2 Hezbollah fighters among 4 killed in Israeli strikes in Syria: monitor

Update Syria’s air defenses intercept missiles in Masyaf, northwestern Syria. (File/AP)
Syria’s air defenses intercept missiles in Masyaf, northwestern Syria. (File/AP)
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Updated 11 December 2023
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2 Hezbollah fighters among 4 killed in Israeli strikes in Syria: monitor

Syria’s air defenses intercept missiles in Masyaf, northwestern Syria. (File/AP)
  • Syrian air defenses shot intercepted some of the missiles, says state media SANA
  • Israel had routinely hit targets in Syria since the start of the country’s civil war

DAMASCUS: Israeli strikes overnight near Damascus killed two Hezbollah fighters and two Syrians working with the Lebanese group, a war monitor said Monday, the latest such attack as Israel battles Hamas militants in Gaza.
“Two Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and two Syrian guards” working at one of the Iran-backed movement’s sites were killed, while three other fighters and three civilians were wounded, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israel had carried out air strikes near Syria’s capital Damascus late Sunday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
“At around 23:05 (2105 GMT) the Israeli enemy carried out an air assault... targeting various points on the outskirts of Damascus,” a security source told the agency.
“Our anti-aircraft defenses shot down some missiles while others caused limited material damage.”
An AFP correspondent reported strong explosions in the suburbs of Damascus, which have been previously targeted by strikes that Syrian authorities have blamed on Israel.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes had targeted “Hezbollah sites” in the Sayeda Zeinab district and near Damascus airport.

In a report on its site, SOHR said Sunday's strike was the 62nd Israeli attack in Syria in 2023. These included 44 airstrikes and 18 rocket attacks, destroying some "125 targets, including buildings, weapons and ammunitions warehouses, headquarters, centres and vehicles. These strikes killed 110 combatants and injured 125 others. "
The Israeli army declined to comment on the incident, but said separately that shots had been fired from Lebanon toward northern Israel on Sunday evening.
“The army retaliated by targeting the source of the fire. Earlier in the day, we had struck a Hezbollah terrorist cell,” it said in a statement.
Israel’s army chief Herzi Halevi visited his forces near the northern border with Lebanon on Sunday, where he spoke of the need “to kill Hezbollah operatives, to demonstrate our superiority.”
“It can also come in the form of a strike and war,” he said.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch-foe Iran, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, to expand its presence there.
Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbor since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces including Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.
But it has intensified attacks since its war with Hamas began in October. Hamas last year said it had restored relations with Syria’s government.
Three Hezbollah fighters and a Syrian were killed on Friday in an Israeli drone strike on their car in the south of Syria, the war monitor said.


Israeli airstrikes, artillery reach deep into Bekaa Valley as tensions soar

Israeli airstrikes, artillery reach deep into Bekaa Valley as tensions soar
Updated 10 sec ago
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Israeli airstrikes, artillery reach deep into Bekaa Valley as tensions soar

Israeli airstrikes, artillery reach deep into Bekaa Valley as tensions soar
  • Hezbollah modifies its tactics in south Lebanon amidst the backdrop of Iranian attack on Israel

BEIRUT: Israeli forces on Sunday struck a Hezbollah site in Lebanon’s east near the Syrian border as tensions soared following Iran’s direct attack on Israel.

Shelling heavily targeted Lebanese border villages and the Bekaa Valley on Saturday night, as the Israeli military carried out raids on Khiam, Kfarkila, and Odaisseh.

Artillery shelling also targeted Houla, Wadi Saluki, the vicinity of Deir Mimas, and areas along the Litani River.

The raid on Khiam resulted in the death of one person, and many civilians were injured in other villages.

BACKGROUND

Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily cross-border fire with Israel since the Palestinian group attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in the Gaza Strip.

A missile exploded near a Lebanese Army intelligence office in the Jdeidet Marjayoun village.

The missile caused significant material damage to the facility and nearby houses, but miraculously, nobody was injured.

On Sunday morning, Israeli warplanes targeted the park in Jabal Safi adjacent to Jbaa and the outskirts of a village in Iqlim Al-Tuffah.

A sonic boom caused by missile fire damaged several houses, shops, and schools in Jbaa, while Israeli planes also targeted areas deep inside central Bekaa, specifically a three-floor building between the Saraain and Nabi Chit villages. Additionally, military aircraft were seen flying over Baalbek and its surroundings.

The Israeli military said that it struck “an important weapon manufacturing site for Hezbollah in Nabi Chit.”

Hezbollah’s own attacks were limited to Israeli military outposts repeatedly targeted since the outbreak of hostilities, including the air and missile defense headquarters at the Kaylaa outpost in the Golan Heights, which Hezbollah targeted with dozens of Katyusha missiles.

