UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport

Special UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg in Taiz, Nov. 8, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 28 April 2022

UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport

UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport
  • Houthis accused of sending more military reinforcements to flashpoint sites in Marib, Hodeidah and Hajjah 
  • Hans Grundberg said that the Houthis and the Yemeni government told him again that they would stop hostilities during the truce and discuss challenges to resuming flights from Sanaa

AL-MUKALLA: UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said on Thursday that he is working hard to salvage the two-month truce and resume commercial flights from Houthi-controlled Sanaa amid new reports of dozens of violations of the truce across the country.

Grundberg said that the Houthis and the Yemeni government told him again that they would stop hostilities during the truce and discuss challenges to resuming commercial flights from Sanaa, urging both sides to stick to their commitments. 

“The parties have reiterated their commitment to upholding the truce. We are working tirelessly to help them identify solutions to resume flights from Sanaa,” the UN envoy said in a statement, vowing to keep pressure on the parties till they open roads in Taiz and the other provinces. 

“We also continue pushing for progress on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates,” said the envoy. “I have called on the parties to work constructively and in good faith to prioritize the interests of Yemeni civilians.”

The UN-brokered truce came into effect on April 2 as warring factions agreed to stop fighting on all fronts, mainly outside the central city of Marib, open roads in the provinces, resume commercial flights from Sanaa airport and allow fuel ships to enter Hodeidah seaport.

The truce received a heavy blow on Sunday when the first commercial flight from Sanaa airport was postponed as the Houthis insisted on adding dozens of passengers with unofficial passports.

The Yemeni government on Wednesday proposed opening a new passport office in Sanaa to help people in Houthi-controlled areas get passports and to end the impasse over the departure of flights from Sanaa airport. 

Hundreds of violations by the Houthis, including the deployment of military forces, tanks and heavy artillery outside Marib, have also threatened to torpedo the truce.

Yemen’s army said that the Houthis violated the truce 74 times in Taiz, Hajjah, Marib, Hodeidah and Jouf on Tuesday, accusing the Houthis of sending more military reinforcements to flashpoint sites in Marib, Hodeidah and Hajjah.

On Thursday, the government’s Joint Forces announced unilaterally opening the Al-Jarahi-Hays road in Hodeidah province under the UN-brokered truce, urging the Houthis to open the road from their side. 

The current raging conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthis militarily seized power in the country and expanded across the country.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.


UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
Updated 02 July 2022

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
  • The dispatched field hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms

The UAE has sent three planes of medical supplies, including a 1,000 square-meter-field hospital, to aid the injured of Afghanistan's earthquake that killed over 1,000 people and wounded scores more, Emirates new agency (WAM) reported on Saturday.
The dispatched hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms equipped with medical supplies and devices, the WAM statement read.
The planes also carried 16 metric tonnes of equipment and a medical team to operate the hospital and provide urgent medical services.
The UAE earlier established an air bridge to transport aid in the wake of the disaster.
The relief efforts come as Afghan authorities reported a shortage of food, shelter and medical supplies for the victims of the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

Last week, the country dispatched a plane carrying 30 tons of urgent food supplies to Afghanistan as aid continued to pour in from different parts of the world.


Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
Updated 02 July 2022

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
  • Minister holds talks with tourism chief during visit to Rome

CAIRO: Khaled El-Anany, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, has held talks with Ivana Jelinic, president of the Federation of Italian Tourism Companies, as part of efforts to attract more Italian tourists to Egypt.

The meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy in Rome during El-Anany’s visit to the Italian capital.

Egypt’s plans to attract more tourists from various markets, including Italy, were reviewed at the meeting, which also discussed organizing a number of introductory visits for leading Italian tour operators and media representatives.

These visits will include Sharm El-Sheikh and other tourist cities in South Sinai in preparation for the coming winter season.

Joint advertising campaigns in Italy were also discussed, amid a growing interest among Italians in Egyptian cities and tourist destinations.

 


Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
Updated 02 July 2022

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
  • Mohsen Akhavan was targeted in the city of Isfahan
  • He was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred

TEHRAN: A Shiite cleric in central Iran was injured on Saturday morning after an assailant on a motorcycle shot at him, Iranian state media said.
Mohsen Akhavan, who holds the clerical rank of hojatoleslam, was targeted in the city of Isfahan, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB.
Akhavan, who was the imam of a mosque in the city, was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred, IRIB reported.
The report added that the cleric, who had earlier been working at the Isfahan Islamic seminary, was “not seriously injured” and was being treated in hospital.
In early April, a Sunni extremist of Uzbek origin stabbed two Shiite clerics to death and injured a third in the courtyard of the main shrine of the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.
Abdolatif Moradi, 21, was hanged on June 20 in the same city after being convicted over the attack, according to the judicial authority.
Moradi “was accused of moharebeh (’war against God’, in Persian) using a weapon to terrorize the population in the shrine and even outside it,” judicial authorities said.
The attack in Mashhad came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern Iranian town of Gonbad-e Kavus.
The three suspects in that case, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.


Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
Updated 02 July 2022

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
  • For over two months Iranian-flagged Lana has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April, part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek coast guard officials said, after Greek authorities approved its release.
For over two months the Iranian-flagged Lana, formerly Pegas, has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia in a diplomatic impasse which has strained Athens’ relations with Tehran amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States.
“It left Karystos at 0630 am (0330 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 1000 pm,” one official said.
Greek authorities in April impounded Lana and its oil cargo with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Evia, due to sanctions following a legal action by the United States.
The ship was later released due to complications regarding its ownership, but part of the Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another ship, Ice Energy, which was hired by the United States and is moored off Piraeus port.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf and sail them back to Iran after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens.
Following an appeal by an Iranian company on June 7, a Greek judicial panel overturned the initial court order that allowed the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the United States.
That decision has cleared the way for Lana to retrieve the cargo that was transferred to Ice Energy.
Until last week however Lana, which still has engine problems, was being detained by another company due to debts owed for towing services. It was officially released after the amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.


Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
Updated 02 July 2022

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
  • Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the 2011 civil war
  • Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks

An Israeli strike on Syria’s western coast wounded two civilians on Saturday, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air strike” at about 6:30 am near the town of Al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said in a statement, identifying the locations hit as poultry farms, without elaborating.
The strike was conducted from the Mediterranean Sea, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” the statement said.
Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor.
The raids have targeted Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks.
Besides the extensive damage caused to civilian and military runways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes had targeted nearby warehouses used as weapons depots by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian war has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.