middle east

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Hezbollah denies US accusations of drug trafficking

Hezbollah denied any involvement in drug trafficking on Friday, after the US administration set up a team to investigate Hezbollah-linked drug trafficking. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week the creation of the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team would ensure the completion of an investigation programme called Project Cassandra. “In recent weeks there were American accusations that are not new,” said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Hezbollah political and military movement. “These accusations are unjust, not based on any facts, and have no truth,” he said in a televised address reports Reuters. Nasrallah added that Hezbollah had a very clear religious and moral stance which forbids drugs and drug trading. Read: Hezbollah accuses Israel of Sidon bombing US […]


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Hezbollah accuses Israel of Sidon bombing

he leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah accused Israel on Friday of a bomb attack that wounded a member of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Lebanese city of Sidon, calling it an act of aggression. The Israeli military said it does not comment on foreign reports. The bomb blast injured the man on Sunday, destroying his car as he was about to get in. “The bomb that targeted a Hamas member in Sidon is a dangerous beginning and it is not possible to be silent about it,” said Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah military and political movement. In a televised address, he said “all indications” pointed to Israel. Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz had told Army Radio earlier this week that […]


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Syrians freeze to death crossing mountains into Lebanon

Nine Syrians froze to death crossing into Lebanon when an icy storm hit a smuggling route in the mountains near a border post with Syria, the Lebanese Army said on Friday. The army rescued six others from near the Masnaa border crossing, one of whom later died in hospital, an army statement said. The army arrested two Syrians on smuggling charges and is still searching for others lost in the snow, it added. Syrians wishing to enter Lebanon must prove to Lebanese authorities they have reason to be in Lebanon, such as property ownership, an embassy appointment, or a residency permit. Read: Syria refugee burns himself in protest against UN aid cuts For many Syrians fleeing war in their country, […]


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Lebanon disrupts Daesh cell plot using informant

Lebanon has thwarted a planned Daesh cell by detaining a militant and turning him into an informant, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Friday. The Iraqi man, identified only by the initials A.Z., had been sent by Daesh to Lebanon to form a new cell to carry out attacks, Machnouk said. The Intelligence Division of Lebanon’s Internal Security Force said in a statement at Machnouk’s news conference that security services had tracked A.Z.’s activities in Iraq and after he arrived in Lebanon in June. When it became clear he was planning to return to Iraq, he was arrested and turned into an informant. For five months A.Z. carried on communicating with Daesh abroad and working on the cell – all […]


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Trump & Palestine: One year on

Before Donald Trump’s inauguration, exactly a year ago, it was hard to say – as with so many other policy areas – exactly what approach his administration would take to Israel and the Palestinians. So, one year on, what can conclusions can we draw – and what impact has a Trump administration had? Trump’s first year is to some extent bookended by two key moments. The first, last February, saw Trump express ambivalence about the two-state solution, in remarks he made alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during the latter’s visit to Washington. In December, meanwhile, Trump made international headlines with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declared intent of relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv. The […]


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Saudi cleric killed in rural Guinea after preaching

A Saudi Arabian Islamic preacher was killed in eastern Guinea after proselytizing to hunting communities in a remote region near the Mali border, police and lawyers said on Friday. The preacher’s death in the village of Kantedou Balandou on Tuesday was followed by the fatal stabbing on Wednesday of the head of a group of hunters, which authorities said was likely to have been a revenge killing. It was not yet clear who was responsible for the deaths. But they shed some light on the breadth of Saudi ambitions to spread conservative Salafist Islam in rural West Africa, and the sometimes violent opposition they face from people practicing traditional religions. “I can confirm that a Saudi preacher was shot dead […]


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Somali authorities say troops rescue 32 children from ‘terrorist school’

Somali authorities said troops stormed a school run by al Shabaab on Thursday night and rescued 32 children who had been taken as recruits by the militant group. “The 32 children are safe and the government is looking after them. It is unfortunate that terrorists are recruiting children to their twisted ideology,” Abdirahman Omar Osman, information minister for the Somali federal government, told Reuters on Friday. “It showed how desperate the terrorists are, as they are losing the war and people are rejecting terror.” Al Shabaab said government forces, accompanied by drones, had attacked the school in Middle Shabelle region. It said four children and a teacher were killed. The Somali government said no children were killed in the rescue. […]


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UNICEF: 1.3 million children displaced by Iraq’s war with Daesh

About half the 2.6 million people displaced in Iraq after a three-year war with Daesh militants are children and persisting violence hampers efforts to ease their suffering, the United Nations said on Friday according to Reuters. While the Baghdad government last month declared victory over Daesh after wresting back almost all the territory Daesh seized in 2014, persistent bombing and shooting attacks make it difficult to rebuild the lives of displaced people, according to UNICEF, the UN children’s agency. “We believe that as a result of the conflict, a lack of investment over the years, and the poverty … that there are 4 million children now in need across Iraq,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF chief representative in the country. He […]


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Turkey’s EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Turkey would reject any offer of partnership with the European Union that falls short of membership, Ankara’s minister for EU affairs said, warning that the current impasse gave Turkey no reason to maintain its migrant deal with the bloc. In an interview with Reuters, Omer Celik batted back recent comments from French president Emmanuel Macron, who has mentioning the possibility of a partnership rather than full EU membership. Developments in Turkey did not allow for progress in its decades-long push to join the bloc, Macron has said. “A privileged partnership or similar approaches, we don’t take any of these seriously. Turkey cannot be offered such a thing,” Celik said, adding: Whatever it would be called, a privileged partnership or cooperation […]


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Saudi minister previously detained in corruption crackdown to head Davos delegation

Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos next week will be led by state minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was released from detention related to an anti-corruption purge in November, Saudi sources told Reuters. Assaf, who was also a former finance minister and a board member of national oil company Saudi Aramco, was among people detained and under investigation by a new anti-corruption body, a senior Saudi official had told Reuters. After he was seen attending a cabinet meeting earlier this month, a Saudi source said he had been cleared of wrongdoing and retained his positions as minister of state and adviser to the king. Saudi security forces have rounded up dozens of princes, ministers and business […]