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Iran row: US denies evacution of personnel from Iraq



US Air Force in Iraq

Baghdad, June 22 (IANS) The US Air Force denied on Saturday that it was evacuating contractors or personnel — Lockheed Martin and Sallyport Global personnel as per the reports — from a base in Iraq amid tensions between Washington and Tehran.

In a statement, the US Central Command categorically termed it “false”. “The Balad Air Base operations continue as normal. There are no plans, at this time, to evacuate any personnel from Balad,” it said.

Air Force Colonel Kevin Walker rejected the prospect of an evacuation of people from Balad Air Base in central Iraq, Efe news reported. “Should there be increased threats to our people, the US Air Force will put measures in place to provide the protections required,” he said.

Tensions soared in the Persian Gulf region after Tehran downed an American drone and US President Donald Trump announced he had aborted an air strike against Iran, minutes before the attack.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry had a meeting on Friday with Swiss ambassador Markus Leitner, representing the US interests in Tehran. At the meeting, Mohsen Baharvand, Director General of Foreign Affairs for America, filed an official complaint about the intrusion of the US drone into Iranian airspace on Thursday.

The US claims the aircraft did not violate Iranian airspace and it was shot down in international waters. Since the end of April the US has suspended exemptions on the purchase of Iranian oil and imposed new sanctions on Tehran.

A number of incidents, such as sabotage and alleged attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, have taken place in the region.

In mid-May, the US ordered withdrawal of non-essential diplomatic personnel in Iraq, amid what it considered “indications” of activity by Iran. In September, the US decided to close consulate in Basra, after protests and gunfire in the vicinity of the building.

Middle East

4 rockets hit military base near Baghdad, 6 injured




Baghdad, Dec 9 : Four rockets struck a military base near the Baghdad airport, leaving six army personnel injured, Iraqi authorities said Monday.

According to a statement by the media office affiliated with the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, forces searched the areas around the military base and found a rocket launcher left with some unfired rockets because of malfunction, Xinhua news agency reported

The statement however, did not say when the attack took place or identified which base was hit.

Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry official told Xinhua that the targeted base was where US troops were stationed.

Military bases housing US troops across Iraq and the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad have been frequently targeted by insurgents’ mortar and rocket attacks.

Over 5,000 .S troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against the Islamic State (IS) militants, mainly providing training and advice to the Iraqi forces.

The troops are part of the US-led international coalition that has been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.

The incident came as mass demonstrations have continued in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, accountability for corruption, improvement of public services and job opportunities.

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Middle East

Deadly car bombs target Turkish-held town in north Syria

The car bombs were detonated on Thursday in swift succession at the al-A’laf roundabout in Ras al-Ayn, the report said.




Car Bomb in Syria

Damascus, Dec 6 : At least two civilians were killed when two car bombs went off in Syria’s northeastern city of Ras al-Ayn controlled by the Turkey-backed rebels, state-run SANA news agency reported.

The car bombs were detonated on Thursday in swift succession at the al-A’laf roundabout in Ras al-Ayn, the report said.

Six people were also wounded in the bombing attack, it added.

The attack is the latest in series of bombings targeting the areas that have been recently stormed by the Turkey-backed rebels and Turkish forces, Xinhua news agency reported.

The previous day, at least five Turkish soldiers were killed when a car bomb targeted their convoy in the city of Jarablus in northern Aleppo province when it was en route to a Turkish-run base on the outskirts of the city, SANA reported.

It added that 12 other Turkish soldiers were wounded and later sent across the border to Turkish hospitals.

There have been a series of bombings and explosions targeting the Turkey-backed rebels and Turkish forces in northern Syria since Turkey launched an offensive against the Syrian Kurdish forces in October.

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Middle East

Israel PM Netanyahu indicted for fraud, bribery



Netanyahu Israel

Jerusalem, Dec 3 :Netanyahu Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted for fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases.

Israeli Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit publicly released an official indictment on Monday, allowing a period of 30 days during which the long-time leader may request the parliament to grant him immunity from standing trial, Xinhua reported.

The 77-page indictment charges Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate corruption scandals.

According to the indictment, the trial will be held at the Jerusalem District Court. The date of the trial has not yet been published.

The document contains a list of 333 witnesses the prosecution may call to testify against Netanyahu, including Sheldon Adelson, an American Jewish business magnate and one of US President Donald Trump’s major donors, and Arnon Milchan, an Israeli billionaire and Hollywood producer, and other businessmen and politicians.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying the indictment is part of “an orchestrated witch hunt”.

He is the first Israeli Prime Minister, who has been served with an indictment while being in office.

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