Putin: Our Forces Stopped a Serious Threat to Russia in Syria

Russian military police monitor the international M4 road linking northeastern Syria to the Turkish border. AFP file photo
Russian military police monitor the international M4 road linking northeastern Syria to the Turkish border. AFP file photo
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Putin: Our Forces Stopped a Serious Threat to Russia in Syria

Russian military police monitor the international M4 road linking northeastern Syria to the Turkish border. AFP file photo
Russian military police monitor the international M4 road linking northeastern Syria to the Turkish border. AFP file photo

President Vladimir Putin has revealed a decisive Russian military attack last week to prevent Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions from advancing towards Neirab city.

The Russian military has rooted out well-equipped terrorist groups in Syria and prevented major threats to Russia, Putin said at a gala on Defender of the Fatherland Day.

The attack was followed by intense airstrikes on militant sites in Idlib province.

Putin’s statements came in line with accusations launched by the Kremlin against Turkey on its violation of the Sochi Agreement.

According to Russian sources, the military sought to prevent Ankara from trying to impose a new fait accompli by controlling sites that have been recently occupied by the regime.

Russia “will not allow the return of the previous situation, when Idlib province and its surrounding areas were under the control of Syrian factions,” the sources added.

Putin, however, revealed on Sunday another aim for his country’s intervention in Syria.

Russia's officers and soldiers have confidently confirmed their high professionalism and combat capabilities, the strength of spirit and their best qualities during the military operation in Syria, he said.

“They have wiped out large and well-equipped terrorist groups, thwarted major threats for our motherland at distant frontiers, and helped the Syrians save the sovereignty of their country,” he stressed, thanking all soldiers who have participated in the fight in Syria.

Putin’s remarks highlighted information circulated on Ankara supplying the Syrian factions with US mobile anti-air systems, which enabled them to shoot down two Syrian army helicopters last week.

The Ministry of Defense said these weapons could be used against Russian forces, slamming Ankara and Washington.

It said both sides “cannot predict how and when the terrorists will use these weapons.”

Putin affirmed Moscow’s intention to continue to enhance its military capabilities and provide its armed forces with the most advanced arms, including laser weapons, hypersonic systems and high-precision systems.



‘I’m Destroyed’: UN Envoys Meet Victims of Gaza War

A delegation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) arrives at El-Arish airport in North Sinai, Egypt, 11 December 2023. (EPA)
A delegation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) arrives at El-Arish airport in North Sinai, Egypt, 11 December 2023. (EPA)
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‘I’m Destroyed’: UN Envoys Meet Victims of Gaza War

A delegation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) arrives at El-Arish airport in North Sinai, Egypt, 11 December 2023. (EPA)
A delegation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) arrives at El-Arish airport in North Sinai, Egypt, 11 December 2023. (EPA)

UN Security Council ambassadors traveled to Egypt Monday to meet Gazan victims of the war between Israel and Hamas, days after the United States blocked a ceasefire resolution.

The informal one-day trip organized by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt came amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis in war-torn Gaza, described as a "graveyard" by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Around a dozen ambassadors took part from countries including Russia and Britain.

But the US, which vetoed the Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire on Friday, did not send a representative and neither did France.

The envoys visited a hospital in El-Arish near the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, treating people who had been evacuated from the conflict.

Among the people they met was Wafaa Asaad, a 27-year-old from Gaza who was heavily pregnant when her house was hit by an Israeli strike, killing her husband and injuring her two daughters.

She was evacuated to Egypt for medical treatment and had an arm and leg amputated, but miraculously managed to give birth just hours after crossing the border, her sister Alaa told AFP.

"Our message to the UN is we want the war to stop," Alaa said, her newborn niece laying on a bed beside her.

Ecuador's envoy Jose de la Gasca told AFP he was "destroyed" by the visit to the hospital.

"I just met a young mother who lost a kid and has another little girl who is wounded," he said.

"I don't ever want to see again what I have just seen. It's horrible."

The diplomats were later due to visit the Rafah crossing, the only gateway into Gaza.

Departures via the crossing are tightly controlled, with only foreign nationals and severely wounded people allowed to leave Gaza in most circumstances.

