Ammon News, World

Extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque yards

[10/22/2017 9:08:22 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Groups of extremist settlers early Sunday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Haram Al Sharif, according to a Palestinian source. The General Director of the Islamic Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Affairs, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, told Petra's reporter in Ramallah that Israeli settlers broke into the Muslim's holy shrine from the Bab Al-Magharbeh gate under the protection of Israeli special forces and police. Al-Khatib stressed that the settlers provocatively toured the Al-Aqsa yards and performed their rites. The occupation forces prevented Palestinian students from reaching their schools inside the Haram Al Sharif and imposed restrictions on the entry of youths to the mosque, he added

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Israel hits Syrian regime artillery after Golan fire

[10/21/2017 2:25:29 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Israeli army attacked Syrian government artillery on Saturday after fire across the armistice line hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and warned it would intensify such retaliation in the future. The Syrian government controls only party of the territory on the other side of the line, with the rest in the hands of rebel groups, one of them affiliated to ISIS. But the Israeli army said it would retaliate against the Syrian army, regardless of who was responsible for any fire and of whether it was deliberate or unintentional. READ ALSO: Israeli tanks fire into Syria after shell hits Golan Israeli forces identified four hits from five rounds launched at the northern Golan from Syria, the army said, without reporting any casualties or damage. “In response to the projectiles that hit Israel, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) targeted three artillery cannons of the Syrian regime in the Syrian Golan Heights,” it said. “Any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response,” the army said, adding that it held “the Syrian regime accountable for any aggression from within its territory.” Israel has sought to avoid becoming directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, although it has systematically responded to fire across the armistice line on the Golan. Airstrikes It also acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes against Hezbollah forces in Syria to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to the Lebanese Shiite militant group, which is a key ally of the Damascus government. Israel fought a devastating 2006 war with Hezbollah and has voiced concern that the group’s involvement in Syria risks opening up a new front. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. The two countries remain technically at war, although before the eruption of the conflict inside Syria in 2011 the armistice line remained largely quiet. *AFP

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US Treasury Secretary to visit Middle East over Iran threats

[10/21/2017 5:24:20 AM]

AMMONNEWS - US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin will be visiting the Middle East this week to discuss the Terrorist Financing Target Center (TFTC) partnership and other matters on Iran. Accompanying Mnuchin is Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. The visit is set to take place from October 25 through to October 30. The US representatives will be stopping in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. Discussions will also touch upon national security initiatives against terrorism and illegal financial incidents. In a statement on Friday, Mnuchin said that he and Mandelker “will engage partners in the Middle East on the Trump administration’s new strategy toward countering the destabilizing influence of Iran in the region.” The Saudi Arabia visit is set to witness Mnuchin commemorating the TFTC’s inauguration. He will also be delivering the keynote address to the Future Investment Initiative summit, added the Treasury.

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Israeli tanks fire into Syria after shell hits Golan

[10/19/2017 3:56:21 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Israeli tanks fired into Syria on Thursday after a Syrian mortar shell landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. “In response to the projectile that hit Israel earlier today, the Israel Defense Forces targeted the sources of fire in the Syrian Golan Heights,” the Israeli Army said in an English-language statement. It did not identify the sources of the Syrian fire nor say whether it considered it to be a deliberate attack or unintentional spillover from the Syrian civil war, as in several previous incidents. It said the mortar shell fell on open ground and caused no injuries. Speaking shortly afterwards in the Jordan Valley, part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implied that the Syrian shell was a stray but said it was nevertheless unacceptable. “We do not accept spillovers and if they hit us we return fire -- and it doesn’t take much time,” his office quoted him as saying in Hebrew. On Monday, Israel carried out an air strike on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria after the battery fired on its planes during surveillance flights over neighboring Lebanon. Israel has sought to avoid becoming directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Lebanese group Hezbollah. The group, against which Israel fought a devastating 2006 war, is militarily backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the conflict. *AFP

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Syrian opposition sets 5 conditions for opening of Nasib border crossing to Jordan

