• Sinwar to Israel: Don’t test us again!
    17 Nov 2018 11:36 Sinwar to Israel: Don’t test us again!

     

    The head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip Yehyia al-Sinwar affirmed Friday that his group will break the Israeli blockade that had been imposed on the Gaza Strip and will provide a decent life for its people.

    This came during a popular eulogy for seven members of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, who were killed on Nov. 11 in a gun battle with a special Israeli army in east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.

    The Israeli blockade that had been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 has to be ended, he said, adding that “it will end by the peaceful marches of return, and if not, we have other means and methods to break it.”

    He also warned Israel “not to test us again,” saying that the next time Israeli soldiers entered the Strip, they would only return through a prisoner exchange for “thousands of prisoners.”

    “I advise the occupation not to repeat the experience of sending a special military undercover force because next time we will clean the Israeli prisons,” said Sinwar, referring to kidnapping soldiers and exchanging them for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

    “What did the Israeli leadership think when it allowed in fuel and Qatari funds? … That we would sell out our blood for diesel and dollars? They’ve been disappointed, and their goals have failed,” he asked.

    Sinwar was holding up a pistol that he said belonged to the elite Israel Special Forces unit that performed the ground operation in the Gaza Strip at the start of the week during which seven members of al-Qassam Brigades were killed.

    One Israel commander was also killed and another injured in the incident.

    Sinwar said he also had pictures of the incident and the retrieval of the commander of the Israeli force that was killed.

    Sinwar said that he has sent a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new army minister that “Gaza only prepares death for you.”

    “It is the first time in the history of the Palestinian armed struggle that 13 Palestinian armed wings in the Gaza Strip worked together in one joint operation room.”

    A three-day aggression on Gaza ended on Tuesday after reaching a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions under Egyptian mediation.
    The agreement was followed by the resignation of Israeli army minister Avigdor Lieberman from his position.

     

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  • Syrian Army vows to avenge 20+ soldiers killed in terrorist attack
    17 Nov 2018 11:22 Syrian Army vows to avenge 20+ soldiers killed in terrorist attack

    The Syrian Arab Army is vowing to avenge the death of the 20+ soldiers that were the victims of the terrorist attack on the government’s positions near the Al-Ghaab Plain this morning.

    According to a military source in nearby Latakia, the Syrian Army has shifted their focus to the terrorists of the Hurras Al-Deen group and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.

    The Syrian Arab Army has been pounding the terrorist positions all day in the Al-Ghaab Plain, as they look to avenge their losses in this rural region in northwestern Syria.

    The source said that the Syrian Army may request their air force to resume their airstrikes on the Al-Ghaab Plain and nearby Jisr Al-Shughour District.

    The Syrian Air Force has not launched any strikes in northwestern Syria since the Sochi Agreement was put in place on September 17th.

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  • Syrian Army inches closer to large volcano under Daesh control
    17 Nov 2018 11:20 Syrian Army inches closer to large volcano under Daesh control

    The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) resumed their large-scale offensive in the Al-Safa region of southern Syria, today, after taking a brief hiatus this week due to the weather.

    Led by their 3rd Corps and 4th Armored Division, the Syrian Arab Army kicked off their attack on Friday by storming the Daesh defenses at the northern and northwestern axes of Al-Safa.

    Following an intense battle with the Daesh militants, the Syrian Arab Army managed to advance more than 1.5 kilometers through the terrorist group’s defenses.

    According to a military source in nearby Sweida city, the Syrian Arab Army was able to score more gains this evening after they cracked Daesh’s defenses in the Qasr Sheikh Hussein area.

    The source added that the Syrian Arab Army killed over 20 Daesh militants and destroyed a number of technical vehicles that were used by the terrorist group in the Al-Safa region.

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  • 40 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces at Gaza border
    17 Nov 2018 11:07 40 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces at Gaza border

    At least 40 Palestinians have sustained injuries at an anti-occupation protest along the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied territories, as a fresh round of protest rallies drew several thousand Palestinian demonstrators to the flashpoint frontier.

    Violent clashes erupted on Friday evening after 8000 of protesters gathered in the eastern Gaza Strip to challenge the years-long Israeli siege on the coastal enclave.

    The Tel Aviv regime’s troops used live ammunition and fired teargas canisters to disperse the protesters. Palestinians evacuated injured protesters and threw stones using slingshots during protest across the area.