'Lack absolutely everything'

Speaking at the start of the trip, UAE envoy Lana Nusseibeh said the trip was not official Security Council work, and members were taking part on their own "national and personal" initiatives.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN's Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, briefed the envoys on the humanitarian situation before he headed to Gaza for his third visit since the start of the war in October.

There is "deep frustration, disappointment and some outrage... (that) we can't even reach a consensus for a ceasefire," Lazzarini said.

"There is no real safe place in the Gaza Strip. Even the UN premises currently hosting more than one million people have been hit," he added.

"Hunger is prevailing in Gaza. More and more people haven't eaten for one day, two days, three days... people lack absolutely everything."

The war was triggered when Hamas, the Palestinian group that runs Gaza, carried out the deadliest-ever attack on Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, and taking about 240 hostages back to Gaza.

Israel has responded with a military offensive that has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed at least 17,997 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.


Palestinians Go on Strike over Gaza Onslaught

 A picture shows shuttered shops during a general strike in solidarity with Gaza, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on December 11, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
A picture shows shuttered shops during a general strike in solidarity with Gaza, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on December 11, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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Palestinians Go on Strike over Gaza Onslaught

 A picture shows shuttered shops during a general strike in solidarity with Gaza, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on December 11, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
A picture shows shuttered shops during a general strike in solidarity with Gaza, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on December 11, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)

Shops, schools and government offices shut across the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem Monday as Palestinians staged a general strike protesting against Israel's relentless onslaught in the Gaza Strip.

The bloodiest ever war in Gaza has killed more than 18,200 Palestinians in the territory, mostly women and children, and 104 Israeli soldiers, according to the latest reported death tolls.

Activists had called for a strike in solidarity with the besieged territory covering businesses, public workers and education.

Many Palestinians took part and rallies were staged in the West Bank, according to Essam Abu Baker who coordinates Palestinian factions in Ramallah.

He described the protest as part of a global effort to put pressure on Israel to stop the war, reporting strikes taking place in parts of Jordan and Lebanon.

In Lebanon, public institutions, banks, schools and universities closed after the government decided on a nationwide strike in solidarity with Gaza and with border areas in the south, which have seen intensifying exchanges of fire, mainly between Israel and Hezbollah.

The stoppage was also observed in Istanbul's western Esenyurt district, where many businesses are owned by residents from the Palestinian territories, Syria, Yemen and Iran.

Footage on social media showed deserted streets and Palestinian flags billowing.

"The strike today is not only in solidarity with Gaza, but also against the USA which used its veto in the Security Council against a truce," Abu Baker said in Ramallah, referring to the US rejection of a ceasefire resolution on Friday.

Overnight in Gaza, more Israeli air strikes targeted the biggest southern city of Khan Yunis, while deadly fighting and bombing were also reported in the center and north of the narrow territory.

Hamas, which triggered the war with its October 7 attacks in which 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel, warned that the remaining 137 hostages held in Gaza would not survive the conflict unless Israel meets its demands and frees more Palestinian prisoners.

'I have no choice'

At a rally in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, demonstrators unfurled a huge list of names of the victims in Gaza.

Whole families came out to protest, with parents carrying children on their shoulders.

"All we can do is take part," an elderly man in the crowd told AFP. "We don't have anything else."

AFP photographers also saw the work stoppage being observed in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and Hebron in the south, where another rally was held.

In east Jerusalem's Old City, many shops were closed. The sound of keys echoed in the bazaar as Palestinian business owners locked their brightly painted doors.

"We want the war to stop," said Nasser, a 65-year-old coffee shop owner who gave only his first name. He has not heard from friends in war-torn Gaza for weeks, and doesn't know if they are dead or alive.

He said he had little to lose by closing his shop along the Via Dolorosa, a Christian pilgrimage route.

"We've had no business anyway since the war started," he said, after the outbreak of violence prompted visitor numbers to plummet.

The few shopkeepers who did open said they had strong reasons for doing so.

Florist Raja Salama, 62, came to work to prepare wreaths of white roses for an elderly relative's funeral.

"I'm only open because the funeral is today," he said.

"When I've taken the flowers over, I'll close."

