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Found 16 results

  1. A man is seen running after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh BEIRUT: The United Nations called on Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month, as heavy air strikes were reported to have killed scores of people in the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus. Separately, UN war crimes experts said they were investigating several reports of bombs allegedly containing chlorine gas being used against civilians in the rebel-held towns of Saraqeb in the northwestern province of Idlib and Douma in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus. The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday?s bombardment of Eastern Ghouta had killed 63 people. A local official, Khalil Aybour, put the toll at 53. On Monday, air strikes killed 30 people in Eastern Ghouta, the Observatory said. ?Today there is no safe area at all. This is a key point people should know: there is no safe space,? Siraj Mahmoud, the head of the Civil Defence rescue service in opposition-held rural Damascus, told Reuters. ?Right now, we have people under rubble, the targeting is ongoing, warplanes on residential neighbourhoods.? Insurgent shelling of government-held Damascus killed three people, the Observatory and Syrian state media reported. Air strikes also killed at least six people in rebel-held Idlib including five in Tarmala village, the Observatory said. UN officials in Syria called for the fighting to stop to enable aid deliveries and the evacuation of sick and wounded, listing seven areas of concern including northern Syria?s Kurdish-led Afrin region, being targeted by a Turkish offensive. ?For the last two months, we have not had a single (aid-delivery) convoy. This is really outrageous,? said Panos Moumtzis, assistant UN secretary general and regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria Crisis. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, helped by Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force, is pursuing military campaigns against insurgents in the last major pockets of territory held by his opponents in western Syria. Ghouta and Idlib There were air raids on towns across Eastern Ghouta including Douma, where an entire building fell, a witness said. The UN representatives noted that Eastern Ghouta had not received inter-agency aid since November. ?Meanwhile, fighting and retaliatory shelling from all parties are impacting civilians in this region and Damascus, causing scores of deaths and injuries,? said their statement, released before the latest casualty tolls emerged on Tuesday. They said civilians in Idlib were being forced to move repeatedly to escape fighting, noting that two pro-government villages in Idlib also continued to be besieged by rebels. Some two million people now live in Idlib, one million of whom have already been displaced. Since the most recent Syrian army offensive began in mid-December, 300,000 people have been displaced within Idlib, said Moumtzis. ?We?re running out of solutions where we put these people.? Syria?s protracted war, which spiralled out of street protests against Assad?s rule in 2011, will soon enter its eighth year, having killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to leave the country as refugees. Paulo Pinheiro, head of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said the government siege of Eastern Ghouta featured ?the international crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population?. Reports of air strikes hitting at least three hospitals in the past 48 hours ?make a mockery of so-called ?de-escalation zones?, Pinheiro said, referring to a Russian-led truce deal for rebel-held territory, which has failed to stop fighting there. ?There is a misperception that the de-escalation areas have resulted in peace and stability... if anything, these have been serious escalation areas,? said Moumtzis. France?s Foreign Ministry said it was concerned by the reports of chlorine used on civilians in Syria, but it was too soon to confirm them. French President Emmanuel Macron said last May that ?any use of chemical weapons would result in reprisals and an immediate riposte, at least where France is concerned?. The conflict has been further complicated since January by an offensive that neighbouring Turkey launched against the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin. 'US calculations' The YPG has been an important US ally in the war against Daesh militants, but Ankara sees it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and Washington. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan ramped up his verbal assault on the US role in Syria on Tuesday, saying US forces should leave Manbij, a Syrian city held by YPG-allied forces with support from a US-led anti-Daesh coalition. ?If the United States says it is sending 5,000 trucks and 2,000 cargo planes of weapons for the fight against Daesh, we don?t believe this,? Erdogan said. ?It means you have calculations against Turkey and Iran, and maybe Russia.? In accord with Iran and Russia, Turkey?s military is setting up observation posts in parts of Idlib and Aleppo province. But militants firing rockets and mortars killed one soldier on Monday as Turkish forces moved to set up such a post south of Aleppo, near the front line between rebels and pro-Syrian government forces, the military said. It was the second attack on the soldiers in a week. In an apparent warning to Ankara, a commander in the military alliance supporting Assad said the Syrian army had deployed new air defences and anti-aircraft missiles to front lines with rebels in the Aleppo and Idlib areas. ?They cover the airspace of the Syrian north,? the commander told Reuters. That would include the Afrin area where Turkish warplanes have been supporting the ground offensive by the Turkish army and allied Free Syrian Army factions.
