Houthis accused of car bomb attack targeting Yemen army chief

A Houthi fighter fires in the air during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP/File Photo)
A Houthi fighter fires in the air during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 08 November 2023
Follow

Houthis accused of car bomb attack targeting Yemen army chief

Houthis accused of car bomb attack targeting Yemen army chief
  • Official news agency quoted military source saying “terrorist group” targeted chief of staff’s convoy

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government officials have accused the Houthis of carrying out a car bomb attack on Tuesday that targeted the Yemen army’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sagheer bin Aziz.

Bin Aziz, who was crossing the central province of Marib in a vehicle convoy, narrowly escaped death when a car laden with explosives detonated near his motorcade, injuring four civilians and three soldiers.

Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister, accused the Houthis of orchestrating the attack following a “vicious” media assault on the army chief. 

Bin Aziz’s attempts to strengthen the Yemeni army, and establish peace and stability in the country, were behind the assassination attempt, he said.

“We call on the international community, the UN, the permanent members of the Security Council, and the UN and US envoys to issue a clear and frank condemnation of this terrorist crime, and all forms of Houthi escalation,” Al-Eryani said on X. 

Shortly after the attack, the official news agency quoted a military source as saying that a “terrorist group” targeted the chief of staff’s convoy as it returned to his office in Marib from the neighboring Hadramout region of Al-Aber.

Bin Aziz visited Washington last month and met US military officials before traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet Saudi military leaders.

His most recent visit was to Yemen army bases in the province of Saada in the Houthi heartland.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Kumaim, who was traveling with the convoy when the attack took place, told Arab News that the blast was “very big,” and damaged vehicles and injured several soldiers.

Bin Aziz also survived a recent assassination attempt by the Houthis while visiting government naval forces along the Red Sea coast in the northern province of Hajjah.

After his visit to the US, the Houthis criticized the army chief and stepped up plans to kill him him, according to Al-Kumaim. 

“They upped their instigation campaign and attacks on the chief of staff following a visit to the US, accusing him of arriving (from Washington) with a plan to exterminate them or wage war against them,” Al-Kumaim said. 

Bin Aziz was born in Amran province in 1967. He has fought alongside the Yemeni government against the Houthis since 2004 and survived numerous attempts on his life by the militia.

He was appointed army chief of staff in February 2020, as the Houthis increased military operations across the country. 


Jordan completes six more airdrops of aid to northern Gaza

Jordan completes six more airdrops of aid to northern Gaza
Updated 21 sec ago
Follow

Jordan completes six more airdrops of aid to northern Gaza

Jordan completes six more airdrops of aid to northern Gaza
  • Jordan has carried out 84 humanitarian airdrops independently, 190 in collaboration with other countries

AMMAN: Jordan’s armed forces completed another six airdrops of food aid to the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The humanitarian operation was carried out by the Royal Jordanian Air Force, using aircraft provided by Egypt, the US and Germany, the Jordan News Agency reported.

Since the start of Israel's war on Gaza in October, Jordan has completed 84 humanitarian airdrops of its own and 190 in collaboration with other countries.

During an interview with CNN in March, Queen Rania explained why authorities in the country had decided to take action to help people in an area the UN reports to be suffering from the effects of a widespread and severe food crisis.

“We found that after trying so hard in vain to persuade Israel to open the land-access points, we had to do something. We couldn’t just sit idle and watch people starving,” she said.

The airdrops are desperate measures to address a desperate situation, the queen added, describing them as mere “drops in an ocean of unmet needs.”

The Jordanian army said it remains committed to assisting efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
 


Emirati, British FMs discuss regional developments

Emirati, British FMs discuss regional developments
Updated 37 min 23 sec ago
Follow

Emirati, British FMs discuss regional developments

Emirati, British FMs discuss regional developments
  • Call followed Iran’s retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday

LONDON: Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan received a phone call from his British counterpart David Cameron regarding the latest regional developments and their impact on global peace and security, Emirates News Agency reported.

The two officials reviewed international efforts aimed at bolstering the response to the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, emphasizing the need to expedite the delivery of safe and sustainable aid to the civilian population there.

The call followed Iran’s retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday.

The strike by more than 300 missiles and drones caused only modest damage in Israel as most were shot down by its Iron Dome defense system and with help from the US, Britain, France and Jordan.

Sheikh Abdullah highlighted the critical need for maximum restraint to prevent severe consequences and the potential escalation of instability in the region.

He underscored the importance of dialogue, diplomatic engagement, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for the UN Charter as vital means to resolve conflicts and enhance regional and global peace, stability, and prosperity.
 


