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New Lebanon government reaches compromise on Hezbollah arms

Lebanon's new cross-party government, formed last month, adopted a political programme Saturday after reaching a compromise over the thorny question of the arsenal of Hezbollah, one of the coalition's members. The Shiite movement, known as the "resistance" because of its opposition to Israel, never disarmed after Lebanon's 15-year civil war ended in 1990, and its military power rivals that of the army.

Fighting rages at doorstep of key Syria rebel bastion

Heavy clashes were underway Saturday at the entrance to the Syrian rebel bastion of Yabrud, a monitoring group said, a day after a military source said troops had entered the town. Yabrud sits near key rebel supply lines stretching into nearby Lebanon, and its fall would deal a major blow to the rebels as the war enters its fourth year, with 146,000 people dead nationwide and millions more displaced.

Syrian army, Hezbollah, at gates of Yabrud

Syrian forces backed by fighters from the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah were at the gates of the rebel bastion of Yabrud near the Lebanese border Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. State television confirmed the news, reporting: "Syrian army units have advanced in the Yabrud area and now control its eastern approaches and northeastern boundary." The broadcaster said the offensive had caused a "breakdown in the ranks of terrorist groups", the government term for rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.

Islamic Jihad says Gaza truce now in effect

The radical Islamic Jihad movement said on Thursday that an Egyptian-brokered truce had gone into effect to halt a spiralling confrontation with Israel. "An Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT)," Islamic Jihad spokesman Daud Shihab told AFP. But an Israeli official said he was "not familiar" with any ceasefire arrangement. "They understand that if the fire continues, the Israeli reaction will be very harsh, and the last thing the Islamic Jihad and Hamas want now is an escalation and deterioration," he told AFP.

Israel PM blasts world 'hypocrisy over Iran arms ship'

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the world of "hypocrisy" over Iran on Monday as he unveiled a shipment of arms allegedly dispatched to Gaza by Tehran. Standing in front of a vast display of weapons seized last week from a vessel in the Red Sea, Netanyahu launched a blistering attack on the West over its apparent disregard for Iran's alleged attempts to supply longer-range rockets to Palestinian militants.

Israel sees future drone threat from Lebanon, Gaza

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel fears guerrillas in Lebanon and Gaza would deploy exploding drones against the Jewish state in a future war as well as their main rocket arsenals, the chief of Israeli air defense said on Monday. "We will have to cope with dozens of pilotless aerial vehicles, in both the northern and southern fronts," Major-General Shachar Shohat, told a Tel Aviv security conference. Israel is itself a world leader in drone technologies and has used the vehicles extensively in combat.

Israel says long-range rockets aboard 'Iran arms ship'

Israel said Sunday it had found 40 long-range rockets aboard a ship it intercepted in the Red Sea, charging that it carried weapons sent by Iran to Gaza Strip militants. A statement from the Israeli military said the M-302 rockets with a range of 160 kilometres (100 miles) were found in containers offloaded from the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C. The vessel was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos on the high seas on Wednesday between Sudan and Eritrea and escorted to the Red Sea port of Eilat by two warships.

Israeli army unloads 'Iran weapons ship'

The Israeli army was on Sunday unloading a ship which it intercepted in the Red Sea allegedly transporting arms from Iran to Gaza and escorted to the port of Eilat. An AFP correspondent said dozens of containers from the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C were being unloaded and transferred on trucks to a nearby navy base. Naval commandos seized the vessel on Wednesday in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan, and it was escorted into Eilat on Saturday by two Israeli warships.

Israel hails seizure on high seas of 'Iran arms ship'

Israelis hailed Thursday the capture of an alleged Gaza-bound arms ship as a major coup in the fight to unmask Iran but thought it unlikely to scupper ongoing talks over Tehran's nuclear programme. Israeli naval commandos seized the vessel Wednesday, with the military saying it was carrying an Iranian shipment of advanced missiles en route to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The pre-dawn raid, which targeted a Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan, dominated the front pages of Israel's main newspapers Thursday.

Seized 'Iran weapons ship' to be brought to Israel Saturday

A ship Israel said was carrying advanced rockets bound for Gaza from Iran will be brought into port Saturday after being intercepted by Israeli naval forces, the military said. "This ship, which was transporting dozens of M302-type rockets with a range of 150 to 200 kilometres (more than 100 miles) is currently north of Port Sudan and will arrive in Eilat Saturday evening," General Motti Almoz told military radio Thursday. "Once it arrives we will check that other arms and munitions aren't aboard," he said.
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