Ammon News, World

Israel rocket attack: Seven wounded north of Tel Aviv

[3/25/2019 7:04:55 AM]

AMMONNEWS - An early morning rocket, allegedly fired from the Gaza Strip, struck a home in central Israel on Monday, wounding seven people and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington. The developments set the stage for a potential major conflagration, shortly before Israel's upcoming elections. The rocket attack destroyed a residential home in the community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of the family. Israel's ambulance service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds. The sounds of air raid sirens jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, from their sleep shortly after 5am (03:00 GMT). A strong sound of an explosion followed. An Israeli military spokesperson said the rocket attack was carried out by Hamas, adding that the army was set to deploy two brigades and infantry units to the southern Gaza area. It also called up reserves after the rocket attack. 'Forceful response' Netanyahu, who was in Washington to meet President Donald Trump, held emergency consultations with military officials back in Israel and decided to cut his visit short, cancelling a planned address to the AIPAC conference and meetings with congressional leaders. "There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully," he said. "In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward." Speaking from occupied West Jerusalem, Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker said that Netanyahu is under "huge pressure" to act. "An escalation in response could be something like seeing Israel target the homes or positions of Hamas leaders," she said. "Israeli media reported former security officials saying that what is needed now is a more forceful response to cut out the capability of Hamas." There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's incident. Al Jazeera reached out to Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip but received no response. Witnesses in Gaza told AP news agency they saw Hamas officials evacuating government premises, anticipating an Israeli response to the alleged attack. Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had cancelled a scheduled public speech. Israel also shut down its main cargo crossing into Gaza. According to local Palestinian news agency Maan, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, Ziyad al-Nakhla, said that if Israel launches an attack on the Gaza Strip, it would provoke a "strong response". Monday's attack came 10 days after rockets were fired from Gaza towards Tel Aviv. The Israeli military at the time struck back and the sides appeared to be hurtling towards another confrontation. But Gaza's Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidentally and calm was quickly restored. Dire economic situation Gaza has been under the control of Hamas since 2007. The group won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections a year before, but western governments refused to recognise their win. In June 2007, Hamas fought against a pre-emptive coup by its rival Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, resulting in driving it out of the strip. The same summer saw Israel and Egypt impose an ongoing land, naval and air blockade on the coastal enclave. Israel has also waged three offensives on Gaza since December 2008. The last such offensive was in 2014, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians - the majority of them civilians - were killed. The 52-day war also severely damaged Gaza's already weak infrastructure, leading the United Nations to state that the strip would be "uninhabitable" by 2020. The blockade against Gaza, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority, have exacerbated a dire economic crisis in the enclave. Recently, Hamas has come under rare public criticism for the harsh conditions in the territory. The latest outburst comes at a sensitive time for both sides. Israel is holding national elections in 15 days. Netanyahu, who also served as defence minister, is locked in a tight fight for re-election and has faced heavy criticism from his opponents for what they say has been an ineffective response to armed groups in Gaza. Egypt, Qatar and the UN are trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas but that effort has yet to bring about an agreement. At the same time, there has been an uptick in violence in the occupied West Bank over the past week, with Israel killing two Palestinians it said attacked its troops. *Agencies

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Israel says Trump to sign Golan sovereignty decree on Monday

[3/24/2019 3:42:13 PM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump will sign on Monday a decree recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights while hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister said. A senior US official said last week that the Trump administration was preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s annexation of the strategic plateau that it seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. “Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted on Sunday. READ MORE: Trump: Time for US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights The United Nations considers the Israeli-held Golan to be occupied territory. *Reuters

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Arab League: Syria's participation in Arab Summit not on the table

[3/24/2019 3:33:00 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Arab League said the Syrian crisis is on the agenda for its upcoming summit in Tunisia, but Syria's participation is not on the table. "It is possible to add a new item on the agenda for the Golan Heights issue based on recent developments," said Spokesperson for the Secretary General of the league, Mahmoud Afifi in a statement Sunday. Items on the agenda at the Arab summit include the Palestinian cause, the situation in Libya and Yemen, supporting peace and development in Sudan, Iranian intervention in Arab affairs and occupation of UAE islands, Turkish incursion in northern Iraq, supporting Somalia, and combating terrorism. At the summit, the economic and social council will discuss several matters, including following up on the resolutions of the Arab economic summit in Beirut. The Secretary General of the Arab league will present a report on the implementation of the resolutions of the Arab summit in Dhahran.

