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Yemen govt to grant amnesty to those who cut ties with Houthi rebels

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Ali Abudallah Saleh

Yemen’s internationally-recognised government said Monday it would grant amnesty to anyone who cuts ties with Huthi rebels, after a key rebel ally turned his back on the Iran-backed insurgents.

“The president will soon announce a general amnesty for all those who collaborated with the Huthis in recent months and who have retracted that allegiance,” Prime Minister Ahmad Obaid bin Daghr said.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthis warned civilians on Monday to evacuate rebel-held areas in the capital Sanaa, after the government ordered an advance to retake the city.

“The coalition urges civilians to evacuate areas near positions held by the Huthis,” read a coalition statement published by Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV.

A wave of air raids rattled Yemen’s crisis-hit capital Monday, witnesses said, as clashes between rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh also spread beyond Sanaa.

The strikes appeared to hit targets near Sanaa International Airport and the interior ministry, both under the control of the Iran-backed Huthi rebels, according to residents and a source inside the airport.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional arch-rival, is the only party in the Yemen war known to conduct air strikes on Sanaa.

A spokesman for the coalition did not respond to requests for confirmation of the raids on Monday.

Residents near the airport said multiple air raids had shaken their homes late Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday.

An airport source said rebel bases near the location appeared to have been targeted but the airport itself had not been bombed.

Residents also reported that the fighting, which erupted Wednesday night between armed Saleh supporters and Huthi fighters, had spread outside the capital.

Tribal sources in Saleh’s hometown Sanhan, south of Sanaa, on Monday reported intense overnight fighting between the Huthis and Saleh loyalists.

Yemeni territory is split between the forces and government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the south, backed by Saudi Arabia and recognised by the international community, the northern Huthi rebels and forces loyal to strongman Saleh.

Since 2014, Sanaa has been ruled under an agreement between Saleh and the Huthis, who drove the Hadi government out of the capital, set up their own government and for two years together fought the Saudi-led coalition.

Saleh on Saturday announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their crippling blockade on Yemen’s ports and airports — dealing a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Huthi.

The Saleh-Huthi split has sparked fears of a new front in the Yemen war, which has already claimed more than 8,750 lives since the Saudi-led coalition joined the war to support the Hadi government.

The conflict has pushed Yemen to the brink of mass starvation and triggered what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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.

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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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Israel PM Netanyahu indicted for fraud, bribery

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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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Iraqi Parliament approves PM’s resignation

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Adel Abdul-Mahdi

Baghdad, Dec 2 : Iraq’s Parliament has accepted Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation after two months of deadly anti-government demonstrations in the country.

State media reported that the Iraqi MPs on Sunday gathered for a special session to vote on the PM’s resignation presented to the Parliament in writing on Saturday, Efe news reported.

Abdul-Mahdi tendered his resignation on Friday after the country’s top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani denounced the violence in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

Abdul-Mahdi on Friday said that if the Parliament accepted his resignation, his government would turn into a caretaker cabinet pending the formation of a new one.

Under the Iraqi constitution, the largest political bloc would have to propose a new candidate, whom the President Barham Saleh will then assign to form a cabinet within 30 days.

The bloc with the majority of seats is Saairun Alliance led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who stressed Friday Abdul-Mahdi’s departure is “the first fruits of the revolution and not the last”.

He also suggested that the nomination of the new prime minister should be decided through a popular referendum among five candidates.

Earlier on the day, the Iraqi Supreme Council said that an arrest warrant was issued against a military chief for allegedly ordering a deadly clampdown on protesters in the southern province of Dhi Qar.

General Jamil al-Shammari, who was removed from his post and banned from travelling, was in charge of the security crisis cell of Dhi Qar, where about 50 people were killed during clashes between security forces and protesters in recent days.

On Wednesday, protesters torched the Iranian consulate building in the southern city of Najaf, located north of Nasiriyah, the capital city of Dhi Qar.

Mass demonstrations erupted in Iraq on 1 October and have recently intensified in the Shiite-majority southern provinces over the intervention of Iran in Iraq’s internal affairs.

At least 400 people were killed and over 16,000 others injured amid the protests decrying the lack of public services and employment opportunities mainly in Baghdad and other areas in the south.

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