Iraq says drone which killed three Kurdish officers came from Turkiye

The premises of an airfield used by Iraqi Kurdish forces is pictured in Arbat, near Sulaymaniyah in Iraq's Kurdistan, after three members of a Kurdish anti-terrorist unit were killed in a drone strike that hit the airfield. (AFP)
The premises of an airfield used by Iraqi Kurdish forces is pictured in Arbat, near Sulaymaniyah in Iraq's Kurdistan, after three members of a Kurdish anti-terrorist unit were killed in a drone strike that hit the airfield. (AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2023
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Iraq says drone which killed three Kurdish officers came from Turkiye

Iraq says drone which killed three Kurdish officers came from Turkiye
  • One security source said initial information suggested a Turkish drone was used in the attack against a suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) target

BAGHDAD: A senior military official in Baghdad said Tuesday that a drone which killed three Kurdish counterterrorism officers had originated in neighboring Turkiye, and condemned the violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
Three members of the counterterrorism forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region were killed and three wounded in Monday’s drone strike on Arbat airfield, southeast of the region’s second city of Sulaimaniyah.
Around 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) Monday, “the drone entered Iraqi airspace, crossing the border from Turkiye, and bombarded the Arbat airfield,” which is mainly used by crop-spraying aircraft, said General Yehya Rassoul, spokesman of the federal armed forces commander in chief.
“This attack constitutes a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” he said, adding: “Iraq reserves the right to put a stop to these violations.”
Turkiye has stepped up its drone strikes on Kurdish targets in both Iraq and Syria in recent months, although deaths among the Iraqi Kurdish security forces remain rare.
“These repeated attacks are incompatible with the principle of good neighborliness between states. They threaten to undermine Iraq’s efforts to build positive and balanced political, economic and security relations with its neighbors,” Rassoul said.
Turkish military action has principally targeted the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and its Syrian Kurdish ally, the People’s Defense Units (YPG).
A Turkish drone strike on Sunday killed a senior PKK official and three fighters in the Sinjar Mountains of northwestern Iraq, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said.
The United Nations mission in Iraq condemned the attack on Arbat airfield.
“Attacks repeatedly violating Iraqi sovereignty must stop,” it said. “Security concerns must be addressed through dialogue and diplomacy — not strikes.”
The Turkish army rarely comments on its strikes in Iraq but routinely conducts military operations against PKK rear-bases in autonomous Kurdistan as well as in Sinjar district.
The PKK has been waging a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state for four decades and the conflict has repeatedly spilt across the border into northern Iraq.
Turkiye operates dozens of military posts in northern Iraq under an agreement originally struck with the government of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
In April, Baghdad accused Ankara of carrying out a “bombardment” near Sulaimaniyah airport while US soldiers and the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance dominated by the YPG, were present.


Israeli troops kill Hamas militant after firebomb attack at military post in West Bank

Israeli troops kill Hamas militant after firebomb attack at military post in West Bank
Updated 30 September 2023
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Israeli troops kill Hamas militant after firebomb attack at military post in West Bank

Israeli troops kill Hamas militant after firebomb attack at military post in West Bank
  • Palestinian Health Ministry says Mohammad Jibril Roummaneh died of multiple gunshot wounds
  • Hamas said Roummaneh fell as a “heroic martyr” while “defending the freedom of (his) people” 

JERUSALEM: A Palestinian activist and member of the Islamist Hamas movement was killed on Friday evening during a clash with Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank, according to multiple sources.

“Mohammad Jibril Roummaneh died as a result of serious injuries caused by bullets fired by the occupying forces in El-Bireh” northeast of Ramallah, wrote the Palestinian Ministry of Health in a statement.

It reported that a second Palestinian had been injured but gave no details.

The Israeli military said the man was a member of the team of Hamas militants who threw fire bombs at a military post near Psagot, an Israeli settlement.

“Soldiers conducting routine activity at the scene identified the suspects and responded with live fire. Two assailants were neutralized and transferred to receive medical treatment,” it said.

When questioned by AFP, an army spokeswoman would not confirm that one of the two had died, as announced by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip but has strong support in the West Bank as well, claimed the man as a member.

In a statement, Hamas described Roummaneh as one of its members who fell as a “heroic martyr” while “defending the freedom of (his) people” near the settlement of Psagot. The statement was accompanied by an image of a very young man.

Violence in the West Bank has raged for more than a year, amid stepped-up Israeli military raids, increased settler assaults on Palestinian villages, and a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

At least 242 Palestinians, 32 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed since the beginning of the year in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 


UN Security Council condemns Houthi attack on Bahraini troops, demands end to terrorism

UN Security Council condemns Houthi attack on Bahraini troops, demands end to terrorism
Updated 30 September 2023
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UN Security Council condemns Houthi attack on Bahraini troops, demands end to terrorism

UN Security Council condemns Houthi attack on Bahraini troops, demands end to terrorism
  • Members said the drone assault, which killed three soldiers, constituted a ‘serious threat to the peace process and regional stability’
  • The attack, which took place on Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia, represented a major escalation after more than a year of relative calm

NEW YORK CITY: The UN Security Council on Friday strongly condemned what it described as an “egregious and escalatory drone attack,” by the Houthis on Bahraini soldiers serving in the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, in which three servicemen were killed and several injured.

