December 26/14

Bible Quotation for today/"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
John 01/01-18: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,  who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'" From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.

Lebanese Related News published on December 25-26/14
Audeh Calls on Politicians to Abandon Narrow Interests, Urges Unity
Al-Rahi during Christmas Mass: Who Else Besides President Seeks Lebanon's Interests
Lebanon’s Hezbollah detains ‘Israeli spy’ in its ranks
Son of Mustafa Hujeiri Released by Judiciary
Jreij: Fleiti Accepted by All Sides to Assume Negotiations on Arsal Captives
Report: Russia Seeks Nasrallah's Honest Stance on Syrian Crisis
Gemayel Says Coexistence to Salvage Lebanon
Jumblat, al-Rahi Express Optimism over Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue
Tent School Offers Hope to Syrian Child Refugees in Lebanon
LebanonJumblat, al-Rahi Express Optimism over Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue
Hezbollah sheikhs tour south Lebanon churches

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 25-26/14
'So Many Tears this Christmas', Says Pope Francis
Iran holds 'largest military drill in history'
 Arson Attack on Swedish Mosque Injures Five
19 Libya Troops Slain after Speedboat Attack on Oil Ports
Israeli Girl Seriously Wounded in West Bank Firebomb Attack
Jordan Vows 'all Efforts' to Save Pilot Seized by Jihadists
Syrian rebels increasingly joining ISIS: Coalition ambassador
Talks planned as Syrian war enters new year
Syria’s war enters new year more fragmented than ever
Iraq, Turkey Pledge to Join Hands to Fight IS Jihadists
Russia Hopes to Host Syria Talks in January
Turkey Student Arrested for 'Insulting' the President
Saudi Women Drivers Sent to 'Terrorism' Court
Iran Kicks Off Massive Gulf Military Drills
Bosnia Cleric Accused of Inciting Followers to Fight in Iraq, Syria

Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
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Germany: 17,500 march against Islamization, sing Christmas carols; lawmakers and media smear them as “pinstripe Nazis”

Audeh Calls on Politicians to Abandon Narrow Interests, Urges Unity
Naharnet/Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh called on Thursday politicians to give up their narrow interests to safeguard the country, pointing out that the Lebanese are divided instead of exerting efforts to unite to avert dangers surrounding the state.  “Don't the Lebanese deserve that politicians give up their personal and narrow interests?” Audeh wondered in his Christmas sermon at St. George cathedral in downtown Beirut. He lamented the absence of a head of state, considering it “impedes the work of the state.” Audeh wondered if hindering the presidential elections is democratic, saying: “Lawmakers who are boycotting the presidential elections were capable of renewing the term of their parliament.”“The presidential vacuum affects all the country and the Lebanese have the right to have a capable and active republic.”Lebanon's presidential crisis has spilled over into parliament, which has failed to hold legislative sessions to elect a new head of state. The Lebanese parliament is tasked by the constitution to select a president, a decision that has already been put off more than a dozen of times as the war in Syria continues to divide rival political blocs. The term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May. Audeh expressed belief that “politics ruins everything in Lebanon and endangers the health of its citizens.”

Al-Rahi during Christmas Mass: Who Else Besides President Seeks Lebanon's Interests?
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi lamented on Thursday the ongoing vacuum in the presidency, hoping for the election of a new president. He wondered: “Who else besides the president seeks the interests of Lebanon?”He made his remarks during Christmas mass that was held at Bkirki and attended by a number of officials, including Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel, and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale.
“We wonder at claims that Lebanon is working fine without a president,” al-Rahi said. “Who else can ease tensions and cater to the people's needs besides the president?” he asked. “Who else besides the president seeks the interests of our youth?” he continued. “We hope that officials would realize the dangers of failing to elect a new head of state,” remarked the patriarch. “The absence of a president will create chaos and spread corruption,” he stressed. Prior to holding the mass, al-Rahi had separate talks with Aoun and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the election of his successor.

