Iraq’s president will summon the Turkish ambassador over airstrikes in Iraq’s Kurdish region

A member of Kurdish forces attends the funeral of a member of the Iraqi counter-terrorism service who was killed in a drone strike on the small military airport of Arbid in Sulaimaniya in Kurdistan region, in Kirkuk, Iraq September 19, 2023. (REUTERS)
A member of Kurdish forces attends the funeral of a member of the Iraqi counter-terrorism service who was killed in a drone strike on the small military airport of Arbid in Sulaimaniya in Kurdistan region, in Kirkuk, Iraq September 19, 2023. (REUTERS)
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Updated 20 September 2023
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Iraq’s president will summon the Turkish ambassador over airstrikes in Iraq’s Kurdish region

Iraq’s president will summon the Turkish ambassador over airstrikes in Iraq’s Kurdish region
  • Rashid belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, which has its main seat of power in Sulaymaniyah

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi president announced Tuesday that he will summon Turkiye’s ambassador and hand him a formal letter of protest over recent Turkish airstrikes on Iraqi territory.
The official protest came a day after an airstrike on a military airport in Arbat, southeast of the city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Three members of the region’s counterterrorism force died and three of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces were wounded, according to local officials.
“Day after day, systematic military attacks on Iraqi territory, specifically in (the Kurdish) region, are escalating without military or security justification,” Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid said in a statement.
The “aggression targeted innocent civilians and military and security headquarters,” he said.
Rashid belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, which has its main seat of power in Sulaymaniyah.
There was no immediate comment from Turkiye.
The targeted airport had recently undergone rehabilitation to facilitate the training of anti-terror units affiliated with the PUK, one of the two often-competing main parties in the region.
Bafel Talabani, the party’s leader, in an official statement on Monday labeled the alleged Turkish attack as part of a series of “conspiracies” aimed at jeopardizing Kurdistan’s security. He urged the federal government to “uphold its constitutional and national duties” in safeguarding Iraq’s territory and airspace, specifically in the Kurdish region.
US Ambassador to Iraq Alia Romanowski in a statement posted on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter) condemned the attack on the airport.
“We reaffirm our support for respect of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity — both are essential to Iraq’s stability and security,” she said.
Also on Monday, the Kurdistan National Congress, an umbrella organization of Kurdish groups and parties, said in a statement that one of its members was killed inside the group’s office in Irbil. It gave no details.
Turkiye often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq that it believes to be affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Kurdish separatist group that has waged an insurgency against Turkiye since the 1980s.
Ankara considers the PKK and allied Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq as terrorist organizations.
In April, Turkiye closed its airspace to flights to and from Sulaymaniyah International Airport, citing an alleged increase in Kurdish militant activity threatening flight safety.
Days later, the Syrian Democratic Forces — Kurdish-led forces operating in northeast Syria that are allied with the United States but considered by Turkiye to be an offshoot of the PKK — accused Turkiye of launching a strike on the airport when SDF commander Mazloum Abdi was at the site. Abdi was unharmed.
Also on Tuesday, Iraqi officials announced that they had carried out an agreement to disarm members of Iranian Kurdish dissident groups based in northern Iraq and to relocate their members from their current bases near the Iranian border. Iran has periodically carried out airstrikes on the groups’ sites on Iraqi territory.
A joint committee set up by the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government, said the bases had been “permanently evacuated” and their occupants “transferred to a place far from the border.”

 


Waving flags, tens of thousands rally against Israeli govt

Waving flags, tens of thousands rally against Israeli govt
Updated 23 June 2024
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Waving flags, tens of thousands rally against Israeli govt

Waving flags, tens of thousands rally against Israeli govt
  • Anti-government protest organization Hofshi Israel estimated more than 150,000 people attended the rally, calling it the biggest since the Gaza war began

