Syria reports Israel attack south of Damascus, no casualties

An Israeli F15 fighter jet takes part in the
An Israeli F15 fighter jet takes part in the "Blue Flag" multinational air defence exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat. (AFP)
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Updated 17 November 2021

Syria reports Israel attack south of Damascus, no casualties

An Israeli F15 fighter jet takes part in the "Blue Flag" multinational air defence exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat. (AFP)
  • Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations

DAMASCUS, Syria: Syria’s state-run media said Israel carried out an attack on the country’s south early Wednesday with two missiles targeting an empty house and causing no casualties
The missiles came from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and aimed at the building south of the capital Damascus, the state-run news agency SANA said. It said Syria’s defense systems intercepted one of the incoming missiles. The attack caused no losses, the agency said.
Israel carries out raids on Syria mostly during nighttime. Wednesday’s raid occurred shortly after midnight, SANA said.
Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Israel has acknowledged, however, that it is targeting bases of Iran-allied militias, such as the powerful Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. It says it is going after posts and arms shipments believed to be bound for the groups. Hezbollah is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the decade-old civil war.
Israel says Iranian presence on its northern frontier is a red line, justifying its strikes on facilities and weapons inside Syria.


Sudan doctors protest state violence in post-coup rallies

Sudan doctors protest state violence in post-coup rallies
Updated 58 min 51 sec ago

Sudan doctors protest state violence in post-coup rallies

Sudan doctors protest state violence in post-coup rallies
  • “During every protest they fire tear gas inside the hospital where I work,” one doctor, Houda Ahmad, said
  • “They even attack us inside the intensive care unit,” she added at the rally

KHARTOUM: Sudanese doctors protested Sunday against violent attacks by security forces targeting medical personnel during pro-democracy rallies following last year’s military coup.
“During every protest they fire tear gas inside the hospital where I work,” one doctor, Houda Ahmad, said at the rally in Khartoum.
“They even attack us inside the intensive care unit,” she added at the rally, where medical personnel carried pictures of colleagues they said had been killed.
The demonstration was the latest in the crisis-hit north-east African country, where protesters in the north also blockaded roads to vent their anger against an electricity price hike announced last week, and that has since been frozen.
Sudan’s October 25 coup led by military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule, that had started with the 2019 ouster of strongman Omar Al-Bashir following youth-led mass protests.
The military power grab has sparked an international outcry and triggered a new wave of street demonstrations, with another rally expected on Monday.
During the turmoil of recent months, prime minister Abdulla Hamdok was detained and later reinstated but then quit, warning that Sudan was at a dangerous crossroads threatening its very “survival.”
Deadly crackdowns have claimed the lives of 64 protesters, according to pro-democracy medics. A police general has also been killed in the street violence that has rocked Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries.
The UN World Health Organization said last week there had been 11 confirmed attacks on Sudanese health facilities since November.
The WHO said it was “also aware of the interception of ambulances, medical personnel and patients during their attempts to seek safety.”
It called for the attacks to “stop now,” pointing out that they threaten health care services needed more than ever during the Covid pandemic.
Covid-19 is a “grave threat” for Sudan, where 94 percent of the population has not been vaccinated, said the WHO.
Sudan has confirmed 93,973 coronavirus infections and about 4,000 deaths. In September, it said 64 percent of about 1,000 health workers tested had been found to be Covid-positive.
Sudan’s 45 million people have also been dealing with a severe economic crisis and inflation approaching 400 percent.
On Sunday, hundreds blocked key roads in the Northern Province, 350 kilometers (229 miles) from the capital, angered by recent news electricity prices would double — a move that was then frozen, but not officially abolished.
“No vehicle will pass until the authorities have canceled this increase, because it signs the death certificate of our agriculture,” protester Hassan Idriss told AFP by phone.
The protests that led to the 2019 ouster of Bashir had started after the government decided to triple the price of bread.
During the recent protests, Sudan has also often shut down the Internet and moved to limit reporting on the unrest.
In the latest move it revoked the license of Al Jazeera Mubasher, the live TV unit of the Qatar-based network, accusing it of “unprofessional” coverage of protests, the channel said.
The United Nations is now seeking to organize talks involving political, military and social actors to resolve the crisis.
UN special representative Volker Perthes announced the bid last week saying it was “time to end the violence and enter into a comprehensive consultative process.”
The mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the leading civilian pro-democracy group, said Sunday it would accept the offer of dialogue if it were to revive the transition to civilian rule.
Sudan’s military in April 2019 put an end Bashir’s three-decade rule, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of the autocrat and many regime officials.
Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
An imprisoned former foreign minister under Bashir, Ibrahim Ghandour, has begun a hunger strike along with several ex-regime officials, his family said Sunday.
They will only end it “once they have been freed or brought before an impartial tribunal,” his family said in a statement.
The public prosecutor’s office had recently ordered the release of several ex-officials, but Burhan instead ordered they stay in detention.
Ghandour’s family decried the “interference in judicial affairs.”
The protester movement however accuses Burhan, who was Bashir’s ground forces commander, of helping old regime figures come back to power.