Others were desperate for business.

"I need to work to feed my baby son," said a young Palestinian barber.

He did not give his name, explaining that he was ashamed to open his shop in the Old City.

"I should respect the strike, but I have no choice. I have a one-year-old at home and I haven't had work since the start of the war. That's the ugly truth."


Turkish Air Strikes Hit 13 Kurdish Militant Targets in Northern Iraq

A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. (Reuters)
A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. (Reuters)
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Turkish Air Strikes Hit 13 Kurdish Militant Targets in Northern Iraq

A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. (Reuters)
A woman holds a flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) during a demonstration against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in central Brussels, Belgium, November 17, 2016. (Reuters)

Türkiye’s military conducted air strikes in northern Iraq on Monday and destroyed 13 Kurdish militant targets, the Turkish Defense Ministry said, adding many militants had been "neutralized" in the attack.

In a statement on social messaging platform X, the ministry said the targets hit in the strikes included caves, shelters, and storage facilities where militants were believed to be. It said the strikes targeted the Hakurk, Gara, Qandil, and Metina regions of northern Iraq.

Türkiye typically uses the term "neutralized" to mean killed.


Israeli Shelling Kills Mayor of Lebanese Village

 An Israeli artillery unit fires from a position in Upper Galilee in northern Israel towards southern Lebanon, on December 11, 2023, amid increasing cross-border tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
An Israeli artillery unit fires from a position in Upper Galilee in northern Israel towards southern Lebanon, on December 11, 2023, amid increasing cross-border tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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Israeli Shelling Kills Mayor of Lebanese Village

 An Israeli artillery unit fires from a position in Upper Galilee in northern Israel towards southern Lebanon, on December 11, 2023, amid increasing cross-border tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
An Israeli artillery unit fires from a position in Upper Galilee in northern Israel towards southern Lebanon, on December 11, 2023, amid increasing cross-border tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)

An Israeli shell killed the mayor of a Lebanese village on Monday, a relative and Lebanon's National News Agency said, as Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah kept up hostilities ignited by the war in Gaza.

Hussein Mansour was killed in his home in the village of Taybeh a few kilometers (miles) from the border with Israel, the relative Mohamed Mansour told Reuters. The shell which struck him did not explode, the National News Agency said.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Violence escalated at Lebanon's border with Israel on Sunday, with the Iran-backed Hezbollah launching explosive drones and powerful missiles at Israeli positions, and Israeli air strikes rocking several towns and villages in south Lebanon.

After a Hezbollah official said on Sunday that Israel had escalated its attacks in Lebanon, an Israeli government spokesperson accused Hezbollah of "escalating its aggression".

"We will respond firmly to any continued aggression and we repeat that Israel is not interested in a two-front war but if Hezbollah decides to drag Israel into a full-scale war, the consequences will be severe for Hezbollah and for the state of Lebanon," government spokesperson Eylon Levy said.


Israeli Air Strikes in South Lebanon Evokes Memories of 2006 House Bombings

Israeli strike in Aita Shaab (AP)
Israeli strike in Aita Shaab (AP)
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Israeli Air Strikes in South Lebanon Evokes Memories of 2006 House Bombings

Israeli strike in Aita Shaab (AP)
Israeli strike in Aita Shaab (AP)

The recent Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon have reignited memories of the intense battles experienced in the south during the 2006 war.

The escalation, the most severe in two months, coincides with Hezbollah's use of a drone carrying explosives that detonated at an Israeli command post two kilometers from the border.

Israeli aircraft were spotted flying over Beirut and northern Lebanon.

The border region had not experienced such intense air bombardment since the war began on October 8.

Explosions rocked the border area, particularly between the towns of Yaroun, Kounine, and Bint Jbeil.

Social media activists shared videos of approximately six simultaneous airstrikes targeting densely forested areas.

Less than two hours later, airstrikes targeted a residential neighborhood in Aitaroun, destroying several homes, damaging others, and completely leveling a residential block.

Ambulance crews rushed to the scene, where they rescued four injured individuals, as Israeli fighter jets flew at medium and high altitudes over Beirut, its southern suburbs, and Mount Lebanon, all the way to the north.

