Yemen military forces drive Al-Qaeda out of new areas in Abyan, Shabwa

Special Yemen military forces drive Al-Qaeda out of new areas in Abyan, Shabwa
Hundreds of soldiers were deployed on Sunday in Lawder, Ahwar and other areas of Abyan province to thwart any attempts by Al-Qaeda militants to mount counterattacks. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 11 September 2022

Yemen military forces drive Al-Qaeda out of new areas in Abyan, Shabwa

Yemen military forces drive Al-Qaeda out of new areas in Abyan, Shabwa
  • Troops take control of a large swath of valley and mountainous areas in southern provinces considered safe havens for terrorists

AL-MUKALLAH: Yemeni military and security forces have taken control of a large swath of valley and mountainous areas in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, which have long been considered safe havens for Al-Qaeda militants.

Local media and officials said that military and security forces led by the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council stormed the arid and mountainous Khaber Al-Marakesha, an area in Abyan known for nearly 10 years as an Al-Qaeda hideout and the cradle of some militants, including Jalal Baliedi, a senior Al-Qaeda leader killed by a US drone in the same region in 2016. 

Other military forces, including the Giants Brigades and the Shabwa Defense Forces, are on the verge of completely pushing Al-Qaeda militants from the Al-Musainah region and are now fighting their way into a long and rugged valley called Mouthab.

Residents told Arab News that the military forces encountered stiff resistance from Al-Qaeda militants who planted landmines and booby traps to obstruct their progress deeper into those rugged areas.

“The Al-Qaeda militants were outnumbered by the attacking forces and were unable to halt their advances,” a local journalist who preferred anonymity said, adding that the militants fled to a chain of rugged mountains between Abyan, Shabwa and Al-Bayda.

Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, a spokesperson for pro-independence southern troops, told Arab News that their forces have taken control of three valleys in Abyan that house three military training facilities for Al-Qaeda.

“We drove Al-Qaeda out of Al-Naseel, Moujan and Al-Sari. Al-Qaeda has a large military camp in Al-Sari,” he said.

“The terrorist elements have fled to the mountains, and the military operation continues.” 

Hundreds of soldiers were deployed on Sunday in Lawder, Ahwar and other areas of Abyan province to thwart any attempts by Al-Qaeda militants to mount counterattacks.

Twenty troops and six militants were killed in an Al-Qaeda attack on a military outpost for southern forces in Ahwar, Abyan last week, the militants’ deadliest attack in months.

Many military operations to push terrorists out of those places in the past have failed because militants conduct ferocious counterattacks based on their understanding of the local geology. 

Military analysts now believe that because the military and security personnel battling Al-Qaeda terrorists are made up of locals who are intimately familiar with the targeted areas, they may be able to drive the extremists out of their long-held strongholds in the southern provinces. 

Similar military and security forces, who were armed and trained by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, were successful in driving out the militants from important cities in 2016, including Al-Mukalla, the capital of the southeast province of Hadramout, which was overrun by the militants in April 2015, as well as major cities in Abyan, Shabwa and Lahj.


Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city
Updated 28 sec ago

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city

Tehran seals border with Pakistan amid deadly crackdown in neighboring Iranian city
  • Iranian state media say five IRGC and Basiji personnel killed in Zahedan
  • Local journalists and activists estimate at least 50 protesters killed by security forces

QUETTA: Iran sealed a main crossing point with Pakistan on Sunday amid deadly unrest and a crackdown on protesters in Zahedan, a southeastern Iranian city near the border.

Violence broke out in the capital of the Iranian Sistan and Balochistan province during Friday prayers, after worshipers in the city’s Makki Mosque called for a protest over the rape of a 15-year-old girl, allegedly by a local military commander.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps provincial intelligence chief Ali Mousavi was shot during the clashes on Friday and pronounced dead at a hospital.

The killing was claimed by the Jaish Al-Adl militant group, which says it is fighting for the independence of Sistan and Balochistan, and greater rights for Baloch people, who are the main ethnic group in the province.

A Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency official told Arab News the border crossing in Taftan, about 90 km from Zahedan, was sealed off by Iranian authorities.

“They are not allowing departure movement from Pakistan into Iran,” he said on condition of anonymity.

“On Saturday, they allowed 780 people, including foreigners who wanted to cross into Pakistan, but on Sunday they completely halted all kinds of trade and pedestrian movement.”