It constituted a “serious threat to the peace process and regional stability,” the council added.

The attack, which took place on Monday as the soldiers patrolled Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen, represented a major escalation after more than a year of relative calm, at a time when momentum has been building in the peace process. The US envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, had described the current situation as “the best chance for peace in Yemen since the war broke out.”

The council called on the Houthis to end “all terrorist attacks” and expressed great concern about the group’s targeting of civilian infrastructure in cities near the border. The 15-member body also called called on all sides to respect their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law.

Members said any escalation of hostilities would only increase the suffering of the Yemeni people. They reiterated the need for “decisive steps” to be taken to reach a comprehensive ceasefire agreement, as they underscored their continuing strong support for all efforts to reach a political settlement that ends a war that has been raging for more than eight years.

They also reiterated their support for the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and his efforts to help reach a “Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political settlement based on the agreed references and consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions.”


Four more officials held after Libya flood disaster

Four more officials held after Libya flood disaster
Updated 29 September 2023
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Four more officials held after Libya flood disaster

Four more officials held after Libya flood disaster
  • The four additional suspects, including two members of the Derna municipal council, were arrested

BENGHAZI: Libya’s prosecutor general has ordered the arrest of four more officials, bringing to 12 the number held as part of an inquiry into this month’s flood that killed thousands.
Flooding caused by hurricane-strength Storm Daniel tore through eastern Libya on Sept. 10, leaving at least 3,893 people dead and thousands more missing.
The seaside city of Derna was the worst-hit in the flash flood, which witnesses likened to a tsunami. It burst through two dams and washed entire neighborhoods into the Mediterranean.
The four additional suspects, including two members of the Derna municipal council, were arrested for suspected “bad management of the administrative and financial missions which were incumbent upon them,” said a statement issued by the prosecutor general’s office in Tripoli, western Libya.
On Monday, the office ordered the arrest of eight officials, including Derna’s mayor who was sacked after the flood.
Libya’s prosecutor general Al-Seddik Al-Sour belongs to the internationally recognized regime in the country’s west.
A rival administration in the flood-stricken east, is backed by military leader Khalifa Haftar.
The eastern government has said it plans to host an international donors’ conference in Benghazi on Oct. 10 to focus on the reconstruction of flood-ravaged areas, but its failure to involve the Tripoli government has drawn mounting criticism from donors.
The US called on Libyans to set aside their political differences and agree on a framework to channel aid to eastern towns.

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The US called on Libyans to set aside their political differences and agree a framework to channel aid to eastern towns.

“We urge Libyan authorities now to form such unified structures — rather than launching separate efforts — that represent the Libyan people without delay,” US special envoy Richard Norland said in a statement on Friday.
“A proposal to hold a reconstruction conference in Benghazi on October 10 would be much more effective if it were conducted jointly and inclusively.”
Norland echoed concerns already expressed by the UN that mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that foreign aid is spent accountably.
“Libyans need to be assured public funds are used transparently, accountably, and that assistance goes to those in need,” the US envoy said.
On Thursday during talks with the European Commission, UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily said he had called for funds to be monitored.
“I ... emphasized the need for a joint assessment of reconstruction needs of storm-affected areas to ensure the utmost accountability in the management of reconstruction resources,” he said.
On Friday, the eastern authorities said they would begin paying compensation to people affected by the disaster, which a UN agency has said uprooted more than 43,000 people.
“Checks have been handed over to the mayors” after a relief committee received records of damage caused by the flooding, the government based in Libya’s east said in a statement.
People whose homes were destroyed would receive 100,000 dinars ($20,500) in compensation, Faraj Kaeem, the eastern administration’s deputy interior minister, said separately.
Those with partially destroyed homes would get 50,000 dinars, while those who lost furniture or household appliances would be given 20,000 dinars, he said.
The eastern administration announced on Wednesday the creation of a fund for the reconstruction of Derna.
The authorities have yet to specify how the new fund will be financed, but the eastern-based parliament has already allocated 10 billion dinars to reconstruction projects.


Women play ‘prominent’ role as hundreds protest in Syria

Women play ‘prominent’ role  as hundreds protest in Syria
Updated 29 September 2023
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Women play ‘prominent’ role as hundreds protest in Syria

Women play ‘prominent’ role  as hundreds protest in Syria
  • Activist says between 2,000 and 2,500 people took part in Friday’s demonstrations in southern city

SWEIDA, Syria: Hundreds of Syrians protested on Friday in the southern city of Sweida, as women play a growing role in the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the province for over a month, activists said.