Sources in south Lebanon told Asharq Al-Awsat that the airstrikes were the most intense since the war began.

They indicated that in the ten days of intensified bombardment, the Israeli forces relied on artillery and drone strikes, while extensive airstrikes were sporadic and geographically dispersed.

The sources highlighted that Sunday's escalation was particularly intense in the central sector, with Israel primarily relying on airstrikes, reminiscent of the 2006 war, where air raids heavily targeted homes and residential areas in the south and Beirut suburbs.

It appeared that the Israeli military expanded its fire range, especially in the central sector, where Hezbollah's military operations against Israeli positions have been relentless.

The shift from targeting open areas to residential neighborhoods was evident, with recent days witnessing repeated airstrikes on populated locations, including a residential area in Aitaroun, three days after a similar attack in Aita al-Shaab.

The National News Agency (NNA) reported that the strikes in Aitaroun destroyed a neighborhood, with many homes razed and others damaged.

- Hezbollah Expands its Targets

In response, Hezbollah expanded its range of targets, announcing drone attacks on a newly established Israeli military headquarters in the western sector.

Hezbollah's Military Media said in a statement that its fighters "launched an aerial attack with assault drones on a newly established command headquarters of the Israeli occupation army in the western sector south of the Ya'ara barracks."

The Israeli military, for its part, reported that "suspicious aerial targets" crossed from Lebanon, intercepting two targets.

It also mentioned that two Israeli soldiers suffered moderate injuries, while others were slightly wounded from shrapnel and smoke inhalation.

Media sources close to Hezbollah stated that the group distracted the occupation at several points before the drone attack on the barracks to disable its air defenses in the western sector before launching the drones.

Ya'ara barracks, 2 km from the Lebanese border and targeted for the first time, signals Hezbollah's updated intelligence from inside Israel.

Hezbollah separately announced military operations against Israeli targets in the eastern and western sectors, while the Iron Dome was activated in an attempt to intercept the rockets fired towards Israel on the western border.

The group ramped up the strikes, carrying out three simultaneous attacks targeting a fortified military structure at the al-Abbad site, a gathering of Israeli soldiers at the Hounin Castle, and the Birkat Risha site.

The statement affirmed that the strikes caused direct hits and losses upon occupation forces.

Israeli artillery continued throughout Sunday, targeting the Lebanese border towns of Blida, Ayta al-Shaab, Aytaroun, Al-Khiam, Kfar Kila, Yaroun, and Rmeish.

Journalists in Rmeich reported that five shells fell in forests near a hotel housing reporters in the area.

The airstrikes broke windows of houses, shops, and a school in Rmeich, Toni Elias, a priest in Rmeich, told Reuters by phone
A drone also launched a missile near a mosque in Marouhine.

The NNA reported that debris fell from an Israeli interceptor missile near the UNIFIL watchtower in Naqoura.

- Hezbollah Rejects Israeli Demands

Hezbollah rejected international discussions and messages reaching Lebanon, demanding the group's removal from the border area north of the Litani River and the implementation of Resolution 1701.

A senior Hezbollah official, Sheikh Ali Daamoush, asserted that the Israeli enemy is not in a position to impose its will on Lebanon.

Daamoush said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war minister issued "empty threats," saying the enemy is well aware that Lebanon is undeterred by intimidation.

He emphasized that "the resistance will continue to exhaust the enemy and will not stop unless the aggression on Gaza and Lebanon ceases."

The enemy's air raids and drones' attacks on villages and towns will not go unanswered, he asserted, adding that the resistance's response is strong, precise, and painful, leaving no safe military location for the enemy along the Lebanese-Palestinian border.

The official asserted that the resistance is achieving victories, forcing the enemy to pay heavy prices, and will not allow infringements on Lebanese sovereignty or any gains for Israel at the expense of the national authority.

Hezbollah parliamentary bloc member Hassan Fadlallah echoed the stance during a Sunday tour of the border area.

Fadlallah asserted that the enemy is deluded, adding that the occupation forces are witnessing significant failure in the field, whether in Gaza or south Lebanon.

The MP asserted that Israeli Forces have been hit hard, and all its leaders' talk is an additional indication of its transformation into a false propaganda machine, exposed by daily military losses.


