Fighting erupts in Taiz as Yemeni troops target Houthi positions

Yemeni fighters hold a position during clashes with Houthi militia, Taiz, Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
Yemeni fighters hold a position during clashes with Houthi militia, Taiz, Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 26 February 2022

Fighting erupts in Taiz as Yemeni troops target Houthi positions

Yemeni fighters hold a position during clashes with Houthi militia, Taiz, Yemen. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Army hits back after rebels step up mortar attacks on residential areas

AL-MUKALLA: Heavy fighting between Yemeni troops and Houthi militia has broken out in the southern city of Taiz after government forces attacked rebel positions on the city’s outskirts, a local military official said on Saturday. 

Government troops intensified attacks on Friday on Iran-backed Houthis occupying the western and eastern edges of the city after the militia stepped up mortar fire on residential areas in the city’s downtown. 

“The fighting has not stopped for the past seven years. But the aim of the latest attacks is silencing weapons that fire shells of death,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni military officer in Taiz, told Arab News by telephone.

At least 30 Houthis were killed or wounded, while several army soldiers are believed to have died in fierce fighting, he added. 

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said that troops repulsed Houthi attacks in the Al-Ahbout area, west of Taiz. 

Residents said that the militia fired mortar and artillery shells at civilian areas in government-controlled downtown and eastern sections of the city, triggering explosions.

There were no confirmed reports of casualties. 

After failing to storm the center of Taiz since 2015, the Houthis have positioned themselves on the city’s outskirts, targeting densely populated residential areas with heavy weapons.

Essential food and humanitarian supplies have also been blocked from reaching the besieged population.  

The Houthi siege has forced residents to use rough and dangerous mountain roads to leave or enter the city.

In Hajjah province, the Houthis intensified drone strikes on Yemeni troops in Haradh and Abes as the rebels try to drive government forces out of the two districts. 

Local media said that the Houthis have fired at least five explosive-laden drones at government forces in the past 24 hours as part of militia counterattacks to seize back areas controlled by loyalists. 

Fighting erupted as warplanes from the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen carried out air sorties in Hajjah, targeting Houthi military equipment and positions. 

A Houthi military leader, Ghazi Amen, died in an airstrike, local media said, while Yemeni troops also suffered casualties in the fighting. 

Yemen’s Defense Ministry on Friday arranged a funeral procession for Brig. Yahyia Haykal Al-Sumaini, chief of the Fifth Military Region’s Armament Division, and several soldiers killed in clashes with the rebels in Hajjah. 

The Coalition’s warplanes also targeted Houthis in flashpoint sites south of the central city of Marib, where government troops are seeking to drive the rebels away from the city.


Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura
Updated 17 sec ago

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura

Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon mark festival of Ashoura
BAGHDAD: Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon chanted, paraded and beat their chests on Tuesday as they marked Ashoura, one of the most important dates on the religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The symbols of Shiite piety and penitence blanketed major cities in Iraq, where Hussein was believed killed at the battle of Karbala, south of Baghdad, in 680 A.D.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people converge on Karbala, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, to observe the solemn holy day.
Shiites see Hussein and his descendants as the rightful heirs to the prophet. His killing at the hands of a rival Muslim faction embodies the rift between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam and continues to shape the identity of the minority branch of Islam today.
The public rituals of Ashoura often fuels sectarian tensions in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where Islam’s two main sects both reside.
Security forces were on high alert for any violence, as extremist groups that consider the Shiites heretics have seized on the occasion to mount attacks in years past.
In Iraq, the powerful cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr has used the emotional religious occasion to stir up support for his movement, deepening the country’s inter-Shiite divisions. Unable to form a government, Iraq descended further into political chaos last week when thousands of Al-Sadr’s supporters stormed and occupied the parliament building. Their sit-in continues outside the assembly, making it impossible for lawmakers to convene and raising the specter of civil strife.
In the Shiite-dominated Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, Al-Sadr’s portrait hangs from nearly every door. Processions of men and boys expressed extreme fervor in the Ashoura rituals of self-flagellation on Tuesday. They beat their heads and chests in unison and whipped themselves with chains to the point of bleeding.
“We inherited this from our fathers and grandfathers,” said participant Hamza Abdul-Jalil. “God willing, we will continue on this path.”
In Lebanon, processions shut down Shiite areas across the country and Beirut’s biggest suburb.

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid
Updated 11 min 21 sec ago

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid

Palestinians say Israel troops kill 3 in West Bank raid
  • Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin

JERUSALEM: Israeli troops killed three Palestinians and injured dozens more in a shootout Tuesday during an arrest operation in the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The shootout came a day after a cease-fire ended three days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli police said forces encircled the home of Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, who they say was wanted for a string of shootings in the West Bank earlier this year. It confirmed that Al-Nabulsi and another Palestinian militant were killed in a shootout at the scene, and that troops found arms and explosives in his home.
The Israeli military said that troops came under attack from Palestinians throwing rocks and explosives, and that soldiers responded with live fire. It confirmed Palestinians were shot, but did not elaborate on their condition.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said that three people were killed — Al-Nabulsi, Islam Sabouh and Hussein Jamal Taha — and at least 40 others were wounded.
Israel has conducted near nightly arrest raids in the West Bank in recent months as part of a crackdown on Palestinian militant groups in the aftermath of a string of deadly attacks targeting Israelis earlier this year that left 19 people dead. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops during these arrest raids.
Last week, Israel arrested Bassam Al-Saadi, a senior militant in the West Bank city of Jenin, during one of the nightly operations. The group said it was going “on alert,” and on Friday Israel said it had launched a series of strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip in response to an “imminent threat” by the militant group.
During the three days of Gaza fighting, at least 46 Palestinians were killed, including 16 children and four women, and 311 were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Twelve of those killed were militants, one was from a smaller armed group, and two were Hamas-affiliated policemen who were not taking part in the fighting, according to the armed factions.
Israel estimated that a total of 47 Palestinians were killed, including 14 killed by misfired rockets. It said 20 militants and seven civilians died in Israeli airstrikes and that it was still investigating six deaths.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek it as the heartland of their future state. Israel views the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people, and has constructed dozens of settlements, now home to over 400,000 Israelis.
The Palestinians and much of the international community consider Israel’s West Bank settlements a violation of international law and an obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict.


UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 
Updated 57 min 42 sec ago

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

UAE ambassador to Hungary praises Hungarian PM’s statements on rights of children, families 

The UAE Ambassador to Hungary, Saud Hamad Al Shamsi, has praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s statements on protecting the rights of children and families, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday. 

The ambassador said Orban’s statements emphasized the role of values and morals in protecting the institution of marriage, strengthening family ties, and upholding children’s right to parental care in an environment in which safety prevails and the integrity of families and society is preserved, WAM said. 


Iran receives first telemetry data from ‘Khayyam’ satellite — IRNA

Iran receives first telemetry data from ‘Khayyam’ satellite — IRNA
Updated 17 min 28 sec ago

Iran receives first telemetry data from ‘Khayyam’ satellite — IRNA

Iran receives first telemetry data from ‘Khayyam’ satellite — IRNA

DUBAI: Iran’s Space Organization has received the first telemetry data sent from the “Khayyam” satellite, a remote-sensing Iranian satellite launched on Tuesday by a Russian rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the official IRNA news agency said.

Tehran has rejected claims the satellite could be used by Moscow to boost its intelligence capabilities in Ukraine, saying Iran will have full control and operation over it “from day one.”The Washington Post reported last week that US officials are concerned by the fledgling space cooperation between Russia and Iran, fearing the satellite will not only help Russia in Ukraine but also provide Iran “unprecedented capabilities” to monitor potential military targets in Israel and the wider middle east.

Iran says the satellite is designed for scientific research including radiation and environmental monitoring for agricultural purposes.

Russia has sought to deepen its ties with Iran since Feb. 24, when the Kremlin ordered tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

In July, President Vladimir Putin visited Iran in his first international trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

While in there, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Putin that Tehran and Moscow needed to stay vigilant against “Western deception.”


Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 
Updated 09 August 2022

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 

Joint UAE-US investigation finds American lawyer Asim Ghafoor guilty of money laundering, tax evasion 
  • The UAE had launched an investigation into Ghafoor’s activities in 2020 after receiving an official request for assistance from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi
  • The UAE-US investigation collected evidence that showed that the transfers on the accounts were inconsistent with the original purpose for which they were opened

DUBAI: A joint investigation between the UAE and the US found that convicted American lawyer Asim Ghafoor had transferred $4.9 million through UAE banks with the intent to conceal or disguise the nature and origin of the funds, according to a statement from the UAE Embassy in Washington DC. 

The UAE had launched an investigation into Ghafoor’s activities in 2020 after receiving an official request for assistance from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi on behalf of the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, UAE national Gulf News reported. 

The two countries have been sharing information on Ghafoor’s case for more than two years, the report added. 

 

Despite not being a UAE resident, Ghafoor had made dozens of cash deposit and debit transactions on his accounts, through ATMs based in the country by an unidentified third party using his bank cards, the statement said. 

The UAE-US investigation collected evidence that showed that the transfers on the accounts were inconsistent with the original purpose for which they were opened; they were being used with the intent to conceal or disguise the nature and origin of the funds obtained from illegal sources, according to the embassy’s statement. 

Multiple bank accounts were opened with the intent to conceal the origin of the funds from tax authorities – including one that was opened as early as 2013 and another that was closed in 2020 after suspicious activity was detected.

The transfers were then directed to recipients in several countries, including the US. 

Based on the investigation, a UAE court convicted Ghafoor on charges of money laundering and tax evasion on May 25.

This evidence was presented to the UAE Court of First Instance which convicted Ghafoor under Articles 1, 2/1, clauses a, b, and c 2/3, 5/3, 22/1. 261-2, 29/1 of UAE Federal Law No. 20 of 2018 as amended by Federal Decree-Law No.26 of 2021 on Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism and Financing of Illegal Organizations, and Article 1 of Federal Law No. 7 of 2017 on Tax Procedures, the embassy said. 

Since his arrest, Ghafoor is being afforded due process of the law and has been advised by legal counsel in the UAE. Ghafoor has said indicated that he intends to appeal his conviction with his next court appearance set for 9 August, the statement added. 

He and his counsel have had multiple opportunities to confer in person or by video at their choosing and he has appeared in court on two occasions.

According to the embassy, the court denied his request for bail pending appeal at a previous hearing, adding that he continues to have regular contact with his family and with US consular officials.

The case reflects the extensive legal cooperation between the UAE and US to combat transnational financial crimes, the report added. 

A joint statement following the UAE-US bilateral meeting on 16 July said that: “President Biden recognized the UAE’s efforts to strengthen its policies and enforcement mechanisms in the fight against financial crimes and illicit money flows.”

The UAE’s efforts have included new regulations and policies, enhanced monitoring, and additional prosecutions, sanctions and fines against individuals, banks and other entities, according to the embassy.