Turkish Intelligence Eliminates PKK Official in Aleppo

Men walk through debris in the center of Afrin, Syria. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Men walk through debris in the center of Afrin, Syria. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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Turkish Intelligence Eliminates PKK Official in Aleppo

Men walk through debris in the center of Afrin, Syria. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Men walk through debris in the center of Afrin, Syria. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Turkish intelligence has eliminated a figure from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the biggest component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in an operation in northern Syria.

Mehmet Yildirim, a senior figure of the PKK group's Syrian wing YPG, was killed in Syria in an operation run by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

Yildirim, known by his code name “Hamza Kobani,” was serving as the finance official of the group in Aleppo and Tal Rifaat, security sources said Sunday.

The sources told Turkish media outlets that Yildirim was eliminated in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of Aleppo.

Yildirim joined the group in 1986 and was engaged in its activities in Türkiye and Iraq before relocating to Syria in 2015.

Military experts consider that drones have become a key weapon for the Turkish forces amid the Russian control over the skies in northern Syria. This served Türkiye’s aim to weaken the SDF amid the American and western support to the Kurdish units as their ally in the fight against the terrorist ISIS.

Announcing the elimination of Yildirim concurred with the fifth anniversary of the seizure of Afrin by the Turkish forces and the Syrian armed factions through “Operation Olive Branch,” which was launched on Jan. 20 2018 and concluded on March 18 of the same year.

Hundreds of people displaced from Afrin went out on protests in Al-Shuhabaa and Al-Shaikh Maqsoud neighborhoods in Aleppo and areas in northern Aleppo countryside, on their fifth anniversary of being displaced, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The protesters denounced the Turkish violations in Afrin.

Moreover, dozens of citizens went to the streets in Der Ezzor’s countryside to protest the ongoing Turkish attacks in northeast Syria on the fifth anniversary of Operation Olive Branch.

Türkiye aimed through its military operation to prevent the establishment of a “terrorist belt” on its southern border.

According to the Turkish defense ministry, 7,000 SDF members were killed and 314 were wounded.

Operation Olive Branch is the second Turkish operation that inaugurated the Turkish intervention in the north of Syria following Operation Euphrates Shield through which Türkiye and loyal Syrian factions loyal laid hands over large swathes of Aleppo in 2016.

Operation Olive Branch was followed by Operation Peace Spring which was conducted by Türkiye against the SDF sites in cooperation with the national army factions in October 2019.

Afrin is 60 km far from Aleppo’s center and is one of the three Kurdish zones in northern Syria in addition to Al-Jazira in Hasaka and Ayn al-Arab (Kobani).

Unlike Al-Jazira and Kobani, Afrin is relatively far from the other Kurdish regions in northern Syria, and it represents two percent of Syria’s overall area.

Türkiye moved thousands of families of the national army fighters and their Arab and Turkmen relatives to the houses of Kurds who were displaced from Afrin, according to local activists and residents.

The economic situation which relies on agriculture has worsened since the pro-Ankara forces seized Afrin.

Investment plans were launched and the Turkish traders who have become active in Afrin benefited from them. They have found new markets.

Leaders of some factions in the national army invested their money with Syrian traders from Ghouta and Homs who were forcibly displaced.



Israeli Tanks Push Back into Northern Gaza, Warplanes Hit Rafah, Say Residents

A man mourns over the bodies of relatives who were killed the previous night during Israeli bombardment, at Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A man mourns over the bodies of relatives who were killed the previous night during Israeli bombardment, at Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Israeli Tanks Push Back into Northern Gaza, Warplanes Hit Rafah, Say Residents

A man mourns over the bodies of relatives who were killed the previous night during Israeli bombardment, at Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
A man mourns over the bodies of relatives who were killed the previous night during Israeli bombardment, at Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 16, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli tanks pushed back into parts of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday which they had left weeks ago, while warplanes conducted air strikes on Rafah, the Palestinians' last refuge in the south of the territory, killing and wounding several people, medics and residents said.

Residents reported an internet outage in the areas of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in northern Gaza. Tanks advanced into Beit Hanoun and surrounded some schools where displaced families have taken refuge, said the residents and media outlets of the armed Palestinian group Hamas.

"Occupation soldiers ordered all families inside the schools and the nearby houses where the tanks had advanced to evacuate. The soldiers detained many men," one resident of northern Gaza told Reuters via a chat app.

Beit Hanoun, home to 60,000 people, was one of the first areas targeted by Israel's ground offensive in Gaza last October. Heavy bombardment turned most of Beit Hanoun, once known as "the basket of fruit" because of its orchards, into a ghost town comprising piles of rubble.