Sudan’s Generals Agree to Meet in Effort to End Bloody War, Regional Bloc Says

Sudanese refugees gather as "Doctors Without Borders" teams provide assistance to war-wounded individuals from West Darfur, Sudan, at Adre Hospital in Chad (Reuters).
Sudanese refugees gather as "Doctors Without Borders" teams provide assistance to war-wounded individuals from West Darfur, Sudan, at Adre Hospital in Chad (Reuters).
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Sudan’s Generals Agree to Meet in Effort to End Bloody War, Regional Bloc Says

Sudanese refugees gather as "Doctors Without Borders" teams provide assistance to war-wounded individuals from West Darfur, Sudan, at Adre Hospital in Chad (Reuters).
Sudanese refugees gather as "Doctors Without Borders" teams provide assistance to war-wounded individuals from West Darfur, Sudan, at Adre Hospital in Chad (Reuters).

Sudan’s warring generals agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting as part of efforts to establish a cease-fire and initiate political talks to end the country’s devastating war, an African regional bloc said Sunday. Meanwhile, Sudan's government ordered the expulsion of 15 diplomats from the United Arab Emirates over Abu Dhabi's alleged support of rebel forces.

Sudan slipped into chaos after soaring tensions between military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, exploded into open fighting in mid-April in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.

The country has been in turmoil for several years, ever since a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The short-lived transition to democracy was derailed when the two generals joined forces to lead a military coup in October 2021. After they fell out, war followed 18 months later, The Associated Press.

The conflict has wrecked the country and killed up to 9,000 people as of October, according to the United Nations. However, activists and doctors’ groups say the real toll is far higher.

In a meeting of the leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, a grouping of East African countries, both Sudanese generals agreed to “an unconditional cease-fire and resolution of the conflict through political dialogue,” and to hold a “a one-to-one meeting,” the bloc said in a statement Sunday.

Burhan, who chairs Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, attended the meeting Saturday in Djibouti, which holds the rotating IGAD presidency.

Dagalo, whose whereabouts are unknown, spoke by phone with IGAD leaders.

The statement gave no further details, including when and where the two generals would meet.

However, Alexis Mohamed, an adviser to Djibouti's president, said Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the Sudanese generals “accepted the principle of meeting within 15 days in order to pave the way for a series of confidence-building measures” that would eventually lead to political talks on ending the conflict in Sudan.

There was no immediate comment from either the Sudanese military or the RSF.

The administration of US President Joe Biden welcomed the generals' commitment to a cease-fire and a face-to-face meeting and called for them to “abide by these commitments and enter talks without delay,” said Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the State Department.


Moroccan Protesters Decry Gaza 'Genocide'

Palestinians stand among rubble following Israeli strikes on a residential building, in Gaza City, October 9, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians stand among rubble following Israeli strikes on a residential building, in Gaza City, October 9, 2023. (Reuters)
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Moroccan Protesters Decry Gaza 'Genocide'

Palestinians stand among rubble following Israeli strikes on a residential building, in Gaza City, October 9, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians stand among rubble following Israeli strikes on a residential building, in Gaza City, October 9, 2023. (Reuters)

Several thousand Moroccans demonstrated on Sunday in Rabat to condemn "genocide" in the Gaza Strip and demand the end of diplomatic relations with Israel, AFP journalists reported.

They marched through the city behind a huge banner denouncing "the Holocaust in Gaza" and calling for ties with Israel to be repealed.

Morocco and Israel established full relations in 2020 in exchange for the United States recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

On Sunday, demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and wearing keffiyeh scarves marched against "war crimes and genocide" in Gaza, and calling for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

The demonstration was organized by the "National Action Group for Palestine".

Protester Saoussane, 41, said she was there "to express support for the Palestinian people, and for the children they are killing who have nothing to do with Hamas".

"How can we talk about collateral damage with 17,000 dead?" she asked. "It is genocide -- it is not even a war any more."

According the Hamas health ministry in Gaza, 17,997 people have been killed by Israel's relentless air strikes and ground invasion, mostly women and children.

