Israeli missile strike kills soldier in Syria, state media says

Syrian air defenses intercept an Israeli missile in the sky in this handout photo on Feb. 24, 2020. Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria. (SANA via AFP file photo)
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Updated 17 December 2021

Israeli missile strike kills soldier in Syria, state media says

  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: An Israeli airstrike killed a soldier in southern Syria on Thursday, Syrian state media reported, in an attack in a frontier area where Israel has expressed concern about deployments of Iran-backed forces.

An Israeli military spokesperson refused to comment on the report.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad in Syria’s war.

Citing a military source, Syrian state news agency SANA said “the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression,” firing missiles from the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Syrian air defenses shot down most of the rockets, SANA said. The attack led to “the martyrdom of a soldier and some material losses,” it added.

FASTFACT

Iranian-backed forces have in the past attacked US troops with drones and rockets in eastern Syria and Iraq.

In 2019, then US President Donald Trump broke with other world powers by recognizing Israel as sovereign on the Golan Heights, which it annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Separately, a British warplane that is part of a US-led coalition shot down a drone this week near a base where US troops are stationed in southern Syria, officials said on Thursday.

The base, known as Tanf, is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq and Jordan and houses a small number of US troops. Tanf is the only position with a significant US military presence in Syria outside the Kurdish-controlled north.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said a Typhoon warplane shot down a “small hostile drone” that was a threat to coalition forces. It said this was the first air-to-air engagement for a Royal Air Force Typhoon.

US Central Command spokesman, Navy Captain Bill Urban, said two drones entered the Tanf garrison “deconfliction” zone on Tuesday and one was shot down as it moved closer to the base. He said there were no casualties or damage to facilities.

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Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

Updated 28 September 2022

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

  • Kuwait has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962
  • Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will hold its most inclusive elections in a decade Thursday with some opposition groups ending a boycott after the oil-rich country’s royal rulers pledged not to interfere with parliament.
The polls are the sixth in 10 years, reflecting the repeated political crises that have gripped the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament.
The elections come after Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced the dissolution of parliament in June following disputes between lawmakers and the government, the fourth to be named in two years.
Several opposition MPs had been on strike in protest at delays to parliamentary sessions and the failure to form a new government. A core source of friction is MPs’ demand for ministers from the royal family to be held accountable for corruption.
Kuwait, which borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran and is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962.
But when he dissolved parliament, Sheikh Meshal promised there would be no interference by authorities in the election or the new parliament.
“We will not interfere in the people’s choices for their representatives, nor will we interfere with the choices of the next National Assembly in choosing its speaker or its committees,” the crown prince said.
“Parliament will be the master of its decisions, and we will not be supporting one faction at the expense of another. We will stand at the same distance from everyone.”
Opposition figures have stayed out of elections over the past 10 years, accusing executive authorities of meddling in the workings of parliament.
One of them, People’s Action Movement candidate Mohammad Musaed Al-Dossari, said he had been persuaded to stand again by the crown prince’s promises.
Sheikh Meshal’s speech “reassured” Kuwaitis and “encouraged the political groups and MPs who had been boycotting to return to run in the elections,” Al-Dossari said.
Thursday’s vote also comes after the country’s emir issued an amnesty last year for political opponents who had been tried on various charges.
Some 305 candidates, including 22 women, are competing for 50 seats in five constituencies. Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020.
Women represent 51.2 percent of the 795,920 voters. About 70 percent of the population of around 4.2 million is made up of expatriates.
While the last elections were affected by anti-coronavirus measures, this time candidates have been able to open electoral offices and hold live hustings. Security services have stepped up their monitoring of vote-buying.
The election results are expected to be announced on Friday. The opposition, mostly Islamist politicians, won 24 seats out of 50 in the last polls.

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Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

Updated 28 September 2022

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

  • Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government

BAGHDAD: Supporters of Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr again stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone government area Wednesday as the Iraqi parliament holds session on the resignation of its speaker.
Associated Press journalists saw those supporting Sadr waving flags as security forces gathered around them.
Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government. His followers stormed the parliament in late July to prevent their rivals from Iran-backed Shiite groups from forming the government.
With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside parliament, the government formation process has stalled.
Al-Sadr has now been calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections and has been in a power struggle with his Iran-backed rivals since the vote.


Two dead in Iran strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan: Iran Kurd rebels

Updated 28 September 2022

Two dead in Iran strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan: Iran Kurd rebels

  • Iranian artillery fire has hit border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan on several occasions in recent days

IRBIL, Iraq: Two people were killed in Iranian cross-border strikes Wednesday against military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan belonging to the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, the KDPI said.
“The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran with missiles and drones” in Koysinjaq, east of Irbil, the KDPI, which operates rear bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, announced in a statement.
“Two people have been killed, while several peshmergas have been wounded,” it added, referring to fighters.
Iranian artillery fire has hit border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan on several occasions in recent days.
The fire comes amid tensions generated by the death in Iranian morality police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini earlier this month after she was arrested in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic’s strict rules on hijab headscarves and modest clothing.
Protests have swept Iran, prompting a domestic crackdown that has killed at least 76 people, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the protest toll at “around 60,” inclusive of several members of the Iranian security forces.
Kurdish communities in western Iran share strong connections with Kurdish-inhabited areas of Iraq.
Many cross the border into Iraq to find work, due to a biting economic crisis in Iran driven in large part by US sanctions.


At least 4 killed in Israeli raid in West Bank

Updated 28 September 2022

At least 4 killed in Israeli raid in West Bank

  • The Israeli army confirmed in a tweet that troops were “operating in Jenin”
  • The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters

JENIN: An Israeli raid targeting alleged militants in a West Bank flashpoint killed four Palestinians Wednesday, including the brother of a man blamed for a deadly attack in Tel Aviv.
The violence was the latest to hit Jenin, in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an area that has seen near daily clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen since an escalation that began in March.
The Palestinian health ministry recorded four dead and 44 wounded by live fire in the latest Israeli operation.
Among them was Abed Hazem, whose brother Raad was named as the killer of three Israelis in a shooting spree in Tel Aviv’s busy nightlife district in April.
Raad Hazem was shot dead after a massive Israeli manhunt. Israeli forces have been pursuing Abed and Raad’s father Fathi for months.
The army only immediately confirmed two deaths during an operation it said targeted “two suspects involved in a number of recent shooting attacks.”
“While surrounding the residence in which both suspects were located, an explosive device detonated and the suspects opened fire toward the security forces. The security forces fired back according to standard operating procedures and the two suspects were both killed,” the army statement said, confirming Hazem as one of the men killed.
Since March, Israel has launched hundreds of operations in the northern West Bank, including in Jenin and nearby Nablus, in pursuit of alleged militants.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967 but parts of the territory are nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with terms set out in the 1994 Oslo peace accords.
Analysts have warned that the dramatic rise in Israeli West Bank raids is further weakening the unpopular Palestinian Authority, with Palestinians increasingly condemning president Mahmud Abbas’s administration for its security cooperation with Israel.
Following the latest Jenin unrest, Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, accused Israel of “tampering with security and stability through pursuing a policy of escalation,” in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.
Israel has demanded that the PA security forces do more to crack down on alleged militants, and Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed earlier this month that he would “not hesitate to act in any place that the Palestinian Authority does not maintain order.”
Israel is on high alert over the Jewish holidays, which began Sunday with New Year, or Rosh Hashana, and continue Tuesday with Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar.


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Updated 28 September 2022

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

  • Funeral held for Hadis Najafi, young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to report by Radio Farda

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.

At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.