  2. Congo President Joseph Kabila/ Reuters KINSHASA: A renegade Congolese colonel who had threatened to depose President Joseph Kabila has been extradited from Tanzania and will be prosecuted for rebellion, Congo?s defense minister said on Monday. In a video circulated on social media last month, John Tshibangu, who had been based in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gave the president a 45-day ultimatum to leave or ?we are going to take Kabila down?. But Tshibangu was then detained by authorities in Tanzania toward the end of last month. ?John Tshibangu is in Kinshasa. We are going to leave him to face justice for rebellion, a crime catered for and punished by the Congolese penal code,? Defence Minister Crispin Atama Tabe told Reuters by text message. Tshibangu used to be a military commander in the central Congolese region of Kasai. He defected in 2012 and moved to the lawless east, long a haunt of would-be Congolese rebels. One of Tshibangu?s associates, a captain in the Congolese army called Freddy Ibeba, was also arrested in northern Congo on Monday and will be taken to Kinshasa for a hearing, justice minister Alexis Thabwe Mwamba told a press conference on Monday. Of Tshibangu, he said: ?I would like to reassure that he will be entitled to a fair and equitable trial.? Kabila?s refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December 2016 has emboldened several armed groups, stoking violence and raising the specter of the vast, mineral-rich nation tumbling back into the kind of wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.
  3. File photo. -AFP RIYADH: Saudi air defences intercepted a ballistic missile fired at the kingdom by Yemen's Houthi rebels on Monday, state media reported. The attack was launched from Yemen's northern governorate of Saada, a Houthi stronghold, and "intercepted" at 7:23 local time, Colonel Turki al-Maliki told state news agency SPA. Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition supporting the government in Yemen, said the missile was headed toward the city of Khamis Mushait - about 160 kilometres north of the border. Riyadh had warned that "Iranian-manufactured ballistic weapons" threatened the kingdom's security following an attack it said was intercepted near Riyadh airport in November. Maliki on Monday accused the Houthis of "repeatedly targeting densely populated cities" and accused the kingdom's regional rival Iran of delivering the weapons to the insurgents. The coalition has been blacklisted by the UN for the killing and maiming of children in air raids on Yemen. The United States, which backs the Saudi campaign against the Houthis, has also accused Iran of being at the origin of the ballistic missiles, a charge denied by Tehran. Russia said last week that evidence presented by the US was inconclusive, signalling it would oppose a bid to slap UN sanctions on Tehran. More than 9,200 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen war in March 2015, according to the World Health Organisation, triggering what the United Nations has called the world´s worst humanitarian disaster.
  4. UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) BMP armoured vehicle on patrol. Photo: MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti1 A Pakistani peacekeeper deployed with the United Nations stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was killed in an ambush, the UN said on Saturday. At least one other peacekeeper was wounded following an attack by members of an armed ?group near Lulimba, 96 kilometres south-west of Baraka, in the DRC's South Kivu Province. A statement by the UN spokesman said Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the incident and called on armed groups in DRC to lay down arms and seek to resolve their grievances peacefully. Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, identified the martyred Pakistani trooper as Naik Naeem Raza. She also prayed for the recovery of the injured Pakistani soldier in a message on Twitter. ?The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and to the people and government of Pakistan,? said the UN statement, adding that Guterres wishes a speedy recovery to the injured and calls on those responsible for the attack to be brought to justice. Pakistan is said to be the third largest contributor to United Nations? peacekeeping missions around the world, after Ethiopia and India. More than 6,000 officers and soldiers are performing their duties as part of UN peacekeeping assignments, the army had said in October last year at the 72nd founding day of the UN. Pakistan armed forces continue contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts: ISPR Over 6,000 Pak Army officers, soldiers part of UN peacekeeping missions As many as 153 Pakistan peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives, including 23 officers, for global peace and stability under UN auspices, according to the army statement. Pakistani troops are currently performing peacekeeping duties in Congo, Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, West Sahara, Central African Republic and Sudan. According to media reports, the Senate was informed in September last year that the largest deployment of Pakistani troops in UN peacekeeping missions is in Congo where 3,486 personnel are deployed as part of the UN Mission to protect civilians against human rights violations and physical violence. At least eight Pakistani soldiers lost their lives in Congo, the Senate was informed. In case of casualties on duty, the UN pays a package of $70,000 in compensation ? directly remitted to the duly recognised beneficiaries of the deceased.