In retaliation for Hamas's unprecedented attack on October 7 in the south of Israel, Israel's military launched a campaign to "annihilate" Hamas.

Since the war began, huge demonstrations across Morocco have called for an end to the North African country's diplomatic normalization with Israel.

"Gaza, under siege for 17 years, is experiencing the worst genocide with the blessing of the United Nations which is unable to take firm decisions to stop it, with the participation of the United States and Western countries", said another demonstrator, Halima Chouika.

At the end of November, Morocco's King Mohammed VI condemned Israel's "flagrant violation of international law and humanitarian values" in its reprisals against Hamas.

He said he rejected Israel's "policy of collective punishment, forced displacement and any attempt to impose new facts on the ground", in a message addressed to the United Nations.


Israel Carries Out Strikes Near Damascus

Smoke rising over the capital, Damascus, after an Israeli raid in 2022 (File- Reuters)
Smoke rising over the capital, Damascus, after an Israeli raid in 2022 (File- Reuters)
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Israel Carries Out Strikes Near Damascus

Smoke rising over the capital, Damascus, after an Israeli raid in 2022 (File- Reuters)
Smoke rising over the capital, Damascus, after an Israeli raid in 2022 (File- Reuters)

Israel carried out air strikes near Syria's capital Damascus late Sunday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

"At around 23:05 (2105 GMT) the Israeli enemy carried out an air assault... targeting various points on the outskirts of Damascus," a security source told the agency, AFP reported.

"Our anti-aircraft defences shot down some missiles while others caused limited material damage."

An AFP correspondent reported strong explosions in the suburbs of Damascus, which have been previously targeted by strikes that Syrian authorities have blamed on Israel.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes had targeted "Hezbollah sites" in the Sayeda Zeinab district and near Damascus airport.

The Israeli army declined to comment on the incident, but said separately that shots had been fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel on Sunday evening.

"The army retaliated by targeting the source of the fire. Earlier in the day, we had struck a Hezbollah terrorist cell," it said in a statement.

Israel's army chief Herzi Halevi visited his forces near the northern border with Lebanon on Sunday, where he spoke of the need "to kill Hezbollah operatives, to demonstrate our superiority".

"It can also come in the form of a strike and war," he said.


Algeria to Open Two Border Crossings with Mauritania Soon

Algerian Interior Minister Brahim Merad inspects works at one of the two crossings with Mauritania (Interior Ministry)
Algerian Interior Minister Brahim Merad inspects works at one of the two crossings with Mauritania (Interior Ministry)
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Algeria to Open Two Border Crossings with Mauritania Soon

Algerian Interior Minister Brahim Merad inspects works at one of the two crossings with Mauritania (Interior Ministry)
Algerian Interior Minister Brahim Merad inspects works at one of the two crossings with Mauritania (Interior Ministry)

Algerian Interior Minister Brahim Merad said on Saturday that the two fixed joint border crossings with Mauritania will open “soon.”

The two countries had previously announced that the border crossings would start operating in October 2023.

At the end of his visit to Tindouf, Merad said on Saturday that the progress of works at the two Algerian-Mauritanian border crossings has exceeded 99%, and therefore will be soon delivered.

He said the two crossings are highly necessary for trade exchanges between Algeria and Mauritania.

The Algerian government has a plan to develop trade with countries that share borders with Algeria, especially Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania.


Houthis' Escalating Threat to Shipping Lines Signals Red Sea Militarization

Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader ship, claiming it was an Israeli tanker (EPA)
Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader ship, claiming it was an Israeli tanker (EPA)
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Houthis' Escalating Threat to Shipping Lines Signals Red Sea Militarization

Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader ship, claiming it was an Israeli tanker (EPA)
Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader ship, claiming it was an Israeli tanker (EPA)

