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Yemen War

Yemen’s southern separatists vowed on Wednesday to keep control over Aden, warning the only way out of the impasse that has fractured a Saudi-led military alliance was for Islamists and northerners to be removed from all positions of power in the south. The separatists, who are supported by coalition member the United Arab Emirates, effectively took over Aden, the temporary seat of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, over the weekend by seizing government military bases. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014. His government relocated to Aden. Southern fighters are a major component in the coalition’s battle against the Houthis. But the war has revived old strains between north and south Yemen – formerly separate countries that united into a single state in 1990 under then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The crisis has exposed a rift between Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which has echoed Riyadh’s call for dialogue among Aden’s warring parties but stopped short of asking the southern forces that it funds and arms to cede control. “Giving up control of Aden is not on the table at the moment,” Saleh Alnoud, British-based spokesman for the Southern Transitional Council (STC), told Reuters in an interview. “We are there to remain – but to remain for a positive reason: to maintain stability,” Alnoud said. He said the only way out of the stand-off was forContinue reading

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Bashar al-Assad - Syria Politics News Headlines

Members of the al-Ali family were walking home from shopping when several shells slammed into the busy street on the western edges of the Syrian city of Aleppo. The blast tore through them, killing 2-year-old Salam and one of her cousins, and incinerated a car nearby with a woman and her infant daughter inside. It was one of multiple attacks by rebels firing from Aleppo’s outskirts that killed more than a dozen civilians last month. Nearly three years have passed since President Bashar Assad’s forces gained full control of Aleppo, sweeping out rebels who had held the eastern half of the city through years of fighting. That victory made Aleppo — Syria’s largest city — a symbol of how Assad succeeded with crucial assistance from Russia and Iran in turning the tide of the long civil war, clawing back most opposition-held territory in the country’s heartland and ensuring Assad’s survival. But Aleppo is equally a symbol of how Assad has been unable to secure full victory in the war or bring total security to Syria’s people — and appears unlikely to in the near future. Half of Aleppo remains destroyed, much of its population is scattered, and deadly attacks like the July 24 mortar fire that killed Salam — whose name means peace in Arabic — are still common. Aleppo still sits on the edge of the opposition’s last major stronghold, a territory stretching across the neighboring province of Idlib and parts of Hama province. From positions on Aleppo’s outskirts,Continue reading

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Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh - IRAN - Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned that any Israeli presence in the Persian Gulf may result in a war in the region, and the responsibility for the consequences of such illegal presence lies with the US and the UK. “The United States and the United Kingdom must assume responsibility for the Zionist regime’s illegal presence in the Persian Gulf waters,” IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri told the Lebanese TV channel Al Mayadeen on Sunday. “Any presence of the Zionist regime in the Persian Gulf waters is illegal, as it may result in war and confrontation in the region,” the top commander warned. The comments came after Israel said it will join a US maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf, which the US says is aimed at boosting the security of navigation in the body of water. Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz said on August 7 that the regime would be part of the US-led coalition to “protect the security of the Persian Gulf”. On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi warned that the country considers possible Israeli presence in a US-led coalition in the Persian Gulf as a clear threat to its national security, and reserves the right to counter it. “Within the framework of the country’s deterrence and defensive policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to counter this threat and defend its territory,” he noted. “The US regime and the illegitimate Zionist regime are responsible for all the consequences ofContinue reading

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Yemen Houthi movement Supporters

Yemen’s southern separatists have taken effective control of Aden, seat of the internationally recognised government, fracturing the Saudi-led coalition which is trying to break the grip of the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on the country. In a move that complicates efforts by the United Nations to end a four-year war, the separatists seized control of all government military camps in the southern port city on Saturday and surrounded the all-but empty presidential palace, officials said. “What is happening in the temporary (government) capital of Aden by the Southern Transitional Council is a coup against institutions of the internationally recognised government,” the foreign ministry said in a Twitter post. Although they have a rival agenda to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government on the future of Yemen, the separatists had been part of the Saudi-led pro-government coalition that has been battling the Houthis since March 2015. The war has killed tens of thousands and pushed the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine. Four days of clashes between the separatists and government forces have killed at least nine civilians and more than 20 combatants, according to medical sources. The fighting, which has trapped civilians in their homes with dwindling supplies of water, resumed at dawn on Saturday but has since abated. “It is all over, the (Southern Transitional Council) forces are in control of all the military camps,” an official in Hadi’s government told Reuters. He said the two sides had agreed the separatist forces would not try to seize theContinue reading

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Canadian, Kristian Lee Baxter

