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Iraq

Morocco's 'Mule' Women Scratch a Living on Spanish Enclave Border

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 20:32
In a winding early-morning queue, Jemaa Laalaoua hunches over with 50 kg (110 lb) of kitchenware on her back, waiting to cross back into Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla. The 41-year-old mother of eight is one of thousands of Moroccans who eke out a living by walking loads of merchandise from Melilla into the northern Moroccan province of Nador. Goods including metal kettles that Laalaoua was carrying are counted as personal luggage and are not taxed, allowing for a small...
Categories: Iraq

Iran Media Report Apple Shuts Down Iranian Apps

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 20:24
Iranian media are reporting that Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian mobile apps from its App Store. In reaction to Apple's decision, Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Apple should respect its Iranian consumers. He also sent out this tweet:   Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jahromi tweeted: "11 percent of Iran's mobile phone market share is owned by Apple. Giving...
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WHO: More Children in Syria Being Immunized Against Killer Diseases

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 19:33
The World Health Organization says efforts are moving ahead to establish routine programs to vaccinate children against killer diseases in conflict-ridden Syria. Before the country’s civil war erupted in 2011, immunization coverage for children against killer diseases stood at nearly 100 percent; but routine programs against vaccine-preventable illnesses have all but collapsed during the years of conflict.   Several months ago, the World Health Organization helped re-start routine...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq Military Says it Reached Center of Tal Afar

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 18:42
Iraqi military forces have advanced to the center of the Islamic State-held town of Tal Afar after securing several surrounding neighborhoods, according to a military statement. After a six-day offensive operation, elite Iraqi forces broke through IS lines, seizing the neighborhoods of Nida' and Taliaa north of Tal Afar and reaching the center of the old city, according to the statement from the Iraqi Joint Operations Command. Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of Iraq's Special Forces...
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Kushner's Mideast Peace Push Met With Palestinian Skepticism

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 18:41
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday to try to jumpstart moribund peace talks, but after months without progress the Mideast envoy faces growing skepticism on the Palestinian side. With no clear vision for peace outlined by the administration and domestic issues distracting President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, expectations for the new peace push are low. The...
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Russia Says Syria's Last 2 Chemical Weapons Sites Dismantled

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 18:18
The chief of the Russian military's branch for protection from chemical weapons says his troops have dismantled two chemical weapons facilities in areas freed from militants in Syria. Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov didn't name the locations, saying only that Russia will provide the data to the international chemical weapons watchdog OPCW. Kirillov said Friday the facilities dismantled this month were the last two of the 27 chemical weapons sites in Syria, according to Russian news...
Categories: Iraq

Saudi-led Coalition Blamed for Dozens of Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 18:00
The United Nations' human rights office is calling on Yemeni authorities to investigate the deaths of dozens of civilians, mostly from recent airstrikes involving the Saudi-led coalition. Fifty-eight civilians have been killed — including 42 by the Saudi-led coalition — between August 17 and 24, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports. Twelve civilians were killed by armed men, and four were killed by local fighters in the Popular Committees group,...
Categories: Iraq

IS Militants Push Back Advancing Syrian Troops Near Raqqa

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 16:21
Islamic State militants pushed back government forces advancing on one of the last towns still in IS hands in the province of Raqqa, killing over two dozen soldiers and seizing vehicles, a Syria monitoring group and the extremists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the early Friday counterattack by IS short-circuited a government advance on Maadan, which brought them within only a few kilometers (miles) in recent days. The Russia-backed government forces...
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Egypt: Trump Calls Sissi to Stress Ties Despite Aid Cut

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 12:02
The Egyptian president's office says President Donald Trump called President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stress the "strength of the friendship" between the two allies. The presidency said after the phone call late on Thursday that the American president promised to continue to "develop" the two countries' relationship in order to "overcome any obstacles." Washington did not immediately confirm the phone call. It followed the Trump...
Categories: Iraq

Saudi-led Airstrikes Kill 14 Civilians in Yemen's Capital

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 11:16
Airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen's capital early on Friday, hitting at least three houses in Sanaa and killing at least 14 civilians, including women and children, residents and eyewitnesses said. The attack was the latest by the coalition, which has been waging a relentless air campaign against Yemen's Iran-backed Shiite rebels for the past two years in an effort to bring the internationally recognized government back to power. Recently, the strikes in and...
Categories: Iraq