  5. DUBAI: Clashes in the Yemeni rebel heartland of Saada province have killed 40 rebel fighters, Saudi media said Wednesday, while the rebels reported nine civilians among 22 dead in Saudi-led air strikes. The rebels were killed in clashes over the past 24 hours with a pro-government alliance backed by Saudi Arabia, which controls several pockets of the province along the Saudi border, the kingdom's state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported. An official of the province's rebel-run health department said four children were among the nine civilians killed in air strikes over the past 24 hours. The rebels' Al-Masirah television said a single strike on the province on Tuesday night killed nine people, four of them civilians. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The uptick in fighting came as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir held talks on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria with his British, US and United Arab Emirates counterparts in Paris on Tuesday. "There can be no military solution to either conflict, only peaceful and carefully negotiated political solutions will truly end the suffering," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who organised the meeting. Saudi Arabia and its allies have come under mounting international pressure over the humanitarian impact of their nearly three-year military intervention. Despite the coalition's superior firepower, the rebels remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the northern highlands and Red Sea coast. More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since the intervention began, most of them civilians, according to World Health Organization figures. More than three-quarters of Yemen´s 29 million population are in need of humanitarian aid, with some 8.4 million at risk of famine, the UN humanitarian affairs office has said. The Saudi-led coalition this week pledged $1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen after the United Nations launched a record appeal to address what it says is the world´s worst humanitarian crisis.
  6. BEIRUT: Syrian forces have retaken several villages in northwestern Syria, a monitor said Thursday, a move that could tee up an offensive against the last major militant bastion of Idlib. More than six years into the deadly Syria conflict, Idlib province, which borders Turkey, is the only major region in the country still completely beyond government control. Fierce clashes have in recent days pitted regime forces against Fateh al-Sham Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, on the edge of the province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "The army took several villages," the head of the Britain-based monitor, Rami Abdel Rahman, said. He said the government push was backed by Russian airstrikes and added that the "regime wants to seize the southeast of Idlib province." The latest fighting took place in villages on the border between Idlib and Hama provinces where clashes have been ongoing for two months. The government has had no presence in Idlib province since 2015. Fateh al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, crushed its former militant allies in the summer to become the dominant force there. Idlib is one of four "de-escalation" zones in Syria covered by a deal meant to reduce violence levels that was struck in May by government backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey. More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes since Syria´s conflict erupted with anti-government protests in 2011.
  7. Syrian civilians sit in an ambulance during an evacuation operation by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Douma in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. -AFP DOUMA: Aid workers have evacuated the first few ill patients from Syrian militant bastion Eastern Ghouta under a deal struck after the UN said hundreds are in critical condition following a four-year government siege. Three children and a man were loaded overnight into ambulances bound for hospitals in Damascus before being transported out past government lines that have held the region's estimated 400,000 residents in a stranglehold since 2013. A total of 29 emergency medical cases are expected to be evacuated under a deal with the government that saw militants release five workmen detained during fierce clashes with the army in March. The four patients allowed out were a girl with hemophilia, a baby with the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barre, a child with leukemia, and a man in need of a kidney transplant, Red Crescent official Ahmed al-Saour told AFP. Eight-year-old Ingy, the girl with hemophilia, gave a broad smile as she boarded an ambulance, wearing a woolly hat and gloves against the cold. In another ambulance, one-year-old Mohammed lay in the lap of a Red Crescent worker, his mother sitting beside them in a long black cloak and a veil showing only her eyes. "The operation is a positive step which will bring some respite to the people of Eastern Ghouta," said International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Ingy Sedky. "We hope these medical evacuations are only the beginning." The Syrian American Medical Society, another medical relief organisation, said the remainder of the 29 critical cases approved for evacuation should leave in the coming days. The dominant militant faction in Eastern Ghouta, Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), said the militants had agreed to free some of their prisoners in return for the evacuations. "We have agreed to the release of a number of prisoners... in exchange for the evacuation of the most urgent humanitarian cases," the group said a statement. The years of government siege have caused severe shortages in Eastern Ghouta, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in