Middle East Updates Al-Qaida Leader Warns of Revenge for Air Strikes

'Dozens of casualties' in Yemen bomb blast; Iran reportedly builds surface-to-surface missile; Australia considering joining anti-Islamic State campaign; Saudi FM: War against extremists needs years.

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Haaretz's latest Middle East analyses and opinions: Assad, rebels see opportunity in Syria strikes (Jack Khoury) | How the UN is set to combat foreign terrorist fighters (David Scharia)

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10:56 P.M. The leader of Al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, the Nusra Front, vowed Sunday that his group would "use all possible means" to fight back against airs trikes by the U.S.-led coalition and warned that the conflict would reach Western countries joining the alliance.

In a 25-minute audio recording, Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani portrayed the U.S.-led coalition as a "Crusader alliance" against Sunni Muslims and vowed to fight back.

"We will use all that we have to defend the people of Syria...from the Crusader alliance," al-Golani said. "And we will use all possible means to achieve this end," he said, without offering more details. (AP)

6:08 P.M. A car bomb exploded at a hospital used as a base by Yemen's Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement on Sunday, killing or wounding dozens of people, tribal and local sources said.

The attack took place in Marib province, east of the capital Sanaa, the sources said. (Reuters)

2:31 P.M. The Islamic Republic of Iran has built a new surface-to-surface cruise missile capable of being launched from an airplane, Iran's semi-official news agency reported.

The report Sunday by the semi-official Fars news agency quotes Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the airspace department of the elite Revolutionary Guard, as saying that the missile has a range of 700 kilometers (435 miles).

Hajizadeh said the missile can be launched from land-based pads, naval vessels, aircraft, helicopters and drones.

From time to time Iran announces building new military devices, which cannot be independently verified. Iran began a self-sufficient military program in 1992, under which the country produces weapons from mortars to submarines. (AP)

2:25 P.M. Germany's army has started training 32 Kurdish peshmerga fighters at an army school in Bavaria to support them in their fight against Islamic State extremists.

A spokesman for the German defense ministry said Sunday that the 32 Kurdish fighters would stay in Germany until October 3 to receive weapons' training.

Germany also began delivering arms to the Kurds in northern Iraq on Thursday, dispatching a shipment of 50 hand-held anti-tank weapons, 520 G3 rifles and 20 machine guns.

In total, the German plan calls for arming 10,000 Kurdish fighters with some 70 million euros ($90 million) worth of equipment.

Germany is also sending some 40 paratroopers to help train the fighters on the weapons. (AP)

2:05 P.M. Air strikes believed to have been carried out by U.S.-led forces hit three makeshift oil refineries in Syria's Raqqa province early on Sunday as part of an assault to weaken Islamic State (IS) militants, a monitoring group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks occurred shortly after midnight, adding that they also hit a plastic factory.

Islamic State fighters have control over oil produced in eastern Syria and have set up small, makeshift refineries to distill the crude into fuel, one of their main sources of income.

"These so-called refineries are not a real target and they do not weaken the Islamic State as they do not have any financial value for them," Rami Abdelrahman of the Observatory told Reuters.

"They are composed of trucks with equipment to separate diesel and petrol used by civilians." (Reuters)

2:00 P.M. Intelligence officials in Pakistan say a U.S. drone strike has killed four suspected militants in a northwestern tribal region along the Afghan border.

The two officials and three local Taliban fighters say the strike Sunday killed two Arab militants and two of their local allies in a compound in the town of Wana in South Waziristan.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists. Authorities don't allow journalists into Pakistan's tribal areas, which have long been a safe haven for militants. (AP)

1:09 P.M. Residents of a Turkish border town say that U.S.-led coalition warplanes have struck an oil refinery controlled by the Islamic State group inside Syria.

They say the air strikes hit the Tel Abyad refinery in the early hours of Sunday, a few hundred meters (yards) from the Turkish town of Akcakale.

"There was an explosion and I jumped out of bed," said Akcakale businessman Mehmet Ozer.

The U.S.-led coalition has been targeting oil installations controlled by the militants, aiming to cripple the Islamic State group's revenue sources, estimated at some $3 million a day. (AP)

12:32 P.M. Hundreds of Yemenis are demonstrating in the capital, Sanaa, urging state security forces to return to the streets and demanding the departure of Shi'ite rebel militias.

The Sunday demonstrations come a day after Yemeni political forces signed a security deal in which the Shi'ite rebels, known as Hawthis, agreed to disarm their militia and withdraw from areas they recently seized.

The Hawthis' rivals — the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islah party and other parties — also signed the deal, part of a comprehensive agreement brokered by the United Nations.

"For a secure capital free of armed militias," read a banner raised by demonstrators, who also called for the return of weapons seized by the Hawthis.

Meanwhile, Yemen's local Al-Qaida branch claimed responsibility for firing a rocket at the U.S. embassy Saturday. (AP)

8:21 A.M. A bomb hit a military vehicle in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital on Sunday, a day before the inauguration of a new president.

Police said one person was wounded and no one killed by the magnetic bomb, which was attached to a military truck in Zanbaq Square, near the vast presidential palace compound and several embassies.

A Reuters witness said the bomb tore off the driver's seat door.

"At 9:15 this morning, a sticky bomb attached to an Afghan army vehicle exploded in Zanbaq Square ... only injuring the driver," Najib Danish, Interior Ministry deputy spokesman, told Reuters.

Security is tight in Kabul ahead of Monday's inauguration of new President Ashraf Ghani, who will replace long-time leader Hamid Karzai just before most foreign troops withdraw from the violence-racked country. (Reuters)

5:41 A.M. Australia is considering participation in the air strikes on Islamic State insurgents, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Sunday. She said the cabinet would meet within the next few days, and hear from Prime Minister Tony Abbott who returned Sunday from talks in New York.

Bishop said a legal framework for Australian military action could be agreed with the Iraq government shortly. Syria is a different situation, because Australia does not recognize the government in Damascus. "Should there be a request in relation to Syria, well we would consider it," she told national broadcaster ABC. "We would also consider the legal framework that the US is relying upon in order to go into Syria, but we would make our own judgement about that."

Australia has already deployed eight FA-18 Super Hornet fighter/bombers, refueling aircraft and 600 personnel to the Middle East to be ready for a call to action. (DPA)

2:33 A.M. At least two people were killed Saturday when Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebels attempted to storm the residence of the secret service chief in the capital Sana'a, a local official said. The attack on the home of Ali al-Ahmadi, head of the National Security Agency, in southern Sana'a triggered clashes between the rebels and bodyguards, leaving a Houthi insurgent and a security guard dead, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The attack was the second in less than a week by rebels on the house of al-Ahmadi, whom the Houthis accuse of involvement in killing dozens of their followers during a protest rally nearly a year ago, according to Yemeni media. (DPA)

12:52 A.M. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the war against extremists in the Middle East needs years and must not stop before eliminating all terrorist organizations. Saud al-Faisal, whose country is one of five Arab countries taking part alongside the United States in air strikes targeting the Islamic State group in Syria, is calling for decisive policies and decisions to fight terrorism.

Al-Faisal did not speak before the annual U.N. General Assembly of world leaders. His speech was distributed to the media Saturday. The minister says any solution to Syria's three-year-old conflict must exclude Syrian President Bashar Assad, accusing him of pushing his people toward extremism with his brutal crackdown. (AP)

Workers clear broken glass from windows in building damaged in fighting between Shi'ite Houthi rebels and government forces in Sanaa, Yemen, September 28, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Which countries support the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State?Credit: Haaretz

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