Crimes by Syrians in Lebanon prompts reassessment of early repatriations

Crimes by Syrians in Lebanon prompts reassessment of early repatriations
Updated 16 April 2024
Follow

Crimes by Syrians in Lebanon prompts reassessment of early repatriations

Crimes by Syrians in Lebanon prompts reassessment of early repatriations
  • Latest incident was the killing of an official in the Lebanese Forces Party, Pascal Suleiman
  • Lebanon currently hosts around 2 million Syrians, most having arrived since 2011

BEIRUT: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reiterated on Tuesday “the right of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return freely to their homeland whenever they choose to do so.”

It came as the campaign against the continued presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon intensified against the backdrop of crimes committed by Syrians in recent weeks.

The latest incident was the killing of an official in the Lebanese Forces Party, Pascal Suleiman, last week after his car was stolen and his body taken to the Lebanese-Syrian border.

It was preceded a few days earlier by another crime committed in the Achrafieh area in Beirut against a husband and wife by their Syrian maid and other Syrians in and intended robbery. The husband died following the incident and his wife seriously injured.

On Tuesday morning news broke of the death of Lebanese Yasser Al-Kokash in the town of Al-Azzounieh in Aley district at the hands of Syrian citizens after they tied him up and stole the contents of his apartment.

Syrian refugees started coming to Lebanon in 2011. The number of refugees registered with the UNHCR has decreased to less than one million people after some returned to their country. However, after the UNHCR stopped registering Syrian refugees in 2015, the rate of illegal crossings from Syria to Lebanon increased.

Lebanon estimates the number of Syrian refugees on its territory to exceed 2 million people.

Caretaker Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi estimated the percentage of Syrian detainees and convicts in Lebanese prisons to be about 35 percent of the total prison population.

The Lebanese General Security has organized voluntary repatriation trips for Syrian refugees, but only a few thousand refugees returned, as the Syrian regime decides who can return according to lists of names provided by the Lebanese General Security to the relevant Syrian authorities.

In a statement, UNHCR spokeswoman Dalal Harb said: “We support and respect the humanitarian right of refugees to return freely and voluntarily to their home country, whenever they choose to do so, in accordance with international principles and non-refoulement.”

Harb stressed that “most Syrian refugees express their desire to return to Syria, but their decision is based on several factors, including safety, security, housing, access to basic services, and securing livelihoods.”

He added the UNHCR “will continue to cooperate with the General Directorate of General Security, which facilitates the repatriation of the refugees who want to return to Syria by registering their names.”

Ahead of the Brussels Conference on Refugees on April 30, Lebanon has urged donors to secure assistance to cover the cost of the Syrian presence in the country.

Minister of Information Ziad Makary said on Tuesday: “The illegal infiltration of Syrian refugees through the sea from Lebanon into Cyprus has caused a diplomatic crisis.

“The crimes that have occurred made us focus more on this existential problem for Lebanon. The solution is for them to either return to Syria or go to a third country.”

Makary also went over the decisions taken, such as “the circular aiming to close all the unauthorized institutions owned by Syrians.”

He considered that “convoys of return require a political solution with Syria.”

A plan proposed by the ministers of labor and social affairs, the Maronite League, and the General Directorate of General Security was also addressed, which aims to repatriate Syrians, calls for the establishment of a National Emergency Authority headed by the prime minister.

It will be in charge of communicating with UNHCR officials in order to assist the state in classifying Syrians into three categories.

The first includes Syrians registered with the UNHCR as refugees and who can return to safe areas of their country. The second category includes Syrians who are registered with the UNHCR as refugees and work in Lebanon, while the third includes those who are registered with the UNHCR as refugees and want to travel to a third country.

As for the Syrians residing illegally in Lebanon, a “ministerial committee headed by the interior minister will be in charge of putting together lists of names indicating whether those Syrians have a valid residency or an expired one, and whether they have any documentation.”

The plan also stipulates that “land borders will be controlled, as it appeared that infiltration is mostly happening for economic reasons rather than security reasons.”

A delegation headed by Lebanese Forces MP Sethrida Geagea met Interior Minister Bassam Al-Mawlawi on Tuesday. Geagea called for “the implementation of the interior ministry’s circulars related to handling the illegal Syrian presence.”

Geagea estimated the number of Syrian refugees “in the northern Christian cities, Mount Lebanon and Jezzine to be around 830,000.”

She said that “implementing these circulars allow us to reduce the number of refugees very soon,” adding: “According to the United Nations, Lebanon is not a country of asylum, but a country of transit. We’ve been tolerating this since 2011, but we cannot do this anymore.”