Syria. Baby among dead While some food is still grown locally, or smuggled in, humanitarian access to the region has been limited despite regular appeals from aid agencies. Last week, Jan Egeland, the head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria, said at least 16 people had died while waiting for evacuation from Eastern Ghouta. A list put together several months ago of nearly 500 civilians in desperate need of evacuation was rapidly shrinking, said Egeland. "That number is going down, not because we are evacuating people, but because they are dying," he told reporters in Geneva. "We have confirmation of 16 having died on these lists since they were resubmitted in November, and it is probably higher," he said, highlighting the case of a baby who died on December 14, as the latest round of Syria peace talks in Geneva ended in failure. Egeland said evacuations and efforts to bring aid into the region had been blocked by a lack of authorisations from the Syrian authorities. The Eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus, is one of four "de-escalation" zones agreed in May in a deal brokered by government backers Russian and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey. The agreement led to some reduction in fighting but the government kept up its blockade and renewed its bombardment of the enclave in mid-November. Militant fighters pulled out of second city Aleppo and third city Homs, as well as districts of Damascus, only after prolonged blockades caused serious hardship to their families and other civilians. More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions have been driven from their homes since Syria´s conflict erupted with anti-government protests in 2011.
  8. Siwar Tebourbi (C), an 18-year-old Tunisian schoolgirl, walks with colleagues as they leave school in Bizerte on November 30, 2017. In Tunisian high schools, the dress code is not uniform. Photo: AFP BIZERTE: In Tunisian high schools, the dress code is not uniform. Actually, it is: but only for girls. Boys can wear what they like, and now the girls are up in arms. One morning, instead of turning up for class wearing the regulation navy blue smock, a defiant group of adolescent girls came to school in white T-shirts instead, demanding an "end to discrimination". At the elite Bizerte public school in the north, as is the case in most high schools in the North African country, pupils have to sign a school rule stipulating that wearing a uniform applies to girls only. One day in September, supervisors reminded senior female students who did not abide by this rule that if they did not wear the smock, a loose-fitting, long gilet, they would be sent home. Ironically, the warning was passed on during a philosophy class -- about the human body. This "injustice" inspired many of the girls to take to social networks and vent their feelings, 18-year-old Siwar Tebourbi told AFP. She said the girls agreed to take collective action from the following day "to demand that this discrimination must cease". So dozens duly turned up for class, wearing white. Several boys did the same, in solidarity with their classmates. How did the school authorities react? By saying nothing. Thus was born the "Manish Labsetha" ("I won´t wear it") campaign, referring to the offending garment. 'A terrible message' It was the culmination of a dispute that had been brewing for years. Outraged that the navy blue was imposed on everyone in primary and secondary school but was compulsory in high school only for girls, pupils regularly appeared without it, risking expulsion or seeing their parents summoned. Siwar Tebourbi (C), an 18-year-old Tunisian schoolgirl, walks with colleagues as they leave school in Bizerte on November 30, 2017. In Tunisian high schools, the dress code is not uniform. Photo: AFP Monia Ben Jemia, head of the Association of Democratic Women of Tunisia, an independent feminist group, called the smock rule "a terrible message" because it implies that young girls´ bodies can have a disruptive effect on their peers. She called it a complete aberration, especially since the country´s new constitution of 2014 says that men and women are equal. The high school students who launched the campaign, both male and female, are also against what they perceive as a wider "hypocrisy". "They drill into us at school that men and women are equal, but in practice this is not the case," said Adam Garci, 17. That the navy gilet is actually supposed to erase social inequalities between pupils is a source of some amusement to Tebourbi. "If it was really meant to conceal any differences between rich and poor, then boys as well as girls would have to wear it," she smiled. Imposing the blue uniform on girls at a time when their bodies are undergoing change is not a trivial issue, said her friend Farah Ben Jemaa. Rather embarrassing "One supervisor told me I couldn't wear leggings without a smock because I was 'shapely', and another told us 'It bothers the men teachers'," Ben Jemaa said. The whole affair would appear to be somewhat embarrassing for the authorities. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior education official found it difficult to explain exactly what was happening. He acknowledged the sensitivity of the subject, even though Tunisia is considered to be a pioneer in North Africa and the Middle East in the field of women´s rights. If the official line is that equality between men and women is an asset, large sections of Tunisian society remain conservative and "there is resistance", said Ben Jemia, at the Association of Democratic Women of Tunisia. In the courtyard of another school in Bizerte, the Habib Thameur Lycee, equality is a topic for passionate debate among students. Of around 15 boys asked about it, just one -- Nader -- spoke up for the traditional view. "Girls must cover the shape of their bodies," he said. "That´s how we have been raised. It´s our mentality, and it should stay that way." The others were firm backers of the campaign. Siwar Tebourbi (C), an 18-year-old Tunisian schoolgirl, walks with colleagues as they leave school in Bizerte on November 30, 2017. In Tunisian high schools, the dress code is not uniform. Photo: AFP One final year pupil tried to argue with a supervisor seeking to enforce the rules. "But madame," he asked. "What if the regulation is wrong?" Revolution generation She thought for a moment. "For me, it´s not unfair, it´s the rules. That´s the way it is," she murmured. School director Iadh Toulgui admitted that the supervisor´s view was unlikely to sway pupils who had lived through the revolution of 2011, which toppled a 23-year police state and brought about freedom of expression. "This is a revolutionary generation, open to the world. When you try to impose something on them it doesn´t work," he said. It is a view shared by Ben Jemia. "These young people are much more aware of their rights -- they have grown up with freedom of expression," she said. "This is the revolution generation, and it is incredible." For Bizerte´s regional education commissioner Nabil Smadhi, discussion is the way ahead. "It is time to address this issue in a national dialogue" involving the education ministry, parents, trade unions and civil society, he said. "This agitation is effective, not just in the public high school but in the majority of establishments in Bizerte and in several high schools" across the country, he said. In the meantime, Siwar Tebourbi, Farah Ben Jemaa and girls like them still come to school without the regulation uniform. "We´re not doing it just for us," said Ben Jemaa. "Next year we´ll be gone. But it´s important for the generations who follow."
  9. Missile launch from Yemen. -AFP/File RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said it shot down a ballistic missile Tuesday over Riyadh fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels who announced that the target was the official residence of King Salman. Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying weapons to the insurgents, and Riyadh described the latest missile as "Iranian-Houthi". An AFP correspondent in Riyadh heard a loud explosion at 1050 GMT, shortly before the scheduled unveiling of the Saudi budget, which is usually announced by the king from the Yamamah palace, his official residence. "The missile was aimed at populated residential areas in the Riyadh area, and - thank God - was intercepted and destroyed south of Riyadh without any casualties," the official Saudi Press Agency quoted a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition against the Huthis as saying. "The possession of Iranian-manufactured ballistic weapons by terrorist organisations, including the Iran-backed Houthi militia, is a threat to regional and international security," Turki al-Maliki added. It was the second missile fired by the Houthis - who seized the Yemeni capital in 2014 - at Riyadh in the past two months. "Missile force announces the launch of a Burkan (Volcano) H-2 missile against the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh," the rebels´ official news outlet Al-Masirah tweeted. The attacks, which could further escalate a military campaign by a Saudi-led coalition against the rebels, underscore how the raging Yemen conflict is increasingly spilling across the border. The first attack targeted Riyadh international airport on November 4, and triggered the tightening of a long-standing Saudi-led blockade of Yemen -- already on the verge of famine. 'Big bang' Saudi Arabia angrily accused its arch-foe Iran of supplying the missile to the rebels, a charge Tehran strongly denied. On Thursday, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she called "undeniable" evidence that last month's missile was "made in Iran". But her comments went beyond the findings of a UN investigation which reached no firm conclusion on whether the missile came from an Iranian supplier, saying only that it had a "common origin" to some Iranian designs. The coalition, which accuses the rebels of being a proxy for Iran, says the blockade is needed to stop the flow of arms to the Huthis from Tehran. Residents in the Saudi capital reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing smoke after Tuesday´s attack. "I was in my office when I heard a big bang," said Tomas Kompikan, one of the many foreign workers in Riyadh. "Suddenly after around 30 to 45 seconds I heard a next sound... and we saw a white smoke." The Houthi rebels last month warned that they considered "airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance" in Saudi Arabia, as well as its ally the United Arab Emirates, as legitimate targets. More than 8,750 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government´s fight against the Houthis in 2015, triggering what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The air strikes have intensified since the December 4 killing of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of the Houthis after his alliance with the rebels collapsed. At the same time, forces of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government have stepped up attacks on the rebels and last week retook the Red Sea town of Khokha. A medical source in Yemen said Tuesday that 23 Houthi fighters had been killed in clashes with Saudi-backed government forces over the past day in Hodeida province on the Red Sea coast. A military source said at least 14 pro-government fighters were killed in the same period. The rebels were trying to recapture territory lost to government forces in the past week, including Khokha, according to another military source. Abdul Rahman Hajri, a pro-government commander, said loyalist forces "foiled the attack".