Hezbollah, Syrian Forces Say Close to Ousting IS From Border

Voice of America - Fri, 08/25/2017 - 05:10
Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Syrian armed forces are closing in on Islamic State (IS) positions along the Lebanon-Syria border, Syrian army officials said Thursday.  Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV late Thursday that while IS still holds some small areas on both countries, "the most likely outcome of the battle will be a military victory and not a settlement." The Syrian army, Hezbollah and the Lebanese army have all targeted IS...
Categories: Iraq

Syria Opposition Told to Come to Terms With Assad's Survival

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 20:44
As Damascus reverses military losses in much of the country's strategically important west, and foreign states cut support for rebel forces, diplomats from Washington to Riyadh are asking representatives of Syria's opposition to come to terms with President Bashar Assad's political survival. The country's civil war has crossed the halfway point of its sixth year and Assad and his allies are now in control of Syria's four largest cities and its Mediterranean coast. With...
Categories: Iraq

Thousands in Yemen Mark Anniversary of Ex-president Saleh's Party

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 20:30
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh rallied thousands of his supporters Thursday in the capital, Sana, to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of his General People's Congress party. The show of support follows a recent rift with his Houthi rebel allies. Friction with the Houthis threatens to tear apart the alliance that has been battling forces loyal to exiled President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi and a Saudi-led coalition. The gathering in support of Saleh took place...
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Trump Aide Kushner Renews Push for Mideast Peace

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 15:23
White House aide Jared Kushner renewed talks Thursday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the Trump administration tries to re-start a peace deal between the two increasingly impatient sides. Kushner began the renewed effort by meeting with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and is scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring...
Categories: Iraq

UN: Islamic State Militants Holding 20,000 Civilians as Human Shields in Raqqa

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 15:18
A senior United Nations official warns some 20,000 civilians held hostage by Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa are in great danger and everything possible must be done to help them escape. The special adviser to the U.N. special envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, Thursday said the needs of thousands of civilians trapped in five Raqqa neighborhoods under Islamic State control are beyond belief.    Egeland voices concern about their lack of protection as the military...
Categories: Iraq

Switzerland Indicts Woman For Attempting to Join Islamic State

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 13:40
Switzerland's attorney general's office said Thursday it indicted a 30-year-old woman for trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State militant group. A statement said the attorney general had evidence that the woman, who is a Swiss citizen, traveled two years ago with her four-year-old son from Egypt to Greece in an attempt to go further to Turkey and into Syria. The woman was stopped by Greek authorities, and then later arrested in Zurich in January 2016 as she...
Categories: Iraq

As Syria War Tightens, US-Russian Military Hotlines Hum

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 04:08
Even as tensions between the United States and Russia fester, there is one surprising place where their military-to-military contacts are quietly weathering the storm: Syria. It has been four months since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered cruise missile strikes against a Syrian airfield after an alleged chemical weapons attack. In June, the U.S. military shot down a Syrian fighter aircraft, the first U.S. downing of a manned jet since 1999, and also shot down two Iranian-made drones...
Categories: Iraq

All Sides in Syria Must Protect Civilians, Amnesty Warns

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 03:15
Rights group Amnesty International says thousands of civilians are trapped in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, in what it calls a "deadly labyrinth" in the line of fire from all sides — coalition forces as well as Islamic State (IS) fighters. Amnesty released a report Thursday saying hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured since June, when an offensive began to recapture the IS stronghold. The United Nations said as many as 50,000 displaced persons may be in...
Categories: Iraq

Milestones in Relations Between US, Egypt

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 01:51
Washington's surprise decision this week to cut or delay nearly $300 million in aid to Egypt is the first time the Trump administration has publicly called out Cairo on its poor human rights record. It was also the latest twist in a decades-old relationship marked by dependence and disappointment on both sides. Milestones in Egypt's relations with the United States: Tensions under Nasser The young Egyptian officers who seized power in Egypt in 1952 and later toppled the...
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Qatar to Send Ambassador Back to Iran

Voice of America - Thu, 08/24/2017 - 01:50
Qatar said Wednesday that it had decided to return its ambassador to Tehran, more than 20 months after he was recalled in protest over the ransacking of Saudi Arabia's missions in Iran. Demonstrators in Iran were angry at Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric convicted on terrorism charges. The Qatari decision came amidst a row between Doha and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which together with Egypt...
Categories: Iraq