[10/19/2017 4:27:54 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Syrian opposition has tabled five conditions to be met before the Nasib border crossing between Jordan and Syria can be re-opened. The crossing is currently controlled by four Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions: Falawaja Hawran, the Yarmouk Army, the Sunni Lions and Fawj Al-Madfaiah. Jordan closed the crossing in April 2015 due to what then-Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Al-Majali described as “acts of violence on the Syrian side.” Arab News has learned from FSA representatives and local councils in the nearby city of Daraa that talks on the re-opening of the crossing were recently held between the FSA and civil institutions affiliated with the opposition on one side and the Syrian regime on the other. Those talks were apparently mediated by Jordan and took place between early September and early October, at which point the opposition requested a month in order to come up with a proposal to present. Mohammed Al-Sawalima, head of Daraa’s local council, told Arab News that the opposition set five conditions for the re-opening of the crossing. “First, releasing all political prisoners in the regime’s prisons; second, flying the Syrian revolution’s flag at the crossing; third having Daraa provincial council supervise the work at the crossing; fourth, the return of the displaced to their cities and villages in Daraa governorate while lifting the siege on Ghouta and Homs; and fifth, rejecting any Syrian regime or Russian presence at the crossing.” Arab News learned from members of the Syrian military opposition that Jordan suggested that the crossing should remain under the Syrian opposition’s control as a transit point for commodities, while moving the actual customs office to the regime-held town of Khirbet Ghazaleh just north of the crossing. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Rahal, who defected from the Syrian regime, told Arab News that the FSA is facing a difficult choice. “While the FSA has made great sacrifices in the south, which cannot be disregarded, it is subject to regional and international pressure in order for the crossing to be opened without anything (being offered) in return.” He added that another possible scenario was for the crossing to remain in FSA hands “while the legal procedures will be performed by civilian employees appointed by the Syrian regime, in exchange for a percentage of fees that the FSA obtains. Jordan is pressuring the factions to accept this solution.” The Syrian opposition rejected the first scenario, according to Raed Radi, commander of Falawaja Hawran. “The crossing will not be opened this way,” he told Arab News. “This will not happen unless the principles of the revolution are preserved, Syrian detainees are released unconditionally, the displaced return to their occupied villages, and unless the crossing is managed by a civilian administration affiliated with the Daraa provincial council.” Mussa Al-Zu’bi, director of the studies and projects office in Daraa told Arab News that no decision had yet been taken. Consultations are taking place with all parties in southern Syria, in parallel with the meetings that are led by Jordan, in the hope of structuring the opposition’s proposal. The first meeting brought together the members of Daraa’s executive bureau and was extended to include all 40 members of the provincial council. They then met with military commanders and several revolutionaries, activists, media professionals, union members, and civilians. An extended meeting was held later, to which all provincial councils in western Daraa were invited, and a similar meeting with local councils took place in eastern Daraa. “In theory, there is a will to re-open the crossing provided that the constants of the revolution are preserved,” Al-Zu’bi said. “Some preconditions will be drafted to be discussed in the next few days during the talks with Jordan.” Speaking on the sidelines of an Arab Forum seminar in Amman on Oct. 7, the Syrian Chargé d’Affaires to Jordan, Ayman Alloush, told Arab News: “Their conditions will not make any difference. It is non-negotiable in any way. The opposition’s talk regarding its presence at the crossings is merely (troublemaking).” Abdul Salam Al-Diabat, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in the Jordanian city of Ramtha, 10 km away from Daraa, explained the economic importance of the crossing. “Prior to 2011, trade volume between Jordan and Syria amounted to nearly 350 million dinars ($490 million) per year. But it has hit zero following the closure of the Nasib crossing. “Food and basic commodities are smuggled from the regime-held areas, and are sold at double the price on the southern Syrian market,” he continued. “Opening the crossing will result in reduced prices for our people.” *Arab News

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Iran’s Guards say missile programme will accelerate despite pressure

[10/19/2017 4:29:44 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that the country’s ballistic missile programme would accelerate despite pressure from the United States and European Union to suspend it, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. In a major US policy shift, President Donald Trump last Friday refused to certify Tehran’s compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, signalling he would take a more aggressive approach to Iran over its ballistic missile programme. “Iran’s ballistic missile programme will expand and it will continue with more speed in reaction to Trump’s hostile approach towards this revolutionary organisation (the Guards),” the Guards said in a statement published by Tasnim. The Trump administration has imposed new unilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s missile activity. It has called on Tehran not to develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. Iran says it has no such plans. Tehran has repeatedly pledged to continue what it calls a defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism. *Reuters

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Brigadier General Issam Zahreddine, Commander of Syrian forces, killed in Deir al-Zor

[10/18/2017 1:44:00 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Brigadier general of the Republican Guard and the commander of operations in Deir al-Zor, Issam Zahreddine, was killed in a mine explosion in the Hawija-Sakr area inside the city of Deir al-Zor, according to Syrian media. Zahreddine played a role in the progress made by the Syrian army forces in the city of Deir al-Zor, and the surrounding areas, which reached strategic fields in the city. Zahreddine led army operations against the armed opposition in Homs and Aleppo, before moving to the eastern region to fight ISIS. *Al Arabiya

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