  10. SANAA: Saudi-led air strikes on a prison run by rebels in Yemen killed 30 people and wounded 80 on Wednesday, the rebels' Al-Masirah TV reported. The rebel outlet earlier reported that 12 people were killed - all prisoners - when the pre-dawn raids hit the military police compound in the capital Sanaa where the detention centre is located. The latest update did not say how many of the dead were detainees or Huthi rebels. There has been no let-up in the air campaign against the rebels that a Saudi-led coalition has been waging since March 2015 despite an appeal by UN chief Antonio Guterres on Sunday for a renewed push to end the "stupid war". An AFP photographer saw rebel fighters carrying away bodies from the rubble of heavily damaged buildings. One of the guards, Mohammed al-Aqel, said the strikes had begun at 1:00 am. He said a first strike had damaged one wing of the jail, prompting some of the prisoners to try to escape, but it was then almost flattened by a second strike. Three further strikes damaged two other prison buildings and the perimeter wall, Aqel added. On Sunday, Saudi-led strikes on a rebel training camp northwest of the capital killed at least 26 rebel fighters, security sources said. On Friday, a strike on a rebel-controlled television station in Sanaa killed four guards. The raids come with Yemen plunged deeper into turmoil by the killing this month of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh by the rebels after their uneasy alliance collapsed. Despite the superior firepower of the Saudi-led coalition, the rebels still control the capital and much of the north. More than 8,750 people have been killed since the coalition intervened, most of them civilians, according to the World Health Organization. On Monday, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, warned: "8.4 million Yemenis are a step away from famine."
  11. File Photo ADEN: Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on a Yemen rebel training camp northwest of the capital on Sunday killed at least 26 Huthi fighters, security sources said. The head of the training camp in Hajjah province, Amar al-Jarab, was among those killed in the strikes, the sources close to the rebels told AFP. A warehouse where rockets were stocked was also hit, the sources added. The raids come with the war-torn country plunged deeper into turmoil by Monday´s killing of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of the Huthis after his alliance with the rebels collapsed. Forces of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government retook the Red Sea town of Khokha from the rebels on Thursday after clashes that killed dozens, local officials and medical sources said. On Sunday, Katyusha rockets believed to have been fired by the Iran-backed Huthis hit Khokha, killing a six-year-old girl and wounding five other civilians, residents said. Further east in the town of Hays and north in Tuhayta, rebels clashed with loyalists on Sunday, pro-government forces said. Khokha lies between rebel-held Hodeida and government-controlled Mokha on the Red Sea and is central to the government expanding its control over the strategic coastline. The port of Hodeida is the main conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine to Yemen, where poverty has been compounded by war and a blockade on ports and airports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition. The International Committee of the Red Cross on Saturday warned against fighting intensifying along the Red Sea coast near what it called densely populated urban areas. ICRC regional head of operations Robert Mardini called on all sides to protect civilians. More than 8,750 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015, to help the government of Abedrabbo Hadi Mansour fight the Huthis. It triggered what the United Nations has called the world´s worst humanitarian crisis.
