Middle East crisis live: Iran destroys ‘Sunni militant bases’ in Pakistan; US launches fresh Red Sea strikes against Houthis | Middle East and north Africa

Iran has launched airstrikes in Pakistan on what it described as bases for a Sunni militant group.

Pakistan said the attacks late on Tuesday killed two children and wounded three others in an assault it described as an “unprovoked violation” of its airspace, Associated Press reports.

The attack also followed Iranian strikes on Iraq and Syria less than a day earlier, as Tehran lashed out after a dual suicide bombing claimed by the Sunni militant group Islamic State that killed more than 90 people.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency and state television said that missiles and drones were used in the strikes in Pakistan to target the Jaish al-Adl militant group. Press TV, the English-language arm of Iranian state television, attributed the attack to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

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Key events

Welcome and opening summary

Hello and welcome to our latest blog on the Middle East crisis, it’s 2:39am in Gaza and Tel Aviv and 4:09am in Tehran. I’m Reged Ahmad and I’ll be with you for the next while.

Iran has launched airstrikes in Pakistan on what it described as bases for a Sunni militant group, potentially further raising tensions in region already inflamed by Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip.

The US also launched a new strike against the Yemen-based Houthis on Tuesday, hitting anti-ship missiles in the third assault on the group in recent days, the US military said. That was after the Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile attack against the Malta-flagged bulk carrier Zografia, also on Tuesday, in the Red Sea.

The ship was hit, but no one was injured. The vessel had been heading north to the Suez Canal when it was attacked, the Greek Shipping and Island Policy Ministry said.

We’ll have more on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest developments:

  • Aid agencies have begun suspending vital operations in Yemen after the recent US and UK strikes on Houthi targets, amid warnings that further military intervention risks deepening one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

  • US Central Command said in a statement on Tuesday that it had seized Iranian advanced conventional weapons bound for Yemen’s Houthis on 11 January. It was the first seizure of “lethal Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons” to the Houthis since Houthi attacks against merchant ships began in November, the statement added.

  • Iraq condemned on Tuesday Iran’s “aggression” on Erbil that led to civilian casualties in residential areas, according to a statement by the country’s foreign ministry, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they attacked Israel’s “spy headquarters” in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

  • A US state department spokesperson has said that an Iranian attack near Iraq’s northern city of Erbil on Monday “undermine Iraq’s stability.” “We oppose Iran’s reckless missile strikes,” Matthew Miller said, adding that the US supported “the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts to meet the aspirations of the Iraqi people.”

  • France has accused Iran of violating Iraq’s sovereignty after the strikes, Reuters reported.

  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have also claimed an attack in Syria. The group said it had fired a number of ballistic missiles at “terrorist operations” in the country – including Islamic State targets – and destroyed them. A US defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the US tracked the missiles, which hit in northern Iraq and northern Syria, and initial indications were that the strikes were “reckless and imprecise”.

  • Turkey said it had destroyed 23 targets in overnight airstrikes on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and Syria, a further escalation of conflict south of its border.

  • At least 24,285 Palestinians have been killed and 61,154 have been wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the health ministry in the territory said in a statement on Tuesday. In the past 24 hours, 158 Palestinians were killed and 320 wounded, the ministry added.

  • Arab countries are not keen to get involved in the rebuilding of Gaza if the Palestinian enclave will be “levelled” again in a few years, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, adding that the Palestinian statehood question needed to be addressed.

  • The EU has sanctioned the Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and added him to the group’s terrorist list. As a result, Sinouar is subject to the freezing of his funds and other financial assets in EU member states. The sanctions also prohibit EU operators from making funds or economic resources available to him.

  • A number of European states, “concerned” Arab countries and the United States are working on a concept for a unified Palestinian government that could attract reconstruction funds, Norway’s foreign minister said in an interview in Davos. Specific countries were not named.

  • Requiring Israel to agree to a time-bound, mandatory path to a two-state solution is key to future stability in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Qatar’s prime minister said on Tuesday during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.

  • The Israeli military said on Tuesday its troops killed dozens of Palestinian militants around the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza and also uncovered about 100 rocket launchers. “During IDF activity in the area of Beit Lahia, the troops located approximately 100 rocket set-installations and 60 ready-to-use rockets. The troops killed dozens of terrorists during the activity,” it said.

  • Aid officials in Gaza believe that pockets of famine already exist in the territory, with parents sacrificing remaining food for their children, an apple costing $8 and fuel for cooking almost impossible to find, the Guardian’s Jason Burke reported. UN agencies have said that Gaza urgently needs more humanitarian assistance as Palestinian authorities reported that the death toll in the territory during the Israeli offensive there had risen to more than 24,000.

  • Egyptian authorities reportedly thwarted a drug smuggling attempt on the Egyptian-Israeli border on Monday. Two security sources told the Reuters news agency that there was an exchange of gunfire close to a crossing where aid deliveries for Gaza were being inspected. During the incident, six drug smugglers were arrested, the sources said.

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