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Syrian monitor: At least 12 killed in presumed US-led strike

Thursday, 24 May 2018

A Syria war-monitoring group says at least 12 pro-government fighters were killed in airstrikes the previous night in the country’s east. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says none of the fatalities were Syrian nationals but foreign fighters. Syria’s government forces have relied on support from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group and also regional militias organized by Iran to wage war on rebels and Islamic State militants. In Damascus, government media ...

Israel plans 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday he plans to seek approval next week for the construction of some 2,500 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Avigdor Lieberman, writing on Twitter, said a regional planning board would be asked to designate 1,400 of the housing units for immediate construction. Settlements are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014. ...

US weighs UN funding cuts after Palestinians join agencies

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The United States is considering whether to cut funding to two UN agencies and the chemical weapons watchdog after the Palestinians joined the organizations, a US official said Wednesday. In a move aimed at boosting their international profile, the Palestinians have joined the UN trade development organization UNCTAD, industrial development agency UNIDO and the Chemical Weapons Convention which is upheld by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). US legislation bars ...

Israeli minister says US may soon recognise Israel’s hold on Golan

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Israel is pressing the Trump administration to recognize its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Wednesday, predicting US assent could come within months. Interviewed by Reuters, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described endorsement of Israel’s 51-year-old hold on the Golan as the proposal now “topping the agenda” in bilateral diplomatic talks with the United States. Any such move would be seen as a follow ...

Hezbollah media unit says US-led coalition hit Syrian army positions

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Warplanes from the US-led coalition targeted two Syrian army positions in the eastern Syrian desert, a military media unit run by Lebanon's Hezbollah group said early on Thursday, but U.S. military officials denied any knowledge of the strikes. “Some of our military sites between Albu Kamal and Hamimia were exposed at dawn today to aggression launched by US coalition jets,” state news agency SANA reported, citing a military source. The media unit run by Hezbollah, a military ally of ...

UN chief urges Lebanon’s Hezbollah to halt military activity

Thursday, 24 May 2018

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on Hezbollah not to engage in military activity inside Lebanon and elsewhere in the region, in a report seen by AFP on Wednesday. “The maintenance by Hezbollah of sizeable and sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern,” Guterres said in a report sent to the Security Council on Friday. The UN chief called on the Shiite movement “not to engage in any ...

Pompeo: US goal with allies to stop Iran’s threats

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Washington is seeking to work with as many allies as possible to reach a new deal to stop Iran's nuclear and non-nuclear threats, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday. The United States’ top diplomat’s statement comes just days after he had threatened to impose the “strongest sanctions in history” against Iran if the country’s leadership did not change the course of its foreign and domestic policy and laid out a 12-point list of demands for Tehran to ...

Israeli court suspends HRW official’s expulsion

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

An Israeli court on Wednesday suspended an expulsion order for Human Rights Watch’s country director until a decision is taken on a HRW legal challenge against it, the rights watchdog said.The injunction granted by the district court in Jerusalem came only a day ahead of the deadline for Omar Shakir to leave Israel after authorities accused him of previously supporting a boycott of the country. Shakir, a US citizen, rejected the allegation and said Israel was seeking to silence ...

Lebanese parliament re-elects Nabih Berri as speaker

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Shiite politician Nabih Berri, a close ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, was re-elected for a sixth term as speaker of Lebanon’s parliament in an uncontested vote on Wednesday. Another Hezbollah ally, Elie Ferzli, was elected deputy speaker, reflecting a shift in Lebanon’s political landscape in favour of the heavily armed Shi’ite group. Hezbollah, and groups and individuals that support its possession of arms, won at least 70 of parliament’s 128 seats in a May 6 ...

Palestine join two UN agencies, chemical weapons treaty

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Palestinians have joined two UN agencies and the global convention to halt the spread of chemical weapons, a UN envoy said Wednesday, despite a threat of US funding cuts.   At the United Nations, the Palestinians have the status of a non-member observer state that allows them to seek membership of agencies and become a party to international treaties. The move will raise the Palestinian profile in international diplomacy and comes amid a rift with the administration of President Donald ...

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