A Canadian citizen held in Syrian prisons since last year and freed after Lebanese mediation said Friday he had no idea if anyone knew he was still alive. Kristian Lee Baxter appeared emotional and at times jittery at a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The Lebanese general who mediated his release said Baxter was heading home. It was not clear when Baxter was released from Syria. Details of Baxter’s detention were not immediately available but Canadian media reported last December he was detained while in war-torn Syria, where he was traveling seeking an adventure. Canadian officials declined to provide further information, citing privacy provisions. Lebanon’s General Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim said Baxter was detained for what Syrian authorities considered a “major violation” of local laws, adding that authorities there may have considered the incident security related. He didn’t elaborate. Baxter appeared briefly on a podium, shared with Ibrahim and the Canadian ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux. He was emotional and choked on his words as he tried to hold back tears. “I’d just like to thank the Canadian embassy for helping me,” Kristian Lee Baxter said, reaching to hold the shoulder of the Canadian ambassador. “I would like to thank the Lebanese for helping me get free. I thought I would be there forever, honestly.” He added, wiping his eyes: “I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive.” Baxter’s release marked the second time Lebanon has helped free a foreigner held in Syria. Last month, IbrahimContinue reading

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Syria Army - Syrian News Headlines

Syrian government forces seized ground from insurgents in northwestern Syria on Thursday, sources on both sides said, building on advances since the military declared an end to a brief ceasefire earlier this week. The humanitarian adviser to the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria said the new upsurge in violence in the northwest threatened the lives of millions after more than 500 civilians were killed since late April. The Russian-backed army operations resumed on Monday after the government accused neighbouring Turkey, which backs some rebel groups in the area, of not abiding by commitments in the truce. The army’s capture of al-Sakhr in northern Hama province on Thursday followed the taking of two villages on Wednesday. A rebel commander said government forces had been able to advance in the northern Hama area due to heavy air and artillery strikes. “The situation is difficult but recovering the positions we lost is not impossible and we will work on that,” Colonel Mustafa Bakour of the Jaish al-Izza rebel group told Reuters by text message. Assad’s side has struggled to make significant gains in more than three months of military operations in the northwest, the last major foothold of rebel groups in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the eight-year-old conflict, said the advances by Assad’s side over the last two days were its most significant since June, noting that the army was closing in on three rebel-held towns. Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said 64 combatants had been killed in theContinue reading

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Turkish Army - Turkey Flag - Syria Flag

Turkey’s combative president is threatening to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria that is designed to push back U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces — an invasion that carries major risks for a highly combustible region in war-devastated Syria. An operation would mark the third Turkish incursion into Syria in the past four years — all seeking to limit the growing influence of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which Turkey views as terrorist along its border. Turkish and American military officials were meeting Monday and Tuesday in Ankara for last-ditch negotiations amid warnings from Turkish officials about a military buildup. Here’s a look at what Turkey wants and what could happen if it invades northern Syria: WHAT DOES TURKEY WANT? Turkey wants to establish a safe zone 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) deep east of the Euphrates River in Syria, all the way to the Iraqi border. That effectively amounts to almost all the territory in northeastern Syria that is currently controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, America’s only partners on the ground in Syria. This has deeply infuriated Turkey and been a major source of tensions between Washington and Ankara in the past few years. With U.S. backing, the SDF has spearheaded the fight against the Islamic State group on the ground, announcing the territorial defeat of the extremist group in March. Turkey considers the YPG an existential threat and asContinue reading

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Yemen Houthis Drone - Drones

Attacks on Yemeni forces that form a core component of the Saudi-led military coalition in the south of the country risk further destabilising Aden, seat of the government, and complicating United Nations peace efforts. The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which the alliance has been battling for more than four years, launched a missile attack on United Arab Emirates-backed Security Belt forces in the southern port city, a coalition stronghold, that killed 36 soldiers on Thursday. The strike on a military parade was the worst violence to hit Aden since southern separatists forces, including Security Belt units, clashed with the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2017 in a power struggle. Analysts say the Houthis may be testing any weaknesses in the coalition following the UAE military drawdown in the south and western coast announced in June, which appears to have also emboldened Islamist militant groups in Yemen who carried out separate deadly attacks on southern forces last week. WHY IS ADEN SIGNIFICANT?The Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities, but this is the first serious attack by the group on Aden since it was captured by the coalition in 2015. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim alliance intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis after they ousted Hadi’s government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014. The Houthis, who hold most urban centres including Sanaa and the main port of Hodeidah, have no traction in the south, where the UAE has armed and trained someContinue reading

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Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mohammed Javad Zarif - Iran Politics News Headlines

World countries and the United Nations have censured the administration of US President Donald Trump over imposing sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying slammed Washington’s decision at a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday. China Reaction “We have taken note of the statement of the US side and the reaction of Mr. Zarif himself. The position of the Chinese side on this issue is very clear. China opposes unilateral US actions … We think it is not facilitating the solution of the problem,” Hua said. She stressed that negotiation and dialogue were the best ways to resolve the simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran. “The US has repeatedly stated that it is ready to hold talks with Iran without preconditions. We hope that the actions of the United States will not diverge from their statements,” the senior Chinese official noted. In separate statements on Wednesday, the US Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions against Zarif because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Back on June 24, US President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, targeting Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and top commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). In his statement on Zarif’s designation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the top Iranian diplomat is a “key enabler” of Iran’s policies throughout the region and theContinue reading

