Middle East Updates / Free Syrian Army, Marred by Defections, Seeks UAE Support

UK's Cameron calls emergency meeting after killing of British aid worker David Haines; Indonesian counter-terrorism officials arrest four Turkish nationals suspected of links to Islamic State, local media reports.


Haaretz's latest analyses and opinions on the Middle East: Obama's speech on Islamic State: He’s no George Bush but not his old self either (Chemi Shalev) | Netanyahu’s urgent meeting inflates danger of Islamic State (Amos Harel) | Air strikes won’t defeat Islamic State (Zvi Bar'el)


See Saturday's Middle East Updates

11:33 P.M. Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Sunday Qatar had sent three military planes loaded with weapons and ammunition to a Tripoli airport controlled by an armed opposition group.

"Unfortunately they (the planes) reached (Tripoli) Matiga airport," he told UAE-based Arab TV channel Sky News. "We will consider... breaking off relations if this interference into Libya's internal affairs continued." (Reuters) 

11:08 P.M. The head of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition movement is seeking support in the United Arab Emirates for the group's war-battered rebel fighters.

The Free Syrian Army has been marred by defections and divisions. Its fighters are engaged in a two-front war against Islamic State fighters and Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

Syrian National Coalition leader Hadi Bahra said Sunday that a plan is in place to reorganize and restructure the Free Syrian Army. He says the goal is to bring these fighters more effectively under the political leadership of the Syrian National Coalition.

Bahra made the remarks after meeting with the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash in Abu Dhabi. The UAE says it's ready to join an international coalition against Islamic State fighters. (AP)

12:34 P.M. Indonesian counter-terrorism officials have arrested four foreign nationals suspected of links to Islamic State, local media reported Sunday.

Local news web site Tempo.co reported that the four were Turkish citizens, who were arrested Saturday in Poso, a district in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, along with three Indonesians.

They were arrested after the counter terrorism squad and local police tailed their car on the way to a mountainous area in Poso, an Islamic militant stronghold.

"We are still investigating their background and their intentions of being in Poso and whether their arrivals were illegal," police spokesman Ronny Sompie said. (DPA)

10:56 A.M. British Prime Minister David Cameron has summoned military and security chiefs for an emergency meeting in response to the beheading of a British hostage David Haines and a death threat directed at another, Alan Henning. (AP)

7:37 A.M. The Australian military will deploy to the Middle East as part of a U.S.-led operation against Islamic State, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday.

"The government has decided to prepare and to deploy to the United Arab Emirates a military force," Abbott said in Darwin.

The decision was taken in a meeting of his cabinet and the national security committee, following a request from the U.S., he said.

Australia will send 600 military personnel and up to eight Super Hornets and other aircraft, Abbott said.

Australian forces stationed at the Al-Minhad Air Base in Dubai have been flying weapons to Iraq to aid government and allied forces fighting Islamic State forces.

It has also made humanitarian aid drops to civilians caught in the fighting since the Islamic State declared its aim of establishing a caliphate in Iraq and Syria earlier this year. (DPA)

3:34 A.M. Islamic State militants release video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.

Reuters could not immediately verify the footage. However, the images were consistent with that of the filmed executions of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, in the past month.

Haines, a 44-year-old father of two from Perth in Scotland, was kidnapped last year while working for the French agency ACTED.(Reuters)

2:36 A.M. Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab confirmed Saturday that its leader, Ahmed Godane, had been killed in a U.S. air strike this week and named a new leader, promising “great distress” to its enemies.

U.S. forces struck Godane’s encampment in south-central Somalia with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions on Monday, but the Pentagon did not confirm his death until Friday.(Reuters)