TEL AVIV: Tens of thousands of protesters waving Israeli flags and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government rallied in Tel Aviv Saturday, demanding new elections and the return of hostages held in Gaza.
Large protests have occurred in the Israeli city on a weekly basis over Netanyahu’s handling of the nearly nine-month-old war in Gaza started by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel.
Many protesters held signs reading “Crime Minister” and “Stop the War” as people poured into the biggest Israeli city’s main thoroughfare.
“I am here because I am afraid of the future of my grandchild. There will be no future for them if we don’t go out and get rid of the horrible government,” said 66-year-old contractor Shai Erel.
“All of the rats in the Knesset... I wouldn’t let any one of them be a guard of a kindergarten.”
Anti-government protest organization Hofshi Israel estimated more than 150,000 people attended the rally, calling it the biggest since the Gaza war began.
Some demonstrators lay on the ground covered in red paint in the city’s Democracy Square to protest what they say is the death of the country’s democracy under Netanyahu.
In an address to the crowd, a former head of Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security agency, Yuval Diskin, condemned Netanyahu as Israel’s “worst prime minister.”
Many are frustrated with the country’s right-wing coalition, which includes Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and other far-right ultra-nationalists, accusing it of prolonging the war in Gaza and putting the country’s security and hostages at risk.
Yoram, a 50-year-old tour guide who declined to give his last name, said he was attending every weekly protest as Israel needed elections “yesterday” because of Netanyahu.
“I really hope that the government collapses,” he said. “If we go to the original date of elections in 2026, it is not going to be a democratic election.”
Hamas militants seized 251 hostages on October 7, of whom Israel believes 116 remain in Gaza, including 41 who the army says are dead.
A separate Tel Aviv rally on Saturday night drew thousands of relatives and supporters of the hostages.
The attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza has killed at least 37,551 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.
 

 


Israeli forces strap wounded Palestinian to jeep during raid

Israeli forces strap wounded Palestinian to jeep during raid
Updated 23 June 2024
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Israeli forces strap wounded Palestinian to jeep during raid

Israeli forces strap wounded Palestinian to jeep during raid
  • A video circulating on social media and verified by Reuters showed a Palestinian resident of Jenin, Mujahed Azmi, on the jeep that passes through two ambulances

JERUSALEM: Israeli army forces strapped a wounded Palestinian man to the hood of a military jeep during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday. A video circulating on social media and verified by Reuters showed a Palestinian resident of Jenin, Mujahed Azmi, on the jeep that passes through two ambulances.
The Israeli military in a statement said Israeli forces were fired at and exchanged fire, wounding a suspect and apprehending him.
Soldiers then violated military protocol, the statement said. “The suspect was taken by the forces while tied on top of a vehicle,” it said.
The military said the “conduct of the forces in the video of the incident does not conform to the values” of the Israeli military and that the incident will be investigated and dealt with.
The individual was transferred to medics for treatment, the military said.
Reuters was able to match the location from corroborating and verified footage shared on social media that shows a vehicle transporting an individual tied on top of a vehicle in Jenin. The date was confirmed by an eyewitness interviewed by Reuters.
According to the family of Azmi, there was an arrest raid, and he was injured during the raid, and when the family asked for an ambulance, the army took Mujahed, strapped him on the hood and drove off.
Violence in the West Bank, already on the rise before the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, has escalated since then with frequent army raids on militant groups, rampages by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages, and deadly Palestinian street attacks.


ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’

ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’
Updated 22 June 2024
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ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’

ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’
  • Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid

JERUSALEM: Days after Israel announced a daily pause in fighting on a key route to allow more aid into Gaza, chaos in the besieged Palestinian territory has left vital supplies piled up and undistributed in the searing summer heat.
More than eight months of war have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and repeated UN warnings of famine.
William Schomburg, International Committee of the Red Cross chief in Rafah, described Rafah City as a “ghost town.”
“It is a ghost town in the sense that you see very few people, high levels of destruction, and just another symbol of the unfolding tragedy that has become Gaza over the last nine months,” he said.
The UN food agency has said its aid convoys have been looted inside Gaza by “desperate people.”
Desperation among Gaza’s 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.
Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up deliveries.
“The breakdown of public order and safety is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations in Gaza,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said in a briefing.
“Alongside the fighting, criminal activities and the risk of theft and robbery has effectively prevented humanitarian access to critical locations.”
But Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks of aid into southern Gaza, trading blame with the UN over why the aid is stacking up.
It shared aerial footage of containers lined up on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom crossing and more trucks arriving to add to the stockpile.
With civil order breaking down in Gaza, the UN says it has been unable to pick up any supplies from Kerem Shalom since Tuesday, leaving crucial aid in limbo.

