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Iraq

Syrian Government Forces Continue to Surround Rebel-Held Idlib Enclave

Voice of America - Mon, 08/13/2018 - 12:46
An explosion at a fuel depot and electrical generation plant has left dozens of casualties Monday in the Syrian rebel-held town of Maarat al-Numan.  The explosion came as rescue workers in the rebel-held town of Sarmada continued to pull bodies from the rubble after an explosion there Saturday left more than 60 people dead.  Amateur video showed frightened residents cowering behind buildings as a massive explosion and fireball rocked the skyline over the Syrian opposition...
Categories: Iraq

Erdogan Claims Lira Plunge a 'Political Plot' Against Turkey

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 23:07
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, embroiled in a bitter dispute with the U.S., a NATO ally, contended Sunday the plunging value of his country's lira currency amounted to a "political plot" against Turkey. Erdogan, speaking to political supporters in the Black Sea resort of Trabzon, said, "The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics. We are once again facing a political, underhand plot. With God's permission we...
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Syrian Rebel Enclave Threatens Turkish Syria Conflict

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 19:00
Russian and Turkish foreign ministers are set to hold talks Monday in Ankara focusing on the looming crisis over the rebel-controlled Syrian Idlib enclave, which threatens to become a military flashpoint between Turkish and Syrian forces. The crisis threatens to derail deepening Russian-Turkish ties. Damascus is steadily massing its forces around Idlib in preparation for a widely expected assault. But Ankara has vowed to protect the rebels, declaring it a “red line.” Russian Foreign...
Categories: Iraq

Activists: Blast in Northern Syria Kills 42

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:50
An early morning explosion at a building thought to be used by an arms dealer killed at least 42 people, including 12 children, in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on Sunday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast occurred in the town of Sarmada near the Turkish border. The group, which monitors the conflict with the help of a network of contacts in Syria, said dozens of people are still missing and the toll was expected to rise. The...
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Israel PM Defends Contentious Law in Face of Arab Protest

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 16:10
Israel's prime minister has criticized the presence of Palestinian flags at a protest against a contentious new law defining the country as a Jewish state.   Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday that Palestinian flags "flying in the heart of Tel Aviv" was "conclusive evidence" that many protesters oppose Israel's existence, and proves the law is necessary.   Thousands rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against the contentious law. Some...
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Egypt: Security Forces Kill 12 Islamic Militants in Sinai

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:57
Egypt's official news agency says security forces have killed at least 12 Islamic militants in a shootout in northern Sinai Peninsula. Sunday's report by MENA says the fighting erupted when forces raided a suspected militant hideout in the city of al-Arish. It says troops also dismantled two explosive devices and seized weapons during the raid. MENA didn't say when the raid took place or whether any members of the security forces were killed or wounded. Egypt heavily...
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4 Security Members, 3 Militants, Killed in Jordan Shoot-out

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 14:20
Security forces pulled the bodies of three suspected militants from the wreckage of a building in a central Jordanian city on Sunday following a shoot-out in which at least four security personnel were also killed, the government said. In a huge security operation, Jordanian forces laid siege to the building in a residential part of Salt on Saturday night in a search for those responsible for a bomb attack on Friday on a police van. The police vehicle had been maintaining security near...
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Syrian Blast Collapses Building; Dozens Dead, Hurt

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 12:57
Syrian opposition activists say an explosion in the country’s north has killed at least 18 people and wounded many others. The cause of the blast wasn’t immediately known.   The opposition-run Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, says the blast occurred Sunday in the village of Sarmada near the Turkish border and “killed and wounded dozens.” The explosion collapsed a five-story building, burying many of the victims. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human...
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The Iraqi Spy Who Infiltrated ISIS

NY Times Iraq - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 09:59
The story of the mole who posed as a jihadist in the Islamic State, and the most important antiterrorism agency that most people have never heard of.
Categories: Iraq

Iran: French Firm Out of South Pars Gas Project, China’s Is In

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 06:16
Iran’s official IRNA news agency is reporting that China’s state-owned petroleum corporation has taken a majority share of the country’s South Pars gas project after French oil and gas company Total announced it would pull out because renewed U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. The Saturday report quotes Mohammad Mostafavi, an official in Iran’s state oil company, as saying CNPC now owns 80 percent of the shares in the $5 billion project, having bought shares from Total. CNPC...
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Egypt Prosecutors Detain Ex-Monk in Abbot’s Death

