DUBAI: Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed a “green corridor” agreement allowing passengers vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to travel freely between the two countries, the Israeli consulate in Dubai said on Twitter on Sunday.
Arab coalition strikes underground missile base in Houthi-occupied Sanaa
- Residents cautioned as air raids target drone workshops, weapons depots in Dhahban district
AL-MUKALLA: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemen struck on Saturday early morning military sites controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis in the capital, Sanaa.
Residents reported hearing several large explosions that triggered subsequent blasts and balls of fire across Sanaa.
The coalition said in a statement that the airstrikes targeted secret underground tunnels in the presidential palace used for storing ballistic missiles and other military locations.
Drone workshops and weapons depots in Sanaa’s Dhahban district were also targeted, the coalition said, asking residents to avoid approaching those areas.
Residents described the airstrikes on early Saturday as the “longest and most intensive” in years.
On Friday, the coalition released satellite images of an airstrike on a ballistic missile while the Houthis were moving it from a secret depot to a launching area. During the last five days, the Arab coalition has intensified airstrikes on military camps and other areas in Houthi-held Sanaa with the aim of destroying ballistic missiles, explosives-rigged drones and other weapons.
Last week, the Arab coalition accused the Houthis of turning the airport in Sanaa into a military facility by testing an air defense system there.
In Marib province, the Arab coalition carried out many air raids in support of government troops on the ground during the past 24 hours, hitting Houthi military reinforcements.
This came as government troops on Friday and Saturday engaged in heavy clashes with Houthis in Juba and Thana, south of Yemen, with no information about gains for either side.
The Yemeni government announced that it had pushed back Houthi attacks in Juba after killing and wounding dozens of Houthis.
For the last couple of months, the Houthis have ratcheted up military pressure on government troops defending Marib in a bid to advance toward the city.
Thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed in Marib province since February when the Houthis renewed an offensive to control the energy-rich Marib city.
The Houthi military pressure on Marib was alleviated during the last seven days when the Joint Forces on the country’s west coast launched an offensive, targeting the Houthis in strategic areas in the provinces of Taiz and Hodeidah.
The Joint Forces seized control of Hays district in Hodeidah and pushed deeper into Houthi-controlled territory, seizing parts of Maqbanah in Taiz and Al-Jarahi in Hodeidah.
On Saturday, the Joint Forces’ Giants Brigades announced they had seized control of part of Saqoum valley and a number of hilly terrains north of Maqbanah in Taiz after heavy clashes with the Houthis.
The latest advances by the Joint Forces have prompted the Houthis into sending their leaders to densely populated provinces under their control to incite people to join the battlefields.
The Houthi official media reported that Abdul Rahman Al-Jamai, deputy speaker of the Houthi-controlled parliament and governor of Ibb, on Friday called for a general mobilization of forces to reinforce the battlefields with fighters, funds and weapons.
Concluding a visit to Moscow on Friday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg repeated concerns over the impact of the escalating fighting between government troops and the Houthis in Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah provinces on civilians and peace efforts. He urged warring factions to stop hostilities and work on achieving a comprehensive and inclusive peace deal to end the war.
“We are facing a potential military escalation that will only increase the suffering of civilians. Increased international efforts are essential to convince all sides of the need to settle disagreements at the negotiation table,” Grundberg said in a statement.
Arab coalition says 60 Houthis killed in strikes on Marib
- The coalition said seven military vehicles were also destroyed during the strikes over the last 24 hours
RIYADH: The Arab coalition said on Saturday that 60 Houthis were killed in strikes on Yemen’s Marib province.
The coalition added that seven military vehicles were also destroyed during the strikes over the last 24 hours.
The number of displaced people in camps in the province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with over 45,000 people fleeing their homes as the militia press an offensive, the UN migration agency IOM said on Wednesday.
The coalition announced on Friday that it had destroyed Houthi sites used to store drones and weapons in Dhahban, Sanaa and urged civilians to stay away from them.
Iraninan riot police deployed after 67 arrested in Isfahan
- The demonstration was the latest since protests kicked off on November 9 in Isfahan
- Drought is a cause, but protestors also accuse authorities of diverting water from the city
TEHRAN: Riot police were deployed in force Saturday in the Iranian city of Isfahan, a day after dozens were arrested in violent protests over the drying up of a lifeblood river.
Security forces fired tear gas during the clashes with stone-throwers in the protest in the dry bed of the Zayadneh Rood river that crosses the city, Fars and ISNA news agencies said.
"We have arrested 67 of the main actors and agitators behind the troubles," police General Hassan Karami told on Saturday. He said between 2,000 and 3,000 "rioters" took part in the protest.