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FM stresses importance of Global Coalition's victory over Daesh

[3/24/2019 9:47:22 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi Sunday confirmed the importance of the victory achieved by the Global Coalition Against Daesh terror group, and the recovery of its last strongholds in Syria. "This victory over the Daesh gang has been an important achievement for the Global Coalition and for efforts and sacrifices that have been made" Safadi said in a statement. The foreign misters stressed that this victory and the liberation of the entire Daesh-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq do not mean the end of the terrorist challenge, which still poses a security and ideological threat, emphasizing the need to maintain cooperation and coordination to defeat the terrorist group and to stop its funding resources. Jordan, he added, will remain at the forefront of international efforts aimed at combating terrorism which does not belong to any culture or religion, and contradicts our Islamic values of peace, mercy and respect for others.

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Syria Kurds urge world to take back foreign extremists

[3/24/2019 9:45:46 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Syria’s Kurds warned Sunday that the thousands of foreign extremists they have detained in their fight against ISIS are a time-bomb the international community urgently needs to defuse. Speaking a day after Kurdish-led forces announced the final demise of the extremists’ physical “caliphate”, the Kurdish administration’s top foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar warned that its foreign captives still pose a threat. “There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Omar told AFP. “Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation,” he said, referring to the village by the Euphrates where diehard extremists made a bloody last stand. The fate of foreign ISIS fighters has become a major issue as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces closed in on the once-sprawling proto-state the extremists declared in 2014. After a months-long assault by the US-backed SDF to flush out the last ISIS strongholds in the Euphrates Valley, extremists and their families gradually gathered in Baghouz as the last rump of the “caliphate” shrank around them. While some managed to escape, many of the foreigners stayed behind, either surrendering to the SDF or fighting to the death. According to the SDF, 66,000 people left the last ISIS pocket since January, including 5,000 extremists and 24,000 of their relatives. The assault was paused multiple times as the SDF opened humanitarian corridors for people evacuating the besieged enclave. The droves of people scrambling out of Baghouz in recent weeks were screened by the SDF and dispatched to camps further north, where most are still held. The de facto autonomous Kurdish administration is northeastern Syria has warned it does not have capacity to detain so many people, let alone put them on trial. But many of the suspected extremists’ countries of origin are reluctant to take them back due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash. Some have even withdrawn citizenship from their nationals detained in Syria. “There has to be coordination between us and the international community to address this danger,” Abdel Karim Omar said. “There are thousands of children who have been raised according to ISIS ideology,” he added. “If these children are not reeducated and reintegrated in their societies of origin, they are potential future terrorists.” *AFP

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ISIS defeated in last Syria enclave, US-backed SDF says

[3/23/2019 4:47:36 PM]

AMMONNEWS - ISIS has been defeated at its final shred of territory of Baghouz in Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday, declaring the end of its self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria. The SDF declared the “total elimination of (the) so-called caliphate,” Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, wrote on Twitter. “Baghouz has been liberated. The military victory against Daesh has been accomplished,” he wrote. The SDF has been battling to capture Baghouz at the Iraqi border for weeks. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS. “We renew our pledge to continue the war and to pursue their remnants until their complete elimination,” he wrote. The defeat of ISIS in Baghouz ends the group’s grip over the extremist quasi-state straddling Syria and Iraq that it had declared in 2014. *Reuters

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Trump says ISIS has been ‘100 percent’ defeated in Syria

[3/22/2019 2:32:58 PM]

AMMONNEWS - US President Donald Trump said Friday that ISIS has been "100 percent" defeated in Syria. Trump made the comment as he showed reporters maps of the region -- one showing the large areas once held by the group and a second that showed the situation on Friday with no presence. "Here's ISIS on election day," he said, pointing to a swath of red area signifying the group's previous territorial gains, and then to one without any red, "Here's ISIS right now." "The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan briefed President Donald Trump as he was travelling to Florida on Air Force One, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has yet to announce a final territorial defeat of ISIS in its last enclave in Baghouz and said on Friday that though it has captured most of the area, there are still pockets of jihadist fighters. A Reuters journalist at Baghouz heard air strikes there on Friday afternoon and saw smoke rising. The SDF has been battling for weeks to defeat ISIS in Baghouz in southeastern Syria at the Iraqi border, all that remained of the territory the militants ruled, which once spanned a third of Syria and Iraq. Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, told Reuters SDF fighters had captured most of the Baghouz area and clashed overnight with ISIS militants in more than two positions where they were refusing to surrender. The complete fall of the last ISIS stronghold in Baghouz, Syria, would be the end of ISIS’s self-declared caliphate, which at its height stretched across large parts of Syria and Iraq. Controlling territory gave it room to launch attacks around the world. President Donald Trump said Friday "it's about time" that the group no longer controls territory in the region, after a campaign by US and coalition forces that spanned five years and two US presidencies, unleashed more than 100,000 bombs, and killed untold numbers of civilians. *Agencies

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