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UN Secretary-General calls for maximum restraint on all parties in Syria

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Antonio Guterres

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all parties in Syria to exercise maximum restraint, amid Turkey’s preparations to start a military operation in the north of the country.

The UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric stated this after the United States began pulling troops back from the area. He said, Mr. Guterres is greatly concerned, especially at the risk to civilians in any escalation of fighting.

Mr Dujarric said the U.N. chief emphasized that civilians must be protected, and all parties must guarantee sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to civilians in need.

The spokesman also said that Antonio Guterres has been in contact with all relevant parties in the region regarding the matter and reiterated that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.

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Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque reopens after 2 months

The Al-Aqsa mosque is part of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, which is one of Islam’s holiest sites and the holiest site in Judaism.

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Masjid Al Aqsa

Jerusalem, May 31 : After remaining closed for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which is the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, started welcoming worshippers from Sunday again.

Hundreds of people, many of whom wore protective masks, chanted “god is great” as they stood at the mosque’s wooden doors, while some kissed the ground, reports the BBC.

They were then greeted by mosque director Omar al-Kiswani, who thanked them for being patient.

The compound also houses the Dome of the Rock.

Prayers will be held in the open in marked sections, each holding up to 50 people, reports The Times of Israel.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is part of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound, which is one of Islam’s holiest sites and the holiest site in Judaism.

The site is a source of religious and political tension between Israelis and Palestinians and a frequent flashpoint for violence.

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Middle East

Nationwide lockdown eased in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has had more cases of coronavirus than any other place in the Arab world, with 78,541 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 425 deaths.

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Saudi Arabia Lockdown

Riyadh, May 28 : Saudi Arabia on Thursday started easing a five-day nationwide lockdown imposed during the festival of Eid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A round-the-clock curfew has been partially relaxed except in the holy city of Mecca, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, reports the BBC.

Anyone wishing to leave home though is required to obtain a permit through a government app.

Measures will be further eased in phases over the next few weeks until the lockdown is fully lifted.

It is still unclear whether the major annual Haj pilgrimage will go ahead at the end of July.

Saudi Arabia has had more cases of coronavirus than any other place in the Arab world, with 78,541 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 425 deaths.

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Middle East

US to end sanctions waivers on Iranian nuclear projects

The Trump administration withdrew Washington from the Iranian 2015 landmark nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.

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mike pompeo

Washington, May 28 : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the end of sanctions waivers on several Iranian civilian nuclear projects, Washington’s latest effort to pressure Tehran.

In a statement on Wednesday, Pompeo said that the measure applied to Iran’s Arak reactor conversion, the provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor, and the export of spent and scrap research reactor fuel, reports Xinhua news agency.

Multiple foreign companies have been working at these civilian projects to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“The sanctions waiver covering these activities will end following a final, 60-day wind-down period allowing companies and entities involved in these activities to cease their operations,” Pompeo said in the statement.

According to the statement, US President Donald Trump’s administration extended a 90-day waiver covering ongoing international support to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1, as a means “to ensure safety of operations”.

“We will continue to closely monitor all developments in Iran’s nuclear program and can modify this waiver at any time,” Pompeo added.

Analysts said ending the sanctions waivers is counterproductive.

“Another bad move. Trump and Pompeo are trying to goad Iran into abandoning all nuclear constraints,” tweeted Mark Fitzpatrick, a former Sstate Department official.

The Trump administration withdrew Washington from the Iranian 2015 landmark nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.

Tehran, however, dismissed US calls and vowed resistance against the pressures.

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