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TV: Despite loyalty pledge, Likud may yet unseat Netanyahu

Senior official quoted as saying party will be forced to make ‘difficult decisions’ if PM again fails to assemble coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Likud Party candidates and MKs attend an event as the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 10, 2019. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Likud Party candidates and MKs attend an event as the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 10, 2019. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.

Opposition leaders ridicule Likud pledge not to oust Netanyahu

Leaders of opposition parties are mocking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for reportedly seeking a signed commitment from the Likud party’s top Knesset candidates that they are united behind him and do not intend to replace him.

“Netanyahu’s paranoia has crossed all logical lines,” Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz tells the Ynet news site. “It appears that he, too, understands that his reign is over. The Likud has transformed from a liberal national party into a party worshiping one man.”

Blue and White MK Yair Lapid, whose party has publicly called for senior Likud members to dethrone Netanyahu and form a coalition with Blue and White, tweets: “Bibi [Netanyahu’s nickname] is right. Behind his back in Likud, everyone is searching for his heir and is talking about it. For now, in whispers. But not for long.”

Iranian fighter jet crashes near Persian Gulf

Iran says a fighter jet has gone down in the south of the country near the Persian Gulf, with two pilots surviving the crash.

The state-run IRNA news agency quotes a local official as saying the crash was caused by a technical problem. Abdolhossein Rafipour, the governor of Tangestan, says the plane went down near the coastal town at 12:30 local time (0800 GMT).

The purpose of Sunday’s flight was not immediately clear. Regular patrol flights are common in the region.

Iran’s air force has an assortment of US-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi planes. Decades of Western sanctions have made it hard to maintain the aging fleet.

AP

2020 Dems back gun limits after El Paso mass shooting

Democratic presidential candidates express outrage Saturday that mass shootings have become chillingly common nationwide and blame the National Rifle Association and its congressional allies after a gunman opened fire at a shopping area near the Texas-Mexico border. Hours later, another mass shooting, in Ohio, claimed more victims.

“It’s not just today, it has happened several times this week. It’s happened here in Las Vegas where some lunatic killed 50 some odd people,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says as he and 18 other White House hopefuls were in Nevada to address the nation’s largest public employees union. “All over the world, people are looking at the United States and wondering what is going on? What is the mental health situation in America, where time after time, after time, after time, we’re seeing indescribable horror.”

Sanders blasts Republican Senate leadership for being “more concerned about pleasing the NRA than listening to the vast majority of the American people” and says that US President Donald Trump has a responsibility to support commonsense gun safety legislation.

At least 20 people were killed amid back-to-school shopping in El Paso. A 21-year-old man was taken into custody, law enforcement officials said. Fourteen hours later, nine people were killed in another mass shooting in downtown Dayton, Ohio. The suspected gunman was shot to death by law enforcement agents.

The Texas shooting was personal for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native who represented the city in Congress for six years. He suspended campaigning to fly home and “be with my family and be with my hometown.”

Earlier, O’Rourke appeared shaken as he told the union forum he’d heard early reports that the shooter might have had a military-style weapon, saying the country needs to “keep that (expletive) on the battlefield. Do not bring it into our communities.”

Former vice president Joe Biden says he tried to call O’Rourke and told reporters, “Enough is enough.”

“This is a sickness,” Biden says. “This is beyond anything that we should be tolerating.” He adds: “We can beat the NRA. We can beat the gun manufacturers.”

A visibly frustrated Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says: “I believe that the NRA have long dominated American politics to the point where they have stopped sensible legislation that would have prevented deaths and prevented killings. They have done it time and time again.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, notes: “We are the only country in the world with more guns than people.”

AP

Dayton mayor says shooter wore body armor, was packing more magazines

Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley says local police officers killed the gunman “in under one minute” after arriving at the scene, and “saved literally hundreds of lives.”

She says the shooter, who has not been identified, carried additional magazines and wore body armor.

Nine people were killed and 26 were injured, she confirms.

Wife of Syrian dictator Assad says she is free of cancer

The wife of Syria’s dictator says that a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer she is now “completely” free of the disease.

Asma Assad, born in 1975, has gone public with her diagnosis — a rare declaration in the Arab world, where prominent figures often conceal their ailments.

Assad appeared at a military hospital, at times with husband Bashar Assad by her side. She continued her public activities, appearing with covered hair.

In a state TV interview aired late Saturday, Assad sported short blond hair and flashed a wide smile. She encouraged women to go for regular checkups.

