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Middle East

Police caught and arrested an Israeli teenager suspected of taking part in an assault against two off-duty soldiers and a teenage civilian Friday night in a public park in Pardes Hanna — reportedly because they mistook them for being Arab.

According to police, a 16-year-old resident of Pardes Hanna took part in an assault by a group of youths against the two soldiers, who are from the Golani and Kfir Brigades and live in the nearby town of Rosh Ha’ayin.

The soldiers were sitting in a park with a young woman and a 17-year-old male.

The assailants reportedly beat the soldiers with a hookah pipe and other blunt objects.

The victims were treated at Hadera’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center for injuries, including to their face, before being released.

According to Israel Radio, the soldiers were too scared to call the police following the incident, and it was only after the father of one of the soldiers learned his son was in the hospital that the police got involved and opened an investigation. jpost.com
President Donald Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with the 16-year long war in Afghanistan and is now weighing a plan to privatize much of the conflict by hiring Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the brother of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

After he sold Blackwater, which then rebranded as Academi, Prince became the chairman of Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, a logistics and aviation company focused on Africa and South Asia that is backed by China’s state-owned CITIC Group.

Prince now wants to “restructure” the war in Afghanistan, which he described as “similar to a bankruptcy reorganization,” in a USA Today op-ed on Monday.

“By aligning U.S. efforts under a presidential envoy, all strategic decisions regarding humanitarian aid, military support and intelligence become laser-focused on creating a stable, self-supporting Afghanistan,” he argued.

Prince also said on MSNBC on Tuesday that he wasn’t “advocating colonization,” despite comparing his services to the East India Company, an approach he’s talked about, on many occasions.

Trump is said to have been receiving advisement from Prince in the shadows but is now openly contemplating Prince’s proposal despite pushback from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, according to USA Today salon.com
Iran's president has warned that it could restart its nuclear programme "within hours" if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, and said the programme would be more advanced than in 2015, when Iran curbed its nuclear activities as part of a deal with world powers.

Iran says unilateral US sanctions targeting its ballistic missile programme breach the agreement, but the US says Iran's missile tests have violated a UN resolution.

The resolution endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Iran not to "undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology".

Iran says the missiles it has tested are not designed to carry nuclear warheads and insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the nuclear agreement, and after a missile test at the end of January his administration declared that the US would no longer turn "a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions".

While acknowledging that the test was "not a direct violation" of the nuclear agreement, it imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and entities connected to its missile programme and the powerful Revolutionary Guards force. bbc.com
Saudi Arabia is using biological bombs in its attacks on Yemen, causing large numbers of Yemenis to contract cholera and meningitis, according to hospital sources in the war-torn state.

At a time when Yemen is under siege by Saudi Arabia from the air, sea and land for more than two and a half years, the sufferings of Yemeni people are growing in the face of the international community’s unprecedented silence.

According to a Farsi report by Al-Alam News Network, part of the catastrophic situation in Yemen is related to the outbreak of diseases.

The last epidemic was that of cholera which has so far afflicted hundreds of thousands of people and claimed thousands of lives.

In addition to cholera, meningitis has also broken out in Yemen, afflicting dozens of people so far, say sources close to the World Health Organization.

As Saudi Arabia continues to attack and destroy medical centres and prevent pharmaceuticals and medical aid from getting in while pressing ahead with its devastating siege of Yemen, the number of meningitis-sufferers is increasing while hundreds of thousands of women and children have lost their lives to cholera. ifpnews.com
German teen Linda Wenzel was captured in the war-torn city by Iraqi troops after running away from home to join ISIS last summer.

It's believed the young girl is being held for questioning over terrorism offences and could face the death penalty in Iraq for membership in IS.

She was caught in a tunnel system in Mosul with other women, some of whom wore suicide vests and had automatic weapons.

German broadcasters NDR and WDR and newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said they had interviewed Linda in the infirmary of a military complex in Baghdad and she told them she wanted to leave.

Linda fled her home near Dresden a year ago, flying from Frankfurt to Turkey before making her way to Syria.

She was said to have fallen in with ISIS offshoot groups through speaking to extremists via internet chat rooms before being smuggled into Iraq. mirror.co.uk
A senior war crimes prosecutor has announced she is resigning from a United Nations panel on Syria, saying she has lost faith it will ever bring criminals to account and that “everyone is bad” now in the war-torn country.

Carla Del Ponte said she was quitting the three-member commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria after five years because it "does absolutely nothing", adding: "We have had absolutely no success, for five years we've been running up against walls."

