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Donors Pledge $7B in Aid for Syria, Refugees

Voice of America - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 22:28
International donors have pledged around $7 billion in aid for Syria and refugees who fled the conflict-ravaged country, the European Union announced Thursday, as the civil war enters its ninth year. But it was unclear how and when the money would be made available to those in need. EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said the donors made a “collective pledge of almost $7 billion” for 2019, short of the $8 billion that the United Nations had hoped to raise for...
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China, Saudi Arabia Condemned in Human Rights Report

Voice of America - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 08:30
The human rights situation in China has seen no improvement in recent years, according to a new report presented on Wednesday. The U.S. Department of State also condemns Saudi Arabia in its annual report on human rights abuses around the world. The U.S. ally is cited for last year's killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports Venezuela is also noted for its abysmal human rights record.
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Senate Demands Trump End US Support for War in Yemen

Voice of America - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 04:50
The U.S. Senate defied President Donald Trump Wednesday and voted to cut off support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Seven of Trump’s fellow Republicans sided with Democrats in passing the measure 54-46. It now goes to the House, which approved its own similar measure this year, only to have the process stall over a procedural issue. Trump has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, saying it would undermine the counterterrorism fight. The measure...
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SDF: Fight Against IS in Baghuz More Effective at Night 

Voice of America - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 02:35
U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces continue their push to remove the last remnants of Islamic State militants from eastern Syria, intensifying their attacks at night against what is considered the last piece of territory under the terror group's control.     Coupled with U.S.-led airstrikes, SDF fighters have increasingly been attacking several IS positions inside Baghuz, Syria, late at night, SDF officials told VOA.     On Wednesday, the Kurdish-led...
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Israeli Group Honors Nikki Haley With Coin 

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 22:19
An Israeli organization has minted a coin emblazoned with the face of Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations, to commemorate her defense of Israel in the world body. The Sanhedrin, a Jewish organization that dreams of restoring the Jewish Temple, where ancient temples once stood in Jerusalem's Old City, is one of three religious groups behind the Haley coin. “She supported Israel and she told the truth ... that all the United Nations, all...
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Iran Threatens Defense Overhaul to Counter 'Suspicious Nuclear Projects'

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 21:58
A senior Iranian security official on Wednesday accused regional powers of spending money on "suspicious nuclear projects," and warned that such threats would force Tehran to revise its defense strategy. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, did not name the countries — but a proposed transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia has raised concerns in Tehran. The United States, Israel and other allies say Iran's own nuclear...
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US Drops Reference to 'Israeli-Occupied' Golan Heights in Annual Rights Report

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 21:41
The U.S. State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report released Wednesday. Israel has been lobbying U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it effectively annexed in 1981. Israel says the area, captured from Syria in a 1967 war, is a critical buffer zone to defend its territory. A separate section in the...
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UN Expert Criticizes Crackdown on Protesters in Iran

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 21:18
A report critical of Iran's human rights situation and its crackdown on people protesting declining living standards is under review this week at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The U.N. special investigator on the human rights situation in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said the country faces myriad challenges, many related to rising inflation and deteriorating economic and social conditions such as late or unpaid wages, food shortages and lack of health care. The hardships likely will...
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Islamic State Strikes Back in Last Stand at Baghuz

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 21:00
Islamic State fighters launched new counterattacks against U.S.-backed forces Wednesday, as the militants clung to the terror group's last scrap of territory in northeastern Syria. An unknown number of IS fighters have been hiding in a small area by the town of Baghuz covered now by bullet-ravaged campsites and broken buildings. But officials with both the United States and the Syrian Democratic Forces say they have been taking cover from airstrikes and artillery fire in a complex...
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UAE: 7 Emiratis, 2 Egyptians Detained by Iran Were Freed

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 19:54
The United Arab Emirates says seven Emiratis and two Egyptians held by Iran since January after being detained in the Persian Gulf have been freed. The Emirati Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday the nine were detained while on a fishing trip. It said those detained were released into the care of the UAE Coast Guard. Iranian media quoted Emirati media on the release, without elaborating on the case.
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Detained Saudi Women's Rights Activists Brought to Court