The Assads have continued to present themselves as modern, forward-looking leaders, even as Syria has been convulsed by a brutal civil war ignited by a rebellion against the family’s decades-long rule, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

AP, Times of Israel staff

Likud: Top 40 candidates sign pledge to keep Netanyahu as leader

The Likud party confirms the top 40 candidates on the right-wing slate have signed a pledge stating that they are united behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and do not intend to replace him.

Netanyahu’s party dismisses criticism from the centrist Blue and White about the move, attacking the rival party for not holding party primaries.

“Gantz and Lapid, who lead a dictatorial party and who elected themselves and their party lists, are the last ones who should preach to Likud — the strongest and most democratic party in Israel,” Likud says.

“Lapid and Gantz, who work against one another, and the Labor party members who replace their leaders every two weeks, can only envy the Likud members who back their party chairman. Their frustration is understandable: Their scheme to replace Netanyahu after the election totally collapsed today.”

Court grants restraining order against activist who harassed PM’s son

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court approves a restraining order sought by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s younger son Avner, against self-described anti-corruption activist Barak Cohen.

The restraining order will be in effect for six months.

Last month, Cohen uploaded a social media video showing him approaching the 24-year-old Netanyahu, and swearing at him. The premier’s son was eating at a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

“We ran into Avner Netanyahu, the son of the weak, corrupt [man],” he shouts in the two-minute clip, before getting closer. “A family of thieves, your dad is a corrupt thief, you should go away. What about daddy’s thefts? How much did he steal in the end? How much was the bribery he received?” a reference to three corruption cases in which charges have been announced against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pending a hearing. One of the cases involves bribery charges.

Cohen, a left-wing lawyer who was suspended by the Israeli bar association in 2017 for harassing banking executives, then spoke about the premier’s older son, Yair, who has been reported in the past to have visited strip clubs, and who last week celebrated his 28th birthday.

“Were you at the party of your brother, the client of prostitutes? You and he get a driver, a security guard, what else do you get from the state? How much do you get?”

Trump briefed on Ohio mass shooting

US President Donald Trump is saying that federal law enforcement is working with local authorities to investigate a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

The shooting in Dayton early Sunday left at least nine dead and comes just hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed at least 20.

Trump tweets praise of law enforcement and says that “information is rapidly being accumulated in Dayton.”

In a second tweet, he writes, “God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”

White House officials say Trump, who is spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, will be updated on both shootings throughout the day.

AP

Netanyahu thanks Likud for ‘unequivocal’ support for him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweets thanks to Likud members who signed a commitment not to seek his ouster as the right-wing party’s leader.

“Thank you to the Likud members for their unequivocal support. Likud is as united as ever!” the prime minister writes.

Construction worker dies in accident in central Israel

A worker has died in an accident at a construction site in Hod Hasharon, medics say.

The man, who is not identified, is said to be in his forties. Attempts to revive him at the scene, after he sustained a serious injury, failed. The circumstances of the accident are not immediately clear.

Nearly 30 employees have been killed in construction-related incidents since the start of the year.

After shooting, Ohio senator says ‘thoughts and prayers are not enough’

Democratic US Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio says “thoughts and prayers are not enough” after a shooter killed nine people and wounded dozens before he was killed by police in Dayton.

In a statement Sunday, Brown says he is angry that state and national lawmakers won’t pass more gun safety laws.

Several proposals have been introduced in the GOP-led Legislature this session that would tighten requirements on firearms sales, transfers and storage. A gun safety group is also pushing to change state law to require background checks on nearly all guns sales.

The Republican who leads the Ohio Senate also shares a statement praising the quick response from Dayton police.

This is the second mass shooting in the US in less than 24 hours.

AP

Man who sent pipe bombs to Clinton, CNN faces sentencing

The Florida man who created a two-week crisis by mailing 16 packages of inoperative pipe bombs packed with fireworks powder and shards of glass to 13 famous Democrats and CNN is scheduled to learn his punishment Monday.

Defense lawyers urge leniency, saying Cesar Sayoc, burdened as a child by severe learning disabilities, was living alone in a cramped van and working as a strip club DJ and a pizza deliveryman in West Palm Beach when he became “increasingly obsessive, paranoid and angry” and believed enemies of US President Donald Trump were trying to hurt him and other Trump supporters.

Prosecutors say a life sentence is “necessary and appropriate” after Sayoc caused “widespread fear and panic” with his boxes in the days before the 2018 midterm elections. None of the packages exploded.

In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office, mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo in Miami. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

His targets included Hillary Clinton, former vice president Joe Biden, several members of Congress, former president Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.

US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff will order 57-year-old Sayoc to serve at least 10 years in prison, the mandatory minimum required by his plea to 65 charges, including 16 counts each of using a weapon of mass destruction, interstate transportation of an explosive, threatening interstate communications and illegal mailing of explosives.

