Beirut: The head of Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah said that US ally Israel would not be “neutral” if a war broke out between the United States and Iran.
And “Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.
His remarks came after weeks of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, and as US President Donald Trump steps up his war of words with the Islamic Republic.
“When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said.
“Our collective responsibility in the region is to work towards preventing an American war on Iran,” he said.
He said neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates had any interest in a conflict erupting.
The US House of Representatives voted to restrict Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing toward a needless war.
Hezbollah has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war.
But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.
Nasrallah also said he had decreased the number of his movement’s fighters supporting the Damascus regime in neighbouring war-torn Syria.
“The Syrian army has greatly recovered and has found that today it does not need us,” he said.
“We are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he said.
The head of the Iran-backed Shiite movement, which has been fighting in Syria since 2013, did not give details on the extent of the reduction.
Backed by Russia and Iran, the Damascus government has taken back large swathes of territory from rebels and militant groups since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.
Nasrallah spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against Hezbollah, targeting elected officials from the movement for the first time.
Nasrallah said none of his fighters were currently involved in fighting in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, where regime and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardments on a jihadist-run bastion since late April.
But “if there was a need to return, all those who were there would go back” to Syria, he added.
Responding to a question about repeated Israeli air strikes on Syria, he said the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “deceiving his people”.
“He is playing a game of brinkmanship, because Iran will not leave Syria,” he warned.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Nasrallah’s interview came to mark the start of his movement’s 2006 war with Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Both countries are still technically at war, and a UN peacekeeping force has said three tunnels have been found to have dug under the border from Lebanon into Israel since late last year.
The group’s leader warned that key Israeli installations along the Mediterranean coast including Tel Aviv were “within range of our rockets”.
Iran ready to hold talks with US if sanctions lifted: Rouhani
Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that his country was ready to hold talks with the US if Washington lifts sanctions imposed on Tehran.
“We are always ready for negotiations. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready,” the Iranian Mehr News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying on Sunday.
Leaders of France, Germany and Britain, European signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement said on Sunday that they were “extremely concerned” about the escalating tension in the Gulf region, which they said is likely to put the accord at risk unless the concerned parties join the same table of talks.
In May 2018, Washington unilaterally abandoned the Iran nuclear deal and restarted imposing sanctions on Iran.
On May 8, Iran stopped implementing some of its commitments under the deal and set a 60-day deadline for the Europeans to help Tehran reap the economic benefits of the deal.
On July 7, as the deadline expired, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced that Tehran was ready to begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 per cent level set in the Iran nuclear deal, adding that Tehran would go on gradually abandoning its nuclear commitments every 60 days.
On July 8, Iran announced that it had raised the concentration of its enriched uranium to 4.5 per cent from 3.67 purity.
Following Tehran’s announcement, US Vice President Mike Pence, along with other senior administration officials, vowed to continue to pile up economic pressure on Iran.
Nepal flooding and landslides: Death toll reaches 65
New Delhi: Authorities are battling against time and elements as the death toll in Nepal has reached 65 after widespread flooding and landslides hit the country’s Terai region.
Flooding and landslides have hit the Terai region of the country after incessant rainfall over the past several days. While many villages have been evacuated here, many people were either injured or killed due to nature’s fury. The most affected districts include Lalitpur, Khotang, Bhojpur, Kavre, Makwanpur, Sindhuli and Dhading.
Nepal Police, according to news agency ANI, has said that as many as 30 people are missing.
A total of 1146 people have been rescued from areas at maximum risk from flooding and landslides, as on Monday morning, from 22 districts. Authorities here have said that all the injured are being given medical assistance at local hospitals while people are being advised to get to safer grounds because the threat from swelling rivers remains. More rainfall here could complicate rescue efforts.
Incessant rainfall and the consequent flooding here has also put several districts in Bihar at risk. News agency IANS reported that water level in Koshi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Ganga and Bagmati rivers are on the rise. The state government, along with National Disaster Response Force, is helping locals in areas like Supaul, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Araria and Kishanganj move to safer locations.
Leave the US, Trump tells liberal Democratic congresswomen
Washington: United States President Donald Trump assailed a group of Democratic congresswomen of colour as foreign-born troublemakers who should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came”, ignoring the fact that the women are American citizens and all but one was born in the US.
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he said in tweets.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her allies in what’s become known as the squad. The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.
With his remarks, Trump again inserted himself into a rift between Pelosi and the liberal congresswomen, after offering an unsolicited defence of the Democratic speaker days earlier. Pelosi has been seeking to minimise Ocasio-Cortez’s influence in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalise women of color.
“She is not a racist,” Trump had said on Friday.
Today, Trump’s tone changed.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.
Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.
Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the US at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.
Tlaib was born in Detroit.
Trump’s tweets drew a sharp rebuke from Pelosi, who said the president wants to “make America white again”.
Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Trump critic who recently took steps to leave his party, called the remarks “racist and disgusting”.