Mrs Del Ponte, who has previously sat on tribunals that investigated atrocities in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, has repeatedly decried the UN Security Council's refusal to appoint a similar court for Syria's six-year-old civil war. 

"I give up, the states in the Security Council don't want justice," the 70-year-old Swiss national said frankly, continuing: "I can't any longer be part of this commission which simply doesn't do anything."

The commission was set up in August 2011 by the Human Rights Council to investigate crimes in Syria, whoever the perpetrator, it has released about a dozen reports but investigators have never gained access to Syria itself, and in the reports they detail torture, rape, starvation sieges, the mass bombing of civilians and the use of chemical weapons.

Mrs Del Ponte, who put Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the dock at The Hague, said that as long as the Security Council did not put in place a special tribunal for war crimes in Syria, all such reports were pointless: "Nothing happens, only words, words, and more words," she lamented earlier this year. telegraph.co.uk
Pakistan is among South Asian countries that are at high risk of being hit by intense heat by the end of this century that will ultimately make human survival difficult in the region.

A study based on computer simulations by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made startling revelations about the impact of climate change on South Asian countries by 2100, which includes Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

“If climate change continues at its current pace, deadly heat waves beginning in the next few decades will strike parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh… heat waves across South Asia in the summer of 2015 killed an estimated 3,500 people and similar events will become more frequent and intense,” according to the international researchers.

While commenting on the research, experts told The Express Tribunethat Pakistan is already among 10 countries most affected by climate change and every year the situation is worsening.

Vice President of Asia-Pacific region of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Dr Ghulam Rasul said, “It is unfortunate that the authorities concerned in Pakistan are not feeling the gravity of the current situation.

“The day is not too far when extreme weather due to climate change will have horrible impact on the economy, agriculture, water availability and human in this country. " tribune.com.pk
Saudi Arabia and its allies fighting in Yemen are obstructing deliveries of fuel for UN planes which are bringing some of the only aid into the starving country, a  UN Development Programme (UNDP) official has said.

Jet fuel deliveries to the rebel-held capital of Sanaa had been blocked by Riyadh, Auke Lootsma, UNDP’s country director, told reporters via a video link from the city on Tuesday. 

There are supposed to be two UN humanitarian flights a day into Sanaa, but planes currently in the city are stranded thanks to a lack of fuel for making the return trips to Jordan and Djibouti. 

After more than two years of a war which has killed at least 10,000 people, Yemen is struggling to cope with both famine and the worst cholera outbreak in modern history.

Saudi bombing and a blockade on Yemeni ports and airspace have been widely criticised for creating the humanitarian crisis, and adding to the misery by holding up desperately needed food, medicine and other supplies from entering the country.  independent.co.uk
Qatar has revealed documents which show Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists in Yemen, reports the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news network.

The diplomatic papers which leaked out of the Qatari Embassy in Washington were handed over to Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

They show Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Emirati heir to the throne Mohammed bin Zayed back some al-Qaeda and ISIS kingpins in Yemen.

According to the papers, the deputy US Treasury secretary for terrorism affairs has said that bin Salman and bin Zayed were in constant contact with Yemeni Ali Abkar al-Hassan Ali and Abdallah Faysal Sadiq al-Ahdal, whose names are on the US list of people linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The documents bring to light details about the activities of the two top al-Qaeda leaders as well as Saudi intelligence chief Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan’s direct financial support for Ali Abkar to purchase required equipment and deliver it to ISIS members.

The US official has voiced concern over bin Salman’s links with ISIS and other terror groups without coordination with the White House. ifpnews.com
The Islamic State group no longer has a presence in Syria’s Aleppo province after withdrawing from a series of villages where regime forces were advancing, a monitor said on Friday.

‘ISIS withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province,’ according to British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It comes as US-backed Syrian fighters seized the last road into ISIS’s de facto capital Raqqa, in Syria, after neighbouring Iraq declared ‘the end of the fake jihadi state’ in its war-torn nation.

Syrian Democratic Forces are now in control of all high-speed routes into Raqqa, captured by ISIS in 2013, from the south, a spokesman for the US-led coalition confirmed.

It was yet another major setback for ISIS which declared its ‘caliphate’ straddling Syria and Iraq three years ago, but has since lost most of its territory.

Only this week Iraqi forces recaptured an iconic mosque in Mosul, Iraq, the terror group’s last major stronghold in the country, prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to declare ‘the end of the fake jihadist state’. briefnews.com