AP

President speaks to Israeli ambassador over alleged mistreatment at airport

President Reuven Rivlin speaks to Israel’s ambassador to Panama, who said security personnel at Ben Gurion Airport delayed him and his family when they found out he was from an Arab village in the country’s north.

Reda Mansour on Saturday published a summary of his conversation with a security officer at the vehicular entrance to the airport on his Facebook page. He said that as soon as the guard heard the name of his hometown, she told the driver to pull over.  She got into the vehicle and told all the occupants, including Mansour’s wife and two daughters, to present their passports and identify themselves, Mansour wrote.

He compared the guard’s tone and body language to an army commander dealing with new soldiers in boot camp. Mansour, 54, is a member of Israel’s Druze community and from the Druze-majority village of Ussafiya, near Haifa. He is a veteran diplomat and has previously served as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil and Ecuador.

Mansour concluded the post with strong language, saying “Ben Gurion, you can go to hell. Thirty years of humiliation and it’s still not over. You used to take us apart at the terminal, and now we’re suspects even at the entrance.”

The Foreign Ministry is investigating the incident.

“Without getting into details of the incident, which is being investigated, I emphasized that what matters is what he felt, and if he was hurt, we must give it our attention,” Rivlin tweets, hailing the alliance between Israel’s Jewish majority and Druze minority.

“We must ensure that we are worthy of this [the Druze-Jewish relationship] at all times, and not merely in times of crisis and war,” writes Rivlin.

‘People were just falling’: Witness describes chaos amid Ohio shooting

A witness is describing the chaos that unfolded on the streets during the shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

Anthony Reynolds says he and his friends were leaving a bar in the Oregon District around 1 a.m. Sunday when they heard the first gunshot.

He says the gunfire was “rapid” after that and “people were just falling.”

The 31-year-old Reynolds says he got a glimpse of the shooter, who he says was dressed in all black and carrying a large gun.

AP

Defense Ministry completes initial tests on updates for IDF armored vehicles

The Defense Ministry completes initial testing on a number of systems and concepts that it plans to install in the military’s armored vehicle — both current and future models — as part of its Carmel tank program.

Some of these will be implemented in the short term, including a high-tech helmet known as Iron Vision, which will be rolled out shortly for the latest version of the Merkava tank, while others will be potentially be used further down the line, a Defense Ministry spokesperson says.

The ministry first launched the Carmel project three years ago. It was initially aimed at creating a new model of tank for the Israel Defense Forces. However, this scope has broadened and changed in the interim years and looks instead to develop new technologies to be used in the military’s current armored vehicles, while still retaining the possibility of producing an entirely new variety of tank, the spokesperson says.

As part of this program, the Defense Ministry gave three defense contractors — Elbit, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries — the task of testing the feasibility of a closed tank that is operated by only two soldiers, instead of the current four, and encouraged them to integrate as many “automatic and autonomous systems as possible,” the ministry spokesperson says.

The three contractors’ prototypes have undergone testing over the past month, which ended Sunday, with a demonstration attended by a number of Defense Ministry and IDF officials, as well as some representatives from the United States military. Each of the companies man completed the challenge in a slightly different way, using proprietary systems that give the soldiers inside better situational awareness, as well as assistance from artificial intelligence.

The Defense Ministry says it is also working to develop “hybrid propulsion, cyber defense, active camouflage, multi-task radar, a system to identify troops, and more” as part of its Carmel program.

Judah Ari Gross

Suspected Texas shooter booked on capital murder

Jail records show the gunman arrested in the El Paso shooting that left 20 people dead has been booked on capital murder charges.

El Paso County records Sunday show that 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius was booked at the downtown jail in the Texas border city. There is no immediate indication that he had an attorney.

Police say more than two dozen people were also injured in the attack Saturday at an El Paso shopping area.

Authorities are investigating the possibility the shooting was a hate crime. They’re working to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly beforehand was written by Crusius.

AP

Top Likud minister: There will be no rotation of premiership

Foreign Minister Israel Katz of the Likud party says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be sharing the premiership under a rotation deal should he win the September elections.

Katz’s comments come a day after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman did not rule out the possibility of rotating the position with Netanyahu in a future coalition government.

Sources close to Liberman later walked back that possibility, telling the Hebrew-language media in a statement that there was “no option” for rotation with Netanyahu and that the “efforts are focused on building a wide, national, liberal government.”

“There will be no rotation, that’s clear,” Katz tells Army Radio. “Netanyahu is prime minister, he is the candidate, and a majority of the public [supports him].”