Lebanon Maronite patriarch prays for end to presidential election crisis
The Daily Star/Dec. 25, 2014/BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai asked God during a Christmas Day mass attended by the country’s key Christian rivals to guide politicians towards electing a new president. “How much we would like the light of God to guide officials to see the dangers and dire consequences of the lack of election of a president on the entity and constitutional institutions,” Rai said in his homily. “Who else, but the president, guarantees the protection of the Constitution? Who else calls for people's rights other than the president? And who sympathizes with the people other than the president? And who else besides the president considers the aspirations of our young people and their jobs?,” Rai asked. “The president is the father of the nation.” Officials from Lebanon's rival Christian political groups, including the heads of the Free Patriotic Movement and Kataeb Party, came together for the Christmas Day mass. Kataeb leader and former president Amine Gemayel was accompanied by his deputy, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, and Economy Minister Alain Hakim for the Bkirki Church mass. FPM MPs Ibrahim Kanaan, Simon Abi Ramia, and Alain Aoun joined their party chief Michel Aoun at the gathering. Before the mass, Aoun and Rai held a brief meeting where they exchanged greetings and discussed the country’s situation, according to a statement. After the mass ended, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt arrived in Bkirki to meet with the patriarch. Jumblatt was accompained by his two sons Taymur and Aslan, and his daughter Dalia.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah detains ‘Israeli spy’ in its ranks
By AFP/Thursday, 25 December 2014
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has detained a senior party official it accused of spying for Israel and “sabotaging security operations” abroad, a source close to the movement said on Thursday. “Three months ago, Hezbollah’s security apparatus detained a man named Mohammad Shawraba, who is a collaborator in its ranks,” said the source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity. Hezbollah’s investigation of Shawraba, who comes from the southern Lebanese town of Mahruna, revealed he had been working with Israel’s Mossad intelligence service since 2007, the source said. Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite movement whose opponents accuse it of being a “state within a state” in Lebanon, has refused to comment on the arrest. According to the source, Shawraba was in charge of Hezbollah “unit 901”, which coordinates the group’s foreign operations. Shawraba lived in Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold but travelled frequently, said the source, adding that Israel’s spy agency recruited him during a trip abroad. “This member sabotaged some five security operations that Hezbollah had been planning abroad against Israeli-linked interests,” said the source. Hezbollah had been organising attacks to avenge the killing of its top military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in a 2008 car bomb attack in Damascus which the Shiite group blamed on Israel. Party chief Hassan Nasrallah had frequently threatened to carry out revenge attacks. The source said Hezbollah launched a probe that eventually led to Shawraba’s arrest following its attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012.
The 2012 bombing killed five tourists and the bus driver, but the militant group’s suspicions were aroused when the bomber also died and his two accomplices were quickly identified. Residents of Shawraba’s village said they were shocked over the allegation.
“Shawraba is nearly 50 years old, and hasn’t been here for a long time, but his family is known for its loyalty to Hezbollah,” a Mahruna resident told AFP. “For now, it’s just a rumour, but if the movement officially announces his arrest, his family will disown him,” he added.
Hezbollah has rarely been infiltrated by foreign intelligence agencies. In 2012, the group arrested an official in its missiles unit named Abu Trab, who was accused of providing Israel with information about the locations of Hezbollah’s rockets in southern Lebanon during a month-long 2006 war.Iran-backed Hezbollah has a massive weapons arsenal. The group is represented in Lebanon’s parliament and government.

Jumblat, al-Rahi Express Optimism over Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue
Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi expressed delight over the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement, which kicked off two days ago in Ain al-Tineh.
“I am without any doubt relieved for the dialogue between the two parties,” Jumblat said in comments published in An Nahar newspaper on Thursday. He described the talks as a “great achievement,” saying: “This is what I have been calling for and worked on with Speaker (Nabih) Berri.” Bkirki spokesperson Walid Ghayad told al-Mustaqbal newspaper that the patriarch welcomes the dialogue between the Sunni and Shiite parties and expressed hope it succeeds. “The indications are positive,” Ghayyad said. He remarked that al-Rahi “expressed relief over the talks,” considering it “a fundamental matter... that would facilitate reaching solutions for the deadlock in the country.” Al-Mustaqbal and Hizbullah held their first, long-awaited meeting in Ain al-Tineh on Tuesday evening under the auspices of Berri, in an attempt to devise a “roadmap” and a “mechanism” for the coming dialogue sessions between the two parties. A source close to al-Mustaqbal told An Nahar newspaper that both parties expressed willingness to go on with the dialogue for the longest period possible.  The source denied that the talks have a foreign agenda, pointing out that the lack of foreign solutions prompted the engagement in dialogue to safeguard the country. There are five topics on the dialogue's agenda – defusing sectarian tensions and easing the political rhetoric, the anti-terror fight, the presidential vote, activating the work of institutions, and finding a new electoral law.  Lebanon has been without a head of state, since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May, over differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances. Al-Mustaqbal is at odds with Hizbullah over its involvement in Syria's civil war. The party has sent its members to fight alongside troops loyal to President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him. The movement has also repeatedly called on Hizbullah to hand over its weapons to the Lebanese state similar to what the country's militias did at the end of the civil war.

