US envoy warns Iran not to attack Americans over Syria consulate strike

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Updated 03 April 2024
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US envoy warns Iran not to attack Americans over Syria consulate strike

  • Ambassador Robert Wood tells Security council the US was not involved in the strike now did it know about it ahead of time
  • ‘Iran has exercised considerable restraint but there are limits to our forbearance,’ says Iranian ambassador

NEW YORK CITY: Israel must bear the full responsibility for the consequences of its attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, and Iran reserves its right to deliver a “decisive response to such reprehensible acts,” Tehran’s deputy permanent representative to the UN told members of the Security Council during a meeting on Tuesday.

“Iran has exercised considerable restraint but there are limits to our forbearance,” said Zahra Ershadi.

On Monday, an Israeli airstrike destroyed Iran’s Consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing 12 people, including two Iranian generals and a member of the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. At least six Syrian citizens were also killed by the strike.

Ershadi called on the Security Council to condemn the attack, which she said “goes beyond mere criminality and represents a profound affront to the shared principle of the inviolability of representatives and diplomatic and consular premises.”

The envoy accused Israel of escalating and perpetuating the conflict in Gaza while evading accountability while it “kills civilians and uses starvation as a method of warfare.”

She continued: “Israel’s primary concern is to use force to advance its apartheid policies, ethnic-cleansing, genocidal acts, and military objectives in Gaza at all costs.

“The absence of accountability and the Security Council's inaction has only encouraged this regime to continue its violations unchecked.”

Ershadi also accused the US of bearing responsibility “for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime.”

US ambassador Robert Wood reiterated that Washington has communicated to Iran that it “had no involvement” in the strike on the consulate, nor did it have any knowledge of it ahead of time.

“We cannot confirm any information about this event,” he said, adding that “as we gather details, one thing is clear: Iran and its proxy and partner groups need to avoid escalating tensions in the region.”

Wood said that since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the US has repeatedly warned Iran not to take advantage of the situation by escalating its “longstanding proxy war against Israel and other actors,” but Iran has ignored that warning.

“Terrorists and other armed groups, some backed by the Syrian regime and Iran, have used Syrian territory to plot and launch attacks on Israel and US facilities and personnel,” he added.

He warned that US authorities “will not hesitate to defend our personnel, and repeat our prior warnings to Iran and its proxies not to take advantage of this situation to resume their attacks on US personnel.”

Wood also expressed his sadness and grave concern about the recent Israeli air strike that hit a World Central Kitchen aid convoy.

“This incident is yet a further reminder that Israel needs to do much more to protect humanitarian personnel and facilities in Gaza,” he said. “It is unacceptable and inexplicable that nearly six months into this conflict, Israeli military deconfliction mechanisms are not functioning appropriately.”

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, who had called for the emergency meeting of the Security Council, said he condemned the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus in the strongest terms, and stressed that it followed a trend of escalating Israeli attacks on Syrian soil and other neighboring countries.

“We’re of the view that such aggressive actions by Israel are designed to further fuel the conflict,” he said. “They are absolutely unacceptable and must stop.

“We urge West Jerusalem to abandon the practice of provocative acts of force in the territory of Syria and other neighboring countries, which is fraught with extremely dangerous risks and consequences for the entire region, a region that is already destabilized as the results of the six-month escalation of violence around Gaza.”

Nebenzia warned council members that should they fail to condemn attacks on diplomatic premises then “next time, the diplomatic mission of any state could be targeted by an air raid.”

Slovenia’s permanent representative to the UN denounced “attacks on diplomatic premises, that are unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

Samuel Zbogar expressed his country’s profound concern about the spillover effects of the war in Gaza across the region, which has already “had a strong impact on the situation along the Blue Line and in the Red Sea,” and he called on all parties to show restraint.

“It should be in no one’s interest to have further dangerous escalation in the Middle East,” he added. “Any of the geographically separated but ultimately intertwined crises could take on a life of their own.

“People of the region have suffered enough and this includes people in Palestine, Israel, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere. We should all place their interests first, and this is why it is crucial for this council to send a clear call for restraint by all, starting with compliance with Resolution 2728, demanding a ceasefire.”

China’s deputy ambassador, Geng Shuang, strongly condemned the attack “of an extremely vicious nature” on Iran’s consulate and reaffirmed the inviolability of diplomatic institutions.

Since the conflict in Gaza began in October, Geng said, there have been attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, humanitarian facilities, UN agencies, “and today attacks on diplomatic premises. The red line of international law and the basic norms of international relations have been breached time and again, and the moral bottom line of human conscience has been crushed time and time again. Such a situation, such a tragedy must stop immediately.”


Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

Updated 5 sec ago
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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.