  12. An armed Houthi follower gestures after attending a gathering celebrating Houthi advancement on forces loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh at Tahrir Square in Sanaa, Yemen, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah SANAA: Gun battles forced shops and schools to close in Yemen's capital on Sunday as residents warned a three-year rebel alliance was collapsing into a "street war". The Iran-backed Houthi rebels' partnership with powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared to have fallen apart after he reached out to a Saudi-led coalition fighting the insurgents. The Houthis' political office on Saturday accused Saleh of staging a "coup" against "an alliance he never believed in". On Sunday, Saleh loyalists cut off a number of streets in central Sanaa and deployed heavily in anticipation of Houthi attacks, as security sources said clashes this week had killed about 60 people across the capital and at its international airport. Saleh loyalists renewed a bid to seize control of Al-Jarraf district, a stronghold of the Houthis who fortified their positions with dozens of vehicles mounted with machine guns, witnesses said. They said the Houthis had brought reinforcements from their northern strongholds to south Sanaa. The Houthis seized the home of rebel interior minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Waqsi, who is close to Saleh, killing three of his bodyguards and detaining others, Saleh sources said. And Houthi rebels killed Mohammed al-Zarka, a tribal leader close to Saleh, in Omran just north of the capital and members of his family, the same sources said. Bodies in streets Sanaa residents said they had barricaded themselves in their homes to avoid snipers and shelling as clashes flared around key ministries where the two sides had been working together just days before. The education ministry cancelled classes Sunday, normally the start of the school week, and witnesses said some bodies from previous clashes were still in the streets. Iyad al-Othmani, 33, said he had not left his house for three days because of the fighting. Mohammed Abdullah, a private sector employee, said his street had been cut off by militiamen and he was staying home. "Sanaa is becoming like a ghost town. There is a street war and people are holed up in their houses," said an activist who works with the International Organization for Migration. 'Coup against our alliance' Three years after they joined forces to drive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government from Sanaa, the collapse of the Houthi-Saleh alliance is a key shift in Yemen's complex war. Saleh ruled Yemen as president for 33 years after the 1990 unification of north and south Yemen. A long-time ally of Saudi Arabia, he waged six separate wars against the Houthis from northern Yemen. Saleh resigned under popular and political pressure in 2012, ceding power to his then-vice president Hadi, who now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia. In 2014, Saleh joined forces with the Houthis, seizing the capital and setting up a parallel government as Hadi's administration fled Sanaa. That triggered a Saudi-led Arab force to intervene to prop up Hadi's government, an escalation in a war that has since killed more than 8,750 people and dragged Yemen towards what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. On Saturday, Saleh reached out to the Saudi-led coalition, offering to "turn the page" if it lifts a crippling blockade on the country. The Houthis accused him of treason. Yemen's conflict has been a key focus of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran voiced regret Sunday about the rebel infighting and called for "calm and restraint". Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi expressed hope that all sides would maintain a united front against foreign "aggression", in reference to Iran's regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia and its allies. UAE denies missile claim The Saudi-led coalition carried out dawn air raids Sunday against Houthi positions in the hills south of Sanaa but it was unclear if the strikes were meant to benefit Saleh's forces. A coalition spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. The United Arab Emirates, which is a key member of the coalition, on Sunday denied a Houthi claim that a missile fired from Yemen reached its airspace or threatened a nuclear power plant set to open in 2018. The Houthis had earlier claimed on their Al-Masirah news channel that they had hit the Barakah plant with a cruise missile fired from Yemen. A missile fired by the Houthis ? that was intercepted by near Riyadh's international airport last month ? prompted the coalition to tighten a blockade against Sanaa airport and rebel-held seaports. The Houthis have warned that Saudi Arabia and its allies will "pay a heavy price in their own capitals" for Saleh's "great treason".
