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Hezbollah warns Israel, US not to interfere with shipment of Iranian oil to Lebanon



Hezbollah warns Israel, US not to interfere with shipment of Iranian oil to Lebanon
Hezbollah warns Israel, US not to interfere with shipment of Iranian oil to Lebanon

Illustrative: An oil tanker on the open sea. Credit: Igor Karasi/Shutterstock.

“We don’t want to get into a challenge with anyone … we want to help our people,” says Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

Lebanon’s fuel crisis requires an “immediate” solution, says a U.N. representative. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned Israel and the United States against interfering with an oil tanker that was set to leave Iran for Lebanon on Thursday.

In a televised address commemorating the Shi’ite Ashura holiday, Nasrallah said that the ship would be considered Lebanese territory from the moment it set sail, according to Reuters.

“God willing, this ship and others will arrive safely,” he added.

Lebanon is in the midst of a severe economic crisis and experiencing widespread shortages, not only of fuel but also of food, electricity and essential medicines. The oil tanker is ostensibly on its way to alleviate the crisis.

Najat Rochdi, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, said in a statement on Aug. 17 that the fuel shortage required an “immediate solution,” as it was jeopardizing public health.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of the fuel crisis on access to health care and water supply for millions of people in Lebanon,” said Rochdi, adding, “A bad situation only stands to get worse unless an instant solution is found.”

Lebanon’s largest hospitals have reduced their activities due to fuel and electricity shortages, which have also left millions without access to public water supplies, according to the statement. Essential medicines are unavailable, and hundreds of healthcare workers have left the country due to the deteriorating economic situation.

The situation is made even more critical in light of the fact that Lebanon, like most countries in the world, is facing a new wave of COVID-19 cases, noted Rochdi.

In his Ashura address, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah wasn’t looking for a showdown.

“We don’t want to get into a challenge with anyone; we don’t want to get into a problem with anyone. We want to help our people,” said Nasrallah, according to Reuters.

Nasrallah did not specify when or where the ship would arrive, saying this would be discussed when it reached the Mediterranean.

Hezbollah has been preparing fuel-storage facilities in Lebanon as far back as April, according to Reuters.

Lebanese troops deployed to petrol stations in the country last week, forcing owners who had been hoarding fuel to sell, according to Al Jazeera. The Lebanese army has also been cracking down on fuel smuggling along the Syrian border.

At least 28 people were killed and 79 injured when a fuel tank exploded in northern Lebanon early on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The report cited military and security sources who said that the Lebanese army had seized a fuel-storage tank hidden by black marketeers and was distributing gasoline to residents when the explosion occurred.

It was the largest explosion in Lebanon since the Beirut Port blast on Aug. 4.






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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’



The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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