Gemayel Says Coexistence to Salvage Lebanon
Naharnet/Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel stressed on Thursday that Lebanon's salvation relies on the will of the Lebanese to coexist and live freely. “Lebanon has passed through tough conditions and the (political) movement has no basis without the will of the Lebanese to fortify the country,” Gemayel said in comments published in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah. He pointed out that Lebanon's salvation will never be due to foreign interventions, which will lead to nowhere without the support of the Lebanese and their efforts to resolve the crises gripping the country. “Lebanon relies on the will of its people to salvage the country and rebuild it better than it was,” the Kataeb leader said. He expressed trust in the future of the country that “faced all challenges and storms and survived... We have no fear.”
Lebanon has been without a head of state, since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May, over differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances.

Son of Mustafa Hujeiri Released by Judiciary
Naharnet /The son of Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, Baraa, was released by the judiciary overnight, media reports said on Thursday. His release was met with signs of jubilation in the northeastern border town of Arsal where he hails from. A delegation of the families of the serviceman, who were abducted from Arsal in August, later headed to the area to congratulate Mustafa Hujeiri on the release of Baraa. Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, who is also known as Abu Taqiyeh, is wanted by Lebanese authorities on charges of belonging to the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Media reports said on Wednesday that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant expressed willingness to release several soldiers and policemen in its captivity in return for freeing three women held in Lebanese prisons along with their children.
According to the relatives of the captive soldiers and policemen, who were taken hostage when ISIL and the Nusra Front overran Arsal, Ahmed Fleiti recently visited the outskirts of the town and met with ISIL officials. The leaders reportedly informed him of their intention to release four soldiers from different sects as a goodwill gesture to Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat. Ad Diyar newspaper said Wednesday that contacts with al-Nusra Front are cut as it set the release of Baraa al-Hujeiri as a condition to resume negotiations.

Report: Russia Seeks Nasrallah's Honest Stance on Syrian Crisis
Naharnet/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Russian deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov discussed during the latter's visit to Lebanon earlier in December the ongoing conflict in Syria and the party's position on the matter, reported al-Akhbar newspaper on Thursday. It said: “Despite the growing alliance between Moscow and Tehran and their backing of Damascus on the economic and military levels, Nasrallah has become a source of honest positions for Russia.” “The Russians have resorted to Nasrallah because he is the man of resistance, not diplomacy, and he has accumulated a political resume heaped in high credibility,” added the daily. “Nasrallah is also the common ally of Damascus and Tehran and Hizbullah is a main force in the fight against terror in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, which makes the secretary general a significant partner in any possible political solution to the Syrian crisis,” reported al-Akhbar. Nasrallah stressed during his December 5 talks with Bogdanov that “we are waging a battle against terrorism and in defense of Syria, its state, and strategic choices,” said the daily. “At the same time, we are waging the battle of President Bashar Assad. There can be no solution without the president,” he added, while describing him as a “red line.” Bogdanov had paid a visit to Lebanon in early December where he held talks with a number of senior officials on local and regional affairs.