Many families who had returned to Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in recent weeks after Israeli forces withdrew, began moving out again on Tuesday because of the new raid, some residents said.

Palestinian health officials said an Israeli strike had killed four people and wounded several others in Rafah, where over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are sheltering and bracing for a planned Israeli ground offensive into the city, which borders Egypt.

Later on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said an Israeli air strike had killed 11 Palestinians, including children, in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

"My brothers were sitting by the door, my brother was injured, and his cousin too, and I lost my son, I do not have a house, nor a husband, nor anything anymore," said Wafaa Issa al-Nouri, whose son Mohammad and husband were killed in the strike.

"He was playing by the door, we didn't do anything, I swear we didn't do anything," she said.

Gunmen targeted

After six months of fighting, there is still no sign of any breakthrough in US-backed talks led by Qatar and Egypt to clinch a ceasefire deal in Gaza, as Israel and Hamas stick to their mutually irreconcilable conditions.

The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the central Gaza Strip and that they had killed several gunmen who attempted to attack them.

"Furthermore, over the past day, IDF fighter jets and aircraft destroyed a missile launcher along with dozens of terrorist infrastructure, terror tunnels, and military compounds where armed Hamas terrorists were located," it added.

In Al-Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said Israeli planes had bombed and destroyed four multi-storey residential buildings on Tuesday.

Israel is still imposing "unlawful" restrictions on humanitarian relief for Gaza, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday, despite assertions from Israel and others that barriers have eased.

The amount of aid now entering Gaza is disputed, with Israel and Washington saying aid flows have risen in recent days but UN agencies say it is still far below bare minimum levels.

Israel is under international pressure to allow more aid into Gaza, especially northern areas where famine is expected by May, according to the United Nations.

Israel's military said it had facilitated the entry of 126 trucks into northern Gaza late on Monday from the south.

It also said it was working in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) to facilitate the opening of two more bakeries in northern Gaza after the first began operations on Monday with WFP help.

The Palestinian health ministry said more than 33,000 Palestinians have so far been killed by Israeli fire since Oct. 7, including 46 in the past 24 hours.

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after fighters of the Hamas group that has been running the territory attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages according to Israeli tallies.


Israeli Strikes in Lebanon Kill 3 Including Hezbollah Commander, Sources Say

 Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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Israeli Strikes in Lebanon Kill 3 Including Hezbollah Commander, Sources Say

 Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon on Tuesday killed three people including a Hezbollah field commander, Lebanese security sources said, an uptick in violence after at least a week of relative calm in more than half a year of hostilities.

The Israeli military said Ismail Baz, killed in a strike on a car near the southern town of Ain Ebel, was the commander of Hezbollah's coastal sector and was involved in planning rocket and anti-tank missile attacks on Israel.

Hezbollah issued a statement mourning Baz's death but did not elaborate on his role in the organization.

Separate Israeli strikes on two vehicles near the southern town of Chehabiyeh killed at least two Hezbollah members, a security source and a civil defense official said.

Hezbollah and Israel have traded fire in parallel to the Gaza war in the most serious hostilities since they fought a major war in 2006.

The fighting has claimed the lives of at least 370 Lebanese, including more than 240 Hezbollah fighters and 68 civilians, according to a Reuters toll and has fueled concern about the potential for further escalation between regional enemies.

Eighteen Israelis, including soldiers and civilians, have been killed.

Those concerns have mounted following Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel with hundreds of explosive drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles launched on Saturday night to which Israeli officials have vowed to respond.

Iran called the barrage retaliation for an Israeli strike that flattened a building in its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 and killed two of its generals and several other officers.


Putin Tells the Middle East to Pull Back from a Catastrophic Clash

07 December 2023, Russia, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. Kremlin/dpa
07 December 2023, Russia, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. Kremlin/dpa
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Putin Tells the Middle East to Pull Back from a Catastrophic Clash

07 December 2023, Russia, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. Kremlin/dpa
07 December 2023, Russia, Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) ahead of their meeting at Kremlin. Kremlin/dpa

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday urged all sides in the Middle East to refrain from action that would trigger a new confrontation which he warned would be fraught with catastrophic consequences for the region, the Kremlin said.

Putin, who has forged much closer ties with Tehran since sending troops into Ukraine in 2022, spoke to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi by phone about what the Kremlin called "retaliatory measures taken by Iran."

Iran launched drones and missiles at Israel late on Saturday in retaliation for an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two senior commanders.

Putin, in his first publicly aired comments on Iran's attack, said the root cause of the current instability in the Middle East was the unresolved conflict between Palestinians and Israel.

