Three soldiers killed in Al-Qaeda counterattacks in Yemen’s Abyan

The Yemeni troops, mainly commanded by the Southern Transitional Council, have succeeded in clearing pockets of Al-Qaeda approximately 35 km east of Moudia, and are still pushing into the more remote areas of Abyan. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 September 2022
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Three soldiers killed in Al-Qaeda counterattacks in Yemen’s Abyan

  • Two local officials told Arab News that the soldiers were killed immediately after their vehicles came into contact with IEDs planted by Al-Qaeda in Moudia

AL-MUKALLA: At least three Yemeni soldiers were killed and six more wounded, including a field military leader, when Al-Qaeda militants detonated improvised explosive devices and launched attacks in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Monday, in a bid to halt Yemeni military advances into the militants’ strongholds.

Two local officials told Arab News that the soldiers were killed immediately after their vehicles came into contact with IEDs planted by Al-Qaeda in Moudia, as they pushed deeper into remote areas of the district.

“Al-Qaeda militants cannot halt the advance of southern troops. However, they merely laid mines and quickly attacked them before fleeing,” an official, who requested anonymity, said.

The Yemeni troops, mainly commanded by the Southern Transitional Council, have succeeded in clearing pockets of Al-Qaeda approximately 35 km east of Moudia, and are still pushing into the more remote areas of Abyan.

Residents reported hearing large explosions and seeing thick smoke billowing from mountainous areas east of Moudia on Monday, as advancing forces exchanged fire with Al-Qaeda militants.

The military activities in Abyan are part of a offensive by local security forces that began on Saturday and has the objective of driving Al-Qaeda militants from their long-held hiding places in Abyan and Shabwa, where militants stage deadly attacks on government-controlled areas.

Over the past three days, the military has gained control of a large swathe of land in Abyan, including three valleys that each house Al-Qaeda training facilities. Security forces also entered Khaber Al-Marakesha, an area of arid and mountainous terrain that is the home of Al-Qaeda militants, including Jalal Baliedi, a senior Al-Qaeda leader who was killed by a US drone in the same area in 2016.

In Shabwa, Yemeni forces also pushed the militants out of Al-Musainah and are now chasing pockets of Al-Qaeda in the area’s mountains.

The current operations in Abyan and Shabwa will cease once both provinces have been cleared of Al-Qaeda militants, local military commanders said.

Analysts, however, argue that because of Al-Qaeda’s knowledge of the challenging topography of Abyan, Shabwa, and Al-Bayda, local military forces may not be able to achieve more gains in the three provinces’ mountains.

Yahiya Abu Hatem, a military analyst, told Arab News that Al-Qaeda has long been sheltered in Abyan’s remote and mountainous areas which lack populations and state institutions.

“The terrorist organizations thrive in dead and difficult terrain where they are able to easily set up military facilities and take refuge in caves and valleys,” Abu Hatem explained.

“In those areas, state services have been absent for a long time.”

Al-Qaeda is also flourishing in the areas between Abyan and Shabwa and close to the Houthi-held Al-Bayda, Abu Hatem noted, due to the unusual relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Houthis, who encourage the militants to carry out attacks in the liberated areas in exchange for protection and weapons.

“Those liberated areas, mainly in the southern provinces, would not be safe without liberating Al-Bayda from the Houthis, forming one command room, activating intelligence,” Abu Hatem said.


Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

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Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament

TEHRAN: Iran announced Monday it will hold presidential elections on June 28, state media reported, following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash.
“The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament,” state television said.
“According to the initial agreement of the Guardian Council, it was decided that the 14th presidential election will be held on June 28.”