'So Many Tears this Christmas', Says Pope Francis
Naharnet /Pope Francis roundly condemned jihadist violence and the "brutal persecution" of religious minorities this year in a Christmas message to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and millions of others. Speaking to a packed crowd outside Saint Peter's Basilica, the popular Argentine pontiff also made a strong call to end violence wrought against children amid "indifference and tears." His second traditional "urbi et orbi" message (to the city and to the world) comes at the close of a year plagued by war and violent religious fundamentalism, notably in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and most recently against school-children in Pakistan. "Truly there are so many tears this Christmas," he said in the message broadcast across the world.
Without naming the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group, he said Christians in Iraq and Syria "for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict" and "together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution."
There were "too many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, adults and elderly, from this region and the whole world." Killings and hostage-takings from the Middle East to Nigeria and elsewhere must stop, he said.
Visibly moved and departing from his text, the 78-year-old head of the Roman Catholic church noted "the children massacred by bombardments, including where the son of God was born" -- in the Holy Land -- and their "powerless silence that cries under the sword."
Denouncing "indifference", he explicitly condemned abortion, deploring the children "killed before seeing the light".
"May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers.""May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week", he added, referring to the 149 people, including 133 school-children, killed in Peshawar by the Taliban. In Baghdad, where an estimated 150,000 Iraqi Christians have fled jihadist violence since June, Christmas celebrations were dampened by events. "We do not have any feelings of joy," said Rayan Dania Sabri at Baghdad's Church of the Ascension. "How can we be joyful when there are thousands still living in camps and schools in poor conditions?" Turning to trouble-spots elsewhere across the globe, the softly-spoken Francis urged Ukrainians also to "overcome tensions, conquer hatred and violence and set out on a new journey of fraternity and reconciliation".
He called for peace in "the whole Middle East" and continued efforts towards "dialogue" between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace too was essential in Africa, particularly in Nigeria "where more blood is being shed", as well as in Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He noted the victims of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and thanked those who were "courageously" assisting the sick. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II also was expected to pay tribute to the "selflessness" of medical staff and aid workers fighting the Ebola epidemic in her own annual Christmas Day broadcast. In Sierra Leone, all public Christmas festivities were canceled as a result of the Ebola crisis, with soldiers deployed over the holiday season to prevent spontaneous street celebrations, officials said. In his Christmas message, which was fairly brief, the pontiff traditionally calls for remedies to the world's woes.
Francis however has put an end to a longstanding tradition of popes wishing a happy Christmas in dozens of languages. At a Christmas Eve mass, he urged Roman Catholics to have greater empathy towards family and friends, saying the world needs "tenderness" and "warmth".In Syria, Christians in the war-torn city of Homs were enjoying their first Christmas in three years in the Hamidiyeh neighborhood, with a brightly colored tree and a manger made from rubble set up in the middle of the ruins.
Francis sent a video message to South Koreans recalling his trip to the country in August in which he said: "The great celebration in honor of the (Catholic) martyrs (in the 18th and 19th centuries in Korea), and the encounters with young people remain fresh in my memory."
Cubans prepared to celebrate Christmas, a resurgent holiday banned for 38 years by the communist government, with an early gift from U.S. President Barack Obama: a historic rapprochement. In Bethlehem on Christmas Eve hectic preparations preceded celebrations on the West Bank town's biggest night of the year, culminating in midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity built over the spot where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. Scouts playing bagpipes and drums marched to the church in a procession led by Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. In his homily, Twal called for "peace in Jerusalem", where violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians rocked the city for months, and "equality and mutual respect" among all faiths.
He also asked for the rebuilding of Gaza, which was ravaged this summer during a 50-day war between Hamas and Israel in which more than 2,200 people died. Agence France Presse

Arson Attack on Swedish Mosque Injures Five
Naharnet/An arsonist set fire to a mosque in central Sweden on Thursday injuring five people, police said, as the country grapples with a political crisis caused by the rise of the extreme right. "Somebody threw an object through a closed window and afterward a fire started inside," police spokesman Lars Franzell told AFP. "There were between 15 and 20 people in the premises." Refugee-friendly Sweden woke up to the reality of a new political landscape in early December when the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats brought down the government by refusing to back its budget proposal in parliament. The mosque is located on the ground floor of a building in the city of Eskilstuna, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Stockholm. According to police, the fire started in the early afternoon.
Police said they were investigating the incident as a case of aggravated arson but had no suspects yet. The five injured were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries including smoke inhalation, lacerations and fractures. "There has been an intensification of hatred against Muslims," Sweden's Islamic Association head Omar Mustafa told public radio SR on Thursday. In January unknown perpetrators daubed black swastikas on the front door of a Stockholm mosque and in December last year neo-Nazis attacked a peaceful anti-racist protest in a Stockholm suburb, causing three people to be hospitalized. Agence France Presse

19 Libya Troops Slain after Speedboat Attack on Oil Ports
Naharnet /Islamists killed at least 19 soldiers Thursday after a surprise attack in which they used speedboats in a failed bid to seize some of Libya's main oil terminals, officials said. The militiamen belonging to the Fajr Libya, or Libya Dawn, launched the attack on the port of al-Sidra by firing rockets from speedboats, setting an oil tank on fire, security sources said. Soldiers damaged three of the vessels before clashes in which at least 19 of them were killed, they said, adding the militants were eventually repelled. "These speedboats had fired several rockets at the terminals of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra and one of them hit a tank south of al-Sidra port which then caught fire," said Ali al-Hassi, security spokesman for the region. Witnesses said the attack was launched overnight, and reported seeing smoke from the burning oil tank. A military source said 19 soldiers were killed in the region, and that the oil tank struck by a rocket was still burning in the Al-Sidra oil terminal. Al-Sidra is located in the region known as the "oil crescent" that has been the scene of recent fighting between government forces and Fajr Libya. Since the clashes erupted on December 13, oil production in the country has dropped to nearly 350,000 barrels per day compared with 800,000 previously, according to industry experts
A medical source at Ibn Sina hospital in Sirte said the facility received 18 bodies from the fighting. "The armed forces on Thursday repelled an attack in which the Fajr Libya militia tried to seize the al-Sidra oil terminal," said Hassi, adding that it was during this attack that the 19th soldier died. The number of casualties among the Islamist militants was unknown. The 136th battalion is affiliated with the military. Most its fighters are from a tribe loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar. Haftar's forces have been fighting alongside forces from the internationally recognised government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani against Islamist militants who have seized control of cities including Tripoli. On December 16, a warplane belonging to Fajr Libya fired missiles at a sector to the west of al-Sidra, Hassi said at the time, in the first such raid in the energy-rich region. More than three years after strongman Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed revolt, Libya is still awash with weapons and powerful militias, and has rival parliaments as well as governments. Islamists have seized Tripoli and Benghazi in the east, and forces loyal to Thani are fighting to regain control of the cities. Agence France Presse