  13. SANAA: Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh said Saturday he was open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels, as his alliance with the Houthi insurgents appeared to be crumbling. "I call on our brothers in neighbouring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade ... and we will turn the page," the former president said in a televised speech. "We vow to our brothers and neighbours that, after a ceasefire is in place and the blockade is lifted ... we will hold dialogue directly through the legitimate authority represented by our parliament." The Saudi-led coalition, which has fought Saleh and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015, this month imposed a total blockade on the impoverished country after a rebel missile was shot down near Riyadh. The capital has been shaken by escalating violence this week between supporters of Saleh and the Huthis, with dozens of fighters killed and injured and residents now fearing a new front in an already devastating war.
  14. MOSCOW: Several people were injured on Wednesday as an explosion tore through a munitions plant in the Moscow-backed breakaway Abkhazia region of Georgia, Russian news agencies reported. "According to preliminary information, 27 people were admitted to hospital? including 19 Russians on holiday in Abkhazia," the region's health minister Tamaz Tsakhnakia told TASS news agency. Tsakhnakia said the injuries mainly consisted of light shrapnel wounds and that several people may need to undergo operations. The separatist province's interior minister Aslan Kobakhia was quoted by Interfax as saying that no one had died in the blast, but that emergency workers were still trying to get to the epicentre. The blast reportedly tore through a munitions store belonging to the separatist authorities on the shore of the Black Sea. Abkhazia is internationally recognised as part of the tiny ex-Soviet nation of Georgia but has claimed independence since a conflict in the wake of the collapse of the USSR. Russia recognised the subtropical region ? along with another province South Ossetia ? as separate countries after a brief 2008 war with Georgia. Moscow has thousands of troops stationed in the regions in what Georgia calls a military "occupation", and supports the two provinces financially.
  15. Hollywood actor Rebel Wilson on Thursday won a lengthy defamation case against an Australian publisher that portrayed her as a serial liar. Photo: AFP/file SYDNEY: Hollywood actor Rebel Wilson on Thursday won a lengthy defamation case against an Australian publisher that portrayed her as a serial liar, which she said cost her lucrative movie roles. The 37-year-old "Pitch Perfect" star sued Bauer Media over eight articles in Woman´s Day, Australian Women´s Weekly and OK Magazine in 2015, which her defence said "tore down an Australian star to sell magazines". The stories claimed the Sydney-born actor lied about her name, age and background in order to advance her career in the United States. Giving evidence during the three-week trial, often in tears, Wilson claimed she was sacked from DreamWorks animated feature films "Trolls" and "Kung Fu Panda 3" following the articles. Bauer denied they damaged her reputation and argued they were true. But the Victorian Supreme Court ruled she was defamed in all eight of the pieces, with the judge to decide on the penalty at a later date. "Bauer Media took me down with a series of grubby and completely false articles," said Wilson outside the court. "Far too often I feel the tabloid magazines and the journalists that work for them don´t abide by professional ethics. "Far too often I can only describe their conduct as disgusting and disgraceful and I´m very glad that the jury has agreed with me. And with the unanimous and overwhelming verdict they have sent a very clear message." Wilson, who will now jet to New York to shoot a film with fellow Australian Liam Hemsworth, said she was grateful the drama was now over. "It´s a win for everyone who gets maliciously taken down when there´s no reason why that should happen," she said.
  16. Even though they only released one album back in 1977, The *** Pistols definitely left a mark on the music industry. Still one of the most well-known punk rock bands in the world, their brief run in the ‘70s was full of scandals and headlines. But among all the hype were also some great songs which are still relevant to this day. Here are the best of the lost... 1. Anarchy in the UK “I am an anti-Christ, I am an anarchist” 2. No Feelings “I got no emotions for anybody else, you better understand I'm in love with myself” 3. God Save The Queen “God save the queen, the fascist regime” 4. Silly Thing “What's the use of wasting time, just move on, leave 'em all behind” 5. Holidays In The Sun “In Sensurround sound in a two inch wall, well I was waiting for the communist call” 6. Lonely Boy “I wonder where she's gone, I wonder where she went wrong” 7. Pretty Vacant “I don't believe illusions 'cause too much is real” 8. No One Is Innocent “God save the *** pistols they're a bunch of wholesome blokes, they just like wearing filthy clothes and swapping filthy jokes” 9. Did You No Wrong “Oh can't you see going out of my head, oh can't you see I'm really dead” 10. Problems “I'm using my feet for my human machine, you won't find me living for the screen”