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Iraq

Battered by Scandal, Netanyahu Still Poised for Re-Election

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 22:51
Just over a month before elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks more vulnerable than ever. Following a dramatic announcement Thursday by Israel's attorney general, Netanyahu almost certainly faces indictment on corruption charges in the coming months. His main challenger leads him in the polls, and he is taking heat even from his supporters for forming an alliance with a racist ultranationalist party. But when the dust settles after the April 9 vote, the person...
Categories: Iraq

Final Assault on Last IS Syrian Enclave Underway

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 22:00
U.S.-backed forces in Syria are closing in on the last patch of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria. Syrian Democratic Force spokesman Mustafa Bali said Saturday three SDF soldiers have been wounded. Militants have been killed, he said, but he could not confirm a number. “Fighting continues and heavy weapons are being used,” Bali said. “SDF forces have advanced significantly and have moved into Baghuz. Militants are still planting and using IEDs and bombs are exploding as...
Categories: Iraq

UN: Thousands of Syrian Civilians Fleeing IS Stronghold

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 21:52
Thousands of civilians continue to flee Baghuz as Islamic State militants make a final stand to retain control of their last stronghold in Syria, the United Nations reports. The U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs says increasing numbers of people are managing to escape Baghuz in rural Deir-ez-Zor, but at a very heavy price. In the last week, around 13,000 people — most of them women and children — have arrived at al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, according to OCHA...
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Saudi Arabia Strips Osama Bin Laden's Son of Citizenship

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 20:06
Saudi Arabia has stripped citizenship from Hamza bin Laden, the son of slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the interior ministry said in a statement published by the official gazette. The U.S. State Department said on Thursday it was offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading "to the identification or location in any country" of Hamza, calling him a key al-Qaida leader. Hamza, believed to be about 30 years old, was at his father’s side in Afghanistan...
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Iran's Zarif Derides Trump Over North Korea Summit Failure

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 19:40
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday over the collapse of a summit on North Korean denuclearization, vowing Washington would not get a better Iran nuclear deal than the one it exited last year. A second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed on Thursday over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of exactly what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearization...
Categories: Iraq

US-Led Allies Finishing Off 'Caliphate'

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 16:20
Islamic State militants are being as vicious at the end as they were at the start when they rolled out their caliphate. Gaining worldwide notoriety with macabre public-square slayings, beheadings of Westerners, murdering gay Syrians and Iraqis and enslaving Yazidi women, the militant group bragged their caliphate would rival the Abbasid empire of the Middle Ages, which lasted two centuries. Their’s has lasted less than half-a-decade. In a bid to hold on to their last redoubt in the...
Categories: Iraq

Trump Again Claims Victory Over IS Caliphate

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 05:39
Conflicting accounts have emerged regarding the fate of the Islamic State terror group's self-proclaimed caliphate, pitting the word of the president of the United States against that of U.S.-backed forces on the ground in Syria. President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to announce the fall of the last sliver of the IS caliphate, a small collection of tents and ruined buildings in the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz. "We just took over, you know, you kept hearing it...
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Six Held for Four Days Over Deadly Cairo Train Crash 

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 03:44
Egypt's public prosecutor on Thursday ordered the detention of six people for four days in connection with in incident in which a locomotive smashed through buffers and burst into flames at Cairo's main train station. The train's driver, his assistant, another train driver and three other rail employees will be held for four days pending investigations into Wednesday's incident, the public prosecutor said in a statement.  Egypt's...
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Netanyahu Vows to Stay On in Face of Charges

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 03:05
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing indictment for alleged corruption, says he will lead Israel for "many more years." "Don't believe all the spin," Netanyahu told Israelis during a televised address Thursday. "But it's up to you. It's not up to the civil servants. It's not up to the television studios. It's not up to the pundits and journalists."  Echoing his close friend and ally U.S. President Donald Trump,...
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Lawlessness Remains in Syria as War Wanes, UN Report Says

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 00:22
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria says in a new report that lawlessness remains widespread throughout Syria, despite a general winding down of the war as pro-government forces make military gains. In its report to be submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 12, the commission said there had been a significant drop in fighting in Syria during the reporting period from mid-July 2018 to mid-January 2019. That, it said, was mainly due to extensive military...
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UN Envoy Wants Action on Syria's Missing, New Constitution

