Yemen's Houthis launch missile toward Saudi holy city
RIYADH Yemen's Houthi militia launched a ballistic missile toward Mecca on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war said on Saudi state news agency SPA.
LONDON Two European airlines said on Saturday they were halting services to Iran, a sign of the crumbling purchasing power of Iranians as their economy buckles under the weight of Western sanctions.
Air France-KLM will suspend its Amsterdam-Tehran service starting April 2013, a spokesman for the carrier said. It currently flies to Iran four times a week.
Austrian Airlines, a unit of Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa, is cancelling its services to Iran due to a lack of demand, a spokesman said. The carrier's last flight from Vienna to Tehran will be on January 13.
It used to fly to Tehran four times a week, but reduced that to three in November.
The Iranian rial has lost about two thirds of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last year, following U.S. sanctions on its central bank and a European Union embargo of Iranian oil, levied over Iran's disputed nuclear programme.
That depreciation has made imported goods and foreign plane tickets far more expensive for Iranians.
A spokesman for Lufthansa said the German carrier was continuing to fly to Tehran five times a week. Italian airline Alitalia also flies to Iran, according to its website.
The U.S. and its European allies fear Iran is trying to build a bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Iran says its programme is purely peaceful.
The sanctions against Iran's energy and banking sectors have made it more difficult for the Iranian government to earn foreign currency, raising concern that the central bank will not be able to defend the rial and depressing its value.
Airlines already had to think twice over whether to maintain services to the country since Iran said in 2011 it had stopped providing fuel to European aircraft in retaliation for their refusal to fuel Iranian planes.
Austrian Airlines suspended its service to Tehran for more than two months last summer because it could not be sure of getting its planes refuelled there.
(Reporting By Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt and Sara Webb in Amsterdam; Additional reporting and writing by Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)
SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq The Iraqi army was trying on Thursday to reach a town south of Mosul where Islamic State has reportedly executed dozens to deter the population against any attempt to support the U.S.-led offensive on the jihadists' last major city stronghold in Iraq.
COLOGNE, Germany Hani Salam escaped civil war in Syria and survived the journey from Egypt to Europe. But when he saw men with bushy long beards at a mosque near his current home in Cologne last November, he was worried.