    Gaza Health Ministry confirmed that at least 40 Palestinians were injured, including some eight by Israeli live fire.

    Of those injured, three are considered to be in serious condition.

    Dozens more suffered from tear gas inhalation.

    The Palestinian Red Crescent said its staff was looking for injured people.

    Palestinian demonstrators run for cover during a protest on November 16, 2018, on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City. (Photo by AFP)

     

    This week’s protest was staged under the slogan “Normalization is treason” and the organizers called on the protesters to continue these demonstrations until the Gaza “siege” was lifted

    Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said the Arab countries that are working for normalizing their relations with Israel are “sticking a knife in the back of the Palestinian people and harming their national rights.”

    The protests on Friday were intended to continue the “popular” and nonviolent struggle to “break the blockade on Gaza completely,” he added.

    On Sunday night, seven Palestinians, including a senior Hamas commander, were killed when Israeli military forces staged an incursion into the southern Gaza Strip.

    Later on Tuesday, Hamas and other resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered cease-fire with Israel in Gaza Strip as the recent wave of Israeli aggression against the enclave was threatening to descend into full-blown war.

    The Palestinian resistance groups announced the ceasefire in a joint statement, saying they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.

    The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007, which has prevented some two million Palestinians from having free access to the remainder of Palestine and the outside world. The blockade has also undermined living conditions in the coastal enclave and fragmented its economic and social fabric.

    The Tel Aviv regime carries out regular attacks on Gaza inhabitants under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to the Hamas resistance movement, which governs the territory.

    The coastal sliver has also witnessed a fresh wave of deadly tensions since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests demanding the right to return for the Palestinians driven out of their homeland.

    More than 230 Palestinians have so far been killed and over 23,000 others wounded in the renewed Gaza clashes.

    The Gaza Strip and the occupied territories have been the scene of new tensions ever since US President Donald Trump on December 6, 2017 declared Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and promised that the US would move its diplomatic mission to the city.

    In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip. The 50-day military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also wounded in the war.

    Clashes erupt in West Bank

    Separately, a series of clashes broke out during a weekly march against the expanding of Israeli settlements in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

    Local sources said that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters to disperse protesters. At least two protesters were injured, and many others suffered tear-gas suffocation.

    At least one protester also suffered a face injury after Israeli forces  clashed with Palestinians activists protesting near the Ras Karkar village west of Ramallah in the occupied central West Bank. They were holding rally against an Israeli confiscation plan to hundreds of acres of land in the area.

    About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

    Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

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  • 270,000 Syrian refugees returned home in recent months
    17 Nov 2018 11:05 270,000 Syrian refugees returned home in recent months

    The Russian military says nearly 270,000 Syrian refugees have returned home in recent months, some seven years after various militant outfits started wrecking havoc in the Arab country.

    Head of the Russian National Defense Management Center Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev announced the news in a press conference on Friday, adding that nearly 6,000 people returned to the Arab country in the last week alone, according to data collected by Moscow.

    Syria and its close ally, Russia, have been encouraging refugees to repatriate, assuring them that the violence has subsided significantly.

    Earlier this month, Lebanese authorities also said that more than 80,000 Syrian refugees had returned to their homeland from Lebanon since July, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that an estimated 750,000 internally displaced persons in Syria returned to their homes in the first half of the current year.

    Russian jets have been carrying out air raids against targets belonging to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and those of other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s formal request since September 2015.

    The airstrikes have significantly helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since March 2011.

    Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said almost 88,000 foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists had been killed in Syria ever since Moscow launched its anti-terror airstrikes in the war-torn country.

    Back in July, Mizintsev reported that more than 6,900,000 people had left Syria since 2011, and 45 countries are currently hosting the majority of them. The Syrian refugees are mostly living in refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.

    Russia also blames the United States for being responsible for the horrifying conditions in the Rukban refugee camp in southern Syria on the border with Jordan.

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  • Iran urges UN to take stance against US violations
    17 Nov 2018 10:57 Iran urges UN to take stance against US violations

    Gholam-Ali Khoshroo, Iran’s outgoing ambassador to the United Nations, has called on the world body to take an official stance against what he described as America’s evasion of the international law.

    Khoshroo made the call in a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He also urged Guterres to take an adequate position toward Washington’s move to restore sanctions against Iran, IRNA reported.