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Hamza bin Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, Hamza bin Laden

Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, chosen heir to the leadership of Al-Qaeda, has been killed, US media reported Wednesday citing American officials. NBC News said three US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden’s death, but gave no details of the place or date. The New York Times subsequently cited two US officials saying they had confirmation that he was killed during the last two years in an operation that involved the United States. Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report. “I don’t want to comment on it,” he said. Both reports suggested that bin Laden may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019. The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was “emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise,” the State Department said in announcing the reward. Sometimes dubbed the “crown prince of jihad, he had put out audio and video messages calling for attacks on the United States and other countries, especially to avenge his father’s killing by US forces in Pakistan in May 2011, the department said. Documents seized in the raid on his father’s house in Abbottabad suggested Hamza was being groomed as heir to the Al-Qaeda leadership. US forces also found a video of the wedding of Hamza to the daughter ofContinue reading

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Hassan Rouhani - Iran Politics News Headlines

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran is determined to go for the third stage of suspending its commitments under a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal if the European co-signatories keep failing to uphold their end of the bargain. Speaking on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif complained that the European parties to the Iran deal —France, Britain and Germany — have failed to abide by their commitments, both those within the framework of the agreement itself and their obligation to respond to the consequences of America’s exit from the accord. He pointed to a non-dollar direct payment channel designed by the Europeans to offset the American sanctions that have returned in place against Iran, saying the financial mechanism — known as INSTEX — is still in its preliminary stage and is yet to become operational. “INSTEX should not be turned into a tool for carrying out US orders and [enable] them (Americans) to decide how this mechanism can function,” Zarif said. “INSTEX is a vehicle for Europe to fulfill its commitments after America’s pullout” from the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The mechanism, he added, should guarantee that Iran would be able to sell its oil and collect the revenue. Zarif further urged Europe to “allow itself the courage to act based on its commitments, not on the American demands.” During the recent Joint Commission of the JCPOA, Tehran’s partners once again stressed their commitment to the nuclear deal,Continue reading

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US Sanctions Preventing Iranians Getting Proper Medical Care - Iran Story

Taha Shakouri keeps finding remote corners to play in at a Tehran children’s charity hospital, unaware that his doctors are running out of chemo medicine needed to treat the eight-year-old boy’s liver cancer. With Iran’s economy in free fall after the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal and escalated sanctions on Tehran, prices of imported medicines have soared as the national currency tumbled about 70% against the dollar. Even medicines manufactured in Iran are tougher to come by for ordinary Iranians, their cost out of reach for many in a country where the average monthly salary is equivalent to about $450. Iran’s health system can’t keep up and many are blaming President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign for the staggering prices and shortages. The sanctions have hurt ordinary Iranians, sending prices for everything from staples and consumer goods to housing skyward, while raising the specter of war with the U.S. Taha’s mother, Laya Taghizadeh, says the hospital provides her son’s medication for free — a single treatment would otherwise cost $1,380 at a private hospital. She adds the family is deeply grateful to the doctors and the hospital staff. “We couldn’t make it without their support,” says the 30-year-old woman. “My husband is a simple grocery store worker and this is a very costly disease.” The Iranian rial has plunged from 32,000 to $1 at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers to around 120,000 rials to the dollar these days, highly affecting prices ofContinue reading

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Hassan Rouhani - Politics Headline in Iran Today

An emergency meeting with parties to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal was constructive but there are unresolved issues and Tehran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments if Europeans fail to salvage the pact, Iranian official Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday. “The atmosphere was constructive. Discussions were good. I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments,” Araqchi, the senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters after the meeting in Vienna. Parties to the agreement – Britain, Germany and France plus Russia and China – met Iranian officials for talks called in response to an escalation in tensions between Iran and the West that included confrontations at sea and Tehran’s breaches of the nuclear accord. “As we have said, we will continue to reduce our commitments to the deal until Europeans secure Iran’s interests under the deal,” Araqchi said. The parties have been trying to salvage the pact since the United States withdrew from it in May 2018 and re-imposed and toughened sanctions on Iran, crippling an already weak economy. The Europeans say further breaches of the agreement by Iran would escalate confrontation at a time when Tehran and Washington are at risk of a miscalculation that could lead to war. However, their efforts to protect trade with Iran against the U.S. sanctions have yielded nothing concrete so far. Earlier this month, Tehran followed through on its threat to increase its nuclear activities in breach of the agreement. Iran has said it will withdrew from theContinue reading

