Blast kills 5 engineers at Houthi missile factory in Yemen

Update Blast kills 5 engineers at Houthi missile factory in Yemen
Houthis have been accused of using the Sanaa's airport facilities as warehouses to manufacture ballistic missiles and drones, claims that the Iran-backed militia denied. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 01 August 2022

Blast kills 5 engineers at Houthi missile factory in Yemen

Blast kills 5 engineers at Houthi missile factory in Yemen
  • The engineers, some of them foreigners, were assembling missiles when the explosion happened
  • Omani delegation in last-ditch bid to push militia to extend ceasefire

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Five Houthi ballistic missile engineers, including foreigners, were killed in a large explosion that rocked Houthi-held Sanaa, Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said on Sunday.

He slammed the Houthis for endangering the lives of thousands of people who live in the capital by storing and manufacturing weapons inside residential areas.

The Yemeni minister said the five engineers were assembling a ballistic missile at a military location on Saturday near Sanaa airport, which was being used as a missile factory and rigging drones with explosives.

“This incident confirms the continued flow of Iranian weapons to the Houthi militia, its indifference to international community, disavowal of its obligations, & exploitation of UN-sponsored truce to accumulate more Iranian smuggled weapons in residential areas, & using civilians as human shields,” Al-Eryani said on Twitter.

Less than a day after the Houthi engineers were killed, a group of Omani diplomats arrived in militia-occupied Sanaa to discuss extending the UN-brokered truce.

The Houthi movement’s chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdul Salam, said he and an Omani delegation touched down in Sanaa on Sunday on an Omani plane to discuss with the Houthi leaders issues related to the truce and the UN Yemen proposal on addressing humanitarian and economic problems.

The Omanis arrived in Sanaa to push the Houthis into accepting the UN Yemen envoy’s proposal in ending their siege on Taiz and extending the truce, which is due to expire on Aug. 2.

UN, Western and regional envoys are pushing the Yemeni factions into extending the truce to six months and turning it into a sustainable peace deal to end the war.

The visit came as the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, failed to convince the Houthis to accept his proposal on opening roads in Taiz and alleviating their siege on the city.

The Houthi objection blocked progress in the implementation of the truce and threatened to ruin it as the internationally recognized government of Yemen refused to move to discuss other issues before the Houthis opened roads in Taiz.

The Yemeni government said the Houthis did not implement all of the truce’s terms, refused to pay the salaries of the public servants in areas under their control despite generating more than 100 billion riyals ($86,956,522) from oil ships during the truce and continued attacking government-controlled areas in Taiz and Hodeidah, Marib and other areas.

On Saturday, the UN Yemen envoy returned empty-handed from Aden after the president of the Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, snubbed a meeting with him in protest against the Houthi violations of the truce, their objection to opening roads in Taiz and the UN’s soft stand with the movement.


Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage
Updated 10 sec ago

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage

Morocco and UNESCO to work together to protect Sub-Saharan heritage
  • Under an agreement signed on Tuesday in Rabat, they will cooperate in efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural property

RABAT: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will work with authorities in Morocco to protect heritage in Sub-Saharan African countries, under a partnership agreement signed in Rabat on Tuesday.

In particular they will cooperate in efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural property. They will also share their expertise in the protection of cultural artifacts with specialists in museums, promote the role of museums in African societies, create inventories, and train heritage-conservation experts.

The agreement was signed on behalf of Mohammed Mehdi Bensaid, the Moroccan minister of youth, culture and communication, and Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director-general.

 


Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

 Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’
Updated 11 min 11 sec ago

Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

 Iraqi prime minister and Iranian president vow to fight ‘terror’

TEHRAN: Tehran and Baghdad Tuesday identified fighting “terrorism,” maintaining mutual security and extending economic cooperation as key priorities during the new Iraqi prime minister’s first official visit to Iran.

Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani was received by President Ebrahim Raisi, who expressed hopes of bolstering ties that have lately been hit by tensions over Iran carrying out cross-border strikes against exiled opposition groups.

Al-Sudani came to power last month, after a year-long tussle between political factions over forming a government following an October 2021 general election.

“From our perspective and that of the Iraqi government, security, peace, cooperation and regional stability are very important,” Raisi told a joint press conference.

“As a result, the fight against terrorist groups, organized crime, drugs and other insecurity that threaten the region depends on the common will of our two nations,” he said.

Al-Sudani said that “our government is determined not to allow any group or party to use Iraqi territory to undermine and disrupt Iran’s security.”

Since nationwide protests erupted in Iran more than two months ago, Iranian officials have accused Kurdish opposition groups exiled in northern Iraq of stoking the unrest and the Islamic republic has repeatedly launched deadly cross-border strikes.

Such strikes — targeting Iranian-Kurdish groups in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region — resumed this month, even after Iraq’s federal government summoned Iran’s ambassador in late September to complain about cross-border missile and drone hits that killed at least seven people.

Iraq has announced in the past week that it will redeploy federal guards on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, rather than leaving the responsibility to Kurdish peshmerga forces — a move welcomed by Tehran.

Al-Sudani added that the two countries’ national security advisers would hold consultations to “establish a working mechanism for on-the-ground coordination to avoid any escalation.”

Al-Sudani also thanked Iran for its continued deliveries of gas and electricity, which have been in short supply in Iraq, while he also pointed to discussions on a “mechanism” to enable Iraq to pay Iran for these services.


Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides
Updated 17 min 57 sec ago

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai's Careem celebrates 1bn rides
  • Family trip back home to India brings delight to employee
  • Super app had 10th anniversary in July

DUBAI: Hailing app Careem has celebrated the completion of 1 billion rides across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The billionth journey was completed by Captain Razak Uppattil, who has completed 10,500 rides since joining Careem four years ago. 

To commemorate the milestone, the Dubai-based super app gave Uppattil a trip back home to visit his family in India.

He said: “It’s the people that I get to meet from all over the world that I really enjoy.

“I have three children back home in Kerala, India, and I am so excited I’ll see them soon.”

Genera Tesoro, who was Careem’s 1 billionth passenger, was given a year of ride-hailing trips to mark the milestone. 

Careem, which marked its 10-year anniversary in July, is now operating in more than 100 cities in 14 countries. It recently expanded its fleet in Qatar by more than 50 percent ahead of the World Cup.

 


US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye
Updated 21 min 18 sec ago

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

US-backed force in Syria wants ‘stronger’ American warning for Turkiye

BEIRUT: The head of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Tuesday he still feared a Turkish ground invasion despite US assurances and has demanded a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border.

Turkish officials said the army needed just days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria, which they have been attacking with long-range weapons and warplanes for days.

The bombardments come after months of threats by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan of a new ground invasion against Kurdish forces, which he considers to be terrorists.

“There are reinforcements on the border and within Syria in areas controlled by factions allied to Turkiye. We noticed this and, yes, this is new,” SDF chief Mazloum Abdi said by phone from Syria.

Syrian Kurdish forces have received backing from Washington for years, but have also coordinated with Syria’s government and its ally Russia, both seen as foes by the US.

Abdi said he had received “clear” assurances from Washington and Moscow that they opposed a Turkish ground invasion but wanted something more tangible.

“We are still nervous. We need stronger, more solid statements to stop Turkiye,” he said. “Turkiye has announced its intent and is now feeling things out. The beginning of an invasion will depend on how it analyzes the positions of other countries.”

The SDF and Ankara have traded accusations over who is violating a 2019 deal, brokered by the US and Russia to clear Kurdish militants out of border areas in exchange for Turkiye refraining from invading.

Abdi said his force had not been asked to withdraw from any further zones and would refuse if asked, adding that the main brokers of that deal were too preoccupied with Moscow’s war in Ukraine to enforce it properly.

“Everyone is busy. The Russia-Ukraine war has had a negative effect impact on these countries’ commitments in this region,” he said.

The SDF would not rely on Syrian air defenses, Abdi added, after previously telling reporters he hoped they would help defend his forces from Ankara’s air strikes.


Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
Updated 29 November 2022

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war

Lebanese troops called in to halt drug turf war
  • Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees
  • Clashes initially broke out when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family

BEIRUT: Rival drug-dealing families using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades brought mayhem to the streets of a southern Beirut neighborhood during a series of violent clashes on Tuesday.

Lebanese troops were forced to step in to end the fighting in an area adjoining the Burj Al-Barajneh camp for Palestinian refugees after members of the two families became embroiled in a dispute over drug trafficking.

Clashes initially broke out late on Monday when Hassan Jaafar, an alleged Syrian drug dealer with a Lebanese mother, began arguing with members of a rival family living in the same area, known as the Baalbekien neighborhood.

Samir Abu Afash, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah movement in Beirut, told Arab News that Jaafar started “shooting randomly in the direction of the camp” due to a dispute with other gunmen.

“We feared that something was planned against the camp,” he said.

Abu Afash said that the PLO has pledged not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, or involve refugee camps in any disputes between the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

“So we contacted the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to stop the clashes. But the fights continued throughout the night and intermittently until the army intervened in the morning and entered the haven Jaafar had formed years ago for his gang and arrested two people. Jaafar remains at large.”

He added: “Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have repeatedly stressed that they do not provide cover for Jaafar, and when they do intervene, he usually lays low for a while. Jaafar was able to make a name for himself in the area and managed to bring in prohibited materials into the camp, including building materials for example, along with drugs.”

The army is believed to have seized stolen items, including motorcycles, during the raid.

Burj Al-Barajneh camp is home to over 35,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as some Syrians and Palestinians who fled from Syria.

Lebanese security forces are combating drug dealers in neighborhoods adjacent to the camp. According to a security source, dealers and distributors encourage people from the site to sell their drugs.

Havens for drug dealers and fugitives are common in various Lebanese regions, especially in Hezbollah areas in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in northern Bekaa, although the party claims to have nothing to do with them.

The problem appears to have worsened in recent months, with drug dealers even threatening the security services.

Lt. Col. Ibrahim Rashid, head of the regional anti-narcotics office in Tripoli, said that statistics showed an increase in the numbers of drug addicts and dealers since 2016.

The problem is placing greater strain on Lebanon’s security and judicial systems, he said.

“Drug users pose a threat to the lives of others, as well as to the security of society in their pursuit of theft, fraud, criminality and aggression,” he added.

Lebanon North investigative judge Samaranda Nassar told a recent seminar on Lebanon’s drug problem that rising rates of addiction are leading to an increase in thefts and murders around the country.

“We are confronting new types of drugs intended for young ages and adolescents, as well as digital drugs that are no less dangerous than traditional drugs in their effect on confusing the human brain,” she said.

“Stricter penalties need to be imposed on drug dealers. I am determined to take appropriate decisions and punish criminals.”