• US Treasury hits Hezbollah in Iraq with sanctions

    The US Treasury expanded its attack on Hezbollah’s financial network on Tuesday, hitting key representatives of the Lebanese militant group in Iraq with sanctions. The Treasury blacklisted four people under its ‘specially designated global terrorists’ program, saying they moved money, acquired weapons and trained fighters in Iraq for the group, AFP reported. Among the four, Shibl Muhsin ‘Ubayd Al-Zaydi was a key coordinator between Hezbollah, Iran’s blacklisted Revolutionary Guards, and their supporters in Iraq, according to the Treasury. He is close to alleged Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja, and coordinated smuggling oil from Iran into Syria, it said. The other three were also involved in collecting intelligence and moving money for Hezbollah in Iraq, the Treasury added.

  • Over 460 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in 25 hours, IDF targets 160 sites in response

    Over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours, the army said on Tuesday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields. However, dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more and causing property damage, the Times of Israel reported. In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip which they claim are connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups. The targets included four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

  • Merkel says EU needs its own joint army

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the European Union should work toward creating its own joint army. She made the statement just after marking the centenary of the end of World War I with world leaders in France. Merkel told EU lawmakers on Tuesday that “we have to work on the vision of one day creating a real European army.” In a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Merkel said that such a force would not mean the end of NATO, the US-led military alliance. She also called for the creation of a European security council.

  • Gaza militant groups agree to ceasefire if Israel halts attacks – Palestinian officials

    Palestinian militant groups in Gaza agreed on Tuesday to halt cross-border attacks immediately if Israel did the same, officials said. The statement came after the most serious exchanges of aerial fire since a 2014 war. Palestinian factions “have agreed to hold fire on condition Israel abides by this,” said a Palestinian official familiar with Egyptian truce efforts. Another Palestinian official, asked when a ceasefire might start, said: “Immediately, should Israel reciprocate.” The Hamas political bureau said that its chairman Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday “it is possible to return to a mutual understanding on the ceasefire” if Israel stopped “aggression.” Israel’s security cabinet had said it ordered the military to continue strikes in Gaza “as required,” indicating they would be calibrated in response to Palestinian attacks, according to Reuters.

  • Tehran city council elects new mayor, third in 18 months

    The city council in Iran’s capital on Tuesday elected Pirouz Hanachi, a little-known technocrat, to the politically sensitive post of mayor, state television said. Hanachi is the third mayor of Tehran to be elected by the city council since reformists swept to power in local polls in May 2017. Hanachi, 54, was a deputy mayor after the reformists took office in August 2017. The Interior Ministry has yet to confirm his election, a mostly procedural process. The reformists have promised transparency in running the city following corruption charges against their conservative rivals who controlled the Tehran council for 14 years, AFP said. The post, which has changed hands three times in 18 months, had served as a political springboard for conservative hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president between 2005 and 2013. Another officeholder, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, was unsuccessful in his bids for the presidency.

  • Lebanon’s PM Hariri accuses Hezbollah of blocking govt formation

    Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has accused Hezbollah of hindering the formation of a new government six months after parliamentary elections. Hariri said in Beirut on Tuesday, “it’s Hezbollah, full stop,” when asked who was blocking the formation of a government. He says the Shiite militant group bears full responsibility for the consequences, including Lebanon’s flagging economy, AP reports. However, he stopped short of resigning, saying there was still an opportunity to bridge the differences. Hezbollah wants six allied Sunni legislators to be represented in the new Cabinet, a demand rejected by Hariri, Lebanon’s top Sunni leader. The country held its first parliamentary elections in nine years in May.