Bosnia Cleric Accused of Inciting Followers to Fight in Iraq, Syria
Naharnet/A radical Muslim cleric in Bosnia accused of encouraging his followers to fight with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq was charged with terrorism on Thursday, prosecutors said. Husein Bosnic, from Buzim in the country's northwest, was arrested in September. Authorities said a number of his followers travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside militants, with some killed there. Prosecutors said in a statement that the 42-year-old was charged with inciting terrorist activities, the first case of its kind in Bosnia.
"After his public preachings, a large number of Bosnian citizens who are members of the Salafist community left Bosnia and joined terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group and committed terrorist acts," prosecutors said. Bosnia in April adopted a law providing for sentences of up to 10 years in prison for jihadists and their recruiters. Intelligence estimates in local media reports say some 150 Bosnian citizens are currently fighting with jihadists in Iraq and Syria, while around 20 have been killed. Around 50 are believed to have returned.
Agence France Presse

Iran holds 'largest military exercise in history', in bid to send 'message'
Roi Kais/Ynetnews /Published: 12.25.14
'This is a message of peace to our friendly neighbors, but a show of force to our enemies,' Iranian general says. Iran holds the "largest military exercise in its history," or at least that was what Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadan channel reported Thursday. The exercise, dubbed Mohammad Rasoulallah (Mohammad, the Messenger of God) involved all branches of the Iranian military and will last for six days, spanning 2.2 million square kilometers, Iranian news television Press TV reported. General Hashma Allah Malka said it was an "Important message of peace to our friendly neighbors, but also a show of force regarding our defense abilities which sends a message to our enemies." As part of what Iranian media are calling a massive show of force, the army will maneuver from the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf all the way to the Gulf of Aden and even the parts of the Indian ocean. According to different reports, the Iranian Navy will be testing warships and submarines. As part of the exercise, the Iranian will use the more most advanced technology. The first part of the exercise
Close to 13,000 personnel will take part in the drills, which will be the first time Iran has organized military maneuvers so far from its coastline. The southeastern provinces of Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchistan will also be included in the tests, with the Iranian army, air force, navy and Revolutionary Guards participating. "One of the aims of these maneuvers is to increase our defensive capability... and to transfer this experience to young" personnel, army chief general Abdolrahim Moussavi told state television. The drills will finish with a military parade on December 30. Last week Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari called on foreign forces in the region to "leave the area" in order to avoid incidents. The maneuvers will pose "no danger to foreign forces in the Persian Gulf," he added, in an apparent reference to the US Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in Bahrain. Iran's navy has boosted its international presence over the past few years, in particular to help guard commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden from pirate attacks.
AFP contributed to this report

Jordanian Father asks Islamic State to treat captured pilot son as 'guest'
AMMAN (Reuters) - The father of a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State fighters after his plane crashed in Syria said he did not consider his son a hostage and called on his captors to treat him as a "guest".Jordan is one of several Arab countries participating in the U.S.-led military mission to bomb fighters from the Islamist group, which holds territory in both Syria and Iraq.First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, 27, was captured after his jet crashed in northeast Syria on Wednesday during a bombing mission against the militants. The U.S. military, which commands the operation, said enemy fire was not the cause of the crash.Kasaesbeh, who comes from a prominent Jordanian Sunni Muslim family, is the first pilot from the international coalition known to have been captured by Islamic State.
The Sunni Muslim jihadist group has a history of killing enemy soldiers that it captures on the battlefield and beheading Western civilians that it takes hostage. Many of the captives it has killed are Shi'ites or non-Muslims, but the group has also executed Sunnis for fighting alongside its enemies.
His family has pleaded for mercy."I do not want to describe him as a hostage. I call him a guest," his father, Saif al-Kasaesbeh, told Reuters Television. "He is a guest among brothers of ours in Syria Islamic State. I ask them - by the name of God and with the dignity of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him - to receive him as a guest of his hosts and treat him well," he said.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Louise Ireland)