US forces foil Houthi drone, missile, boat strikes on cargo ships

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Laboon sails in the Red Sea on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 14 June 2024
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US forces foil Houthi drone, missile, boat strikes on cargo ships

  • US Central Command said its forces destroyed an air defense sensor in a Houthi-held area of Yemen, a remotely operated vessel and two patrol boats in the Red Sea

AL-MUKALLA: The US military said on Friday it had foiled a wave of drone, missile and boat strikes by Houthi militia in international trade channels off Yemen in the previous 24 hours.

The US Central Command said its forces destroyed an air defense sensor in a Houthi-held area of Yemen, a remotely operated vessel and two patrol boats in the Red Sea, all of which were regarded as dangers to international maritime commerce.

The Houthis also fired a drone and two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the Red Sea, it said. The drone was destroyed and the missiles failed to hit their targets.

“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” the command said.

On Thursday, it said the Iran-backed militia targeted the Ukrainian-owned and Polish-operated bulk cargo tanker M/V Verbena as it was transiting the Gulf of Aden under the flag of Palau. A member of the crew was seriously injured in the strike but was evacuated by a US Navy ship.

The command said the vessel had nothing to do with Israel and was sailing from Malaysia to Italy carrying construction materials.

On Thursday night, the Houthis in Sanaa claimed responsibility for three strikes on ships in the previous 24 hours. Military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a televised statement that missiles and drones were fired at the Verbena, Seaguardian and Athina in the Red Sea after they violated their ban on visiting Israeli ports.

One of the strikes scored a direct hit on the Verbena, he said.

Since November, the Houthis have fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and remotely operated boats against naval and commercial vessels, mostly in the Red Sea. One ship was sunk and another seized.

The militia have said repeatedly that they attack only vessels with links to or bound for Israel in a bid to get the country to end its war in Gaza.

The US labels the Houthis as a terrorist organization and leads a task force coalition to safeguard ships and conduct strikes on sites held by the group within Yemen.

On Thursday, a report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency said the attacks had led to a 90 percent decrease in shipping traffic in the Red Sea, affected 65 countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE, Qatar, Sudan and Oman, forced 29 energy and shipping companies to change their routes, and caused insurance and shipping costs to soar.

“As of mid-February, insurance premiums for Red Sea transits have risen to 0.7-1 percent of a ship’s total value, compared to less than 0.1 percent before December,” it said.

There had also been significant delays in the delivery of humanitarian supplies to aid-dependent nations like Yemen and Sudan, it said.


Kuwait says government spending must be fixed to control budget growth

Updated 4 sec ago
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Kuwait says government spending must be fixed to control budget growth

  • Its statement added expenses were estimated at 24.5 billion dinars and revenues at 18.9 billion dinars

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait's budget is projected to show a deficit of 5.6 billion dinars ($18.33 billion) for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Sunday citing the Ministry of Finance. 

Its statement added expenses were estimated at 24.5 billion dinars and revenues at 18.9 billion dinars.

Government spending must be fixed at 24.5 billion Kuwaiti dinars in the 2027-2028 budget to control budget growth, the ministry also said.

The liquidity of the General Reserve Fund, from which the budget deficit is financed, decreased to 2 billion dinars last March from 33.6 billion ten years ago due to increasing withdrawals, it added.


Egypt condemns Israeli airstrikes on Al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis

Updated 5 min 33 sec ago
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Egypt condemns Israeli airstrikes on Al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis

  • Egypt called on Israel to cease its disregard for the lives of unarmed civilians and to adhere to international humanitarian law

CAIRO: Egypt has condemned the Israeli airstrikes on the Al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The deaths in Al-Mawasi, an Israeli-designated “safe zone” where aid groups said hundreds of thousands of people were sheltering, drew condemnation from governments across the region.

The Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said at least 92 people had been killed, more than half of them women and children, and 300 wounded in Saturday’s strike

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates, Egypt condemned in the strongest terms the Israeli bombing of Al-Mawasi, which is crowded with displaced people, resulting in the death and injury of dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians.

Egypt called on Israel to cease its disregard for the lives of unarmed civilians and to adhere to international humanitarian law.

It also stressed that such crimes would not be subject to a statute of limitations and could not be justified under any pretext.

Egypt emphasized that these continuous violations against Palestinian civilians add serious complications to the current efforts aimed at reaching de-escalation and a ceasefire and exacerbate their suffering amid disgraceful international silence and inaction.

 


Palestinian president Abbas blames Hamas for continuing war in Gaza

Updated 40 min 9 sec ago
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Palestinian president Abbas blames Hamas for continuing war in Gaza

  • His comments signal rising tension between Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas group

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel and the US 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 44 min 2 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 14 July 2024
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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.”