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Iran vs Britain Military

The UK’s Daily Express paper has published a report, featuring a “shock chart”, illustrating that Iranian military strength may overpower that of Britain in various key aspects. “A comparison of the UK and Iran’s military strength shows Britain falling behind when it comes to manpower, land and naval strength and petroleum resources,” reported the paper on Saturday. The report cited data released by the Global Fire Power (GFP) group, demonstrating that Iran held a better standing among much of the criteria commonly used to compare a country’s potential strength for a potential military standoff. The paper highlighted that Iran benefited from a superior number of military personnel, combat tanks, naval and artillery assets, along with nearly 40 million people fit for service, nearly double the amount of people available to the UK. The article also highlighted that Iran enjoyed the advantage of a significantly higher daily oil production rate, nearly five times that of Britain, adding that GFP analysts branded oil resources as the “lifeblood” needed to sustain military campaigns. The paper noted, however, that Britain had more superior air power compared to Iran. The comparison is, however, far from being a comprehensive one, relying solely on a rudimentary and numerical analysis of military strength. The comparison also leaves out asymmetrical military capabilities, a key factor in Iran’s defense doctrine. The UK paper published the report citing fears of a probable military confrontation between the two countries. Tensions simmered between Tehran and London ever-since the British overseas territory of GibraltarContinue reading

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British Stena Impero Oil Tanker

Somewhere on its journey from the waters off Iran, around Africa’s southern tip and into the Mediterranean, the Grace 1 oil tanker lost the flag under which it sailed and ceased to be registered to Panama. Iran later claimed it as its own. The ship carrying 2 million barrels of Iranian crude was seized by British Royal Marines off Gibraltar, raising tensions in the Gulf where Iran detained a UK-flagged ship in retaliation. Grace 1 remains impounded, not because of its flag but because it was suspected of taking oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, an allegation that Iran denies. Yet Panama’s move on May 29 to strike it from its register mid-voyage was part of a global squeeze on Iranian shipping. Nations that register vessels under so-called “flags of convenience” allowing them to sail legally have de-listed dozens of tankers owned by Iran in recent months, tightening the economic noose around it. In the biggest cull, Panama, the world’s most important flag state, removed 59 tankers linked to Iran and Syria earlier this year, a decision welcomed by the United States which wants to cut off Tehran’s vital oil exports. Panama and some other key flag states are looking more closely at the thousands of ships on their registers to ensure they comply with U.S. sanctions that were re-imposed against Iran last year and tightened further since. A Reuters analysis of shipping registry data shows that Panama has de-listed around 55 Iranian tankers since January, Togo hasContinue reading

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CIA Spies

A former US intelligence officer has described the attempts by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to destabilise Iran through a massive network of Iranian moles — just busted by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry — as “an absolute act of war.” “This is an absolute act of war,” said former American intelligence linguist Scott Rickard during an interview with Press TV’s The Debate show on Monday. He also pointed to other hostile US attempts against Iran, such as waging cyber warfare to blow up Iranian centrifuges through the Stuxnet virus in collaboration with the Israeli regime and Germany, among others. Rickard said he was not at all surprised by the news of the latest exposure of American destabilizing spying operations against Iran. He said that ever since Washington’s “systemic [intelligence] operation[s]” in Iran were disrupted by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the US “has maintained a systemic nature whereby they’ve worked with everything from humanitarian groups like Amnesty International [and] journalist outlets like Newsweek.” He then recalled how US-based Newsweek’s native Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari attempted to distort events during post-election unrest in Iran in 2009. The former US intelligence linguist further praised Iran’s “incredible resilience” in face of what he referred to as persisting efforts “to demonize Iran” by “the American media, the American government, and their Western allies… while they’re maliciously attacking the country with acts of warfare on a constant basis.” Also participating in The Debate show was the founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy, MichaelContinue reading

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Palestinians - Palestine News

Israeli forces began demolishing Palestinian homes near a military barrier on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday, in the face of protests and international criticism. Bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers moved into Sur Baher, a Palestinian village on the edge of East Jerusalem in an area that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians fear the razing of buildings near the fence will set a precedent for other towns along the route of the barrier, which runs for hundreds of kilometres around and through the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The demolition is the latest round of protracted wrangling over the future of Jerusalem, home to more than 500,000 Israelis and 300,000 Palestinians, and sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Israeli forces cut through a wire section of the barrier in Sur Baher under cover of darkness early on Monday, and began clearing residents. Bulldozers and mechanical diggers began tearing down homes on both sides of the barrier as security forces prepared a partly constructed nine-storey building for demolition. “They have been evacuating people from their homes by force and they have started planting explosives in the homes they want to destroy,” said Hamada Hamada, a community leader. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in June that the structures violated a construction ban. The deadline for residents to remove the affected buildings, or parts of them, was Friday. But Palestinian owners said their buildings lay within areas run by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limitedContinue reading

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