Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence
Samir Geagea, the Lebanese Forces Christian group’s leader, has been summoned for questioning over deadly violence that erupted at a Shiite rally last week, a judicial official said Thursday. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 October 2021

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence
  • Hezbollah and Amal accused Lebanese Forces, which supports the probe, of being responsible for sniper fire against the protesters that ignited street clashes
  • A representative of the military court had "instructed the army intelligence to summon Geagea and take his statement based on information provided by arrested LF members"

BEIRUT: The head of the Lebanese Forces Christian group, Samir Geagea, has been summoned for questioning over deadly violence that erupted at a Shiite rally last week, a judicial official said Thursday.
Seven people were killed in Beirut on October 14 during a protest organized by the Shiite movements Amal and Hezbollah to demand Tarek Bitar, the judge investigating Beirut’s powerful port blast, be removed.
Hezbollah and Amal accused the Lebanese Forces (LF), which supports the probe, of being responsible for sniper fire against the protesters that ignited street clashes.
The Christian group denies the charges.
Fadi Akiki, a representative of the military court, had “instructed the army intelligence to summon Geagea and take his statement based on information provided by arrested LF members,” the judicial official said.
Twenty-six people were arrested after the violence in the heart of the Lebanese capital, most of them LF members, the official said on Thursday.
The exact circumstances of the violence remain unclear.
Geagea has denied responsiblity for the deaths, saying that residents of Beirut’s Christian neighborhood of Ain Al-Remmaneh had “defended” themselves against “Hezbollah militiamen who tried to enter their homes.”
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that his Iran-backed movement had 100,000 armed fighters at its disposal, and warned it is against sparking any “civil war.”
On Thursday, Geagea told the Lebanon’s MTV channel he was not aware of the summons.
“I am ready to appear before the judge, on one condition: that Hassan Nasrallah does it before me,” he said.
Nasrallah has been in hiding since the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
Tensions flared after Bitar summoned two Amal former ministers for questioning as part of the investigation into last year’s devastating Beirut port blast.
The explosion of a huge stockpile of poorly stored fertilizer on the dockside on August 4, 2020 killed more than 210 people, wounded thousands and ravaged half the capital.


Yemen calls for punishing Iran for military supplies to Houthis

Yemen calls for punishing Iran for military supplies to Houthis
Updated 23 sec ago

Yemen calls for punishing Iran for military supplies to Houthis

Yemen calls for punishing Iran for military supplies to Houthis
  • The Arab coalition and the Yemeni government have long accused Iran of sending military and financial assistance to the Houthis

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni Army battling the Houthis across the country has demanded that the UN Security Council and the UN special envoy to Yemen name and shame the Iranian regime for continuing to send military supplies to the Houthis, responsible for killing thousands of Yemenis and undermining peace and stability. 

Abdu Abdullah Majili, a Yemeni army spokesperson, told Arab News on Wednesday that the Houthis are using advanced weapons from Iran to kill Yemenis and attack targets in neighboring Saudi Arabia and renewed the call to impose sanctions on Iran for fueling violence in Yemen. 

“Yemen is in need of humanitarian assistance, not weapons,” Majili said, commenting on the latest and largest-ever seizure of Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis in Yemen. 

On Tuesday, the US Justice Department announced intercepting two large caches of Iranian weapons, including 171 surface-to-air missiles and eight anti-tank missiles, heading to the Houthis in Yemen on two vessels in the Arabian Sea. 

The Arab coalition and the Yemeni government have long accused Iran of sending military and financial assistance to the Houthis, fueling their deadly military operations in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. 

Meanwhile, the US pledged support to the Yemeni government and the new administration of the Aden-based Central Bank of Yemen in delivering economic policies to rescue the devaluating rial and address aggravating economic problems. 

During a meeting with the new governor of the central bank Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb on Wednesday, Cathy Westley, chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Yemen, said Washington would help him and his economic team to put into place vital reforms to rescue the economy. 

“CDA Westley pledged US support for comprehensive economic reforms to benefit the Yemeni people in her meeting with CBY Gov. Ahmed Ghaleb. They also discussed the need for continued strong international cooperation and financial assistance to help shore up Yemen’s economy,” the US Embassy in Yemen said in a brief statement. 

US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking repeated the same pledges of support to the Yemeni government during a virtual meeting with Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed on Tuesday. 

“The US strongly supports the prime minister office’s efforts to reform the Yemeni economy,” Lenderking’s office said. 

Similarly, the EU welcomed the restructuring of the central bank board and demanded the new leaders work on fixing the severe economic meltdown in the country and fighting corruption. 

“The EU welcomes the appointment of a new governor, deputy governor and the board of the central bank of Yemen, as part of urgently needed economic and monetary reforms. It is essential to stabilize the currency, establish and implement a budget and fight corruption throughout #Yemen,” the EU Mission in Yemen said on Twitter.

The international support to the Yemeni government comes as the Yemeni rial on Wednesday stabilized at 1255 against the dollar for the first time in two weeks, recovering from a historic record of 1700 against the dollar. 

On the ground, dozens of Houthis were killed in fierce fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday morning in contested areas south of Marib, a local military official told Arab News. 

Waves of Houthi fighters attacked government troops on Tuesday night in the Juba district in a desperate attempt to break through defenses and seize control of new areas that would put them closer to the city of Marib.

The consecutive attacks triggered heavy fighting with government troops who managed to push back the Houthis after killing dozens, and the fighting subsided early on Wednesday. 

“The Houthis have carried out human wave attacks in a bid to make a breakthrough. They suffered heavy losses. The attacks sparked intense airstrikes from Arab coalition warplanes,” the official said. 

On Tuesday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg expressed alarm over the escalating military operations across Yemen and called upon warring factions in the country to end hostilities and comply with UN efforts to reach a peace agreement. 

