Middle East

West links Afghan humanitarian aid to human rights

by Pierre-Henry DESHAYES and Viken KANTARCI Agence France-Presse OSLO, Norway (AFP) – Western diplomats Tuesday linked humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to an improvement in human rights after meeting a Taliban delegation on a landmark visit to Europe. On the final day of the Taliban’s first official trip to Europe since returning to power in August, the fundamentalists held talks behind closed doors with several Western diplomats. The Taliban are seeking international recognition and financial aid. […]

Taliban, Western officials meet for talks in Oslo

by Pierre-Henry DESHAYES Agence France-Presse OSLO, Norway (AFP) – Taliban and Western diplomats meet in Oslo on Monday for talks on Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis and human rights, especially those of women whose freedoms have been curbed by the hardline Islamists. In their first visit to Europe since returning to power in August, the Taliban will meet representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Norway. The Taliban delegation is headed […]

US navy stops ship carrying ‘explosive precursor’ from Iran

  The US navy said Sunday it had stopped a ship carrying 40 tons of a fertiliser that can be used to make explosives as it travelled from Iran along a route previously used to smuggle weapons to Yemen’s Huthi rebels. The navy said it boarded and searched the ship, which last year was caught carrying thousands of weapons and handed to Yemen’s coast guard, after intercepting it in international waters in the Gulf of […]

Coalition denies Yemen prison air strike that killed 70

The Saudi-led coalition on Saturday denied carrying out an air strike on a prison in Yemen’s rebel-held north that aid groups said killed at least 70 people, including migrants, women and children. Claims the coalition ordered the raid, which reduced buildings to rubble and left rescuers scrabbling for survivors with their bare hands, were “groundless”, the alliance said. The attack, which coincided with a coalition strike on the Yemeni port of Hodeida that killed three children […]

Two drones shot down targeting Iraq base: anti-IS coalition

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) – Two armed drones targeting an air base in western Iraq were shot down on Tuesday, an official of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said. “Two fixed-wing drones rigged with explosives were engaged and destroyed by defensive capabilities at the Iraqi Al-Asad Air Base early this morning,” the official said. “The attempted attack was unsuccessful. All forces are accounted for.” It is the second such attack in 24 hours […]

Spoils of war: Taliban put victory over US on display

by Elise BLANCHARD Agence France-Presse GHANZI, Afghanistan (AFP) – In the governor’s compound of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, a new historical exhibit is unveiled before a rapt audience of Taliban fighters — sections of blast walls from a former US military base. One concrete slab is inscribed with the names and regiments of US troops who served in the province during America’s longest war. Like soldiers throughout history, US troops regularly daubed their names on the […]

Palestinian president Abbas visits Israel’s Gantz in rare trip

JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) – Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas made a rare visit to Israel Tuesday for talks with Defence Minister Benny Gantz, that the defence ministry said focused on security and civil matters. Gantz told Abbas that he intended to “continue to promote actions to strengthen confidence in the economic and civilian fields, as agreed during their last meeting,” the ministry statement said. “The two men discussed security and civil matters,” it added. Israeli media […]

Israeli air strike targets Syrian port of Latakia: state media

DAMASCUS, Syria (AFP) – An Israeli air strike hit the Syrian port of Latakia on Tuesday, the second such attack on the key facility this month, according to Syrian state media. Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out air strikes on its strife-torn neighbour, mostly targeting Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters. “At around 03:21 AM, the Israeli enemy carried out an […]

French arrest man over chemical weapons parts in Syria

PARIS, France (AFP) – A French-Syrian man has been detained by French police on suspicion of supplying components for the manufacture of chemical weapons in Syria through his shipping company, sources briefed on the case told AFP Sunday. The man, who was born in 1962 and lives abroad, was arrested Saturday in the south of France according to one of the sources. “He returned to France with his family for the holidays,” a source close […]

Saudi Arabia reports first Omicron case in Gulf

  RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia has recorded the Gulf’s first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a citizen returning from North Africa, a health ministry official said Wednesday. The strain, which was first announced by South Africa but has since been discovered to have been present earlier in Europe, has prompted governments around the globe to reimpose travel restrictions, despite warnings from the World Health Organization this could […]

US, Canada restrict travel from southern Africa as new variant sparks concern

by Daniel Woolls with AFP bureaus The United States, Brazil, Canada, and Saudi Arabia became the latest countries Friday to restrict travel from southern Africa, where a new Covid strain labelled a “variant of concern” has been discovered in a potentially heavy blow to the world’s efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization said the new variant is more infectious than the dominant, highly transmissible Delta strain, and renamed this B.1.1.529 strain […]

New Covid variant raises fears of next delta, or worse

by Paul RICARD Agence France Presse It is, scientists say, the most worrying Covid-19 variant since delta and perhaps ever. Here is what we know — and what we don’t — about the strain thought to have originated in Southern Africa. – How worrying? “This one is worrying and I’ve not said that since delta,” British virologist Ravi Gupta said on Twitter, about the variant labelled B.1.1.529. Concerns among disease experts stem from the variant’s […]