Following the Iranian attack on Israel overnight, Hezbollah’s supporters rallied in Beirut’s southern suburbs, holding the party’s banner and chanting slogans in support of Tehran.

News that the majority of the Iranian drones and missiles were intercepted before reaching Israeli airspace, however, prompted criticism of the attack online.

Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport closed for six hours after news of the impending attack broke on Saturday evening.

Lebanese people flocked to gas stations to fill their tanks in case escalating tensions affected supplies in the coming days.

The representative of the country’s fuel distributors, Fadi Abu Shaqra, said that “fuel is secured, and the quantities are sufficient for (the next several) days.”

He said gasoline and diesel were available, and there was no need for the public to worry about shortages.

Caretaker Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamia said the airport will gradually return to work as normal.

“Closing the airport was a precautionary measure. It took into account the safety and security of people arriving and departing,” Hamia said.

“At 7 a.m., we suspended the closure decision. The airspace was opened, and work will gradually return to its normal course.”

Middle East Airlines said it had rescheduled a number of flights and announced the successful departure of flights to London and Dubai.

 

 


Egypt’s FM expresses need for restraint in calls to foreign ministers of Iran, Israel

Israeli Air Force heavy lift military transport helicopters fly over in the southern Negev desert on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
Israeli Air Force heavy lift military transport helicopters fly over in the southern Negev desert on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 47 sec ago
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Egypt’s FM expresses need for restraint in calls to foreign ministers of Iran, Israel

Israeli Air Force heavy lift military transport helicopters fly over in the southern Negev desert on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
  • Shoukry called on his Iranian and Israeli counterparts “to exercise utmost self-restraint and refrain from provocations”

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed the need for restraint in phone calls with the foreign ministers of Iran and Israel on Sunday, Egypt said.
Shoukry called on his Iranian and Israeli counterparts “to exercise utmost self-restraint and refrain from provocations that would increase tension and instability in the region,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Egypt is ready to intensify its efforts to defuse the current crisis, “which has begun taking a dangerous turn as it coincides with the crisis in the Gaza Strip and adds tension to other hot spots in the region,” the statement added.
Shoukry also held a call on Sunday with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to discuss “what has become a serious threat to the security and stability” of the Middle East after Iran launched drones and missile on Israel early on Sunday.


Cyprus suspends processing of Syrian asylum applications

Cyprus suspends processing of Syrian asylum applications
Updated 27 min 45 sec ago
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Cyprus suspends processing of Syrian asylum applications

Cyprus suspends processing of Syrian asylum applications
  • According to Cyprus Interior Ministry statistics, some 2,140 people arrived by boat to EU-member Cyprus between Jan. 1 and April 4 of this year, the vast majority of them Syrian nationals departing from Lebanon

NICOSIA: Cyprus has said it’s suspending processing all asylum applications by Syrian nationals because large numbers of refugees from the war-torn country continue to reach the island nation by boat, primarily from Lebanon.
In a written statement, the Cypriot government said the suspension is also partly because of ongoing efforts to get the EU to redesignate some areas of the war-torn country as safe zones to enable repatriations.
The drastic step comes in the wake of Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides’ visit to Lebanon early last week to appeal to authorities there to stop departures of migrant-laden boats from their shores. The request comes in light of a 27-fold increase in migrant arrivals to Cyprus so far this year over the same period last year.
According to Cyprus Interior Ministry statistics, some 2,140 people arrived by boat to EU-member Cyprus between Jan. 1 and April 4 of this year, the vast majority of them Syrian nationals departing from Lebanon. In contrast, only 78 people arrived by boat to the island nation in the corresponding period last year.
Last Monday, Christodoulides and Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on the EU to provide financial support to help cash-strapped Lebanon stop migrants from reaching Cyprus.
Just days prior to his Lebanon trip, the Cypriot president said that he had personally asked EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to intercede with Lebanese authorities to curb migrant boat departures.
Although the EU should provide “substantial” EU support to Lebanon, Christodoulides said any financial help should be linked to how effectively Lebanese authorities monitor their coastline and prevent boat departures.

 


Jordan PM says escalation in region would lead to ‘dangerous paths’

This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during Iranian attack on Israel.
This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during Iranian attack on Israel.
Updated 54 min 9 sec ago
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Jordan PM says escalation in region would lead to ‘dangerous paths’

This video grab from AFPTV taken on April 14, 2024 shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during Iranian attack on Israel.
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah also told US President Joe Biden in a phone call on Sunday that Jordan “won’t be an arena for a regional war”