"Vladimir Putin expressed hope that all sides would show reasonable restraint and prevent a new round of confrontation fraught with catastrophic consequences for the entire region," the Kremlin said.

"Ebrahim Raisi noted that Iran's actions were forced and limited in nature," the Kremlin said. "At the same time, he stressed Tehran's disinterest in further escalation of tensions."

Tehran gave a slightly different readout of the call, with state media quoting Raisi as declaring that Iran would respond more severely, extensively, and painfully than ever to any action against Iran's interests.

Iranian state media quoted Putin as characterizing Tehran's response to Israel as the best way to punish the aggressor and a manifestation of the wisdom of Iran's leaders.

Russia has repeatedly scolded the West for ignoring the need for an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

"Both sides stated that the root cause of the current events in the Middle East is the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli conflict," the Kremlin said of the call with Raisi.

"In this regard, the principled approaches of Russia and Iran in favor of an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, easing the difficult humanitarian situation, and creating conditions for a political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis were confirmed."

Putin, who in 2022 visited Khamenei, congratulated Raisi and all Muslims on the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Top US generals say the growing partnerships between Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose one of the most dangerous challenges to the United States in the past four decades.

Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones that Moscow has used in Ukraine.


Egypt's Shoukry to visit Türkiye to Discuss Middle East Tensions

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at a press conference in Berlin in January 2016. (AFP)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at a press conference in Berlin in January 2016. (AFP)
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Egypt's Shoukry to visit Türkiye to Discuss Middle East Tensions

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at a press conference in Berlin in January 2016. (AFP)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at a press conference in Berlin in January 2016. (AFP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is expected to discuss developments in the Middle East and the situation in Gaza with his Turkish counterpart during a visit to Türkiye at the weekend, a Turkish diplomatic source said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Shoukry and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will also evaluate the latest developments in negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza, the source said.


Iraqi PM Calls for Restraint in Middle East during Washington Visit

US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Iraqi PM Calls for Restraint in Middle East during Washington Visit

US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
US President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani called for restraint in the Middle East during talks in Washington as tensions soar between Iran and Israel after Tehran's weekend strikes.

"We encourage all the efforts of stopping the expansion of the area of conflict, especially the latest development," Sudani said at the White House at the start of a meeting with President Joe Biden.

The meetings come as US ally Israel weighs its response to Iran's missile and drone attack, with the United States and Europe urging restraint, Reuters reported.

Sudani is leading a delegation that met officials across Washington on Monday, including Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

"In the spirit of partnership our views may be divergent about what’s happening in the region," Sudani said through a translator as he sat next to Biden in the Oval Office.

"But we agree certainly about the international law, the international humanitarian law and the responsibility to protect and the law of war, and we reject any repression against the civilians, especially women and children, and we encourage the commitment about respecting international norms and diplomatic missions."

Biden said Washington was committed to Israel's security and to bringing an end to fighting in Gaza.

"We're committed to a ceasefire that will bring the hostages home and preventing conflict from spreading beyond what it already has," Biden said.

"The partnership between the United States and Iraq is critical," he added, noting efforts against ISIS and the two nations' critical strategic agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim, who co-chaired a meeting of the US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Iraq was concerned about its region being "dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety."

"And therefore we call on all parties for self-restraint and respect the rules of diplomatic works and also international laws," he said.

US and other Western officials have welcomed economic reform plans put forward by Sudani, but concerns remain over the influence of Iran-backed groups. Armed groups have engaged in tit-for-tat attacks on US forces linked to Israel's war in Gaza.

The United States has 2,500 troops in Iraq, advising and assisting local forces to prevent a resurgence of ISIS which in 2014 seized large parts of Iraq and Syria before being defeated.

At the Pentagon, Austin said both countries agree "on the need to transition to an enduring bilateral security relationship" and said military leaders were conducting assessments to inform talks on a potential reduction in US troop numbers in Iraq.

Separate from talks on ending the US-led military coalition in the country is the Higher Coordinating Committee, which is tasked with discussing other aspects of the relationship, including economic ties.

Blinken, who reiterated that Washington does not want the regional conflict to swell, said the meetings would focus on issues including energy security, democracy, the rule of law, climate and water, and noted US private sector interest, especially in Iraq's energy sector.

"Through these efforts we look forward to helping advance the prime minister's affirmative agenda, and seeing Iraq succeed," Blinken said.