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 03:46
Prosecutors on Saturday ordered a recently defrocked monk to be detained for four days pending an investigation into his alleged involvement in the death of the abbot of a prominent monastery in the desert northwest of Cairo, Egypt’s state news agency said. The defrocked monk, identified by his monastic name of Isaiah, confessed to collaborating with others to kill Bishop Epiphanius, abbot of St. Macarius Monastery, prosecutors said. Isaiah’s lawyer withdrew from the case and ceased...
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Iran Supreme Leader Calls for Action to Face 'Economic War'

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:48
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for "swift and just" legal action from new courts after the head of the judiciary said the country faced an "economic war," state television reported. The rial currency has lost about half of its value since April under the threat of revived U.S. sanctions, with heavy demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings. The cost of living has...
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Eerie Calm Pervades Idlib as Government Forces Amass

Voice of America - Sun, 08/12/2018 - 00:32
Heavy airstrikes in scattered parts of the rebel-held northern enclave of Idlib, Syria, overnight gave way to a precarious calm during the day Saturday, as diplomatic talks about Idlib city's fate continued behind the scenes. Arab media reported that over two dozen people were killed airstrikes by Russian planes early Saturday. They showed amateur video of the Syrian opposition White Helmets civil defense force appearing to pull a child from out of the rubble in the town of...
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EU Seeks Details From Saudis in Row With Canada

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:58
The European Union has asked Saudi Arabia to shed light on the arrests of and charges facing female human rights activists, saying that the detainees should be granted due process to defend themselves. Saudi Arabia has in recent months detained several women's rights activists, some of whom had campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom's male guardianship system. The detentions have triggered a major diplomatic row with Canada...
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Israel's Arab Minority Rallies Against New Nation-state Law

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 23:21
Thousands of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday against Israel's new law declaring it the nation-state of the Jewish people, legislation that has angered the country's Arab minority and drawn criticism abroad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the law, which says only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country and downgrades Arabic from an official language, saying it is necessary in order to fend off Palestinian challenges...
Categories: Iraq

IOM: Libya Struggling With High Numbers of Migrants in Detention

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 15:18
The International Organization for Migration reports its voluntary repatriation program in Libya is unable to keep pace with the alarmingly high number of migrants in government detention centers wishing to go home.   The U.N. migration agency reports government-run detention centers in Libya are packed with migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa.  This, despite IOM’s robust program to return migrants to their countries of origin.   IOM spokesman Joel Millman says...
Categories: Iraq

Iran: 10 Militants Killed in Kurdish Area Near Iraq

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 14:16
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard says it has killed 10 militants in a Kurdish region near the border with Iraq.   The Guard's website said Saturday that the 10 belonged to a “terrorist group affiliated with global arrogance,” referring to the United States, and that several other militants were wounded in clashes late Friday. The Guard did not say whether its forces suffered casualties.   The fighting took place near the Kurdish town of Oshnavieh, in an area that has...
Categories: Iraq

Syria Confronts ‘Hostile Target’ West of Damascus

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 12:54
Syrian state media said Saturday its air defenses had confronted a “hostile target” breaching the country’s air space west of the capital Damascus in the early hours of the morning. State news agency SANA, quoting its correspondent, said there were reports of “air defenses confronting a hostile target breaching the skies above the area of Deir al-Asha’ir in the Damascus countryside.” The area is close to the Lebanese border. Syrian air defenses were similarly activated over west...
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Wave of Strikes Hits Syria's Last Rebel-held Bastion

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 04:09
Dozens of airstrikes and shelling hit parts of the last swath of Syrian territory still held by rebels Friday, according to rebels, rescue workers and a war monitoring group, in a possible prelude to a full-scale government offensive. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of strikes from helicopters and warplanes had hit parts of Hama, Idlib and Aleppo provinces, killing at least 29 people. The three areas in northwest Syria...
Categories: Iraq

US Citizen Indicted for Trying to Join Islamic State

Voice of America - Sat, 08/11/2018 - 03:26
A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted a U.S. citizen for attempting to join the Islamic State group. The grand jury in Chicago charged Faress Shraiteh with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State and other crimes. Shraiteh is a U.S. citizen who used to live in Chicago and now lives in Israel. According to the indictment, Shraiteh and two other people began trying to join the Islamic State in 2014 and traveled to Egypt the following year. The three then...
Categories: Iraq