Italian government, Vatican City pledge support for Lebanon

People remove debris from a house damaged by Tuesday's explosion in the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Rescue teams were still searching the rubble of Beirut's port for bodies on Friday, nearly three days after the massive explosion sent a wave of destruction through Lebanon's capital. (AP)
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Updated 07 August 2020

Italian government, Vatican City pledge support for Lebanon

  • PM Conte said Italy had already arranged to send “personnel and material” and was “ready to provide any further assistance requested”

ROME: Italy’s government pledged on Friday to assist Lebanon after two explosions in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, earlier this week caused widespread damage, leaving more than 150 people dead and thousands injured.

One of the victims of the blasts was a 92-year-old Italian woman, and two Italian soldiers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon were wounded.

In a telephone call with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expressed his country’s “deepest condolences” and offered his “unconditional support” to Lebanon.

Conte said Italy had already arranged to send “personnel and material” and was “ready to provide any further assistance requested.”

A statement from Conte’s office said the two prime ministers agreed to stay in close contact.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that a flight carrying 8.5 tons of medical supplies had been sent to Lebanon and more aid would follow if required, promising his Lebanese counterpart Charbel Whebe: “Italy will keep on helping Lebanon. The Lebanese people will not be left alone in this hardship.

“After such a tragedy the international community must react promptly and give help. Italy and Lebanon are on the same side,” he added.

Speaking to Italian TV news channel TG5, Di Maio said: “What happened in Lebanon is a tragedy. To us Italians, Lebanon is like a second home and helping that country means to help stabilizing it. The entire Mediterranean will benefit from the stabilization of Lebanon.”

Two Italian Air Force flights landed in Beirut this week, the first one carrying a team of 22 experts in the fields of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) and structural stability of buildings, and the second loaded with the 8.5 tons of health supplies (surgical and trauma kits) donated to the Lebanese Armed Forces, to benefit Lebanese public hospitals.

In terms of humanitarian aid, the Agency for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is finalizing emergency contributions of 700,000 Euros ($823,000) to the Lebanese Red Cross, $1.76 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross, $1.18 million to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and $2.35 million for projects implemented by Italian NGOs.

The Italian government also said it is ready to respond to any appeals launched by the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the near future.

Pope Francis has also donated just under $300,000 from the Vatican to “support the needs of the Lebanese church in (this) time of great difficulty and suffering.”


Iraqi officials: 3 dead, 2 wounded in Baghdad rocket attack

Updated 4 min 58 sec ago

Iraqi officials: 3 dead, 2 wounded in Baghdad rocket attack

  • The rocket targeted the international airport but struck a residential home close by instead
  • The attacks have become a frequent occurrence, often targeting the US Embassy in Baghdad and US troops present in Iraqi bases as well as Baghdad Airport

BAGHDAD: Three Iraqi civilians were killed and two severely wounded Monday after a katyusha rocket hit near Baghdad Airport, two Iraqi security officials said. It was the first time in months an attack caused civilian casualties.
The rocket targeted the international airport but struck a residential home close by instead, the two officials said. They requested anonymity in line with regulations. A child was among the dead, the officials said.
The rocket was launched from the Al-Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad, the officials said.
The attacks have become a frequent occurrence, often targeting the US Embassy in Baghdad, within the heavily fortified Green Zone, and US troops present in Iraqi bases as well as Baghdad Airport. Roadside bombs have also frequently targeted convoys carrying equipment destined for US-led coalition forces.
Previous attacks have caused minor damage but rarely deaths or injuries.
The frequency of the rockets have strained Iraq-US relations, prompting the Trump administration last week to threaten to close its diplomatic mission in Baghdad if Shiite militia groups believed to be orchestrating them are not reigned in.
The disparate nature of Shiite militias following the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and Iranian militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis has complicated Iraqi efforts to clamp down on rogue armed elements.
A government raid on the powerful Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah, suspected of launching rocket attacks, backfired when those detained were released for want of evidence.