From maritime 'harassment' to a Rohingya rescue, the non-coronavirus news you may have missed

The US accuses 11 Iranian vessels of 'harassing' its ships and Moon Jae-in secures victory in South Korean election

Rohingya refugees react after being rescued in Teknaf near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Thursday, April 16, 2020. Bangladesh's coast guard has rescued 382 starving Rohingya refugees who had been drifting at sea for weeks after failing to reach Malaysia, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Suzauddin Rubel)
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US Navy accuses Iran's Revolutionary Guard of harassing its ships in the Gulf

The US Navy has accused Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of harassing American ships in the Gulf.

The US Fifth Fleet tweeted that 11 Iranian vessels "repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches" towards US Navy ships, adding the US crew took action "deemed appropriate to avoid collision".

The US Navy said there were no casualties but one vessel came to within 10 metres of its ship.

Widow of former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam dies

This file picture dated 10 January 2001 shows Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam with his wife Najat Maraqbi (R) at Damascus airport. Khaddam, 69, collapsed unconscious as he was giving a speech in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli 03 June 2001. Lebanese and Syria state televisions said he was  in satisfactory condition, after earlier reports that he had suffered heart problems. (Film)  AFP PHOTO/Louai BESHARA (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)
Abdul Halim Khaddam with his wife Najat Marqabi at Damascus airport in January 2001. AFP

Najat Marqabi died less than two weeks after her husband's death from a heart attack in exile of natural causes.

A family announcement said Najat Marqabi was buried at the Islamic cemetery in Paris on Wednesday.

The couple were married for decades and had four children.

Khaddam, who is from the port city of Banias, died on March 31 at age 88. Marqabi was from Damascus.

Russia and European states clash at UN Security Council over Syria chemical weapons report

Syria's close ally Russia clashed with European nations in the UN Security Council on Wednesday over a report from the global chemical weapons watchdog blaming the Syrian air force for a series of attacks using sarin and chlorine on a rebel-held town in 2017.

Moscow dismissed it as “baseless” and the Europeans demanded accountability for the government’s action.

An investigative team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a 82-page report issued April 8 that the Syrian air force dropped bombs containing either chlorine or sarin on a hospital and open farmland in the central town of Latamneh, injuring more than 70 people and killing at least three — a surgeon and two others.

Hundreds of starving Rohingya rescued from drifting boat

At least two dozen ethnic Rohingya died on a ship that drifted for weeks after failing to reach Malaysia, Bangladesh coastguard officials said on Thursday, following the rescue of 396 starving survivors.

For years, Rohingya from Myanmar have boarded boats organised by smugglers in the hope of finding refuge in South-East Asia, usually making voyages during the dry season from November to March, when the waters are calm.

A human rights group said it believed more boats carrying Rohingya, a Muslim minority group, were adrift at sea, with coronavirus lockdowns in Malaysia and Thailand making it harder for them to find refuge.

"They were at sea for about two months and were starving," a Bangladesh coastguard official told Reuters, adding that the ship was brought to shore late on Wednesday.

The survivors aboard would be sent to Myanmar, said the official.

Moon Jae-in's ruling Democratic Party wins South Korean election

South Korea's ruling liberal party secured a resounding victory in parliamentary elections, which had the highest turnout in nearly three decades despite the coronavirus sickening thousands and forcing social distancing at polling places.

The ruling Democratic Party and a satellite party it created to win proportional representative seats combined to win 180 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, election officials said with vote-counting nearly complete Thursday. Meanwhile, conservatives suffered their worst showing in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area in years.

The comfortable majority is expected to embolden President Moon Jae-in’s government to pursue its key domestic and foreign objectives, such as reviving diplomacy with nuclear-armed rival North Korea, while it grapples with a historic public health crisis that is shuttering businesses and threatening livelihoods.