    Apart from the sanctions, the Iranian envoy said the UN needed to take action against America’s move to unilaterally withdraw from its 2015 multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran in May even though it had been approved by the UN Security Council as Resolution 2231 and respecting its contents were to be mandatory by all parties, including Iran and the US.

    Khoshroo called it unprecedented in the world body’s history that a permanent member of the UN Security Council – like the US – would seek to punish other UN members – like Iran – for remaining committed to a Security Council resolution.

    He further denounced US efforts to threaten other nations with “secondary sanctions” if they breached the sanctions against Iran.

    “The international community should stand up to these arbitrary and extra-judicial actions,” Khoshroo was quoted as saying.

    He also described the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen as a “profound humanitarian catastrophe,” and called for efforts to help end the war and begin the process of political reconciliation among the concerned parties.

    Guterres, for his part, emphasized the need for “multilateralism” in the face of international issues, and hoped that the war on Yemen come to an end and the resulting humanitarian catastrophe be stemmed soon.

    The meeting was concluded by the outgoing Iranian envoy’s presenting the UN chief with a hand-woven tapestry featuring the latter’s portrait to be displayed at the world body’s permanent exhibition.

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  • CIA concludes bin Salman ordered Khashoggi murder: Washington Post
    17 Nov 2018 10:55 CIA concludes bin Salman ordered Khashoggi murder: Washington Post

    The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Arab kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul last month, a report says.

    In a report published on Friday, The Washington Post, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, said that the American spy agency had reached the conclusion that the Saudi de facto ruler had ordered the assassination, contradicting Riyadh’s claims that he was not involved in the killing.

    According to the American daily newspaper, to which Khashoggi was a contributing columnist, in conducting its assessment, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US, had with the ill-fated journo, telling him to go to the Saudi diplomatic mission and giving him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

    But shortly after the report was published, the Saudi ambassador to the US denied in a tweet he had spoken to the slain journalist by phone or had suggested he go to Turkey.

    Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of bin Salman, disappeared after he entered the Saudi diplomatic mission in the Turkish city on October 2 to complete some paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.

    However, as diplomatic pressure grew tremendously on Riyadh to give an account on the mysterious fate of its national, in an unexpected statement last month, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb admitted that Khashoggi had been killed in a “premeditated” attack in the consulate.

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  • California fire: More than 1000 missing, 71 dead
    17 Nov 2018 10:54 California fire: More than 1000 missing, 71 dead

    Forensic recovery teams pressed their search for more victims in the flame-ravaged northern California town of Paradise on Friday (Nov 16) as authorities sought clues to the fate of about 1,000 people reported missing in the state’s deadliest wildfire on record.

    Remains of at least 71 people have been recovered so far in and around a Sierra foothills hamlet that was home to nearly 27,000 residents before the town, 280km north of San Francisco, was largely incinerated by the deadly Camp Fire on the night of Nov 8.

    More than a week later, firefighters have managed to carve containment lines around 45 percent of the blaze’s perimeter, up from 35 percent a day earlier, even as the burned landscape grew slightly to 57,000 hectares.

    Besides the toll on human life, property losses from the blaze make it the most destructive in California history, posing the additional challenge of providing long-term shelter for many thousands of displaced residents.

    With more than 9,800 homes up in smoke, many refugees from the fire have taken up temporary residence with friends and family, while others have pitched tents or were camping out of their vehicles.

    At least 1,100 evacuees were being housed in 14 emergency shelters set up in churches, schools and community centers around the region, with more than 47,000 people in all under evacuation orders, authorities said.

    Search teams with cadaver dogs, meanwhile, combed through charred, rubble-strewn expanses of burned-out neighborhoods looking for bodies – or anything else that might carry human DNA for identification purposes.

    Rescue workers shake a burned mattress as they search for bone fragments while collecting human remains from a home destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 16, 2018 in Paradise, California. (Photo by AFP)

     

    On Friday night, Butte County Sheriff Korea Honea said the remains of eight more fire victims were recovered during the day, bringing the death toll to 71. That far surpasses the previous all-time record loss of life from a single California wildfire – 29 in the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles.

     ‘Raw data’

    Sheriff Honea said the total roster of people unaccounted for had grown to 1,011 – up from the 630 names posted on Thursday night and well more than triple the number counted as missing on Thursday afternoon.