Coalition in Yemen kills more than 280 Houthis in airstrikes on Marib, Al-Bayda

Coalition in Yemen kills more than 280 Houthis in airstrikes on Marib, Al-Bayda
Updated 29 min 46 sec ago

Coalition in Yemen kills more than 280 Houthis in airstrikes on Marib, Al-Bayda

Coalition in Yemen kills more than 280 Houthis in airstrikes on Marib, Al-Bayda
  • Coalition forces carried out 64 operations targeting the Houthi militia in Al-Bayda and Marib
  • A total of 30 military vehicles were destroyed during the operations

RIYADH: The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said on Sunday that more than 220 Houthi militants were killed in airstrikes on Marib province, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The coalition added that 17 military vehicles were also destroyed during 45 operations targeting the Iran-backed Houthi militia in the oil-rich Marib province over the last 24 hours.
The coalition also said it had carried out 19 other operations targeting the Houthis in Al-Bayda province, killing more than 60 fighters and destroying 13 vehicles.
Meanwhile, Yemeni Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani said the government strongly condemned the targeting with mortar shells a hospital in Taiz, which has been providing services to thousands of people since the war began.

“Since the coup, Al-Thawra Hospital and the government, private hospitals, schools, facilities, infrastructure, private objects, citizens’ homes in Taiz was subject to indiscriminate attacks by the militia, which killed and wounded thousands of civilians,in flagrant violation of international laws,” Al-Eryani said in a tweet.
He also said they were surprised by the international community’s silence, including the UN and US envoys, “regarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity against Taiz, which accommodates largest population in Yemen.”
He called for adopting firm stances to stop the Iran-backed Houthi from sniping and bombing civilians civilian objects in Taiz.


Egypt, UK ministers talk climate change agenda ahead of COP27

Egypt, UK ministers talk climate change agenda ahead of COP27
Updated 16 January 2022

Egypt, UK ministers talk climate change agenda ahead of COP27

Egypt, UK ministers talk climate change agenda ahead of COP27
  • Both parties promised to work together through 2022 and beyond to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target within reach
  • Also agreed to support the efforts of developing countries in adapting to negative effects of climate change

CAIRO: Egypt and the UK have committed to tackling climate change in a “critical decade” following a ministerial meeting.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, president-designate of COP27, and COP26 President Alok Sharma, discussed climate change issues, priorities and areas of cooperation as part of a post-COP26 meeting to prepare for the next session of the summit, which Egypt will host this year.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the two sides promised to work to advance the guidelines of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement.

The statement said: “As the current and incoming UNFCCC COP Presidencies, we affirm our joint commitment to accelerating the fight against climate change during this critical decade.

“In this context, we agreed that the UK and Egypt would strengthen bilateral cooperation to fight climate change and to maintain and build on the current momentum for global climate action.”

Both parties promised to work together through 2022 and beyond to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target within reach, and to support the efforts of developing countries in adapting to the negative effects of climate change.

The UK will “extend its full support to Egypt to achieve ambitious results during COP27,” the statement added.

“We will work together to encourage all parties to meet their commitments across mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and finance; requesting that by the end of 2022, parties revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions target to align with the Paris temperature goals and make progress towards doubling of adaptation finance on 2019 levels, as envisaged in the Glasgow Climate Pact,” the statement said.

“To this end, we agree to continue close consultations in the months ahead, both on the ministerial and technical levels.”