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 18:40
Women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia appeared in a closed-door court hearing Wednesday on unknown charges after being detained in a crackdown last year, making their first appearance before a judge in a case that has sparked international outrage. The arrests came just before Saudi Arabia began allowing women to drive, something women's rights activists had been demanding for years. The arrests showed that King Salman and his 33-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,...
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Iranian Lawyers Join Global Backlash to Iran's Sentencing of Rights Defender

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 03:50
A group of Iranian lawyers has added its voice to international criticism of Tehran for sentencing a female colleague to additional years in prison in relation to her work in defending Iranian rights activists. In an open letter to the Iranian people dated Tuesday and sent by one of the authors to VOA Persian, the group of 16 lawyers said the multiyear sentencing of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, announced by Iranian state media Monday, violates the Iranian constitution's commitments to...
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US Official: Iranian Regime Wants Iraq to Become a Province of Iran   

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 03:30
U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, blasted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to Iraq and accused his government of trying to control Iraq by fueling sectarian conflict in the country. In an interview with Alhurrha TV, Hook said Rouhani's visit is not in the best interest of the Iraqi people, adding that Iran does not support the security and sovereignty of Iraq.  "When President Rouhani comes into Iraq, you have to question the motive,"...
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Clashes Erupt After Israel Closes Jerusalem Holy Site

Voice of America - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 00:50
Israeli officials closed Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site, revered by Jews and Muslims, after a firebomb was thrown at a police station on the compound. Police on Tuesday clashed with dozens of Palestinians at the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount, and by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary. All worshippers were evacuated from the compound. Police said it would reopen to worshippers and visitors Wednesday. Israeli police also took the unusual measure of closing...
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Veteran Diplomat Set to Guide Algeria's Transition After Protests

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 23:19
Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran diplomat who is expected to steer Algeria's political transition after mass protests, has won respect from foreign leaders and his country's political elite during his long career. But his appointment may not go down well with protesters demanding rapid change. At 85, he is three years older than President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and from the same generation that has presided over Algerian politics since the 1954-62 war of independence against...
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UN Experts: Syria Unsafe for Refugees, Displaced

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 22:55
Peace has not returned to Syria, and it is neither safe nor sustainable for Syria's nearly 12 million refugees and internally displaced people to return to their homes, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria warns. Syria is entering its ninth year of conflict this week and, while Syrian government forces and their Russian allies have pacified large swathes of territory, the war has not been won.  Chair of the Independent Commission, Paulo Pinheiro, says...
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Algeria's Protesters Want Change - Will They Get It?

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 21:55
For a country that has long banked on stability, Algeria is now buffeted by serious winds of change, with massive protests morphing into the biggest challenge facing its aging government in nearly three decades. Monday marked the biggest jolt, when 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika renounced a fifth presidential term, reshuffled his government, proclaimed the drafting of a new constitution and rescheduled presidential elections initially set for April to an unspecified...
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2 Palestinians Killed in West Bank Violence

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 21:35
Two Palestinian men were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday in separate incidents in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.   The Israeli military said troops shot and killed a 37-year-old man who lunged toward them with a kitchen knife in what it described as an attempted stabbing attack near a military post in the volatile city of Hebron.   The man's father, Fawzi Sheaki, denied his son Yasser was trying to stab anyone and was merely at his job in the...
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Baghuz Battle Against IS Remnants ‘as Good as Over’

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 20:48
Syrian Democratic Forces closing in on the last shred of the Islamic State’s territory in northeastern Syria are expressing renewed optimism that victory is within reach.  VOA national security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.
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Firebomb Sparks Unrest at Sensitive Jerusalem Holy Site

Voice of America - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 20:37
Israeli police closes the entrances to Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site after Palestinian suspects threw a firebomb at a police station on Tuesday. The rare move drew angry reactions across the Muslim world. There were no injuries reported from the firebombing. But police quickly deployed across the hilltop compound, scuffling with Palestinians in the area, as they searched for the assailants. At least three suspects were arrested, and police were seen wrestling a woman to the...
Categories: Iraq