Baghdad, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — An Iraqi security official says a suicide bomber has targeted a security checkpoint in the western province of Anbar, killing six people.
Maj. Gen. Qasem al-Dulaimi tells The Associated Press the attacker drove a booby-trapped vehicle into a joint security checkpoint managed by the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces at the southern entrance of the town of al-Qaem, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Syrian border.
Al-Dulaimi says four security forces and two civilians were killed in the blast.
He blamed the Islamic State group for the attack.
Al-Qaem is a former Islamic State group stronghold on Anbar's border with Syria.
Geneva, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Three experts working for the U.N.'s top human rights body say the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia may have been responsible for war crimes including rape, torture, disappearances and "deprivation of the right to life" during 3½ years of escalated fighting against rebels in Yemen.
In their first report for the Human Rights Council, the experts also point to possible crimes by rebel Shiite militia in Yemen, which has been fighting the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen's government since March 2015.
The experts have also chronicled the damages from coalition air strikes, the single most lethal force in the fighting, over the last year.
They urged the international community to "refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict "— an apparent reference to countries like the United States and Britain that help arm the Saudi-led coalition, as well as Iran, which the coalition has accused of say has been arming the Houthis.
The experts visited some but not all parts of Yemen as they compiled the report.
"(We have) reasonable grounds to believe that the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations," the report said. It cited violations including unlawful deprivation of the right to life, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, enforced disappearances and child recruitment.
It accused the "de facto authorities" — an allusion to rebel leaders that control some of the country's most populated western and northern areas — of crimes including arbitrary detentions, torture and child recruitment.
Since March last year, the U.N.'s humanitarian aid agency has called Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis — with three-fourths of its population of over 20 million in need of humanitarian assistance. The war has devastated the country's health system and provided the breeding grounds for the world's largest cholera outbreak last year.
The experts cited some 6,475 deaths from the conflict between March 2015 and June this year, but said the "real figure is likely to be significantly higher."
They also sharply criticized work by the coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team, which was set up as a bulwark against possible rights violations. They questioned the JIAT's explanations for the air strikes that have killed civilians, and challenged its "independence and its ability to carry out impartial investigations."
The experts also said nearly a dozen deadly airstrikes they investigated over the last year "raise serious questions about the targeting process applied by the coalition." They chastised some in-the-field coalition combatants for "routinely" failing to seek information about official "no-strike" lists that should have been avoided.
Even getting the experts up and running was an accomplishment for the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council, which passed a resolution creating the team last September. Largely due to the objections of Saudi Arabia and its allies, the council failed several times to authorize more intrusive investigation into possible war crimes in Yemen. The 47-member body only last fall reached a compromise to bring in the experts.
Pontianak, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Police in the Indonesian part of Borneo island have arrested more than a dozen people suspected of starting forest fires that have killed four people in the past month.
West Kalimantan police chief Didi Haryono said Tuesday that two of the 27 people wanted by police died in blazes they started to clear land for planting. He said 14 people have been arrested so far.
Officials say health damaging haze has diminished due to fire-fighting efforts.
Millions of hectares burned in Indonesia during annual dry season fires in 2015. The disaster was exacerbated by the practice of draining swampy peatland forests for industrial plantations, making them highly combustible.
The national disaster agency says four people have died in West Kalimantan's forest fires in the past month, including two suspects.
Ramallah, Aug 9 (AP/UNB) — The Gaza Health Ministry says a pregnant woman, her 1-year-old daughter and a Hamas fighter have been killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
The ministry said Thursday that the militant and the civilians were killed in separate incidents.
The deaths came amid an intense flare-up of violence between Israel and Gaza's rulers from the Islamic militant Hamas. Since late Wednesday, Gaza militants have fired dozens of rockets toward Israel, injuring several people. Israel's military says it struck several Hamas targets in Gaza.
It was not clear if the escalation would derail Egyptian-brokered indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a long-term cease-fire.
Gaza health officials identified those killed overnight as Hamas fighter Ali Ghandour, 23-year-old Enas Khamas and her daughter Bayan.
Damascus, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — A series of suicide bombings and attacks in southern Syria, including a suicide bomber who struck at a busy vegetable market, killed 38 people on Wednesday, state media reported, blaming Islamic State militants for the carnage.
The attacks, the worst in recent months, were reminiscent of the horrific violence by the Islamic State group that spread mayhem across the country, already ravaged by the civil war.
Al-Ikhbariya state-run TV showed images from several locations in Sweida province where the bombers blew themselves up.
The breakdown of the fatalities from the attack on the vegetable market and also from other suicide bombings in the provincial capital, also called Sweida, was not immediately known.
The rare attacks in Sweida and its capital, a predominantly Druze city, came amid a government offensive in the country's south. Government forces are battling an affiliate of the Islamic State group near the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights area and the border with Jordan.
The Islamic State group has been largely defeated in Syria and Iraq, but still has pockets of territory it controls in eastern Syria and in the country's south.
Since its offensive in June, Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have retaken territories controlled by the rebels along the Golan Heights frontier and are now fighting militants in the country's southern tip.
The death, initially reported at 27, quickly climbed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported a series of suicide blasts and other attacks in the southern province.
The Observatory said the clashes in the Sweida countryside and the bombings in the provincial capital killed 56 people, including 28 pro-government fighters, four attackers and 12 militants. The discrepancy in death tolls is common in the early hours of such large attacks.
Al-Ikhbariya said one of the attackers hit at a vegetable market in the city just after 5 a.m., a busy time for the merchants at the start of their day.
The bomber drove through the market on a motorcycle and blew himself up, the TV station said. The second attacker hit in another busy square in the city. Two other attackers blew themselves up when they were chased by authorities.
The city of Sweida has largely been spared most of the violence that Syrian cities have witnessed in the years since the conflict started in 2011.
For the southern offensive, government forces redeployed troops from Sweida province last month to attack rebels and IS-affiliate militants in the nearby provinces of Daraa and Quneitra.
The government is now in control of Daraa, but continues to battle the IS-affiliate militants in Quneitra.