“Military options won’t result in sustainable solutions. The parties have a responsibility to prioritize the needs of civilians & cooperate with #UN efforts to revive a political process aimed at reaching a just, negotiated settlement to comprehensively end the conflict in #Yemen,” Grundberg said in a statement on Twitter.


Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
Updated 08 December 2021

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
  • Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa
  • Humanitarian groups reported that the Iraqi girl was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday

WARSAW: A four-year-old Iraqi migrant girl went missing in an icy forest after being separated from her parents in a scuffle with Polish border guards, humanitarian groups said as they pressed for access to the border region to help find the child.
Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa who traveled to Belarus in the hope of crossing into European Union territory.
The EU accuses Belarus of flying them into the country and then pushing them to cross into Poland and — to a lesser extent — Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses.
Humanitarian groups reported on Wednesday that the Iraqi girl, called Eileen, was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday night.
They said the parents handed their daughter to another adult migrant when Polish border guards approached and pushed them back into Belarus, and the girl was last seen with the person accompanying her near the Polish frontier village of Nowy Dwor.
“This girl is probably either already dead or will die very soon. The most dramatic thing is that if it was a Polish child, the whole country would be looking for her,” Kasia Kosciesza from the Families without Borders charity group said.
“The search should have started as soon as they knew of the situation...Chances are diminishing, night is setting in again and temperatures will start falling, so if we want to rescue her, it needs to happen immediately.”
Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said servicemen started searching for the girl as soon as they received information she was missing around midday on Tuesday.
“Extra patrols were directed to the area where the girl was supposed to be. We also searched from the air using helicopters, but we found no one,” Michalska said.
Campaigners said the authorities’ efforts were inadequate.
Under new rules introduced after a state of emergency in the migrant crisis expired last week, activists who are not resident in the border area cannot enter to help with any search.
International organizations have accused Poland’s right-wing nationalist government of breaching humanitarian standards in forcing some migrants back into Belarus, a charge Warsaw denies.


Iraq takes back 100 Daesh fighters from Syria Kurdish forces

Iraq takes back 100 Daesh fighters from Syria Kurdish forces
Updated 54 min 40 sec ago

Iraq takes back 100 Daesh fighters from Syria Kurdish forces

Iraq takes back 100 Daesh fighters from Syria Kurdish forces
  • “This morning we collected 100 terrorists” held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, General Abdul Amir Al-Shammari told AFP
  • The SDF alliance has led the anti-Daesh fight with the support of a coalition led by Washington

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities Wednesday repatriated 100 Iraqi fighters from the Daesh group who were being held by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, a senior Iraqi security official said.
“This morning we collected 100 terrorists” held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria, General Abdul Amir Al-Shammari told AFP.
The militants “have been handed over to the intelligence services for questioning,” said Shammari, deputy commander of Joint Operations which coordinates between Iraqi security forces and the international anti-militant coalition.
The SDF alliance has led the anti-Daesh fight with the support of a coalition led by Washington.
It previously handed over about 100 Iraqi Daesh fighters to Baghdad in February and again in September, according to Iraqi security sources.
The Syrian Kurdish administration, which controls large swathes of northeast Syria, has at times been reluctant to communicate on issues related to Daesh fighters or their families held by Kurdish forces in prisons or camps in Syria.
In 2019, the SDF had handed over about 900 Iraqis to Baghdad, most of them captured while trying to flee the last remaining Daesh strongholds in Syria, according to Iraqi judicial sources.
Daesh, after occupying vast territories in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2017, suffered one setback after another.
In late 2017, Iraq announced “victory” after driving the Daesh from all urban areas. By March 2019, the Daesh had lost all its strongholds in Syria.
Some 1,600 Iraqis suspected of having fought for Daesh are still being held by the SDF, according to a UN report.
Thousands of civilians are also being held in internally displaced people’s camps such as Al-Hol, which houses more than 60,000 people, half of whom are Iraqis.
Iraq has already prosecuted thousands of its nationals for membership in the Daesh, a crime punishable by death under an anti-terrorism law.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death, but few executions have been carried out as the prison administration has to obtain a presidential order to put them to death.


Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
Updated 08 December 2021

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal

Britain warns Iran it’s the “last chance” to sign up to nuclear deal
  • "This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up,” said Liz Truss

LONDON: British foreign minister Liz Truss urged Iran on Wednesday to sign up to the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it was “the last chance” to do, just a day before talks were expected to resume.
“This is really the last chance for Iran to sign up and I strongly urge them to do that because we are determined to work with our allies to prevent Iran securing nuclear weapons,” she told the Chatham House think tank.
“So they do need to sign up to the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) agreement, it’s in their interests to do so.”


Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
Updated 08 December 2021

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace

Arab coalition destroys two drones in Yemeni airspace
  • The coalition also carried out 16 operations in Marib, killing over 95 Houthi fighters

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Wednesday it intercepted and destroyed two drones in Yemeni airspace, one of which was monitored and launched from Sanaa airport.
“We are in the process of implementing strict operational measures to deal with the sources of the threat,” Saudi state TV reported citing the coalition.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said it carried out 16 operations targeting the Houthi militia in Marib in the last 24 hours.
It said 95 militants were killed and 11 Houthi military vehicles were destroyed during the operation.
The coalition has stepped up operations targeting Houthi military targets after an increase in cross-border attacks in recent days aimed at Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom’s defense ministry said Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a hostile air target in the early hours of the morning that was headed toward the western region.
Spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said that the ministry “is taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the security and safety of the Kingdom and protect its national capabilities, as well as civilians and civilian objects.”
He also said that the ministry “will take deterrent and resolute measures to stop such cross-border hostilities.” a statement on Saudi Press Agency reported.