 

 


Houthi claims of attack on US aircraft carrier are false, US officials say

Houthi claims of attack on US aircraft carrier are false, US officials say
Updated 22 June 2024
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Houthi claims of attack on US aircraft carrier are false, US officials say

Houthi claims of attack on US aircraft carrier are false, US officials say
  • “That is incorrect,” one of the officials said
  • In more than 70 attacks, the Houthis have sunk two vessels, seized another

WASHINGTON: A claim by Yemen’s Houthi group on Saturday that its forces had attacked the US aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea is false, two US officials told Reuters.
“That is incorrect,” one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Iran-aligned Houthis first launched drone and missile strikes in the key waterway in November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinian militants in Gaza, where Israel has waged a more than eight-month-old war.
In more than 70 attacks, the Houthis have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three seafarers.
Earlier the Houthi group said its forces had attacked the Eisenhower in the Red Sea and the operation had achieved its objectives successfully without elaborating. The group also said it attacked a commercial ship, Transworld Navigator, in the Arabian Sea. It did not say when the attacks took place.
A Houthi statement said the Transworld Navigator took a direct hit from a missile.


Egyptian homes celebrate pilgrims’ return with Hajj murals

Egyptian homes celebrate pilgrims’ return with Hajj murals
Updated 22 June 2024
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Egyptian homes celebrate pilgrims’ return with Hajj murals

Egyptian homes celebrate pilgrims’ return with Hajj murals
  • Worshippers parade through villages on horseback as part of traditional festivities

CAIRO: As Egyptian pilgrims return from their spiritual journey to Saudi Arabia, waiting families have begun plans for celebrations in homes decorated with special murals.

Festive images depict Hajj symbols such as airplanes, the Kaaba, Mount Arafat, and camels, celebrating the fulfillment of the sacred pilgrimage. 

Emad Abdel Latif, a folklore professor at Assiut University, told Arab News that the “deep-rooted tradition begins as soon as the pilgrim departs for the holy lands.”

He said the homes “are initially painted, typically in blue, and then adorned with murals that symbolize aspects of the Hajj, including the Kaaba and the aircraft transporting the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.”

Abdel Latif added: “This custom also includes inscribing phrases such as ‘Labaik Allahumma Labaik’ (Here I am, O God, here I am), ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the Greatest), along with wishes for a blessed Hajj and forgiven sins.”

Traditionally, celebrations included a religious ceremony, during which returning pilgrims might parade through their village on horseback, while sweets are distributed among onlookers. 

Said Al-Badri, a mural artist from Giza, described the intricate planning that goes into creating the artworks.

“Depending on the complexity, a single mural can take one to two hours, while a complete home mural might require a full day of work,” he said.

“These murals visually narrate the pilgrim’s journey — boarding the plane, circling the Kaaba, the ritual walk between Safa and Marwa, standing at Mount Arafat, and visiting the Prophet’s tomb. They are enriched with Qur’anic verses and popular phrases of congratulation.”

Al-Badri learnt the art from his father, and has dedicated himself to preserving this cultural tradition.

“Each year, as pilgrims return, I continue this legacy, enhancing our local heritage through these festive decorations,” he said.

Amira Mahmoud’s mother was one of more than 1.8 million people who undertook the Hajj pilgrimage this year. The murals “add to our celebration,” she said.

“Our community deeply values these traditions, which embellish our homes, and reinforce familial and communal bonds.”

Mahmoud highlights the significance of these murals in preserving cultural heritage.

“These artworks are more than decorations. They are a vibrant testament to our rich traditions, inviting every returning pilgrim to the heart of community life.”