Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike

Update Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike
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The aunt of 11-year-old Lebanese school boy Mohammad Ali Nasser shows his shirt covered with blood at the General Hospital in Nabatieh, following his injury during an Israeli drone strike on the car of a Hezbollah fighter in southern Lebanon on May 24, 2024. (AFP)
Update Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike
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Lebanese schoolboy Qassem Jaffal receives treatment at the General Hospital in Nabatieh, following an Israeli drone attack that killed a Hezbollah fighter and wounded three children riding their bus to school at the time on the road leading to the southern city on May 23, 2024. (AFP)
Update Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike
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People standing on a side road are seen through the smashed windshield of a school bus that was damaged while passing a car of a Hezbollah fighter as it was trageted by an Israeli drone strike on a road leading to the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh on May 23, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2024
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Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike

Lebanon teacher killed as children narrowly escape deadly drone strike
  • ‘Divine providence’ saves students from certain death, says bus driver
  • Hezbollah launches rocket attacks after Israeli army steps up border assaults 

BEIRUT: Lebanese school children on a bus had a narrow escape when a drone strike killed a Hezbollah member in the car ahead, blowing out the windscreen of their vehicle and wounding three pupils.

Mohammed Nasser Farran, also a physics teacher at a public school in Nabatieh, was killed in the Israeli strike that targeted his car early on Thursday.

Three students were injured in the attack, which left the car in flames.

The strike was the first targeting a school teacher since the beginning of the confrontation between Hezbollah and the Israeli army. 

Farran, 35, who is originally from Nabatieh and a resident of Kfarsir, was on his way to the Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah public high school in Nabatieh at 7:15 a.m. to supervise quarterly exams.

An Israeli drone directly targeted his Toyota car on the Nabatieh road, killing him instantly.

Hezbollah mourned Farran’s death and said that he was a member of the group.

The bus was carrying middle school students as young as 14 to the Choukine public school when the drone struck.

Bus driver Ahmad Sbeity said that the drone launched a rocket toward the car, and the subsequent explosion shattered the bus windscreen.

Students screamed while the driver tried to calm the situation.

“Three of them were injured, with blood running from different parts of their bodies, while others had panic attacks and were screaming continuously. Divine providence saved these students from inevitable death,” Sbeity said.

The driver contacted the ambulance and Lebanese Red Cross, which took the injured to the hospital. He also asked another bus driver to return the other students to their homes.

“What happened is a brutal criminal act. This enemy does not differentiate between a student and a civilian, and between a school and a hospital.”

Following the attack, 11-year-old Mohammed Ali Nasser, one of the three injured students, was seen sitting on the sidewalk, his clothes stained with blood.

Nasser was taken to hospital, and later said that he and his classmates heard an explosion and saw the car burst into flames.

Students immediately placed their backpacks on their heads in fear of another raid, he said.

Nasser said that he would return to school after treatment and was not afraid of Israel.

Two other students, Ali Reda Moussa Ayyash, 13, and Qassem Mohammed Jaffal, 12, were also injured, while more than 10 others were treated for panic and stress.

Abbas Shmeisani, principal of Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah Public High School in Nabatieh, mourned the death of the physics teacher.

Farran was an “active educator characterized by ethics, generosity, politeness, and dedication. Such is our fate with this criminal and terrorist enemy,” he said.

Nisreen Choueib, principal of Choukine Public School, condemned the targeting of school students.

“Our students sleep to the shaking of the walls from the sounds of raids, wake up to the sound of gunfire, and go to their schools where education is resilience and victory,” Choueib said.

Caretaker Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan said: “History will record that this enemy has become adept at targeting children.”

Hezbollah targeted Israel’s military sites with rockets in response to the strike, including the recently established headquarters of the 91st Division at the Ayelet base, and the headquarters of the Sahel Battalion of the 769th Brigade at the Beit Hillel base.

Sirens sounded in the Upper Galilee in the settlements of Ayelet Hashachar, Rehaniya, Avivim, Alma, and Yir’on.

The Israeli army said the air defense forces “intercepted and destroyed 30 rockets launched from Lebanon toward the Upper Galilee.”

Hezbollah said it targeted Israeli surveillance equipment at Metula and Al-Raheb.

Israeli media reported that fires broke out between Kiryat Shmona and Beit Hillel after five rockets fell, while the Kiryat Shmona area lost power after a rocket attack.

The Israeli army continued its assaults on the border area, with the outskirts of the town of Aitaroun hit by intermittent shelling from Israeli positions.

