FILE -- In this June 19, 2016 file photo, a Lebanese army soldier takes his position overlooking an area controlled by the Islamic State group at the edge of the town of Arsal, in northeast Lebanon. Lebanon’s U.S.-backed military is gearing up for a long awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of IS militants from a remote corner of northeastern Lebanon near the border with Syria, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by the extremists. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
In this photo from June 19, 2016, a Lebanese soldier takes his position overlooking an area controlled by ISIL on the edge of the town of Arsal in north-east Lebanon. Hussein Malla, File / AP

Lebanon army says it hit back at ISIL positions after extremists fired artillery that landed in town



The Lebanese army says it hit back at ISIL positions in northern Lebanon after the extremists fired artillery that landed on the outskirts of the northern town of Qaa.

The army has been shelling ISIL positions in the area for weeks in anticipation of a military campaign to dislodge the group from positions it has held there since 2014. It said on Monday this week it had hit back after the extremists fired near to Qaa.

While one local news outlet reported the Lebanese armed forces had requested US air support for its offensive, a Lebanese military source refuted those claims on Tuesday. The presence of US special forces in Lebanon received renewed attention this week after a report on Al Hurra, a US-based Arabic television station.

"I can confirm the presence of US special forces in Lebanon," said Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon said. "Our special forces are providing training and support to the Lebanese armed forces. That not only concentrates on operational type missions, but also tactical and strategic type missions. We also have a presence with Lebanese special forces in all aspects of training and special operations."

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Hizbollah strengthens its position in Lebanon with military successes

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The presence of US forces in Lebanon, however, is not new, and does not mean they would be on the ground in an operation against ISIL.

“Their role has always been a training and support role, and it goes back about a half decade,” said Aram Nerguizian, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington.

Whenever it takes place, the military campaign against ISIL will be a test for the Lebanese armed forces, which have not carried out a major combat operation since 2007. The last one was against militants who had taken refuge in Nahr Al Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. It lasted more than four months, killed more than 168 Lebanese soldiers and more than 200 militants, almost completely destroyed the camp and displaced around 30,000 people.

The campaign against ISIL is not expected to be speedy, unlike Hizbollah’s recent operation against Al Qaeda-linked militants who held positions not far from ISIL’s.

The terrain is “incredibly inhospitable, and they’re going to be doing it without large-scale air cover”, Mr Nerguizian said. But, “at the end of the day, Lebanon is a member of the counter-ISIL coalition, and it hasn’t asked for tactical help".

Hizbollah's offensive last month against al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate, Jabhat Fatah Al Sham, lasted about a week and ended with a negotiated settlement between the two sides that allowed militants to withdraw to Syria with their families.

"With Fatah Al Sham, you’re fighting a beaten enemy that knows it’s the endgame,” Mr Nerguizian said. “ISIL doesn’t have an exit plan, and they’re not really demographically Syrian.”

Hizbollah has declared it will fight ISIL from the Syrian side of the Lebanese-Syrian border, and is ready to assist the army on the Lebanese side of the border as well.

The proximity of the Lebanese military to Hizbollah has raised concerns as some American politicians argue that arms supplied by the United States could end up being used by the Shiite militants against Israel. The US department of defence has sought to assure them that is not the case, however. Meanwhile, a US embassy official in Beirut reaffirmed to The National the US's stance on Hizbollah's role.

“The United States has serious concerns about a military operation undertaken inside Lebanon that was not conducted by the Lebanese armed forces, the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon," the official said.

The American presence in Lebanon also received attention in April, when thousands of Syrian refugees living near Riyaq airbase in the east of the country were forced to move from the area to provide a wider security perimeter after the US military increased its use of the base - most likely to provide faster resupply of ammunition to the Lebanese army in northeastern Lebanon.

US special forces have also had a presence at the Hamat military base near Batroun, on the coast of Lebanon. That base is home to the Lebanese special forces training facility.

On Monday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, also addressed Hizbollah’s role in Lebanon by calling for “improvements” to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), which monitors southern Lebanon and the country’s cease-fire with Israel. Unifil’s mandate is up for renewal later this month and Ms Haley said more attention needed to be paid to the "illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons, and infrastructure inside Unifil’s area of operations".

“These arms — which are almost entirely in the hands of Hizbollah terrorists — threaten the security and stability of the region,” Ms Haley said. “Unifil must increase its capacity and commitment to investigating and reporting these violations.”

