Iranian Nobel laureate Mohammadi absent as new trial opens: lawyer

A new trial against jailed Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi opened Saturday in her absence, said a lawyer for the women's rights activist who has refused to attend hearings. (AFP/File)
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Updated 08 June 2024
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Iranian Nobel laureate Mohammadi absent as new trial opens: lawyer

  • “The hearing of Ms Narges Mohammadi was held today without her presence at the 29th Branch” of the Revolutionary Court in the capital Tehran, said lawyer Mostafa Nili
  • Nili said his client was “accused of propaganda against the state“

TEHRAN: A new trial against jailed Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi opened Saturday in her absence, said a lawyer for the women’s rights activist who has refused to attend hearings.
Mohammadi, 52, has been jailed since November 2021 over several past convictions relating to her advocacy against the obligatory hijab for women and capital punishment in Iran.
“The hearing of Ms Narges Mohammadi was held today without her presence at the 29th Branch” of the Revolutionary Court in the capital Tehran, said lawyer Mostafa Nili on social media platform X.
Nili said his client was “accused of propaganda against the state” over “her remarks on Dina Ghalibaf and on the boycott of legislative elections” held in March.
Rights groups have said Ghalibaf, a journalist and student, was arrested after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station. She has since been released.
The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online website said on April 22 that Ghalibaf “had not been raped” and that she was being prosecuted for making a “false statement.”
Mohammadi’s family quoted her last month as saying that the latest trial should be held in public so “witnesses and survivors can testify to the sexual assaults perpetrated by the Islamic republic regime against women.”
The Nobel laureate in March shared an audio message from prison, in which she decried a “full-scale war against women” in the Islamic republic.
Iranian police in recent months have intensified enforcement of the country’s Islamic dress code for women, notably making use of video surveillance.
Under rules adopted shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, women in Iran are required to cover their hair and dress modestly in public spaces.


Palestinian president Abbas blames Hamas for continuing war in Gaza

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Palestinian president Abbas blames Hamas for continuing war in Gaza

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel and the United States were responsible for an attack that killed dozens in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, but the Western-backed leader also blamed Hamas for the continuing war in Gaza.
His comments signal rising tension between Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas group, which accused the Palestinian president of taking Israel’s side.
Israel said the attack was aimed at killing the Hamas military chief Mohammad Deif and his aide. It remained unclear whether Deif or his deputy were killed in the strike that left at least 90 Palestinians dead and 300 wounded, according to Gaza health ministry.
“The Palestinian presidency condemns the slaughter and holds the Israeli government fully responsible, also the US administration that provides all kinds of support to the occupation and its crimes,” said Abbas in a statement published by his office.
But Abbas, whose authority maintains a limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, assigned some blame to Hamas, whose Oct 7 attack inside Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and around 250 others were abducted, kicked off the nine-month war in Gaza.
“The presidency sees that by escaping national unity, and providing free pretexts to the occupation state, the Hamas movement is a partner in bearing legal, moral and political responsibility for the continuation of the Israeli war of genocide in Gaza Strip,” the statement said.
Hamas has run Gaza since its 2007 takeover of the coastal territory from Abbas loyalists.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters Abbas’s statement meant the Palestinian Authority “has chosen to be in the same trench with the occupation.”
“Such an attitude will not succeed in blackmailing the resistance or pressuring it,” said Abu Zuhri.
Efforts by Arab mediators, led by Egypt, have so far failed to reconcile power struggles between the two sides.
Another Hamas leader, Basem Naim, who took part in previous reconciliation talks with Abbas’s Fatah faction, said Abbas was to blame for the failure to reach a unity deal.
Naim said Abbas’s comments made him and his authority “partner to the Zioinist enemy and its crimes not only in Gaza but also in all of the Palestinian land.”

