Iran rejects Netanyahu accusations that Tehran is ‘clearly’ behind Israeli ship blast

Iran rejects Netanyahu accusations that Tehran is ‘clearly’ behind Israeli ship blast
An Israeli-owned ship hit by an explosion in the strategic Gulf of Oman waterway is seen after arrival at a port in Dubai Feb 28, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 March 2021

Iran rejects Netanyahu accusations that Tehran is ‘clearly’ behind Israeli ship blast

Iran rejects Netanyahu accusations that Tehran is ‘clearly’ behind Israeli ship blast

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran on Monday for a blast aboard an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, but Iran rejected the charge.

The MV Helios Ray, a vehicle-carrier ship, was hit overnight by a blast above the water line that a US official said ripped holes in both sides of its hull.

“This was indeed an operation by Iran. That is clear,” Netanyahu told Kan radio.

Asked if Israel would retaliate, he repeated previous statements about his determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capacity and added: “We are striking at it (Iran) all over the region.”

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign ministry on Monday “strongly” rejected accusations by Netanyahu that Tehran was behind the attack on the Israeli-owned ship.

“We strongly deny this accusation,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference, adding that “the source of this accusation itself shows how invalid (the claim) is.”

(with Reuters and AFP)

Desert Storm: 30 years on
The end of the Gulf War on Feb. 28, 1991 saw the eviction of Iraq from Kuwait but paved the way for decades of conflict

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Iranian support for Houthis in Yemen is ‘significant’ and ‘lethal’: US envoy Lenderking

Iranian support for Houthis in Yemen is ‘significant’ and ‘lethal’: US envoy Lenderking
Updated 19 min 58 sec ago

Iranian support for Houthis in Yemen is ‘significant’ and ‘lethal’: US envoy Lenderking

Iranian support for Houthis in Yemen is ‘significant’ and ‘lethal’: US envoy Lenderking

LONDON: Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen is “significant” and “lethal,” the US special envoy for Yemen said during a briefing on the crisis in the country on Wednesday.

Tim Lenderking also told lawmakers that the Iranian regime had shown no indication of wanting a constructive resolution to the conflict, adding that the US would welcome Tehran playing a positive role if they were willing to do so.

He added that the ongoing battle for Yemen's gas-rich Marib region is the “single biggest threat to peace efforts,” while warning that if hostilities are not stopped immediately it would “trigger a wave of even greater fighting and instability.”

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Sudanese commander says forces secured eastern border with Ethiopia

Sudanese commander says forces secured eastern border with Ethiopia
Updated 21 April 2021

Sudanese commander says forces secured eastern border with Ethiopia

Sudanese commander says forces secured eastern border with Ethiopia
  • Karar reaffirmed Sudan’s commitment to non-aggression towards neighboring countries

DUBAI: A senior Sudanese commander said on Wednesday that his forces have secured the eastern border with Ethiopia, state news agency SUNA reported.
Lieutenant General Issam Mohammad Hassan Karar said the army was deployed within the borders to secure agricultural areas and retrieve all Sudanese lands in accordance with the 1902 border.
Karar also reaffirmed Sudan’s commitment to non-aggression towards neighboring countries.
Member of the council and head of the Revolutionary Front, Idris Al-Hadi, reconfirmed the statement.
“We will not seek the military solution to resolve the two issues of borders and water as there’s a possibility of resolving them peacefully,” he said.
The fertile Tigray region claimed by both countries has seen a rise in fights as Sudan sends in troops, which Ethiopia has described as an invasion.
The farmland borders Ethiopia’s Tigray region where Addis Ababa launched an offensive against the local leadership in November, sending some 60,000 refugees fleeing into Sudan.


Syria loses chemical weapons watchdog voting rights after poison gas findings

Syria loses chemical weapons watchdog voting rights after poison gas findings
Updated 21 April 2021

Syria loses chemical weapons watchdog voting rights after poison gas findings

Syria loses chemical weapons watchdog voting rights after poison gas findings
AMSTERDAM: Syria on Wednesday was stripped of its voting rights at the global chemical weapons watchdog by member states after its forces were found to have repeatedly used poison gas during the civil war.
A majority of nations voting at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) supported a decision to immediately revoke Syria’s privileges at the agency.

Syrian President Assad to run for re-election in May — state media

Syrian President Assad to run for re-election in May — state media
Updated 21 April 2021

Syrian President Assad to run for re-election in May — state media

Syrian President Assad to run for re-election in May — state media

AMMAN: Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday submitted documents to run for a third term in an election scheduled for May 26, parliament’s speaker said on state media.
Parliament announced the election on Sunday. Washington and the Syrian opposition have denounced it as a farce designed to cement Assad’s authoritarian rule.
Assad’s family and his Baath party have ruled Syria for five decades with the help of the security forces and the army, where his Alawite minority dominate.
This year is the 10th anniversary of a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters which triggered a civil war that has left much of Syria in ruins.
The multi-sided conflict has sucked in world powers, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more, but is now nearing its end with Assad, supported by Russian and Iranian allies, back in control of most of the country.
Candidates must have lived in Syria for the last 10 years, which prevents opposition figures in exile from standing.


Syria’s Idlib to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines

Syria’s Idlib to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines
Updated 21 April 2021

Syria’s Idlib to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines

Syria’s Idlib to get first batch of COVID-19 vaccines
  • The delivery will be the first to Syria as part of the Covax program
  • 912,000 doses have been allocated to Syria for a first phase of vaccination

BAB AL-HAWA: A first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses was expected to arrive Wednesday in war-torn northwestern Syria, where millions of people live in dire humanitarian conditions, a UN official said.

The 53,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were dispatched to the rebel-dominated region as part of the Covax facility, which ensures the world’s poorest economies get access to jabs for free.

“Once the vaccines arrive, we are prepared to start vaccination to priority groups through our implementing partners,” said Mahmoud Daher, a senior official with the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO).

The delivery will be the first to Syria as part of the Covax program, which has already sent vaccine doses to more than 100 different territories worldwide.

The vaccine doses are intended for the extended northwestern Syrian region, which includes the jihadist-dominated Idlib enclave.

The first categories of people to be vaccinated in the coming days in the Idlib region will be medical personnel involved in the battle against the pandemic and first aid responders.

The next group will be people above the age of 60, followed by people from younger age groups with chronic diseases, said Daher, who is based in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

Much of the Idlib enclave is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a jihadist organization that includes ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda franchise.

Other regions of Syria will also receive vaccine doses through Covax, under which 92 countries are eligible.

Imad Zahran, a media officer for the Idlib region’s health department, told AFP that the vaccination campaign was expected to begin early next month and would last approximately three weeks.

According to the WHO, a separate 912,000 doses have been allocated to Syria for a first phase of vaccination in regime controlled and semi-autonomous Kurdish areas.

The aim is to vaccinate 20 percent of the population by year’s end.

Vaccination for health workers has started in government-controlled areas but not with doses received as part of the Covax program.

The official COVID-19 death toll in Syria is low compared to some other countries in the region but credible data collection across the conflict-ravaged country is almost impossible.

Syria’s war has killed more than 388,000 people since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.