions not only on relations between the two countries, but on Turkey’s ties with the European Union. Pope Francis said on Sunday he was hurt by the decision.