Iraq recovers remains of 139 likely Daesh victims from mass grave

Updated 1 min 42 sec ago
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Iraq recovers remains of 139 likely Daesh victims from mass grave

  • The Alo Antar hole — a natural desert feature turned into a mass grave by Daesh extremists — is located in Tal Afar

MOSUL: Iraqi authorities have removed the remains of 139 people from a large pit believed to contain victims of Daesh, an official said on Sunday.
The Alo Antar hole — a natural desert feature turned into a mass grave by Daesh extremists — is located in Tal Afar, some 70 kilometers (40 miles) west of Mosul in northern Iraq.
It is not known how many bodies were dumped in the pit, but search efforts for other victims are ongoing.
“We have removed the remains of 139 persons and also human body parts,” said Dia Karim, director of the mass graves department at the Foundation of Martyrs — a government institution tasked with finding mass graves and identifying remains.
“They include women and men,” Karim said, adding that “according to testimonies, the victims date back to Daesh rule” or before when Al-Qaeda was present in the area.
Testimonies also suggest, according to Karim, that “the victims are Yazidis, Shiite Turkmen and security forces personnel from Mosul,” the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-declared “caliphate.”
At its peak, the group ruled over swathes of Syria and Iraq, while its fighters committed beheadings, torture and enslavement, turning life into a living hell and leaving behind many mass graves.
In northern Iraq, they committed some of their worst atrocities against the Yazidis — an ethnic and religious minority — including mass executions and sexual slavery.
Ahmed Assadi from the Foundation of Martyrs said the victims “were not buried but dumped in the hole,” whose full depth ranges between 42 and 12 meters.
“Some of the victims had been shot and others were found with their throats cut,” and several bodies were found in body bags.
Assadi added that some of the clothing found on them indicated that they might have been Yazidis or Turkmen, adding that other bodies were found in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by Daesh hostages.
The bodies recovered from Alo Antar were taken to forensic departments to be identified using DNA testing.
The mass grave was discovered after Iraqi forces retook control of the area in 2017, but the work to recover the bodies only started in May of this year.
Iraqi authorities frequently announce the discovery of mass graves of Daesh victims, as well as those containing Daesh extremists themselves and others dating to the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein, but the identification process is slow, costly and complicated.
The United Nations estimates the extremists left behind more than 200 mass graves which might contain as many as 12,000 bodies.
A similar but much larger sinkhole known as Al-Khasfa in northern Iraq is also thought to contain the bodies of many Daesh victims.
In northern Syria, a 50-meter-deep gorge has been used as a dumping site for dead bodies during and after Daesh rule, according to a 2020 Human Rights Watch report.


UAE delivers medical aid to Gaza after Israeli attack on refugee camps

Updated 49 min 18 sec ago
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UAE delivers medical aid to Gaza after Israeli attack on refugee camps

  • The initiative follows Israel’s targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Younis on Saturday

DUBAI: The UAE delivered three tonnes of medical supplies and a range of medicines to support the healthcare sector and hospitals still operating in the Gaza Strip, the UAE state news agency reported on Sunday.

The initiative follows Israel’s targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Younis on Saturday.

The medical aid includes medical supplies for hospitals facing shortages, medicines for various injuries, insulin for diabetic patients, and other solutions to bolster the healthcare sector during the crisis.

The UAE on Sunday condemned Israel’s attack on refugee camps in Khan Younis, which claimed the lives of 100 people.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday expressed its strongest condemnation and denunciation of what it termed “continued genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli war machine.”


US, UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen’s northern Hajjah

Updated 14 July 2024
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US, UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen’s northern Hajjah

  • Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said on Sunday that the US and UK “aggression” struck Medi district in Hajjah province

AL-MUKALLA: US and UK forces on Sunday hit a Houthi target in an area of north Yemeni region, while an EU naval operation destroyed a Yemeni militia drone in the Gulf of Aden. 

Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said on Sunday that the US and UK “aggression” struck Medi district in Hajjah province on Sunday, the latest round of strikes by the US and UK against the Houthis in retribution for the militia’s anti-ship operation.

The Houthi TV station did not provide details on the targeted area or any human or property damage.