Peaceful protests have swept Sweida province, the heartland of the country’s Druze minority, since President Bashar Assad’s regime ended fuel subsidies last month.
The move dealt a heavy blow to Syrians reeling from more than a decade of war and economic woes.
An activist and a witness said that between 2,000 and 2,500 people took part in Friday’s protests, some chanting anti-regime slogans and waving Druze flags.
“I felt a certain strength, surrounded by women and chanting against Bashar,” said Sama.
One male protester carried a large banner with a list of demands, including a transitional regime, a “new constitution” and for displaced people and detainees to return home.
Another woman protester, Sana, 50, said: “Bashar must leave. One family has dominated during my entire lifetime,” she added, also declining to provide her surname due to security concerns.
Civil war erupted in Syria after Assad’s regime crushed peaceful protests in 2011.
The war has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.
Wajiha, in her 20s, said she walked half an hour in the heat to Sweida’s main square, carrying anti-regime banners for daily protests that have been going on for weeks.
Women from Sweida have been present at rallies since the conflict broke out, she said, but “the difference today is that women are not only demonstrating, they are planning and organizing the movement.”
This includes coordinating chants, making banners, and communicating with those holding protests in nearby towns, she said.
Sweida has been mostly spared from fighting during the conflict, and has faced only a few extremist attacks, which were repelled.
Protests against deteriorating economic conditions have erupted sporadically in the province in recent years.
Syrian security services have a limited presence in Sweida, and Damascus has turned a blind eye to Druze men refusing to undertake compulsory military service.
Since last month, smaller protests have also taken place in neighboring Daraa province, the cradle of Syria’s 2011 uprising.
Followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, the Druze made up less than three percent of Syria’s pre-war population. They have largely kept out of the conflict.
The Assad family has been in power for more than half a century, ever since Bashar Assad’s father Hafez seized power in a 1970 coup.


Joint security force occupies Lebanon refugee camp

Joint security force occupies Lebanon refugee camp
Updated 29 September 2023
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Joint security force occupies Lebanon refugee camp

Joint security force occupies Lebanon refugee camp
  • Gunmen withdraw leaving unexploded grenades, spent ammunition on school playgrounds of Ain Al-Hilweh
  • School walls riddled with holes from bullet, rocket fire during clashes between rival factions

BEIRUT: A Palestinian joint security force on Friday took control of a school complex in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp after gunmen who had occupied the site since late July withdrew.
The deployment was part of the second phase of a cease-fire agreement between the Fatah movement and extremist groups in mid-September.
Clashes between the rival Lebanese factions in late July left more than 30 people dead.
The force entered the UNRWA school complex, which became a battleground between the rival groups, as gunmen vacated the site.
The deployment raises hopes that the truce will hold and further ease tensions inside Ain Al-Hilweh, the largest of 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
More than 75,000 refugees, including Palestinians who fled the Yarmouk camp in Syria, are housed in Ain Al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.
The joint force consists of officers and military personnel from various Palestinian factions in the camp, including Hamas.
However, the security force and UNRWA now face a major clean-up, with the extent of damage becoming evident after the militants’ withdrawal from the school complex.
Unexploded grenades were found on the site and empty bullet casings littered the school playgrounds.
Rockets used in the clashes have left gaping holes in school walls.
The joint security force was divided into two groups. One entered the schools complex from the Al-Barakasat area, controlled by the Fatah movement, while the other entered from the Al-Tawarek-Al-Taameer area, controlled by the extremist groups, most prominently Al-Shabab Al-Muslim.
Representatives of the Palestinian Joint Action Committee in the Sidon area accompanied the force.
Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Al-Ajouri, who was commanding the force, gave the signal for the deployment, while Maj. Gen. Subhi Abu Arab, Palestinian national security commander, accompanied the operation.
UNRWA, which is monitoring the cease-fire, postponed the start of the new academic year in the Ain Al-Hilweh camp until further notice.
Schools in the rest of the region will resume teaching on Oct. 2.
More than 11,000 students attend schools in the camp, with the damaged school complex providing education to 5,900 students.
Dorothee Klaus, director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon, said the safety of schools in the vicinity of Ain Al-Hilweh “is our top priority, and we are striving in every possible way to achieve that as soon as conditions permit.”
The agency is working to find alternatives so that children from the camp and surrounding areas can return to school as soon as possible, she said.
A preparatory meeting ahead of Friday’s deployment took place in the Sidon office of Sheikh Maher Hammoud, president of the International Union of Resistance Scholars, who is believed to be close to Hezbollah.
Representatives of Hamas and the Amal movement, an ally of Hezbollah, also attended.
Discussions took place on the possible handing over of eight suspects wanted for the assassination of Fatah leader Mohammed Al-Armoushi.
Representatives of Hamas and the Amal movement, an ally of Hezbollah, also attended.
As part of the cease-fire deal, the joint security force will prepare the way for those displaced by the fighting to return to their homes.
The final phase of the agreement involves the handover of wanted suspects.
A source dismissed rumors on social media on Thursday night that some of the wanted suspects had left the camp.
“There is an agreement that has been reached and it is fundamental, and the essential point is handing over wanted people,” the source said.
Hamas representative Ahmed Abdel Hadi described Friday’s deployment as “a step in the right direction,” adding that it stemmed from Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiatives to end the clashes.
Berri joined Palestine Liberation Organization leader Azzam Al-Ahmad and Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk in pushing for a cease-fire.