Rebel-army clashes kill 12
Twelve people were killed yesterday in clashes between government forces and Shiite rebels on the outskirts of Amran, a local official and tribal sources said. The rebels, known as Huthis or Ansarullah, had travelled to Amran to take part in a demonstration, but shooting erupted when they insisted on crossing a checkpoint to the northern entrance to the city with their weapons, an official said. Eight rebels were among the dead, as well as two soldiers and two civilians, the sources said. A security official in Sana’a said orders have been given to prevent Huthis from entering Amran, as the army sent reinforcements. The military also set up more checkpoints around the city as rebels tried to enter from the east and west, sources said. Last week, Huthis armed with rifles paraded through Amran alongside vehicles fitted with rocket launchers, demanding the sacking of the “corrupt government.”
Syriac Orthodox leader dies
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas has died at the age of 80. State news agency SANA said the leader of one of world’s oldest Christian sects was admitted into a German hospital on Feb. 20 and passed away on Friday after a long illness. Iwas’ Syriac Orthodox Church was founded in 452 after a schism with the bulk of the world’s Christians and has more than 4 million members across Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, with significant communities in Germany, Sweden and in the US. Iwas was born in Mosul, Iraq, and enthroned as patriarch in 1980 at St George’s Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus, where he conducted services in Syriac, a modern version of Aramaic. Church officials said his remains will be brought to Lebanon before being taken to Syria for burial.
Israel army raid turns deadly
Israeli troops yesterday killed three Palestinians in an early-morning raid at the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank that sparked clashes with protesters, Palestinian officials said. Medical and security sources said two of the fatalities were militants and the third a civilian. They said 14 Palestinians were wounded, with two reportedly in critical condition. The military confirmed the incident, but said four Palestinians died. It said the raid was aimed at arresting Hamza Abu el-Heija, a Hamas operative wanted for links to shootings and bombings against Israelis. Palestinians officials said the Israeli military ringed a house in the camp overnight and ordered el-Heija outside. When he refused, soldiers stormed the house and a shootout ensued, the officials said. “Other gunmen gathered around the house” to help el-Heija, including Mohammad Abu Zena, 19, an Islamic militant who was killed along with el-Heija, the medical and security sources said. The army said a “violent riot” then broke out, during which three Palestinians were killed.
Troops fight oil port rebels
Troops fought with rebels occupying oil ports yesterday after fighters attacked an army base where military reinforcements were preparing an offensive to break the blockade, residents said. Anti-aircraft gunfire and explosions were heard late at night and again after dawn in Ajdabiya, the hometown of rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran. The central government gave Jathran a two-week deadline on March 12 to end a blockade of three oil ports or face a military attack. Yesterday, troops loyal to Jathran attacked an army camp which was been reinforced after Tripoli issued its threat, local residents said.