This comes as the EU military operation in the Red Sea, known as Aspides, said on Sunday that its Greek warship Psara shot down a drone suspected to have been launched by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden.

The warship was repelling a barrage of Houthi explosive-laden drones aimed at a commercial ship escorted by the EU mission. 

“This operation aims to protect the lives of seafarers, ensure global trade, protect global common goods, uphold freedom of navigation, and contribute to regional peace and security,” the EU naval mission said on X. 

In response to Houthi attacks on ships, which began in November, the US formed a coalition marine task force in the Red Sea, designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization, and launched strikes on Houthi military locations and mobile drone and missile launchers in Hodeidah, Sanaa and other areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthis.

The Houthis claim that their campaign against the ship is solely aimed at targeting Israel-bound ships and those linked to Israel to put pressure on Israel to halt its military operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as targeting US and UK ships after the two countries bombarded Yemeni territory under Houthi control.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s army said its soldiers in the southern city of Taiz repelled a Houthi attack on Saturday, killing and injuring six Houthis, according to SABA, the official news agency. 

In an attempt to take control of more areas in the besieged city of Taiz, the Houthis attacked the army’s mountainous sites in the city’s northeast on Saturday, resulting in fighting that killed two Houthis and injured four more.

The army said the Houthis were compelled to cease their attack and flee after failing to make any military advances. 

Despite a considerable decline in hostilities throughout Yemen since the UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect in April 2022, scores of government troops have been killed or injured in Houthi strikes on positions in Dhale, Taiz, Marib and other disputed districts.

Separately, one Yemeni soldier was killed and another was wounded on Saturday night while battling Al-Qaeda militants in a valley in the southern province of Abyan.

According to media channels funded by the Southern Transitional Council, Al-Qaeda assaulted the council’s soldiers in Abyan’s Omaran Valley with drones and heavy machine guns, killing one soldier and injuring another.

Since late 2022, more than 100 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in Al-Qaeda guerrilla raids as STC forces moved into the militia’s long-held hiding areas in rough and isolated valleys and mountains in Abyan and Shabwa. 


UK Foreign Secretary visits Israel and West Bank and calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Updated 14 July 2024
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UK Foreign Secretary visits Israel and West Bank and calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

  • Lammy met Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

TEL AVIV: The new British foreign secretary called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Sunday, his second international trip since Labour’s resounding victory in elections earlier this month.
David Lammy said the ongoing war in Gaza is “intolerable” and stressed in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leadership that Britain wants to assist with diplomatic efforts “securing a ceasefire deal and creating the space for a credible and irreversible pathway toward a two-state solution.”
Lammy met Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He will meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday. During his visit, Lammy will also meet with families of hostages currently being held in Gaza who have ties to the UK He called for the release of all hostages and a dramatic increase in the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza.
Lammy demanded Israel halt settlement expansion in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and said that the Palestinian Authority needs to be “reformed and empowered.”
Both Lammy’s Labour Party and the previous Conservative government initially avoided calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war, using phrases like “humanitarian pause.” But the language has got stronger. Prime Minister Keir Starmer told Netanyahu last week there was a “clear and urgent need for a ceasefire.”
Labour’s stance on the Gaza war cost it votes in this month’s UK election. Although the party won in a landslide, pro-Palestinian independents defeated Labour candidates in several seats with large Muslim populations.
Lammy’s comments came the day after Israel said it had targeted Hamas’ shadowy military commander in a massive strike Saturday in the crowded southern Gaza Strip that killed at least 90 people, including children, according to local health officials.
Top Hamas officials said on Sunday that the negotiations for a possible ceasefire deal had not been halted because of the attack. Hamas also denied that Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, the target of the strike, was killed and said Israel’s “false claims are merely a cover-up for the scale of the horrific massacre.”
Deif and Hamas’ top official in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, are believed by Israel to be the chief architects of the Oct. 7 attack that killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel and kidnapped 250, triggering the Israel-Hamas war.
Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,400 people in Gaza and wounded more than 88,000, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.