BREAKING NEWS

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach attack
 
Iraqis demand compensation for deadly US strike on Mosul
 
Turkey issues arrest warrant for NBA star
 

ON THE GROUND


Gunmen kill at least 26 Christians in Egypt bus attack

Gunmen in Egypt killed at least 26 people on a bus carrying Coptic Christians today. The bus was traveling to the St. Samuel Monastery, which is about 140 miles south of Cairo. Officials said there were eight to ten attackers, all dressed in military uniforms. Egypt has seen violence targeting Christians in recent months, including twin suicide bombings in April. Pope Francis visited Egypt last month to show his support for Christians in the country. After the pope’s visit, however, the Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate vowed to escalate attacks against Christians in Egypt.

 

Iran, Hezbollah seek dialogue with Saudi Arabia

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is calling for dialogue with Saudi Arabia to resolve the crises in Yemen and Syria. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Zarif slams US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh and urges regional leaders to come together to find solutions to regional issues. Zarif wrote that the United States and its allies can either intensify their war efforts or “focus on helping to forge inclusive political solutions with the participation of all the political groups involved.”

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made similar comments on Thursday. “Your only solution for the sake of all Muslims, the whole region ... is dialogue with Iran and to negotiate with Iran,” he said. Speaking in a televised speech to mark the 17th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, Nasrallah said the kingdom would otherwise be on a path to more bloodshed. The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.

 

Pentagon says more than 100 civilians died in US airstrike

A US military investigation found that more than 100 civilians were killed in a US airstrike on Mosul on March 17, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The probe concluded that explosives planted by the Islamic State in a building that was targeted had been inadvertently triggered, leading to the building’s collapse. The probe also found that US and Iraqi forces did not know about the explosives or that there were civilians inside the structure.

 

At least 35 killed in US strikes in eastern Syria

At least 35 civilians were killed on Thursday in US-led coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State-held town of Mayadeen, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Earlier on Wednesday, coalition airstrikes killed more than 16 civilians in a village west of Raqqa.

Meanwhile, in southern Syria, the army announced the capture of areas to the south of Palmyra and to the east of Qaryatayn, in southeastern Homs province, from the Islamic State. With these latest gains, government forces are getting closer to US-backed rebels in control of large swathes of land in the Badia region.

 

Hamas executes three over killing of commander

Hamas on Thursday executed three people convicted of assassinating Gaza Strip military chief Mazen Faqha. The executions took place in a public square in front of Gaza’s main police headquarters. Two of the men were hanged, and the third was executed by firing squad. Hamas has accused Israel of being behind the assassination, which took place in March outside Faqha’s home.

 

Air base in southern Libya under control of eastern forces

The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), operating under the command of military strongman Khalifa Hifter, said on Thursday that it had taken control of an air base in southern Libya. The Tamanhent base had previously been under the control of a rival faction from the western city of Misrata loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord. The advance extends the LNA’s control of territory into Libya’s central desert area.

 

Israel to decrease electricity supply to Gaza

Israeli Gen. Yoav Mordechai said on Thursday that Israel will be forced to decrease the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip in the coming days. Israel currently supplies Gaza with 125 megawatts, a quarter of which will be cut within two weeks’ time. Two months ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to cut funding for Gaza, following years of disagreement with Hamas, which governs the territory. The cuts include smaller payments to Israel for the utility. 

 

Bahraini court sentences 17 men to jail

A Bahraini public prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday that 17 men had been sentenced to jail on terrorism charges — five for life, three for 10 years and the rest to shorter terms. Eight of them have also been stripped of their nationality. The men were accused of “establishing a terrorist group, joining that group, attempted murder of a public official and training on the use of weapons and explosives.”

 

Eight Turkish security personnel killed in clashes with Kurds

Six Turkish soldiers, a police officer and a village guard were killed in four separate clashes with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Wednesday and Thursday. The clashes took place in four Turkish provinces in the east and southeast. Nine PKK members were killed in ongoing operations in the conflict zone, according to a military statement.

 

THE WASHINGTON CONNECTION


Senate panel moves Iran sanctions bill

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday voted 18-3 to approve new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, human rights violations and support of terrorism. The bill’s authors insist it does not violate the nuclear deal. A floor vote could occur as soon as next month. 

 

Middle East Minute will not be published on Monday because of Memorial Day.

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