El Paso shooting victim, 25, died while shielding infant son

A 25-year-old woman who was shot while apparently shielding her 2-month-old son was among the 20 people killed when a gunman opened fire in a crowded El Paso shopping area, her sister says.

Leta Jamrowski, 19, of El Paso, learned Saturday afternoon that her sister Jordan Anchondo had been shot to death at Walmart while shopping for back-to-school supplies earlier in the day. Jamrowski spoke to The Associated Press as she paced a waiting room at the University Medical Center of El Paso, where her 2-month-old nephew was being treated for broken bones — the result of his mother’s fall.

“From the baby’s injuries, they said that more than likely my sister was trying to shield him,” she says. “So when she got shot she was holding him and she fell on him, so that’s why he broke some of his bones. So he pretty much lived because she gave her life.”

Anchondo was the mother of three children.

AP

3 El Paso shooting victims remain in critical condition

A hospital official in El Paso says at least three victims of a mass shooting at a shopping area that left 20 people dead remain in critical condition.

Dr. Stephen Flaherty says Sunday that a total of 11 victims were taken to Del Sol Medical Center. They range in age from 35 to 82 years old. More than two dozen people in all were injured in Saturday’s shooting, some of whom were treated elsewhere in the Texas border city.

Flaherty tells reporters that “a number of the patients” being treated at Del Sol will need to return to the operating room, potentially multiple times.

AP

Netanyahu offers condolences to victims of El Paso, Dayton shootings

Netanyahu tweets condolences to the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Dayton shooter identified as Connor Betts, 24 — report

CBS News identifies the suspected shooter in Dayton as Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook, Ohio.

Police are still trying to establish a motive, the report says.

The gunman was shot dead at the scene.

Netanyahu calls Israeli envoy over alleged mistreatment at airport

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Israel’s ambassador to Panama on the phone, after the diplomat said security personnel at Ben Gurion Airport delayed him and his family when they found out he was from an Arab village in the country’s north.

The prime minister’s call comes shortly after President Reuven Rivlin spoke to Reda Mansour, a member of the Druze community.

During their conversation, Netanyahu expressed “deep appreciation for the way he represents Israel in Panama,” the prime minister’s office says.

The Druze “are dear to our hearts and we will continue to work in every possible way to strengthen this covenant of brotherhood,” says Netanyahu.

White House says Trump angry, saddened by shootings

A top White House aide says US President Donald Trump is saddened and angry following mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and “wants to do something about it.”

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tells ABC that one of Trump’s first calls Saturday after the shooting in El Paso was to his attorney general “to find out what we could do to prevent this type of thing from happening” and send a message that the shootings are “not appropriate.”

Mulvaney describes recent shootings as a “difficulty” facing the US that “predates this administration by many, many years.” He says there should be some public discussion about gun laws but also the role of social media.

Mulvaney stresses that the shooters in El Paso and Dayton are “sick” people, and that “no politician is to blame for that.”

AP

Police exhume body of girl, 37 years after murder, as new evidence emerges

The remains of 12-year-old Nava Elimelech, who was violently murdered and dismembered in 1982, have been exhumed, after investigators uncover new evidence in the case.

37 years after her death, Elimelech’s body is taken to the Abu Kabir forensic institute for testing. Police do not elaborate on the nature of the new evidence and a gag order is imposed on the case.

Elimelech’s family approves the move.

The young girl’s remains were found along the coastline, 10 days after she went missing from her home in Bat Yam. The murderer was never apprehended.

US prosecutors to seek death penalty for El Paso shooter

The Justice Department is seriously weighing federal hate crime charges against the El Paso shooting suspect that would carry the potential for a sentence of the death penalty.

That’s according to a person familiar with the department’s decision making process, who was not authorized to speak on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

“I can tell you from the outset, the state charge is capital murder and so he is eligible for the death penalty,” District Attorney Jaime Esparza tells a press conference.

“We will seek the death penalty.”

A gunman armed with a rifle opened fire in an El Paso shopping area packed with as many as 3,000 people during the busy back-to-school season, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured, police said. Law enforcement officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity identified the suspect as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius.

Agencies

Trump orders flags flown at half-mast after shootings

US President Donald Trump on Sunday orders flags on all government buildings to be flown at half-mast for the next five days to mourn the victims of two mass shootings.

“Our Nation mourns with those whose loved ones were murdered in the tragic shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and we share in the pain and suffering of all those who were injured in these two senseless attacks,” he says in a presidential proclamation.

“As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible acts of violence… I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds” until sundown on August 8.

AFP

Racist online manifesto linked to El Paso shooter

The police chief in El Paso is linking a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before a shooting that killed 20 people to the suspect in custody.