Sardarzada Umair Muhammad Hassani, former adviser to the chief minister of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, said the border closure would affect Iran itself, as food supplies to Iran pass through Pakistan.

“The border closure decision by Iranian forces wasn’t fair in the better interest of Iran,” he told Arab News, adding that he had backtracked on his earlier opinion that Pakistani-Iranian ties should be enhanced, as the killings in Zahedan have affected the Baloch community on the Pakistani side.

“Baloch tribes have been living on both sides of the border,” Hassani said. “The recent brutality toward the people of Zahedan by the Iranian forces has hurt the sentiments and emotions of the Baloch.”

Footage emerging from the city showed people carrying dead and wounded protesters amid heavy gunfire. The administration of Sistan and Balochistan said 19 people have been killed in the clashes, but journalists in the province and activists estimate the number of deaths to be at least 50, as clashes continue.

“According to local media in Zahedan, the death toll has risen to 50, because the majority of the injured who were shot by Iranian forces were being treated in their homes instead of hospitals due to fear of arrest by the Iranian forces,” Asif Burhanzai, a journalist in Taftan, told Arab News.

The Baloch Activists Campaign said at least 58 people have died and 270 have been wounded.

Communication services were down in Zahedan and surrounding areas over the weekend. On Sunday, mobile networks were partially restored, but access to the internet remained blocked.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported on Sunday that the number of personnel from the IRGC and its volunteer Basiji force killed in Zahedan had risen to five.

Their deaths, and that of the provincial IRGC intelligence chief, represent a major escalation in the antigovernment demonstrations that began in mid-September, triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of the Iranian morality police.

The IRGC’s chief, Gen. Hossein Salami, pledged revenge for the killing of its forces.

“We consider revenge for the blood of the IRGC and Basiji martyrs and the people who were victims of the Black Friday crime in Zahedan to be on our agenda,” he said, as quoted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

Ongoing countrywide demonstrations have been the largest manifestation of dissent against the Iranian government in over a decade.

Rallies have spread to all of Iran’s 31 provinces, with ethnic and religious minorities joining in, despite a violent response from authorities.

With the deaths in Sistan and Balochistan, the number of those killed in the protests is likely to have crossed 100.

On Friday, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights organization estimated the number of dead to be at least 83. Many more have been wounded and thousands arrested.


Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce
Updated 02 October 2022

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

Yemeni presidential council discusses with UN envoy extension of truce

DUBAI: The Chairman of the Yemeni Presidential Council has met on Sunday the United Nation’s ambassador to Yemen to discuss the extension of the UN-brokered truce.  

The council, led by chairman Rashad al-Alimi, said the Houthi positions are hostile to peace efforts. 

Al-Alimi renewed calls for doubling international pressure on the Houthis. 

The British Ambassador to Yemen said we encourage the Houthis to work with the UN to extend the armistice. 


Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
Updated 02 October 2022

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
  • Israeli security said the individuals had “met to prepare attacks”

JERUSALEM: Israel’s internal security agency said Sunday it dismantled in the north of the country a cell linked to Daesh, whose alleged sympathizers staged deadly attacks earlier this year.
“Six residents of Nazareth were arrested several weeks ago and interrogated by the Shin Bet on suspicion of seeking to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of (Daesh) inside Israel,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that the individuals had “met to prepare attacks.”
The Shin Bet agency said the probe “highlights the influence of Daesh in Israel.”
In March, four people were killed when a convicted Daesh sympathizer went on a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Days later, two policemen were shot dead and several others wounded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, in an attack that was later claimed by the jihadist group.
The Beersheba and Hadera attacks renewed long-standing concern in Israel about Daesh efforts to recruit Arab citizens, who account for roughly a fifth of the Israeli population.


Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation
Updated 02 October 2022

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

DUBAI: A Kuwaiti Emiri decree accepted the government’s resignation, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday. 

The Emir has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity, the statement on KUNA added. 

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on Sunday, state news agency (KUNA) reported, following a parliamentary election in the country.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah received the government’s letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, KUNA reported.


Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
Updated 02 October 2022

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
  • Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad
  • Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in several countries since US imposed sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran is awaiting the release of about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, state media said Sunday, after it allowed an Iranian-American to leave the country and released his son from detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the United Nations said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed biting sanctions on the Islamic republic in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage,” repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release it.
IRNA on Sunday said that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea.”
The development comes as on-off talks have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the United States will not again pull out of a revived deal.
Baquer Namazi is a former UNICEF official who was detained in February 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.