TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A prominent Iranian lawmaker says the terror attack on a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz that killed 24 people was the result of negligence by security forces.

The Saturday report by semi-official ISNA news agency quoted the head of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, as saying a video shot by the Intelligence Ministry and the Army makes this clear

Describing the video, he says: “The cameraman begged a sniper to shoot the attackers, but the sniper waited for his commander’s order.”

Falahatpisheh also said some of the wounded in last Saturday’s attack had experience fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and if they had a gun, they could have prevented the tragedy from happening.

AP: UN rights body renews experts’ probe of Yemen crimes

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s top human rights body voted Friday to renew work by experts investigating alleged rights violations and crimes in war-torn Yemen, brushing aside the objections of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen’s internationally recognized government itself.

The vote capped a week-long diplomatic showdown led by the three Arab countries who had previously supported the experts but changed course after being stung by their August report that said the countries could be responsible for war crimes during 3½ years of war against rebels in Yemen.

The Human Rights Council, in a measure brought by Western countries, voted 21-8 with 18 abstentions. Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Venezuela joined Saudi Arabia and the UAE in opposing the measure at the 47-member Geneva body.

The measure, among other things, extends the experts’ mandate by one year.

The move came despite days of arduous negotiations to try to find a consensus between the Western group, led by Canada and the Netherlands, and diplomats from the three Arab states. Many countries expressed disappointment that a unified message could not be reached.

Shortly before the vote, Ambassador Obaid Salem al-Zaabi of the UAE said passage of the resolution would “do more harm than good for Yemen,” claiming that it would “deepen divisions” among Yemenis and increase instability in the region.

Proponents, however, insisted the resolution was nearly identical to one adopted by consensus at the council last year, which created the group of three experts plus staffers. The supporters also said the experts’ team has had little time to do its work, and said Yemen’s crisis needs continued scrutiny.

Read full story »

NYT: US Pushes Forward With Plans for Anti-Iran Arab Alliance

NEW YORK — The Trump administration pressed ahead Friday with plans to create an “Arab NATO” that would unite U.S. partners in the Middle East in an anti-Iran alliance, but Qatar said the crisis among Gulf countries must be solved first.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New York with foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to advance the project.

The State Department said Pompeo had stressed the need to defeat the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations as well as ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, securing Iraq and “stopping Iran’s malign activity in the region.”

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a news conference afterward that the alliance should be built on existing institutions, and he asked how that could be done when the most powerful Gulf countries have been engaged in a more-than-yearlong dispute.

Read full story »

NYT: 2 Police Officers Killed in an Insider Attack in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says at least two police officers were gunned down by a fellow officer in the country’s latest “insider” attack in southern Kandahar province.

Aziz Ahmad Azizi, provincial governor’s spokesman, says three other police were wounded in the attack late Friday night.

The incident took place at a remote police outpost in Raghistan district. Azizi says the attacker, who had joined police around a year ago, was able to flee the area.

A police investigation was begun to find out the motive behind this attack.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Militants suffer heavy casualties in Afghan and U.S. forces operations

Several militants were killed or wounded during the separate operations conducted by the Afghan and U.S. forces in southeastern Paktika and Ghazni provinces.

The 201st Thunder Corps of the Afghan Military in the Southeast said at least 3 militants were killed and 7 others were wounded during the operations of the Afghan armed forces in the main highway between Orgun and Gian districts of Paktika.

 The statement further added that the Afghan forces also discovered and defused 7 various types of improvised explosive devices during the same operations.

In the meantime, the U.S. forces carried out airstrikes in Moqor district of Ghazni province, leaving at least 6 miliants dead and 9 others wounded, the 203rd Thunder Corps added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

Read full story »