    “This is a dynamic list,” Sheriff Honea told reporters, saying it was compiled from “raw data” that likely included some duplication of names due to spelling errors and multiple sources of information.

    Sheriff Honea said it was improper to speculate on the fate of those on the list, noting that as of Friday, 329 individuals previously reported missing had turned up alive.

    “I don’t think it’s appropriate for any of us to sit and speculate about what the future holds.”

    The names of the missing were being compiled from information received from a special hotline, along with e-mail reports and a review of emergency-911 calls that came in on the first night of the fire, Sheriff Honea said.

    Some listed have likely survived, but not yet notified family or authorities, either because they lack phone service or were unaware anyone was looking for them, authorities said.

    Others may not have been immediately listed because of delays in reporting them.

    Historic proportions

    The disaster already ranks among the deadliest wildfires in the United States since the turn of the last century.

    Eighty-seven people perished in the Big Burn firestorm that swept the Northern Rockies in August of 1910. Minnesota’s Cloquet Fire in October of 1918 killed 450 people.

    Authorities attribute the Camp Fire’s high death toll partly to the speed with which flames raced through the town with little advance warning, driven by howling winds and fueled by drought-desiccated scrub and trees.

    Weather conditions have since turned more to firefighters’ favor, though strong, gusty winds and lower humidity were expected to return late on Saturday through early Sunday, authorities said.

    The outbreak of the Camp Fire coincided with a series of smaller blazes in Southern California, most notably the Woolsey Fire, which is linked to three fatalities and has destroyed at least 500 structures near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

    It was 78 percent contained on Friday night.

    Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires in California and elsewhere across the West are largely attributable to prolonged drought that is symptomatic of climate change.

    An exhausted llama lays in a partially burned field in Paradise, California on November 15, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

     

    The precise causes of the Camp and Woolsey Fires were under investigation, but electric utilities have reported equipment problems in the vicinity of both blazes around the time they erupted.

    US President Donald Trump, who has taken to Twitter to blame the recent spate of fires on forest mismanagement, was due to visit the fire zones on Saturday to meet displaced residents.

    Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom planned to join Mr Trump on his tour.

    Smoke from the Camp Fire has spread broadly. Public schools in Sacramento 150km to the south, and as far away as San Francisco and Oakland, cancelled classes on Friday because of poor air quality.

    (Source: Reuters)

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  • Prisoner swap deal close in Yemen, vow to attend Sweden peace talks
    17 Nov 2018 10:53 Prisoner swap deal close in Yemen, vow to attend Sweden peace talks

    The UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths says the warring sides in Yemen are close to a deal on exchanging prisoners as a confidence-building measure ahead of the upcoming peace talks in Sweden, which both sides have promised to attend.

    The United Nations has received firm assurances from the warring parties that they are committed to attending peace talks in Sweden, the UN envoy told the Security Council Friday.

    Griffiths said the UN intends to convene the Sweden talks very soon given the two sides’ “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution to end the war waged by the Saudi-led coalition in 2015 in a bid to push back the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore to power former Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

    “With this in mind, I intend to reconvene the parties shortly and to do so in Sweden. I believe we are close to resolving issues to make this happen,” Griffiths said.

    “I have received firm assurances from the leadership of the Yemeni parties… that they are committed to attending these consultations. I believe they are genuine.”

    Griffiths plans to travel to the Yemeni capital of Sana’a next week to finalize arrangements and offered to travel with the Houthi delegation to Sweden after the Saudi-led coalition prevented the Ansarullah delegation from attending the peace talks.

    According to the UN envoy, the Saudi-led coalition invading Yemen has agreed to “logistical arrangements” to pave the way for talks including medical evacuations out of Sana’a.

    Griffiths announced he was close to reaching a deal on an exchange of prisoners and detainees, in a further confidence-building measure ahead of planned talks.

    “This is a crucial moment for Yemen,” he said, warning that a flare-up of fighting on the ground could derail the peace effort.

    The UK on Monday will present a draft resolution to the Security Council to address the crisis in Yemen, Ambassador Karen Pierce said, as diplomatic efforts to end the war gathered pace.

    The draft resolution is aimed at shoring up the UN push for peace talks and ensue access for humanitarian aid to millions in Yemen facing famine.

    The Saudi-led coalition’s devastating war on Yemeni civilians has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    Global pressure to end the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen has grown following the killing by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which sparked global outrage.

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