Heavy rains lash UAE and surrounding nations as the death toll in Oman flooding rises to 18

Heavy rains lash UAE and surrounding nations as the death toll in Oman flooding rises to 18
Updated 16 April 2024
Follow

Heavy rains lash UAE and surrounding nations as the death toll in Oman flooding rises to 18

Heavy rains lash UAE and surrounding nations as the death toll in Oman flooding rises to 18
  • Flights were canceled in Dubai while schools were shut in United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
  • Some inland areas of the desert country recorded more than 80 millimeters (3.2 inches) of rain

DUBAI: Heavy rains lashed the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, flooding out portions of major highways and leaving vehicles abandoned on roadways across Dubai. Meanwhile, the death toll in separate heavy flooding in neighboring Oman rose to 18 with others still missing as the sultanate prepared for the storm.
The rains began overnight, leaving massive ponds on streets as whipping winds disrupted flights at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel and the home of the long-haul carrier Emirates.
Police and emergency personnel drove slowly through the flooded streets, their emergency lights flashing across the darkened morning. Lightning flashed across the sky, occasionally touching the tip of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
Schools across the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, largely shut ahead of the storm and government employees were largely working remotely if able. Many workers stayed home as well, though some ventured out, with the unfortunate stalling out their vehicles in deeper-than-expected water covering some roads.
Authorities sent tanker trucks out into the streets and highways to pump away the water.
Rain is unusual in the UAE, an arid, Arabian Peninsula nation, but occurs periodically during the cooler winter months. Many roads and other areas lack drainage given the lack of regular rainfall, causing flooding.
Initial estimates suggested over 30 millimeters (1 inch) of rain fell over the morning in Dubai, with as much as 128 mm (5 inches) of rain expected throughout the day.
Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
In neighboring Oman, a sultanate that rests on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, at least 18 people had been killed in heavy rains in recent days, according to a statement Tuesday from the country’s National Committee for Emergency Management. That includes some 10 schoolchildren swept away in a vehicle with an adult, which saw condolences come into the country from rulers across the region.


Education in crisis: Gaza’s schools destroyed amid Israel’s war

Education in crisis: Gaza’s schools destroyed amid Israel’s war
Updated 16 April 2024
Follow

Education in crisis: Gaza’s schools destroyed amid Israel’s war

Education in crisis: Gaza’s schools destroyed amid Israel’s war
  • March report found approximately 87.7 percent of school facilities in Gaza had been either damaged or destroyed

LONDON: The long-term potential of and opportunities for children in Gaza is being severely threatened by the Israel-Hamas war, charity Save the Children has said.
All schools in Gaza have been closed since Israel launched its offensive in October, impacting 625,000 students. Meanwhile, relentless airstrikes have destroyed every university in the Strip.
Ahmad, a displaced father in Rafah, shared his despair for the future of his three children. “I can’t see a life for them anymore,” he said.
For Ahmad and countless other parents, the primary goal is keeping their children alive.
But, said Save the Children, many are aware that even if they survive the immediate threats of bombings and starvation, their education and development will be hugely impacted.
A report published in March found approximately 87.7 percent of school facilities in Gaza had been either damaged or destroyed. A total of 212 school buildings received direct hits, while a further 282 sustained various degrees of damage.
Access challenges, especially in the North Gaza governorates, has led the Education Cluster to conduct a satellite-derived damage assessment to confirm the state of educational facilities.
According to International Humanitarian Law, schools generally should not be targeted and such attacks represent severe violations against children. Prolonged absence from school is considered likely to cause not just a break in learning but regression in progress, according to Save the Children.
Past experiences indicate that children are less likely to return to school the longer they are away from it, jeopardizing their prospects for economic well-being and mental and physical health. They also face increased risk of violence and abuse.
“Children have no escape from the reality of war, no stable routine, no opportunity to learn or play – and for many, no family. These are essential protective factors that children need to mitigate against the risk of lasting mental harm,” said a statement from Save the Children.
Children in Gaza have consistently expressed a strong desire to return to school, citing it as one of their top priorities for restoring a sense of normalcy and continuing their educational and social development.
“A few days ago, one of my children told me, ‘I want to eat healthy food. I really want to go to school and live my old, normal life. And I want to play’,” said Maher, a father in Gaza.
Save the Children has called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and an end to the siege on Gaza.
It has urged the reopening of all crossings to ensure the flow of both commercial and humanitarian goods, as well as demanding that the Israeli government ceases unlawful attacks on educational facilities and fully implements the Safe Schools Declaration.