Ex-Officials Speak to Asharq Al-Awsat on Washington’s Sudan Policy

Armed elements affiliated with the Sudanese army (AFP)
Armed elements affiliated with the Sudanese army (AFP)
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Ex-Officials Speak to Asharq Al-Awsat on Washington’s Sudan Policy

Armed elements affiliated with the Sudanese army (AFP)
Armed elements affiliated with the Sudanese army (AFP)

As Sudan marks one year since the start of its war, US efforts to broker peace and deliver aid to millions trapped in the conflict are struggling.

After talks in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah stalled months ago, the US is aiming to bring warring sides back to the negotiating table this month, led by the new special envoy for Sudan, Tom Perriello.

Former US officials speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat have weighed in their thoughts on the Sudan conflict and US policy in the region.

Former US Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page called the situation in Sudan horrific, expressing concern that it's not getting enough global media attention amid other international crises.

She told Asharq Al-Awsat that while there are many crises worldwide, Sudan is crucial, and its people are really suffering.

Donald Booth, former US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, sees deepening divisions in Sudan after a year of conflict.

Booth explained that the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by figures from Omar al-Bashir’s era, now rely more on support from former Bashir allies, including the Justice and Equality Movement from Darfur.

This has narrowed the neutral ground among armed groups.

The army’s ceasefire terms involve disbanding the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

On the other hand, the RSF fear they’ll lose their place in Sudan if the army wins, so they’re motivated to fight, especially with external backing.

Moreover, civilian political and civil society groups, aiming for a civilian-led transition, are divided by political and personal rifts, Booth told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Alberto Fernandez, former Chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy in Khartoum, sees little change in the military situation, noting that despite recent army gains, the humanitarian crisis for Sudanese people continues to worsen.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Fernandez added that while the army advances, it’s not a clear victory, and more fighting is expected.

For his part, Cameron Hudson, former Chief of Staff in the Special Envoy’s Office for Sudan, believes ending the war has become harder.

According to Hudson, both sides struggle to surrender, and the international community has lost focus, leaving Sudan in chaos.

As the conflict drags on without a clear end in sight, Fernandez presents two options for the Biden administration to consider, though he warns of their risks: Firstly, convincing both sides to agree to a negotiated settlement with an immediate ceasefire.

Secondly, a strong commitment from the US to support one side over the other.

Fernandez explained that both sides are determined to win, especially the army, which believes it’s gaining ground.

So, the weaker side would be the one seeking a ceasefire.

The question for US policy, as per Fernandez, is whether to focus on ceasefire, aid, and negotiations, or to back the military for a decisive victory without knowing what comes next.

Meanwhile, Page criticizes the US administration’s handling of Sudan, citing delays in appointing a US ambassador to Khartoum.

She noted that US policy has made many mistakes and missed opportunities.

Much of Washington’s diplomacy has become one-sided, focused only on counterterrorism, revealed Page.


Grundberg Urges Separation of Yemen Crisis from Regional Conflict

United Nations envoy Hans Grundberg fears the collapse of peace efforts and the return to fighting in Yemen
United Nations envoy Hans Grundberg fears the collapse of peace efforts and the return to fighting in Yemen
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Grundberg Urges Separation of Yemen Crisis from Regional Conflict

United Nations envoy Hans Grundberg fears the collapse of peace efforts and the return to fighting in Yemen
United Nations envoy Hans Grundberg fears the collapse of peace efforts and the return to fighting in Yemen

While conflicts in Yemen and the wider region have become undeniably interlinked, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg strongly believes that it is owed to Yemenis that resolving the conflict in their country is not made contingent upon the resolution of other issues.

Grundberg voiced his call for a separation of the Yemeni crisis from regional conflicts during his briefing to the UN Security Council on Monday.

“Needless to say, we meet at a particularly dangerous moment in the Middle East. The need for broader regional de-escalation is acute. I share the Secretary-General’s alarm about the very real danger of region-wide escalation and his urging to all parties for maximum restraint,” said Grundberg at the briefing.

“The region must, with the support of the international community, seek avenues for coexistence based on incremental trust-building, mutual security, and a departure from the zero-sum mentality of achieving victory at the expense of others,” he added.

“We cannot risk Yemen’s chance for peace becoming a collateral damage,” cautioned Grundberg.

The UN envoy also expressed worry about rising clashes and economic tensions between the Yemeni government and the Houthis.

“Instead of narrowing differences and building confidence...I am troubled by the apparent growing divergence between the parties,” said Grundberg.

“On the economic front, the parties are engaging in unilateral actions that risk further bifurcating the economic system,” he warned, noting that the disintegration of the currency in circulation in Houthi-run areas presents a real economic problem for the Yemeni people.

The diplomat moved on to assert that the challenges facing the Yemeni economy require a strategic and coordinated response in line with the long-term settlement of the conflict.

