Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Israeli Strike in Syria Kills Former Bodyguard of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Leader

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives an address while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish, during a rally to mark the sixth anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation, in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on May 25, 2006. (AP)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives an address while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish, during a rally to mark the sixth anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation, in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on May 25, 2006. (AP)
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Israeli Strike in Syria Kills Former Bodyguard of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Leader

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives an address while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish, during a rally to mark the sixth anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation, in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on May 25, 2006. (AP)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives an address while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish, during a rally to mark the sixth anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation, in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on May 25, 2006. (AP)

An Israeli strike in Syria on Tuesday killed a former bodyguard of the leader of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, an official with the group said. An Israeli man and woman were killed in a retaliatory Hezbollah strike on Israel.

Hours earlier, an Israeli drone hit a car in Syria near the border with Lebanon, according to a war monitor and the Syrian pro-government radio Sham FM. The Hezbollah official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Britain-based pro-opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two Hezbollah members in the car were killed in the strike, while a Syrian driver was critically wounded. There was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities or from the Israeli military.

Hezbollah later identified the militant as Yasser Nemr Qranbish, although it did not disclose the circumstances of his death as is standard practice for Hezbollah combatants who are not in leadership roles.

Hezbollah supporters mourned his death on social media, calling him the “shield” of Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Later Tuesday, Hezbollah announced that in retaliation for the killing, it fired tens of Katyusha rockets targeting an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights. Israeli police said in a statement that a man and a woman were killed in the rocket barrage. The MADA rescue service said they were civilians.

Qranbish had been mainly active in Syria over the recent years and involved in weapons shipments for Hezbollah, said an official with an Iran-backed group, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the information.

Hezbollah launched attacks against Israel after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza on Oct. 7 with the attack on southern Israel by the Palestinian armed group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas is an ally of Hezbollah.

Since then, Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon have killed over 450 people, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also more than 80 civilians and non-combatants. On the Israeli side, 17 soldiers and 13 civilians have been killed since the war in Gaza began.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the tense Lebanon-Israel frontier have been displaced in the monthslong war.

For years, Israel has launched frequent strikes on targets in Syria linked to Iran, its powerful regional backer, but rarely acknowledges them. The strikes have escalated over the past five months against the backdrop of the war in Gaza and ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Hezbollah's attacks have gradually escalated, with the group introducing new weapons. Hezbollah maintains it will stop its attacks once there is a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel has also struck deeper into Lebanon.

The targeting of Qranbish appears to be part of an ongoing Israeli military strategy of taking out key Hezbollah operatives aimed at weakening its military capabilities “before any major escalation that might" follow, said Charles Lister of the Washington-based Middle East Institute think tank.

“That it occurred in Syria will serve as another potent reminder of Israel’s clear penetration of the ‘resistance axis’ there,” Lister told The Associated Press, referring to the regional network of Iran-backed groups.

Also Tuesday, Hezbollah released drone footage over the Israeli-annexed Golan, identifying Israeli military bases and strategic areas.

Soon after, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in a post on X, formerly Twitter, said Hezbollah's Nasrallah would be “considered the destroyer of Lebanon” if the Iran-backed group does not end its threats and attacks and withdraws from southern Lebanon.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : UN, World Bank to Fund Climate-Resilient Roads in Rural Areas in Yemen

Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
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UN, World Bank to Fund Climate-Resilient Roads in Rural Areas in Yemen

Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)
Supporting local initiatives in Yemen to maintain rural roads (Social Fund for Development)

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the World Bank are constructing climate-resilient roads in rural areas in Yemen and are enhancing road infrastructure to improve access to food and basic services for rural communities across the country, the two bodies revealed in a statement.

The constructions are part of the three-year Yemen Emergency Lifeline Connectivity project, which began in 2022.

The project aims to provide climate resilient road access and employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to the food insecure rural population of Yemen.

It comprises rural and village access roads improvement and maintenance, such as the rehabilitation of lifeline rural access roads and road maintenance through private sector participation and supply chain enhancement.

Also, the project will strengthen the management capacity of transport sector public institutions to finance the project management capacities of the road maintenance fund (RMF) and rural access program (RAP) through a program of capacity building.

This aims to prepare them to efficiently manage the network in the medium to longer-term and strengthen RAP’s and RMF’s capacity to predict, respond, and design resilient roads infrastructure to extreme climate events such as floods, to assess vulnerability of infrastructure assets and prepare and implement resilient investment plans.

In addition, the project supports monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the project is successfully and efficiently implemented and to provide immediate response to an eligible crisis or emergency following the procedures governed by the Bank policy for investment project financing.

$50 Million

With $50 million in funding from the World Bank's International Development Association, UNOPS said it is rehabilitating and upgrading 150 km of access roads in rural areas and 60 km of access roads to villages, as well as supporting the maintenance of an additional 150 km of road.

UNOPS is also procuring and installing three pre-fabricated bridges as part of the project.

To date, works on more than 70 km of roads are complete, while works on 85 km are near complete.

“We are proud to partner with the World Bank on a project that will help increase economic opportunities for rural communities by facilitating their access to markets and social services,” said Muhammad Usman Akram, Director of UNOPS Multi-Country Office in Amman.

The rehabilitated roads will help address food insecurity and foster the safe and reliable delivery of food and other essential goods to rural communities.

The all-weather roads will also provide a way for humanitarian organizations to access more communities.

“The reactivation of the Road Asset Management System will support Yemen in assessing the vulnerability of infrastructure assets, designing climate-resilient road infrastructure and preparing climate-resilient investment plans for subsequent implementation in the future,” added Usman Akram.