Middle East Updates / Turkish Police Use Tear Gas on Hundreds of May Day Protesters

UN Security Council to hold urgent meeting on Yemen; Baghdad officials blame displaced Sunnis for wave of bombings; bodies in streets of Aden as Yemen health services crippled.

AFP

For Thursday's updates click here.

7:40 P.M. UN Security Council to hold urgent meeting on Yemen

The UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting Friday afternoon on Yemen, where the UN chief has warned that basic services are "on the brink of collapse."Lithuania, which now holds the rotating council presidency, tweeted that the council will meet in closed consultations. The UN political chief, Jeffrey Feltman, will brief.

Diplomats say council member Russia called for the meeting to address the extraordinary humanitarian and security situation. he meeting comes a day after Ban Ki-moon's office again called for an immediate ceasefire, or at least humanitarian pauses, as a Saudi-led Sunni coalition continues more than a month of airstrikes against a Shiite rebel group that is supported by Iran. (AP) 

5:35 P.M. Baghdad officials blame displaced Sunnis for wave of bombings

AFP

Iraq's Sunnis fleeing the fighting in western Anbar province have provided a cover for Islamic State militants to carry out a wave of bombings that struck Baghdad, political and security officials in the Iraqi capital claimed on Friday.

There has been a spike in bombings in Baghdad in the past week, with multiple blasts each day. On Thursday night alone six bombings killed 21 people and wounded scores.

Fighting in Anbar's provincial capital of Ramadi sent at least 110,000 refugees fleeing towards Baghdad over the past two weeks and they are now living on the outskirts of the city.

"We cannot deny the fact that there is a link between the recent attacks in Baghdad and the entry of displaced families from Anbar, which has been used by the terrorists to send large amounts of explosives and Daesh members into Baghdad," Baghdad council member Ghalib al-Zamili told The Associated Press, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arab acronym. (AP)

1:50 P.M. Turkish police use tear gas on hundreds of May Day protesters

Police and May Day demonstrators have clashed in Istanbul as crowds determined to defy a government ban tried to march to the city's iconic Taksim Square.

Security forces pushed back demonstrators using water cannons and tear gas. Protesters retaliated by throwing stones and hurling firecrackers at police.
Istanbul's police chief said around 136 people had been detained, according to private Dogan News Agency.

Authorities have blocked the square that is symbolic as the center of protests in which 34 people were killed in 1977.

Turkish newswires say that 10,000 police officers were stationed around the square Friday with water cannons to block the protesters. Protests are also taking place in cities across Turkey.

The demonstrations are the first large-scale protests since the government passed a security bill this year giving police expanded powers to crack down on protesters. (AP)

10:20 P.M. Yemen health services crippled, says Red Cross

Bodies are strewn in the streets of Yemen's second city, Aden, health officials said Thursday. Health workers are unable to retrieve them for burial amid fierce clashes between Houthi rebels and local militias.

The Red Cross warned that the country's health sector was crippled by a lack of fuel and medical supplies. Import restrictions were worsening the situation, the international humanitarian organization said.

A Saudi-led coalition backing President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi against the mainly Shiite Houthi rebels has blockaded the country's ports and on Tuesday bombed the runway of the airport in Sana'a, the country's capital. That step was taken to prevent the landing of an Iranian plane whose pilot ignored warnings, coalition spokesman Ahmed Asiri said.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran, its main regional rival, if arming the rebels, an accusation that Tehran denies.

The Red Cross condemned what it said was a lack of respect for health facilities by the warring parties in Aden.  The al-Jumhuriyya hospital "became a front line in the fighting," a Red Cross statement said, and all staff and patients had been forced to evacuate. (DPA)