Three dead as forest fires burn in Syria, Lebanon

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A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on October 10, 2020 shows a fire devouring a forest in the mountainous region of Bludan near the capital Damascus amid an unseasonly heatwave the previous day. (AFP)
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A fire burns at a forest in the village of Beit Zantout , Syria in this handout released by SANA on October 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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A fire burns at a forest in Latakia province, Syria in this handout released by SANA on October 9, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 October 2020

Three dead as forest fires burn in Syria, Lebanon

  • Dozens of fires were burning, including “45 in Latakia and 33 in Tartus,” Syria’s Agriculture Minister said
  • In neighboring Lebanon, there have been more than 100 fires across the country since Thursday

DAMASCUS: Forest fires in Syria and neighboring Lebanon have killed three people and burned swathes of land since Thursday, state media and officials said.
Syrian state television on Saturday morning broadcast scenes from the affected areas, where firefighters were working to extinguish the blazes.
It said hundreds of hectares had burned in the countryside of Syria’s coastal Latakia and Tartus provinces, and in the central Homs province.
The health ministry said three people had died in Latakia province since Friday as a result of the fires, and that 70 people were taken to hospital suffering breathing difficulties.
Dozens of fires were burning, including “45 in Latakia and 33 in Tartus,” Syria’s Agriculture Minister Mohammed Hassan Qatana told a radio station late Friday.
The Latakia fire brigade said they were “facing the largest series of fires seen in Latakia province in years.”
Official news agency SANA said fire burned homes in Banias, in Tartus province.
In neighboring Lebanon, there have been more than 100 fires across the country since Thursday, according to George Abu Musa, head of operations for the country’s civil defense.
“The situation is crazy, there are fires everywhere,” Abu Musa told AFP.
“We have mobilized 80 percent of our personnel and almost all our centers in Lebanon,” he said.
He said most of the blazes had been extinguished but some were still burning in the mountainous Chouf region in the south, and in Akkar in the north.
Military helicopters were assisting firefighters in “hard-to-reach” areas, he added.
Abu Musa was unable to identify the cause of the blazes, but said wind and high temperatures were helping them spread.
On Friday, authorities reported several fires across northern and central Israel and the occupied West Bank as temperatures soared, forcing thousands to evacuate.
Dozens of fires hit Lebanon in mid-October last year, amid unusually high temperatures and strong winds.
The government faced heavy criticism and accusations of ill-preparedness over its response to the 2019 blazes.
Days after Lebanon’s 2019 fires, mass protests broke out, triggered by proposed tax hikes but quickly transforming into months-long demonstrations against the ruling class, deemed by protesters as inept and corrupt.


UAE condemns killing of Iranian scientist, calls on all parties to exercise self-restraint

Updated 15 min 12 sec ago

UAE condemns killing of Iranian scientist, calls on all parties to exercise self-restraint

  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush near Tehran on Friday
  • He has been described by Western intelligence services as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme

LONDON: The UAE condemned the killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and called on all parties to exercise self-restraint on Sunday, Emirates News Agency reported. 

“The region is experiencing a period of instability, and security challenges push us to all to avoid actions that would lead to an escalation,” the news agency quoted the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as saying. 

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush near Tehran on Friday.

He has been described by Western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003, which Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore in secret.