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The funeral ceremonies of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Saeed al-Hakim in Karbala

Top Shia cleric funeral

A funeral procession has been held for senior Iraqi Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Muhammad Saeed al-Hakim. Mourners converged on the Iraqi holy city of Karbala on Saturday to bid farewell to the eminent religious figure. Meanwhile, condolences are pouring in over the passing of Ayatollah al-Hakim. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian expressed deep sorrow, describing his demise as a great loss. Several Iraqi officials, including President Barham Salih and Secretary-General of Parliament Serwan Abdallah, also sent condolence messages. The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, too, called Ayatollah Hakim’s demise a major loss for the world of Islam. The top cleric passed away at the age of 87. He was among four prominent religious figures in Iraq and taught at the religious seminary of Najaf, alongside top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Downing Israeli missiles

The Russian military says Syrian air defenses had intercepted most of the missiles Israel fired toward Damascus on Friday. 21 out of the 24 rockets fired by Israeli warplanes using the Lebanese airspace were said to be destroyed mid-air before reaching their targets. Damascus issued another call to the United Nations to condemn the Israeli regime’s attacks. The Syrian Foreign Ministry made the call in letters addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council. It also urged the international bodies to discharge their responsibilities to hold Israel accountable and prevent the repetition of such attacks. Israel regularly targets positions inside Syria, especially those of the resistance forces who have played a key role in fighting foreign-backed terrorism.

Venezuela talks

Venezuela's government has resumed talks with the opposition in Mexico aimed at ending years-long political and economic crises in the country. Representatives of the two sides sat at the negotiating table for a second round on Friday. They discussed issues related to elections and sanctions. The first day of talks ended without agreements but talks are set to continue through Monday. The main opposition alliance has already announced it would end a three-year election boycott. The two sides began negotiations last month, after previous talks in 2019 and 2020 failed. The crisis engulfed the South American country after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president. The US and several of its western allies backed him and imposed sanctions on Venezuela in a bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

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