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Saudi Arabia demands end of Russia strikes on Syria

Saudi Arabia has demanded that Russia end its bombing campaign in Syria "immediately", saying Islamic State is not present in areas targeted.

A video purporting to show the aftermath of a Russian air strike in Syria.

Speaking at the UN in New York, Saudi diplomat Abdallah Al-Mouallimi claimed "a number of innocent victims" had been killed.

The delegation of my country expresses its profound concern regarding the military operations which Russian forces have carried out in Homs and Hama - places where ISIS forces are not present.

These attacks led to a number of innocent victims.

We demand it stop immediately and not recur.

– Abdallah Al-Mouallimi

Corbyn tells Cameron: Stand up to Saudi Arabia

Jeremy Corbyn has urged David Cameron to intervene to stop the execution of a young demonstrator in Saudi Arabia.

"Intervene now personally with the Saudi Arabian regime to stop the beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who is threatened with the death penalty for taking part in a demonstration at the age of 17," he said.

He added: "While you're about it, terminate that bid made by our Ministry of Justice to provide prison services for Saudi Arabia which would be required to carry out the sentence that would be put down on Ali Mohammed al-Nimr.

"We have to be very clear what we stand for in human rights, because a refusal to stand up is the kind of thing that really damages Britain's standing in the world."


Iran's supreme leader: Saudi should apologise for Hajj crush

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pinned the blame for the stampede outside the Holy city of Mecca on the Saudis Credit: REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Iran's supreme leader has demanded that Saudi Arabia apologise to families of the victims of the Hajj stampede which killed 769 worshippers performing the annual pilgrimage.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said : "This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously.

"Instead of accusing this and that, the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologize to the Muslims and the victims' families.

"The Islamic World has a lot of questions."

Hajj death toll rises to 769

Emergency teams responded after a stampede on the first day of the Eid festival left hundreds killed or injured Credit: Twitter/Saudi Civil Defence Directorate

The death toll following a crush at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has risen to 769.

According to the Saudi health minister the number of people injured in the crush has also risen and it is now believed 934 were hurt.

Saudi cleric: Hajj crush beyond 'human control'

Emergency aid workers at the scene of the disaster Credit: audi Red Crescent Authority

A crush at the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca which killed more than 700 people was "beyond human control, according to Saudi Arabia's grand mufti.

According to the Saudi Press Agency the senior cleric told the country's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef he was not to blame for the tragedy as "fate and destiny are inevitable".

He said: "You are not responsible for what happened because you exerted beneficial reasons in your hands and your ability.

"As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable."

The comments come following criticism by Iran this week that Saudi authorities were responsible for a lack of "crowd management" at the event.

Iranians express fury at Saudi Arabia over Hajj crush

People shout anti-Saudi slogans during the Tehran demonstration. Credit: Reuters

Hundreds Iranians have gathered in the city's capital shouting "death to the Saudi dynasty!" following yesterday's disaster near Mecca.

At least 131 Iranian nationals are now thought to have died in the crush during the Hajj pilgrimage, and politicians in Tehran have pointed the finger of blame squarely at Saudi authorities.

The anger follows comments by the Saudi health minister which appeared to deflect blame for the disaster on to those that died.

Khalid al-Falih said: "The investigations into the incident of the stampede that took place today in Mina, which was perhaps because some pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities, will be fast and will be announced as has happened in other incidents."


Britain 'should push Saudis' for Hajj crush inquiry

A congregation at Manchester Central Mosque remembers those that died in the Hajj pilgrimage crush. Credit: Rob Smith/ITV Granada

A senior British Muslim has called on the government to put pressure on Saudi authorities over a crush that killed at least 719 people and injured 863 during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Khalid Anis, an executive on the board of the Islamic Society of Britain, said it was a tragedy that "people are allowed to die on something which should be spiritual and peaceful".

"Obviously we all want answers. We all need to know why this happened. There just needs to be a clear, transparent analysis of what went wrong," he said.

He said the British government should "push the Saudis" to hold an "open" inquiry into the disaster.

However, he added: "Am I confident that it will be looked at and analysed properly? No. Because it's already turned into a blame game and we have no idea of the story."

'Lack of crowd management' during annual pilgrimage

Liaqat Hussain said he had been on the pilgrimage in the past. Credit: Good Morning Britain/ITV

Saudi authorities have been criticised for a lack of "crowd management" after the latest in a series of disasters during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Liaqat Hussain, a trustee at Bradford's central mosque who has been on the pilgrimage in the past, told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "There are two million people who have to converge on a site which is very small, maybe 20 square metres in area, and there is no security or direction or help for them."

"People come from various countries, speak various languages - there are no directions in their languages, there are no people who can direct them in their languages," Mr Hussain said.

"This is a result of this lack of crowd management," he claimed.

Saudi King Salman has ordered a review into the cause of the latest disaster, which follows a multi-million pound effort to revamp facilities in the area.

Mr Hussain added that many Brits with family members have been unable to contact their family members, with phone networks swamped and reports that Saudi authorities may have taken some towers out of use.

MP calls for 'accountability' over fatal Hajj crush

Naz Shah MP, speaking to Good Morning Britain in Bradford. Credit: Good Morning Britain/ITV

A British MP has called for "accountability" for the crush that killed more than 700 people in Saudi Arabia during this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, told ITV's Good Morning Britain she had family members in the region who were "fine" but added that many were still waiting to hear whether their loved ones had been affected.

"What I understand is that two buses of people were allowed to get off... before their scheduled time," she said.

As many as 7,000 people from Bradford are thought to have travelled on the Hajj pilgrimage this year, with the trip costing up to £5,000 per person.

Shah said the safety of the event had "improved" in recent years, adding that many tour operators and local mosques provided safety training for people before they make the trip.

Witnesses blame authorities for deadly Saudi crush

An ambulance drives past camp city at Mina, near the holy city of Mecca. Credit: Ahmad Massod/Reuters

Pilgrims who witnessed the deadly stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage have blamed Saudi authorities for failing to avert the disaster, while a government minister appeared to point the finger at those that died.

“There was crowding. The police had closed all entrances and exits to the pilgrims’ camp, leaving only one,” the Guardian, citing Agence France Presse, quoted Ahmed Abu Bakr - a 45-year-old man who had escaped with his mother - as saying.

Another witness, 39-year-old Mohammed Hasan from Egypt, said he was worried a similar disaster "could happen again".

He urged authorities to "organise the roads", adding: “Why are they humiliating us like this? We are coming as pilgrims asking for nothing.”

Saudi health minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that the pilgrims involved may not have followed instructions.

Earlier an interior ministry spokesman had said the stampede was caused when "a large number of pilgrims were in motion at the same time", adding that authorities were looking into why such an unusually large number had congregated at the same location.

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