A combat drone carrying a missile raided an agricultural orchard in the Hamoul area on the outskirts of the town of Naqoura.


US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog
Updated 5 sec ago
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US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

US says it will raise pressure on Iran if it does not cooperate with UN watchdog

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington and its allies were prepared to continue to increase pressure on Iran if Tehran does not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said earlier in the day. The State Department said the report showed that Iran aimed to continue expanding its nuclear program “in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose.”


Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military
Updated 55 min 28 sec ago
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Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: US military

DUBAI: Two cruise missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck a bulk cargo carrier in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, severely injuring a sailor who was evacuated by American forces, the US military said.

The Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Although this has caused major disruption to international shipping, casualties have been rare.

The M/V Verbena — a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated ship — “reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire. One civilian mariner was severely injured during the attack,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

“Aircraft from USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) medically evacuated the injured mariner to a partner force ship nearby for medical attention,” CENTCOM said.

“This continued reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

The Houthis on Thursday said they had carried out attacks on three ships within the past 24 hours, including on the Verbena, “in retaliation to the crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, and in response to the American-British aggression against our country.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) meanwhile reported an explosion close to a merchant vessel in the Red Sea about 80 nautical miles northwest of Yemen’s Hodeida port, with no damage or casualties.

The Houthis have launched scores of drone and missile attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November.

The first reported fatalities from the attacks on ships occurred in the Gulf of Aden in March.

On Wednesday, the Houthis struck the Tutor, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, southwest of Hodeida. They claimed to have used seaborne and aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

CENTCOM later said the Tutor had been struck by a Houthi “unmanned surface vessel” that “caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room.”


UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
Updated 13 June 2024
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UN Security Council demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mln people

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir by the paramilitary RSF.
  • Council adopted British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir — a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Dafur region — by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area.
The 15-member council adopted a British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir, the last big city in the vast, western Darfur region not under RSF control.
War erupted in Sudan in April last year between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. Top UN officials have warned that the worsening violence around Al-Fashir threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
Updated 13 June 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raid
  • The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza
  • Troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said

QABATIYA, West Bank: Israeli forces raided a town in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing three Palestinians and detaining several others in what the army described as an operation to pre-empt militant attacks.
The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge in violence since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the raid in Qabatiya, troops surrounded a building where two gunmen were holed up, exchanging fire with them, the army said. The two Palestinians were killed and witnesses saw the body of one them being lifted out by an armored bulldozer.
A third Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops elsewhere in the town, medical officials said.
There was no immediate claim of the dead men by any armed Palestinian faction. The army described the two killed in the building as “senior terrorists” without elaborating, and added that weapons were seized in the raid.
Several Palestinians were detained by troops, who also “exposed explosives planted into roads which were intended to be used to attack the forces,” the army statement said.
A soldier was wounded during exchanges of fire, it added.


Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
Updated 13 June 2024
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Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA

Iran expands nuclear capacities further: IAEA
  • Tehran is installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow
  • A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium

VIENNA: Iran is further expanding its nuclear capacities, the UN atomic watchdog said Thursday, one week after the agency’s board of governors passed a resolution criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA.
The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its members that Tehran told it that it was installing more cascades at the enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, according to a statement sent to AFP.
A diplomatic source deemed this development as “moderate.”
A cascade is a series of centrifuges, machines used in the process of enriching uranium.
The motion brought by Britain, France and Germany — but opposed by China and Russia — at the IAEA’s 35-nation board last week was the first of its kind since November 2022.
The resolution — which Tehran slammed as “hasty and unwise” — came amid an impasse over Iran’s escalating nuclear activities and as Western powers fear Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies.
Although symbolic in nature at this stage, the censure motion aims to raise diplomatic pressure on Iran, with the option to potentially refer the issue to the UN Security Council.
In the past, similar resolutions have prompted Tehran to retaliate by removing surveillance cameras and other equipment from its nuclear facilities and ratcheting up its uranium enrichment activities.
According to the IAEA, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 percent — just short of weapons-grade — while it keeps accumulating large uranium stockpiles.
The IAEA has said that Tehran has significantly ramped up its nuclear program and now has enough material to build several atomic bombs.
The Islamic republic has gradually broken away from its commitments under the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015.
The landmark deal provided Iran with relief from Western sanctions in exchange for curbs on its atomic program, but it fell apart after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States under then-president Donald Trump in 2018.
Efforts to revive the deal have so far failed.