On Saturday, the situation was "calm" and streets empty, with riot police deployed on the city's Khadjou bridge, a Isfahan city resident said.
The demonstration was the latest since protests kicked off on November 9 in Isfahan, some 340 kilometres (210 miles) south of Tehran, a tourist magnet due to its majestic mosques and heritage sites, including a historic bridge across the river.
But it was the first to turn violent.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 farmers and city residents turned up for the gatherings last week, estimated Karami.
The riverbed has been the rallying spot for farmers and other people from across Isfahan province protesting the lack of water since November 9.
Drought is a cause, but they also accuse the authorities of diverting water from the city to supply the neighbouring province of Yazd, which is also desperately short on supplies.
"I used to walk along the riverbed with friends, but today the riot police are deployed in large numbers near the Khajou bridge and they are asking people to avoid the area," said a woman in her 50s.
During the clashes on Friday, some people set fire to objects in the city, Fars and ISNA reported.
"After the farmers left, the opportunists and counter-revolutionaries were left behind, which made it easy for the security apparatus, especially the police, to identify and arrest those who destroyed public and state property," Isfahan police chief Mohammad-Reza Mirheidari said on television.
But members of the security forces were hit by fire from hunting rifles, he said, without specifying how many.
One of them was stabbed, although his condition was not believed to be critical.
A Fars journalist said two bulldozers were used to destroy a pipe taking water from Isfahan province to Yazd.
"Among the injured demonstrators, two are in a serious condition," Nourodin Soltanian, spokesman for Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, told the Mehr news agency on Saturday.
Recently, there have been almost daily protests in the region of Isfahan, which has been particularly hard-hit by drought.
On Saturday, the ultra-conservative daily Kayhan pointed the finger of blame for the violence at "mercenary thugs", whereas the pro-reform Etemad said the protests in Isfahan showed a "lack of trust in the government".
Last Sunday, more than 1,000 people marched towards the governor's office in the western province of Chahar-Mahal Bakhtiari to demand a solution to water shortages, state media reported.
According to Fars, farmers and local authorities struck a deal on Thursday about water distribution.
President Ebrahim Raisi met with representatives from the provinces of Isfahan, Yazd and Semnan earlier this month and vowed to resolve water issues.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the topic is the country's top problem, without making reference to the protests.
Militant jailbreak in Iraq foiled, one prisoner killed
- After the demise of Daesh in Iraq, courts in the country have sentenced hundreds to death for crimes perpetrated by the militants
BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces said they shot dead a convicted militant on Saturday as he tried to escape from a prison with two accomplices.
The three prisoners, all members of the Daesh group, were serving life sentences at the Taji penitentiary north of Baghdad, the security services said in a statement.
They were spotted as they tried to break out of jail by climbing over an external wall, the statement said.
Guards opened fire “when they refused to heed warnings,” it said, adding one prisoner was killed while the two others “surrendered.”
“The three terrorists had been sentenced to life in jail,” the statement said without identifying them.
The Daesh group swept across swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014 where they set up so-called caliphate.
Iraq officially declared victory over Daesh in 2017, and two years later they were defeated in Syria.
But sleeper cells continue to be active in both countries where they frequently carry out attacks.
After the demise of Daesh in Iraq, courts in the country have sentenced hundreds to death for crimes perpetrated by the militants.
Only a small proportion of the sentences have been carried out, as they must be approved by the president.
Barham Saleh, who has held the post since 2018, is known to be against capital punishment.
Iraqi-Kurdish woman first named victim of Channel tragedy
- Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin was messaging UK-based fiance when dinghy began to sink
- 27 people died while attempting perilous journey from French coast to UK
LONDON: A Kurdish woman from northern Iraq has been named as the first identified victim of this week’s mass drowning in the English Channel.
Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, 24, was messaging her UK-based fiance when the dinghy she was traveling on began to sink on Wednesday.
She was one of 27 people who died while attempting the perilous journey from the French coast to Britain, which has claimed dozens of lives this year.
Her fiance told the BBC that she tried to reassure him that they would be rescued while they were sinking, but she perished along with 26 others. Just two passengers survived.
There were 17 male casualties, six women — one of whom was pregnant — and three children.
The two survivors, a Somali and an Iraqi, have been discharged from a French hospital and are expected to be questioned about the incident.
Amin had attempted the journey with a female relative, both hoping to join family in Britain.
She was messaging her fiance on social media app Snapchat moments before the dinghy began to capsize.
She hailed from Souran, a town in northeast Iraqi Kurdistan. Her family are awaiting the return of her body for a funeral.
A relative said: “Her story is the same as everyone else — she was looking for a better life. One of her uncles was one of the people closest to me. He cared for us when my father was a political prisoner. But the family have had such a tragic life.”