Dolittle

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Michael Sheen

One-and-a-half out of five stars

Profile of Tarabut Gateway

Founder: Abdulla Almoayed

Based: UAE

Founded: 2017

Number of employees: 35

Sector: FinTech

Raised: $13 million

Backers: Berlin-based venture capital company Target Global, Kingsway, CE Ventures, Entrée Capital, Zamil Investment Group, Global Ventures, Almoayed Technologies and Mad’a Investment.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

LOVE AGAIN

Director: Jim Strouse

Stars: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion

Rating: 2/5

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can lead to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This can occur through blood transfusions, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injecting drugs. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common.

People infected with hepatitis C experience few or no symptoms, meaning they can live with the virus for years without being diagnosed. This delay in treatment can increase the risk of significant liver damage.

There are an estimated 170 million carriers of Hepatitis C around the world.

The virus causes approximately 399,000 fatalities each year worldwide, according to WHO.

 

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup – Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

World Cricket League Division 2

In Windhoek, Namibia - Top two teams qualify for the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, which starts on March 4.

UAE fixtures

Thursday, February 8 v Kenya; Friday, February 9 v Canada; Sunday, February 11 v Nepal; Monday, February 12 v Oman; Wednesday, February 14 v Namibia; Thursday, February 15 final

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index in full

1 Jeff Bezos $140 billion
2 Bill Gates $98.3 billion
3 Bernard Arnault $83.1 billion
4 Warren Buffett $83 billion
5 Amancio Ortega $67.9 billion
6 Mark Zuckerberg $67.3 billion
7 Larry Page $56.8 billion
8 Larry Ellison $56.1 billion
9 Sergey Brin $55.2 billion
10 Carlos Slim $55.2 billion

Gender pay parity on track in the UAE

The UAE has a good record on gender pay parity, according to Mercer's Total Remuneration Study.

"In some of the lower levels of jobs women tend to be paid more than men, primarily because men are employed in blue collar jobs and women tend to be employed in white collar jobs which pay better," said Ted Raffoul, career products leader, Mena at Mercer. "I am yet to see a company in the UAE – particularly when you are looking at a blue chip multinationals or some of the bigger local companies – that actively discriminates when it comes to gender on pay."

Mr Raffoul said most gender issues are actually due to the cultural class, as the population is dominated by Asian and Arab cultures where men are generally expected to work and earn whereas women are meant to start a family.

"For that reason, we see a different gender gap. There are less women in senior roles because women tend to focus less on this but that’s not due to any companies having a policy penalising women for any reasons – it’s a cultural thing," he said.

As a result, Mr Raffoul said many companies in the UAE are coming up with benefit package programmes to help working mothers and the career development of women in general. 

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League, Group B
Barcelona v Inter Milan
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Wednesday, 11pm (UAE)

LA LIGA FIXTURES

Friday Celta Vigo v Villarreal (midnight kick-off UAE)

Saturday Sevilla v Real Sociedad (4pm), Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao (7.15pm), Granada v Barcelona (9.30pm), Osasuna v Real Madrid (midnight)

Sunday Levante v Eibar (4pm), Cadiz v Alaves (7.15pm), Elche v Getafe (9.30pm), Real Valladolid v Valencia (midnight)

Monday Huesca v Real Betis (midnight)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Score

Third Test, Day 1

New Zealand 229-7 (90 ov)
Pakistan

New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat

Origin
Dan Brown
Doubleday

MATCH INFO

Serie A

Juventus v Fiorentina, Saturday, 8pm (UAE)

Match is on BeIN Sports

MATCH INFO

Champions League quarter-final, first leg

Ajax v Juventus, Wednesday, 11pm (UAE)

Match on BeIN Sports

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

Results

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,200m, Winner: ES Rubban, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ibrahim Aseel (trainer)

5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh85,000 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Al Mobher, Sczcepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: Jabalini, Tadhg O’Shea, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 2,200m, Winner: AF Abahe, Tadgh O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh85,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: AF Makerah, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

7.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m, Winner: Law Of Peace, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

Favourite book: ‘The Art of Learning’ by Josh Waitzkin

Favourite film: Marvel movies

Favourite parkour spot in Dubai: Residence towers in Jumeirah Beach Residence

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Power: 110 horsepower

Torque: 147Nm

Price: From Dh59,700

On sale: now


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