Authorities have booked 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius on capital murder charges. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen tells reporters Sunday that “we have to attribute that manifesto directly to him.” Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.

The document posted online expressed concern that an influx of Hispanics into the United States will replace aging white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in elections and swinging the White House to the Democrats.

When asked whether the shooting was a hate crime, Allen says, “It’s beginning to look more solidly like that is the case.”

Federal prosecutors say they are treating the shooting as a domestic terrorism case.

AP

TV: Despite loyalty pledge, Likud may yet unseat Netanyahu as leader

Despite a commitment not to seek the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Likud leader, senior members of the party are privately musing that if the premier fails to assemble a coalition after the September elections, they may reconsider.

A senior Likud source is quoted by Channel 12 as downplaying the significance of the loyalty pledge signed by the top 40 candidates in the right-wing party on Sunday.

The source says that, should the coalition talks again be deadlocked, as they were after the April elections, Likud members would be forced to “make difficult decisions.”

GOP official slams Jewish ‘left-wing radicals’ who ‘bought control of Congress’

A letter sent by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer to party members identified three “left-wing radicals” that he says “bought control of Congress for the Democrats.” They are all Jewish.

Emmer represents Minnesota’s Sixth District in the US House. The Minneapolis-based American Jewish World newspaper first saw the letter, which is said appears to have been circulated in March, in July and reported on it Friday.

The letter on Emmer’s letterhead says, “The news of impactful, real progress on turning our nation around was undercut by biased media and hundreds of millions of dollars of anti-Republican propaganda put out by liberal special interests, funded by deep-pocketed far-left billionaires George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.”

“These left-wing radicals essentially BOUGHT control of Congress for the Democrats,” the letter also said.

Soros and Bloomberg are Jewish, and Steyer had a Jewish father and has in the past identified as Jewish, although now he is a practicing Episcopalian.

JTA

Ohio shooter’s sister among 9 victims

Police say the 24-year-old white man behind a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, killed his sister and eight others before he was fatally shot by police.

Authorities say Connor Betts was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting a .223-caliber rifle into the streets of a popular Dayton nightlife area around 1 a.m. Sunday.

They say his 22-year-old sister, Megan, was the youngest of the deceased victims, who were all killed in the same area. The others were adults ranging in age from 25 to 57.

AP

Russian police using Israeli tech to breach protester’s phones — reports

Russian authorities are using Israeli technology to breach the phones of anti-government protesters, Channel 12 reports, citing Russian media.

The Petach Tikva-based Cellebrite company is named as the group allegedly being used by Russian police.

In June, Cellebrite — which specializes in helping law enforcement agencies unlock cellphones — announced it has found a way to break into any iPhone ever made, as well as many Android phones. It was reportedly the company the FBI used in 2016 to hack into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter after Apple refused the US government’s request to build a backdoor into its famously secure operating system.

Russian police detained over 800 people at an opposition gathering in Moscow on Saturday, as authorities upped the pressure on top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by launching a criminal probe into his anti-graft group.

Crowds walked along the capital’s central boulevards in a protest “stroll” over the refusal by officials to let opposition candidates run in September polls for city parliament seats — a local issue that has turned into a political crisis.

Most of those candidates and opposition leaders, including Navalny, are being held by police following a protest rally last weekend, in which 1,400 demonstrators were detained — one of the biggest crackdowns in years.

With AFP

Netanyahu accuses Lapid, Liberman of hatching ‘back-alley deal’

Netanyahu is alleging that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Blue and White’s Yair Lapid, and maybe even some right-wing politicians are planning a “back-alley deal,” ostensibly to remove him from power.

He makes the accusation while speaking to party activists in Eilat, in comments carried by the Ynet news site.

“They want to ruin our democracy, because they have a back-alley deal. What is the deal? Liberman, others, they have a back-alley deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if some on the right are also [in on it],” says Netanyahu, without elaborating.

Lapid responds by taunting the prime minister in a tweet: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean we aren’t out to get you.”

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Iranian fighter jet crashes near Persian Gulf

Iran says a fighter jet has gone down in the south of the country near the Persian Gulf, with two pilots surviving the crash.

The state-run IRNA news agency quotes a local official as saying the crash was caused by a technical problem. Abdolhossein Rafipour, the governor of Tangestan, says the plane went down near the coastal town at 12:30 local time (0800 GMT).

The purpose of Sunday’s flight was not immediately clear. Regular patrol flights are common in the region.

Iran’s air force has an assortment of US-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi planes. Decades of Western sanctions have made it hard to maintain the aging fleet.

AP