AMMAN: Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh said on Sunday any escalation in the region would lead to “dangerous paths” and that there was a need to reduce escalation by all parties.
In remarks to the cabinet, Khasawneh said the country’s armed forces would confront any attempt by any party that sought to endanger the kingdom’s security.
“There is need for all parties to act responsibly and exercise utmost degree of self restraint... and not be dragged toward any escalation that will no doubt have dangerous consequences,” Khasawneh said.
Two regional intelligences sources said US air defenses along with support from the UK and France had joined Jordan on Saturday to down dozens of Iranian drones and missiles that were flying over the country toward Jerusalem and across a wide range of targets in Israel.
Iranian drones that came from the direction of Iraq and flew over southern Jordan and the city of Aqaba that were heading to Israel’s Eilat port were also intercepted, they added.
“The army will respond to anything that will jeopardize the security and safety of the kingdom and the sanctity of its airspace and territory in the face of any danger from any party with all the available means,” Khasawneh said.
Jordan’s King Abdullah also told US President Joe Biden in a phone call on Sunday that Jordan “won’t be an arena for a regional war,” adding any “escalation by Israel would only widen the circle of conflict,” state-owned al Mamlaka public broadcaster said.
Jordan neighbors Syria and Iraq – both countries where Iranian proxy forces operate – and is also next door to Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
It has watched Israel’s war against the Palestinian group Hamas, another Iranian ally, with rising alarm.
Late last year, Amman asked Washington to deploy Patriot air defense systems to Jordan to bolster its border defenses.
Officials say the Pentagon had since increased its military aid to the kingdom, a major regional ally, where hundreds of US troops are based and hold extensive exercises with the Jordanian army throughout the year.


Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war

Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war
Updated 34 min 16 sec ago
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Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war

Sudan’s uprooted millions pay price for yearlong war
  • Clashes have driven more than 8.5m people from their homes, creating a major displacement crisis

CAIRO: After fleeing from the war in Sudan to Egypt, Mohamed Ismail says his ambitions are limited to putting food in the mouths of his five children from a meager monthly salary of about $100 earned at a paper factory in Giza.

One 7-year-old son sleeps in his arms because of the trauma of hearing explosions before they fled from the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in January.
A year of war between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, also known as RSF, has driven more than 8.5 million people from their homes, creating the world’s largest displacement crisis and uprooting families multiple times as people struggle to escape to neighboring countries with economic and security problems of their own. Financial challenges have led some to return to the war-stricken capital.
“Being safe somewhere is the most important thing,” said Ismail, 42. “We’re not even thinking about education because the economic situation doesn’t allow that. As a parent that really impacts you, but we are helpless.”
Sudan’s war erupted on April 15, 2023, over a planned political transition under which the army, led by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, were competing to protect their interests.
Fighting tore through the capital and unleashed waves of ethnically driven violence in the western region of Darfur, before spreading to other areas including Gezira state, an important farming region that became an aid hub where many had sought refuge.
When the RSF entered the state’s main city Wad Madani in December, looting and occupying neighborhoods as they had done in the capital, many were uprooted for a second time.
Ahmed, 50, who had fled with his wife and four children from the capital when the war began, said RSF troops pulled them from a car as they tried to escape Wad Madani in order to seize the vehicle.
They headed east to Al-Gedaref, where his 75-year-old mother-in-law died after the arduous, three-day journey. They then paid smugglers to go to Egypt, which suspended visa-free entry for women, children, and men over 50, as Sudanese poured across the border last year.
“Because of Al-Burhan and Hemedti, our lives were completely shattered. We lost everything we owned,” said Ahmed, speaking by phone from Cairo. He asked to be identified by his first name to avoid problems with Egyptian authorities.
Within Sudan, more than 3 million were already homeless from previous conflicts before the current war, mostly in Darfur, where the RSF and its allies have been accused of widespread abuses in violence over the past 12 months that they have blamed on their rivals.
Though parts of the country, Africa’s third largest by area, remain relatively unscathed, many displaced rely on charity as conditions worsen and nearly 5 million people face extreme hunger.
Sudan’s health system has collapsed, allowing outbreaks of diseases including measles and cholera. Aid agencies say the army restricts access for humanitarian relief, and what little gets through is at risk of looting in RSF-controlled areas.
Both sides have denied impeding aid efforts. But on the ground, volunteer-run “emergency rooms” linked to the pro-democracy networks from the uprising that toppled former leader Omar Bashir in 2019, have been left to provide minimal food rations and keep some basic services running.

Ismail Kharif, a 37-year-old farmer living in a camp for displaced people near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, said people there were at risk from fighting and subject to reprisals by both sides if they tried to move, while being cut off from health care, regular food supplies, and phone networks.

Across the country in Port Sudan, tens of thousands have sought shelter under army control but wonder what lies ahead.

“You cannot imagine that one day you will be living like this,” said Mashaer Ali, a 45-year-old mother of three from the capital, living in a displacement center in the Red Sea city. “Is this reality?” she said. “It’s very, very difficult.”

The war has created “one of the worst displacement and humanitarian crises in the world, and one of the most neglected and ignored almost, although its implications, its repercussions and the suffering of the people are quite extraordinary,” Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in an interview.