Fears among Yemenis are mounting over the militarization of the Red Sea as the French, US, and British navies join forces to counter Houthi attacks in one of the world's most vital trade routes.
On Sunday, the French navy announced the destruction of two Houthi drones in the Red Sea that were heading towards the frigate "Languedoc" operating in the Red Sea.
"The interception and destruction of these two identified threats" were carried out late Saturday by the frigate Languedoc, which operates in the Red Sea, the general staff said in a press release.
Amid the Gaza conflict, the Houthi group saw an opportunity to divert attention from its internal crisis, recently escalating threats to target all international ships in the Red Sea heading to Israel.
The group, which the Yemeni government accuses of being an Iranian proxy, seized the Galaxy Leader vessel last month and transported it to the Hodeidah coast.
Yemeni politicians are skeptical about the effectiveness of the latest US sanctions.
They doubt Washington will engage in a decisive military confrontation with the group and are skeptical the Houthis would launch a significant attack that would pose a real threat to US or international forces in the Red Sea.
Washington recently announced sanctions against 13 individuals and entities. It accused them of providing tens of millions of dollars from the sale and shipment of Iranian goods to support the Houthis, with assistance from Iran's al-Quds Force.
- Intervention serves Houthis
Yemeni journalist Abdullah al-Sunami believes that France's involvement in the military action against the Houthis in the Red Sea could inadvertently benefit the group.
Sunami explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that defensive military actions in the Red Sea would further inflame the situation because any military operation in the international shipping lane affects it.
He noted that Houthis will then benefit from the situation and claim the West supports Israel.
According to the journalist, the gradual and successive Houthi escalation, including the announcement of targeting any ships to and from Israel, will usher the conflict in the region into a new phase, which is expected based on the geopolitical conflict history over Yemen's geography.
The complexities of global events, such as the conflict in Ukraine, the situation in China, the US debt issue, and the conflict in Palestine, all hinder any effective action against the Houthis, said Sunami.
He believes the situation may remain as it is, which will not have a significant impact, as long as Bab al-Mandab is relatively far from the Houthis.
He does not rule out the possibility of a military conflict over Bab al-Mandab, a Houthi strategic target.
The conflict in Yemen is approaching the "important" stage of controlling the shipping lane in the Red Sea.
Sunami believes that peace efforts will be significantly affected by the events. However, given the intertwining of interests and goals, it is a false cover for what each party wants.
- International threat
Yemeni political analyst and journalist Ramah al-Jabri believes that the French presence in the Red Sea confirmed that the international community is sensing the danger of the Houthi group.
Jabri remarked that throughout the years of conflict in Yemen, particularly under the stewardship of UN Envoy Martin Griffiths and, subsequently, the Biden administration, the Houthis were afforded numerous incentives that fueled their ambitions for governance in Yemen.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that it began with acknowledging them as a political entity and a de facto authority, along with the revocation of their classification as a terrorist organization.
The group enjoyed international leniency despite perpetrating ongoing war crimes and acts against humanity, he noted, adding that the clemency persists even as the group hinders global peace initiatives.
Jabri remarked that the international community will pay the price for its misguided policy in dealing with the Houthi group, and Yemenis will pay an additional price as the Yemeni coasts and territorial waters may become a battlefield for global conflict.
Jabri believes that if the Houthi threat becomes strong enough to endanger the interests of major countries, the international community will be forced to engage in a military operation in Yemen.
They could aim to liberate Hodeidah and the west coast up to the port of Midi in Hajjah to protect maritime navigation and international trade.
According to Jabri's assessment, the scenario may not align with the current regional reluctance to return to war.
Yemeni parties may currently reach an agreement and a prolonged truce, which would primarily benefit the Houthis, said Jabri.
- Deterrent Measures
Yemen's Undersecretary Minister of Information Fayyad al-Numan emphasized the need for deterrent measures against what he calls "Houthi terrorism," threatening Yemen, the region, and the world.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Numan called for adopting a system of deterrent measures by influential countries in the region.
Actions should not be limited to sanctions against Houthi figures and their supporters, he said, adding that the group should be stopped according to international law, preventing threats to national security and maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

Numan also called on concerned countries to counter the Houthi threat and boost international and regional cooperation to protect vital maritime routes from terrorist acts.
The Yemeni official noted that the Yemeni crisis is a significant card in the regional portfolio, and the Houthi practices have a substantial impact on efforts to revive the UN-sponsored peace process.
While Houthis may have ignited the Yemeni war, Numan asserted that they could not be a party in achieving a comprehensive peace.