Ammon News, World

Iraq denies its territory was used to launch attack on Saudi oil facilities

[9/15/2019 5:43:51 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Iraq denied on Sunday that its territory had been used to carry out attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, referring to drone attacks on Saturday that targeted Aramco oil installations in the Kingdom's Eastern Province. A Baghdad government statement denied “media reports that (Iraqi) territory was used to attack Saudi oil installations using drones,” vowing to punish anyone who intended to use Iraq as a launch pad for attacks in the region. *Retuers

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Trump confirms death of al-Qaeda heir Hamza bin Laden

[9/14/2019 10:04:32 AM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump on Saturday confirmed that Hamza bin Laden, the son and designated heir of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a counter-terrorism operation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives al-Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. US media reported in early August, citing intelligence officials, that the younger bin Laden had been killed sometime in the last two years in an operation that involved the United States. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed the death later last month, saying it was “his understanding” that bin Laden was dead, but Trump and other senior officials had not publicly confirmed the news. The 15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was “emerging as a leader in the al-Qaeda franchise,” the State Department said in announcing a $1 million bounty on his head in February 2019 - perhaps after his actual demise. *AFP

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Israeli PM Netanyahu: Rocket attacks make new war in Gaza inevitable

[9/12/2019 6:31:51 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that continued rocket fire from Gaza is making another war against militants in the coastal strip inevitable, his latest headline-grabbing announcement just days before Israel heads to parliamentary elections. Netanyahu divulged that advanced plans were in place to strike Gaza and said he would decide the optimal timing of the offensive, given the Gaza Hamas rulers’ unwillingness or inability to stop the daily barrages. The Israeli leader has been criticized for failing to respond harshly to the rockets, which have been frequently sending residents of southern Israel scurrying for cover. Netanyahu himself was whisked away by bodyguards from a campaign event on Tuesday when Palestinian militants fired rockets toward the area where he was. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Hamas militants overtook the territory by force two years later. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and engaged in several other rounds of violence over the past decade. “I do not wage war unless it is a last resort and I don’t risk the lives of our soldiers and citizens just to get applause,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet Radio. “We will probably have no choice but to set out on a big campaign, a war against the terror forces in Gaza.” “I won’t start it one minute before we are ready, and we are preparing for a ‘different war’,” he added, shortly before flying to Russia for a lightning meeting with President Vladimir Putin. It was Netanyahu’s first major interview to a mainstream media outlet in a frenetic campaign in which he has been dictating the agenda with a dizzying array of maneuvers. Just this week, he has alleged fraud in Arab voting areas and has pushed for legislation to place cameras in polling stations on election day. He also claimed to have located a previously unknown Iranian nuclear weapons facility and vowed to annex the heart of the West Bank if he wins re-election. His pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley sparked international condemnation. A spokesman for the UN secretary-general said that if it were carried through it would be a “serious violation of international law.” The UN statement comes after Saudi Arabia, a regional power that has grown closer to Israel in recent years, condemned the move, along with several others who warned it could inflame the Middle East and eliminate any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state. Netanyahu said it was important to act now as President Donald Trump prepares to unveil his Mideast peace plan after the elections next Tuesday in Israel. The move was widely viewed in Israel as Netanyahu’s latest stunt to draw in right-wing voters in a hard-fought campaign. *AP

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EU: Netanyahu annexation pledge undermines peace prospects

[9/11/2019 7:44:33 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The EU warned Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank - if he wins next week’s election - undermines chances for peace in the region. “The policy of settlement construction and expansion ... is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement to AFP. Netanyahu issued the controversial pledge on Tuesday. “There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech. “If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so ... today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” he said. The prime minister also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, though in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be unveiled sometime after the vote. Saudi Arabia condemned and rejected the pledge. “The Kingdom affirms that this declaration is a very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people and represents a flagrant violation of the UN charter and the principles of international law,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the royal court. *AFP

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Kremlin says man named in media reports as US spy worked in Russian president’s office

[9/10/2019 5:50:47 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a former Russian official identified in media reports as a CIA asset inside Russia had worked in Russia’s presidential administration, but did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin. US media reported on Monday that US intelligence carried out an operation in 2017 to extract a high-level Russian official and CIA asset. Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Tuesday the official may have been a man called Oleg Smolenkov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Smolenkov had worked in the Russian presidential administration but had been fired in 2016/17. He declined to say whether he was an agent or not, but said that US media reports read like “pulp fiction.” *Reuters

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Hezbollah claims to down Israeli drone

[9/9/2019 5:46:29 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Hezbollah sources claimed on Monday to have downed an Israeli drone in Lebanon. The Lebanese organization downed an Israeli drone outside Ramyah, a town in southern Lebanon, according to Hezbollah's al-Manar TV. A correspondent for al-Manar reporting from the border said the drone had not sustained much damage, and had been in Lebanese airspace for around five minutes. The Israeli drone is now in the hands of Hezbollah's fighters, the Iran-backed group added in a statement. In response, the Israeli army confirmed that a small drone “on an ordinary mission” fell inside Lebanon and added that there is no danger of the drone leaking information. Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire along the Lebanese border on Sunday after a week of rising tensions, but no casualties were reported following the brief flare-up and UN officials immediately urged restraint. The recent confrontation came after two other Israeli drones fell in Hezbollah-dominated south Beirut in August. The organization said one drone exploded and one crashed in the southern suburbs of Beirut, causing damage to its media center. A few hours earlier, the Israeli military had attacked targets near Syria's capital of Damascus in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region. Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader said that while the flare-up with Israel at the border had ended, the episode had launched a “new phase” in which the Iran-backed movement no longer has red lines. In response, the Israeli army said on Tuesday that it had exposed a Hezbollah site dedicated to the manufacture of “precision-guided” missiles in Lebanon. “The IDF is exposing a facility belonging to Hezbollah... designed to convert and manufacture precision-guided missiles,” the Israeli army said in a statement. It released what it said was an aerial photograph of the site in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the town of Nabi Chit. *Agencies

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Syria says joint US-Turkish patrols violate country’s sovereignty

[9/8/2019 7:59:20 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Syria condemned on Sunday joint US-Turkish patrols in a border strip in the northeast of the country, saying it was a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty, an official statement said. Armed Turkish military vehicles crossed into Syria on Sunday and headed southwest with their US counterparts to begin planned joint patrols to establish a “safe zone” along a border region mainly controlled by Kurdish forces. The move was also a violation of the “territorial integrity” of Syria, said the Syrian foreign ministry statement, referring to what the government considers attempts by the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia to divide the country. *Reuters

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