Grundberg admitted that his attempts to address the Yemeni crisis have faced obstacles due to regional events, such as the situation in Gaza and the Houthis’ attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, along with their recent US terrorism designation.


Biden, Iraqi PM to Discuss Partnership as Middle East Tensions Brew

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Biden, Iraqi PM to Discuss Partnership as Middle East Tensions Brew

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2024. (Reuters)

US President Joe Biden on Monday reiterated Washington's commitment to Israeli security ahead of a meeting with Iraq's prime minister.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, speaking alongside Biden, said their views may be divergent about what is happening in the region.

The US-Iraqi relationship is at important juncture, Sudani said, adding that he would discuss moving from a military relationship to a full partnership.


Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Teen in West Bank Military Raid

 Mourners react during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Ishtayeh, who was killed in an Israeli raid, in Salim, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Mourners react during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Ishtayeh, who was killed in an Israeli raid, in Salim, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Teen in West Bank Military Raid

 Mourners react during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Ishtayeh, who was killed in an Israeli raid, in Salim, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Mourners react during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Ishtayeh, who was killed in an Israeli raid, in Salim, near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 15, 2024. (Reuters)

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager and wounded three other people during a military raid in the occupied West Bank on Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The killing of 17-year-old Yazan Ishtayeh brought to six the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces or armed settlers since Friday, as Palestinian authorities reported increased settler rampages across the West Bank.

A spokesperson for Israel's Border Police said that undercover border police troops, together with the Israeli army, launched an operation in the city of Nablus to arrest a suspect.

During the activity, there was rioting in which one person threw an explosive device at the troops and was shot dead by the undercover unit, the spokesperson said.

Over the weekend, hundreds of armed Jewish settlers raided Palestinian villages near the city of Ramallah, blocking roads, setting houses and cars ablaze and firing at civilians, medics and civilians said.

Israeli authorities said the escalation began after a 14-year-old Israeli went missing in the West Bank. His body was discovered on Saturday in what Israel said was a suspected militant attack.

The US State Department condemned the killing of the Israeli boy and also said it was increasingly concerned by violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

In one incident caught on video and published by Israeli rights group Yesh Din on Sunday, a group of masked settlers appeared to set fire to a car in a West Bank town under the watch of at least three Israeli soldiers.

In response to the video, the Israeli military said: "The behavior of the soldiers in the video does not correspond to the values and orders of the army. The incident is being examined and the soldiers will be dealt with accordingly."

Violence in the West Bank was already on the rise before Israel's assault on Gaza, which was triggered by an Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. It has escalated since, with stepped-up Israeli military raids, settler violence and Palestinian street attacks.

In addition to more than 33,000 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza, according to Hamas-run authorities, the Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 466 people in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers, among them armed fighters.

In the same period, at least 13 Israelis, among them two members of Israel's security forces, have been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an Israeli tally.

Palestinians have long aimed to establish an independent state in the territories Israel occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Most countries view Israeli settlements on occupied land as illegal, a view that Israel disputes.


Israeli Military Official Says Four Israeli Soldiers Wounded by Blast in Lebanon

Lebanese civil defense first responders stand before an impact crater following an Israeli air strike that hit a road in Lebanon's southern village of Alma al-Shaab on April 15, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Lebanese civil defense first responders stand before an impact crater following an Israeli air strike that hit a road in Lebanon's southern village of Alma al-Shaab on April 15, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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Israeli Military Official Says Four Israeli Soldiers Wounded by Blast in Lebanon

Lebanese civil defense first responders stand before an impact crater following an Israeli air strike that hit a road in Lebanon's southern village of Alma al-Shaab on April 15, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Lebanese civil defense first responders stand before an impact crater following an Israeli air strike that hit a road in Lebanon's southern village of Alma al-Shaab on April 15, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.

It appeared to be the first such incident to become known since the Gaza war erupted in October, leading to months of exchanges of fire between Israel and Lebanon's armed group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah said in a statement that its fighters planted explosive devices in the Tel Ismail area near the border on the Lebanese side. It said that when a patrol of Israel's Golani Brigade crossed into Lebanon and arrived at the area where the devices were planted, Hezbollah detonated them, leading to deaths and injuries.

Earlier on Monday, the military said four soldiers were injured, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during overnight activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.

Israeli shelling since Oct. 7 has killed around 270 Hezbollah fighters and around 50 civilians, security sources say, and displaced some 90,000 people in southern Lebanon.

Around 60,000 Israelis have been evacuated from the country's northern border area, and 18 people - civilians and soldiers - have been killed on the Israeli side of the border, according to Israeli tallies.