Vessel targeted by ‘missile’ attack off Yemen: security firms

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have launched a flurry of attacks against ships since November. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 23 May 2024
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Vessel targeted by ‘missile’ attack off Yemen: security firms

  • The vessel was “suspiciously approached” 68 nautical miles (125 kilometers) off Hodeidah
  • No injuries or damages reported

SANAA: A missile attack targeted a commercial vessel transiting southwest of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah without causing any damage or casualties, maritime security firms said on Thursday.
The vessel was “suspiciously approached” 68 nautical miles (125 kilometers) off Hodeidah, Ambrey said, without identifying the ship or the flag that it was flying.
“The vessel had undergone what she described as a ‘missile attack’ at the location,” it added, noting that “no injuries or damages were reported.”


The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, run by the Royal Navy, also reported an incident at the same location, with “a missile impacting the water in close proximity” to the ship.
“Vessel and all crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call,” it said in an advisory.

Ambrey separately sent another advisory note after saying a merchant vessel reported a projectile impact on the water approximately 33 nautical miles south of Yemen’s Mocha.
“The projectile reportedly impacted the water 0.2 NM aft of the vessel. 2.5 hours prior another merchant vessel had reported a ‘missile attack’ west of Mocha,” Ambrey added.
The two vessels were transiting at a distance of 2-5 NM from each other during the incidents, it said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis have launched a flurry of attacks against ships since November.
The group, which controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of the country’s Red Sea coast, say their campaign is in solidarity with Palestinians amid the Gaza war.
Their attacks have prompted US and British reprisal strikes and the formation of an international naval coalition to protect the vital trade route.
On Wednesday, US military forces shot down four drones in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
“It was determined these systems presented an imminent threat to US coalition forces, and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM posted on social media platform X.

 


Iran’s acting FM heads to New York for key UN Security Council meetings

Updated 6 sec ago
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Iran’s acting FM heads to New York for key UN Security Council meetings

  • Bagheri, one of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, will participate in two key meetings: one on Palestine and another on multilateralism

DUBAI: Iran’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Bagheri has departed for New York to head a delegation at the UN Security Council.

Bagheri, one of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, will participate in two key meetings: one on Palestine and another on multilateralism.

The Palestine discussion will be part of the Middle East meeting on July 17, featuring Tor Wennesland, special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, as a briefer.

Bagheri is also expected to attend the UNSC meeting on multilateralism on July 16, which will focus on the “parameters of a just world order” and the possible role of the UN in its establishment and maintenance.

Both meetings will be chaired by Russia’s foreign minister, who is currently the rotating chairman of the UNSC.


Vessel reports being attacked off Yemen, UKMTO and Ambrey say

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago
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Vessel reports being attacked off Yemen, UKMTO and Ambrey say

  • Naritime agency and security firm Ambrey said the vessel fitted the Houthi target profile

A merchant vessel reported it had been attacked early on Monday by three small craft in the Red Sea about 70 nautical miles southwest of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, Britain’s maritime agency and security firm Ambrey said.

An unmanned small craft collided with the vessel twice and two manned small craft fired at it, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The vessel and crew were reported safe, and it was proceeding to the next port of call, it said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But since November, the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen has launched drone and missile strikes in shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The group says these actions are in solidarity with Palestinians affected by Israel’s war in Gaza.

Ambrey said the vessel fitted the Houthi target profile.

The vessel conducted “self-protection measures,” then after 15 minutes the small craft aborted the attack, UKMTO said.

In dozens of attacks since November, the Houthis have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three sailors.

The attacks have upended global trade by forcing ship owners to reroute vessels away from the Suez Canal, and drawn retaliatory US and British strikes since February.


UN official says worst scenes of Gaza war witnessed at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis

Updated 15 July 2024
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UN official says worst scenes of Gaza war witnessed at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis

RIYADH: A UN official said he witnessed “one of the worst scenes he has seen in Gaza in the past nine months” during his visit to the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis on Saturday.
Scott Anderson, the director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, said that “many of the injured were receiving treatment on the hospital floor without disinfectants due to insufficient beds and a lack of essential cleanliness equipment and supplies.” 
Nasser Medical Complex is under tremendous strain and burden, with children who are amputees, others paralyzed and deprived of medical treatment, the Saudi Press Agency quoted Anderson as saying.
The UN official also noted how parents were in despair about the conditions of their children.
He added that the United Nations team provided referral services on Saturday, along with additional tents, beds, stretchers, supplies and medications.
He also pointed out the obstacles hindering humanitarian operations prevented aid from reaching people, SPA added.