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 23:58
The new U.N. special envoy for Syria said Thursday his goals in the period ahead are to achieve “concrete action” on detained and missing people and the convening of a committee to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country “as soon as possible.” Geir Pedersen said he also wants to begin a sustained dialogue with the government and opposition “on building trust and confidence,” to engage a wide-range of Syrians, and to help the international community deepen its dialogue on...
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After Saudi Pressure, EU States Move to Block Dirty-Money List

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 21:19
The adoption of a European Union money-laundering blacklist, which includes Saudi Arabia as well as Puerto Rico and three other U.S. territories, could be blocked by EU governments under a procedure launched on Thursday, two EU diplomats told Reuters. At a meeting on Thursday, some national envoys opposed adopting the list, triggering a process that could lead to it being delayed or withdrawn, the diplomats said. The move came after Saudi Arabia's King Salman sent letters to all 28...
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UN Points Finger at Israel over Deadly 2018 Crackdown on Gaza Demonstrators

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 18:48
United Nations investigators are accusing Israeli soldiers of having intentionally targeted civilians during crackdowns last year in Gaza against weekly Palestinian protests. They say some of the incidents may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. The three-member U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza Protests says it will submit its report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March. The commission says that between March 30 and December 31 of last year, 189...
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Israel’s Attorney General Recommends Indicting Netanyahu

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:29
After two years of investigations, Israel’s attorney general recommended that the prime minister be charged with bribery in one case, and breach of trust in two others, subject to a hearing. Netanyahu hit back hard at the attorney general and what he called the leftist media, accusing them of trying to make sure he loses the upcoming election. He said he is 4,000 percent sure all of the accusations against him will be proved false, and that he will continue to be prime minister for...
Categories: Iraq

Yazidi Children in Syria Await Family Reunions

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 04:45
U.S.-backed Syrian forces battling Islamic State militants in their last hideout in eastern Syria said they have rescued dozens of Yazidi children held by the militant group for years.  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance, said last week that they had successfully freed more than a dozen Yazidi children from IS as they evacuated civilians from the Syrian town of Baghuz.  "Among many children saved from [IS] territory today, a group of Yazidi children...
Categories: Iraq

Reporter's Notebook: Chaos and Cacophony as IS 'Caliphate' Falls

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 02:00
"Where are you all from?" my colleague asks a young boy named Chamil in Arabic.  Minutes ago, he and several other boys arrived at this makeshift transit camp after escaping the battle for the Islamic State group's last stronghold in Syria. Chamil looks about 11 years old and is surrounded by seven other boys, all a bit younger than him. "Indonesia," he replies quietly. He is among more than 1,000 people that came here this day on cargo trucks from a war...
Categories: Iraq

Hundreds Flee Syria Jihadist Enclave Before Final Assault

Voice of America - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 00:43
Hundreds of people boarded trucks leaving the last scrap of the Islamic State group's "caliphate" in eastern Syria on Wednesday as U.S.-backed forces prepared to deliver the final blow to holdout jihadists. Several thousand people — fighters and their relatives — are believed to be cornered in the last pocket of IS-held territory, barely half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border. Nearly five years since IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ascended a pulpit in a Mosul...
Categories: Iraq

Top Trump Advisor Kushner Meets with Saudi Prince

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 23:16
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner met Tuesday with the Saudi crown prince, the first time they met since the October killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The White House said in a statement Wednesday the two discussed a variety of topics in Riyadh, including economic investment in the Middle East and efforts to bring peace to the region. "Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia,...
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Judge Allows Abu Ghraib Torture Claims to Go to Trial

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 23:05
After 10 years of delay, a federal judge has ruled that three former inmates who say they were tortured at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison can go forward with their lawsuit against a military contractor. Arlington-based CACI Premier Technology asked the judge Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit. The company, which supplied the Army with civilian interrogators, argued that the government's refusal to declassify key facts is making it impossible to defend itself. U.S. District Judge Leonie...
Categories: Iraq

Taliban: Afghan Peace Talks With US Heading in 'Right Direction'

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 20:15
American and Afghan Taliban officials have temporally paused ongoing peace talks in Qatar to consult with their respective leaderships before returning to the table on Saturday.  A spokesman for the insurgent group said Wednesday, during an uninterrupted debate for two days, the "technical groups" from both sides focused entirely on issues related to "complete withdrawal" of U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan. They also focused on the Taliban giving...
Categories: Iraq