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

Updated 20 May 2024
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US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

  • “This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners,” CENTCOM said
  • The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia launched a ballistic missile over the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, the US military said.
This comes as the Houthis intensified attacks on Yemeni government soldiers around the country.
The US military said in a statement on Monday morning Yemen time that at about 9:35 p.m. (Sanaa time) on Sunday, the Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen over the Gulf of Aden, but neither the US-led coalition nor international commercial ships reported being hit by the missile.
“This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said.
The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later.
The Houthis’ newest missile launch is part of an escalation of missile and drone strikes against commercial and navy ships in international seas near Yemen as well as in the Indian Ocean, which the Houthis claim are in support of Palestine.
The Houthis attacked dozens of ships with hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and drone boats during their campaign against ships, which started in November.
They also took control of one commercial ship and destroyed another.
The US military said on Saturday that a Greek-owned and operated oil tanker heading toward China in the Red Sea, flying the flag of Panama, barely avoided being struck by a ballistic missile launched by the Houthis.
Meanwhile, four Yemeni government troops were killed on Monday while battling the Houthis in the province of Taiz, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in Houthi attacks to 11 in less than a week.
Local media said that the government’s Nation’s Shield Forces engaged in heavy fighting with the Houthis in the Hayfan area, on the border between Taiz and Lahj provinces, that left four of its soldiers dead.
On Saturday, a soldier from the same Yemeni military unit was killed and another injured while defending their position in Haydan against a Houthi onslaught.
Six more Yemeni soldiers from the government’s Giants Brigades were killed on Saturday in fighting with the Houthis in the Al-Abadia region of Marib’s central province.
On Monday, the Houthis held a military burial procession in Sanaa for two of their troops killed while battling with Yemeni government forces.
The Houthis have organized similar funerals for hundreds of fighters who have died on the front lines ever since the UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect in April 2022.
At the same time, official media said that Yemen’s Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri met the UN Yemen envoy’s military adviser, General Antony Hayward, in Aden on Sunday to discuss Houthi attacks on government troops across the country, peace efforts to end the war, and the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Houthis.
Al-Daeri said that the Houthis had breached agreements with the Yemeni government and would continue to pose a danger to international maritime lines as long as they controlled Yemeni territory on the Red Sea.
He also accused Iran of continuing to supply weapons and military officers to the Houthis through direct journeys from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port.
On Monday, UN experts, including Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, urged the Houthis to release five members of the Bahai religious minority and to stop persecuting religious minorities in regions they control.
“We urge the de facto authorities to release these five individuals immediately and refrain from any further action that may jeopardize their physical and psychological integrity,” the experts said.
Armed Houthis abducted 17 Bahais, including five women, after bursting into a meeting in Sanaa a year ago, and they have refused to release them despite local and international requests.
According to the UN experts, the Houthis released 12 Bahais under “very strict conditions” after signing a written pledge not to communicate with other sect members, avoid religious activities and not leave cities without permission, and that the Houthis continue to hold five who are at risk of mistreatment by their captors.
“We are concerned that they continue to be at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations, including acts tantamount to enforced disappearance,” the UN experts said.


Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
Updated 20 May 2024
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Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

  • The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time

CAIRO: Egypt mourned the deaths of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Egypt’s presidency said in a statement: “It is with deep grief and sorrow that the Arab Republic of Egypt mourns the death of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their escorts on Sunday in a tragic crash.

“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extends his sincere condolences to the people of Iran, asking Allah to envelop President Raisi and the deceased with his mercy and grant solace and comfort to their families.”

The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry extended his condolences to the Iranian government and people over the deaths of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian, according to ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

A helicopter carrying Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and several other officials crashed in mountainous terrain in the country’s northwest on Sunday. On Monday, Tehran announced the deaths of Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and their accompanying delegation in the crash.

 


Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Updated 20 May 2024
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Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

  • Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7“
  • The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday slammed as a “historical disgrace” an application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as well as top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Khan “in the same breath mentions the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel alongside the abominable Nazi monsters of Hamas — a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever.”
The prosecutor said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder” and “starvation.”
Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7” when Hamas launched their attack on Israel, sparking the Gaza war.
The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant, and also embark on a diplomatic push against it.
Katz said he planned to “speak with foreign ministers in leading countries of the world so that they oppose the prosecutor’s decision and announce that, even if orders are issued, they do not intend to enforce them on the leaders of the State of Israel.”


35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

Updated 20 May 2024
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35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

  • 106 Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours

DUBAI: More than 35,562 Palestinians have been killed and 79,652 injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Monday.
One hundred and six Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.