Iran jails anew French academic for ‘violating’ house arrest: Judiciary

Iran jails anew French academic for ‘violating’ house arrest: Judiciary
Updated 16 January 2022

Iran jails anew French academic for ‘violating’ house arrest: Judiciary

Iran jails anew French academic for ‘violating’ house arrest: Judiciary
  • Adelkhah, 62, is an expert on Iran and Shiite Islam at France's prestigious Sciences Po university
  • She was arrested on June 5, 2019, at Tehran airport and sentenced to five years' imprisonment

TEHRAN: French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah was jailed anew for breaking house arrest restrictions, an official from the Islamic republic’s judiciary authority said on Sunday.
Her Paris-based support group had on Wednesday announced “with great shock and indignation” her reincarceration, which comes during sensitive talks in Vienna aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal which offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
“Ms Adelkhah... has unfortunately knowingly violated the limits of house arrest dozens of times,” Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy head of the judiciary, was quoted as saying by Mizan Online, the authority’s news agency.
“She has insisted on doing so despite repeated warnings from judicial authorities. So now, like any other prisoner who has violated the same rules... she has been returned to prison,” he added.
Adelkhah, 62, an expert on Iran and Shiite Islam at France’s prestigious Sciences Po university, was arrested on June 5, 2019, at Tehran airport.
She was sentenced in May 2020 to five years’ imprisonment for conspiring against national security, accusations her supporters have always denounced as absurd. In October of that year, she was placed under house arrest with an electronic bracelet.
The French foreign ministry said the reimprisonment “can only have negative consequences on the relationship between France and Iran and reduce confidence between our two countries.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called the decision “entirely arbitrary,” adding that “the whole of France” was “mobilized for her release.”
Gharibabadi insisted that Adelkhah is “a citizen of the Islamic republic of Iran,” adding that Tehran “firmly condemns the intervention of other countries in (its) judicial process.”
Iran does not recognize dual nationality so denies French consular staff access to Adelkhah.
“It is very unfortunate that the French authorities... by issuing hasty statements, make baseless and unfounded remarks that are definitely unacceptable,” Gharibabadi said.
She is one of at least a dozen Western nationals believed to be held in Iran who rights groups abroad say are being detained for political reasons to extract concessions from the West.
Talks between Tehran and global powers on the 2015 nuclear deal entered the New Year with positive signals emerging, including the European Union saying on Friday that a deal remained possible.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman last week cited “good progress” but French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday reiterated his view that the talks were progressing “much too slowly to be able to reach a result.”
Then-president Donald Trump had pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed biting sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back on its commitments.


Lebanon faces Internet service interruption amid fuel crisis

Lebanon faces Internet service interruption amid fuel crisis
Updated 16 January 2022

Lebanon faces Internet service interruption amid fuel crisis

Lebanon faces Internet service interruption amid fuel crisis

BEIRUT: Internet services were disrupted in Lebanon Sunday because of diesel shortages, according to the state provider, adding another essential service to the list of casualties of the country’s snowballing economic crisis.
Imad Kreidieh, the head of state Internet provider Ogero, tweeted that starting early Sunday a major station in west Beirut, Al-Mazraa, would run out of diesel and go offline. The outage affected over 26,000 subscribers, including the country’s General Security operation rooms, he told Al-Jadeed TV.
By midday Sunday, a resident donated diesel, allowing the station to get back online, he said. Meanwhile, another neighborhood in east Beirut, Achrafieh, was out of diesel and operated on batteries.
“The situation is unbearable,” Kreidieh told the TV station.
Lebanese live with only few hours of state electricity a day and rely on a network of private generators that also depend on diesel fuel. This often leaves neighborhoods in total darkness for hours. Meanwhile, residents have to pay for multiple services, including hefty bills to generator operators, which change regularly as the crisis worsens.
Internet and telecom services already were expensive in Lebanon. In 2019, a tax imposed on WhatsApp services sparked nationwide protests that turned into a denunciation of the entire political elite.
The import-dependent country is also suffering from shortage of medicines, leaving patients dependent on black market, smuggled medicines and donations from Lebanese expats and civil groups.
Lebanon is in the throes of the worst financial and economic crisis in its history that has sunk the once middle-class country into poverty.
The crisis is rooted in years of corruption and mismanagement by the same political class that has ruled for years. Lebanon is running out of foreign reserves and has gradually lifted subsidies on essential goods, including fuel and medicines.
But the government has yet to implement a social safety program or draft a recovery plan to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund.
The crisis caused the national currency to lose more than 90 percent of its value to the dollar while banks, fearing bankruptcy, have limited people’s access to their deposits in local and foreign currency. Meanwhile inflation has soared and prices increased.
The state-owned and other telecommunication companies complain they can’t keep up with rising operational costs, including fuel.
“I will not agree to continue in this post unless I have all the authorities and tools to do my job,” Kreidieh told Al-Jadeed.
He blamed the service interruption in west Beirut on a civil servant who didn’t sign a piece of paper on time to allow him to buy needed diesel. Amid the crisis, many public sector workers have gone on strike, demanding their salaries be adjusted to rising inflation and a collapsing currency.
Kreidieh said Internet service is also affected outside of Beirut.