Syrians vote for their next parliament, which may consider allowing Assad to extend his rule

Updated 15 July 2024
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Syrians vote for their next parliament, which may consider allowing Assad to extend his rule

  • Syrians are voting for members of a new parliament in an election that is expected to hold few surprises
  • Syrians who’ve left their country due to the war are not eligible to vote in parliamentary elections

DAMASCUS: Syrians were voting for members of a new parliament in an election Monday that was expected to hold few surprises but could pave the way for a constitutional amendment to extend the term of President Bashar Assad.
The vote is the fourth in Syria since mass anti-government protests and a brutal crackdown by security forces spiraled into an ongoing civil war in 2011.
There are 1,516 government-approved candidates running this year for the 250-seat People’s Assembly.
The number of eligible voters has not been announced. In parliamentary elections, unlike presidential elections, the millions of diaspora Syrians — whose numbers have ballooned since the civil war — are not eligible to vote.
Some 8,151 polling stations were set up in 15 voting districts in government-held areas.
In the Druze-majority southern province of Sweida, where anti-government protests have been taking place regularly for nearly a year, many called for a boycott of the polls. Videos posted online showed protesters seizing ballot boxes off a truck in an attempt to stop them arriving to polling stations.
Elsewhere, campaigning was low key and candidates’ campaigns largely revolved around general slogans such as national unity and prosperity.
Assad’s Baath Party won 166 seats in the 2020 elections, representing nearly two-thirds of its membership, in addition to 17 members from allied parties. Another 67 seats went to independent candidates.
Vladimir Pran, an independent adviser on transitional political and electoral processes, said the competitive part of the Syrian election process comes before voters go to the polls, during the Baath Party primary process, when party members vote on which candidates’ names are sent to the party’s central command to make the final list.
“Elections are really already finished... with the end of the primary process,” he said. Once the Baath party list is completed, “you can check the list and the results, and you will see that literally all of them will be in the Parliament.”
The number of incumbents who made the final list this year was relatively low, suggesting a reshuffling within the Baath party.
Maroun Sfeir, a consultant on transitional electoral and political processes, said the 169 candidates put forward by the Baath party alone is past the margin of 167 MPs needed to propose a constitutional amendment, protect the president from being accused of treason and veto legislation.
Adding to that 16 candidates from Baath-allied parties running on the same list, he said, “you’re only three MPs short of three quarters of the parliament, which is required for (passing) a constitutional amendment.”
While that leaves 65 slots open for independent candidates, Sfeir said they should not be expected to present a real opposition bloc.
“They are all pre-vetted... to ensure that they’re all loyal or without any threat,” he said.
With Assad facing term limits that would end his presidency in 2028, the next parliament is widely expected to try to pass a constitutional amendment to extend his term.


15 killed in Israel strike on UN-run school in Gaza – civil defense

Updated 45 min 20 sec ago
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15 killed in Israel strike on UN-run school in Gaza – civil defense

  • Strike on Abu Araban site in Nuseirat camp was fifth on a school-turned-shelter in eight days

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The civil defense agency in Hamas-run Gaza said Sunday that 15 people were killed in a strike on a school sheltering war displaced where the Israeli military said it had targeted “terrorists.”

The strike on the UN-run Abu Araban site in central Gaza’s Nuseirat camp was the fifth on a school-turned-shelter in eight days.

The Abu Araban school was housing “thousands of displaced people,” civil defense agency spokesman Mahmud Bassal said, adding that most of the dead were women and children.

Schools in Nuseirat were the target for two of the earlier school strikes as Israel keeps up its offensive against Hamas Palestinian militants who triggered the war with their October 7 attack on Israel.

The Israeli military said its air force “struck a number of terrorists who were operating in the area of UNRWA’s Abu Araban school building in Nuseirat.”

It said the building had “served as a hideout” and base for “attacks” on Israeli troops.

AFPTV images showed the three-story complex standing, with clothes and bedding airing out over its railings. A wall bearing the UN logo had been blown out, and rooms inside were damaged.

On July 6, Israeli aircraft hit Al-Jawni school, also run by the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in Nuseirat. UNRWA said about 2,000 people were sheltering there at the time.

The following day, four people died in a strike on the church-run Holy Family school in Gaza City, in the territory’s north, according to the Civil Defense agency.

On Monday, Israel hit another Nuseirat school, again saying it was targeting “terrorists.”

The next day, a hospital source said at least 29 people died in a strike at the entrance to Al-Awda school in the Khan Yunis area, southern Gaza.

Israel says Hamas uses schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure for military purposes. Hamas denies the accusation.

France and Germany on Wednesday called for an investigation into the school strikes.

After the Al-Jawni strike, UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma told AFP that when the war began “we closed the schools and they became shelters.”

UNRWA is the main relief agency in Gaza but more than half, or 190, of its facilities have been hit — “some more than once” — in the military response to the October 7 Hamas attacks, she said.