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Iraq

US: Diplomats Have Visited With Detainee in Saudi Arabia

Voice of America - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 00:12
U.S. diplomats have visited with a dual U.S.-Saudi national believed to have been tortured during his detention in Riyadh, National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday. Walid Fitaihi, a Harvard-trained doctor who opened a hospital in Saudi Arabia in 2006, was detained in November 2017 along with other prominent Saudis as part of what the government said was a corruption crackdown. After being held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh for a week, Fitaihi later told a friend he was...
Categories: Iraq

Dutch Husband of Shamima Begum Wants to Take her Home

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 20:15
The Dutch man who married a British teenager after she ran away to join the Islamic State group says he wants to return home to the Netherlands with Shamima Begum and their newborn son. Yago Riedijk, 27, told the BBC from a Kurdish-run detention center that he met Begum within days of her arrival in Syria when she was 15. He said in an interview aired Sunday that the marriage was "her own choice."   When asked if marrying a 15-year-old was appropriate, he said: "To...
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Russia-Israel Team to Eye Foreign Forces' Pullout from Syria

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 19:24
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel and Russia are to form a joint team to examine the withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria. Israel is seeking the removal of Iranian forces and has vowed to keep its main enemy from entrenching itself militarily in the neighboring country. Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Moscow to discuss Iran's presence in Syria. "I made it unequivocally clear that Israel will not allow the military...
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Israel Bans Senior Islamic Clerk from Entering Aqsa Mosque

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 16:59
Israeli police have banned several Islamic officials appointed by Jordan from entering a Jerusalem holy site following clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli authorities in recent weeks. Abdel Azem Salhab, the highest-ranking official in the Jordanian-run council overseeing the site, said that police handed him and two other Palestinian officials the order on Sunday. The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the...
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Egypt's Top Cleric Calls Polygamy 'Injustice,' Draws Debate

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 16:57
Egypt's top Muslim cleric has stirred up controversy after saying that polygamy is an "injustice" for women, but stopped short of calling for a ban on the practice. "Those who say that marriage must be polygamous are all wrong. We have to read the [Quranic] verse in full," said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Al-Azhar's Grand Imam.   He said that monogamy was the rule and polygamy a restricted exception. It is restricted in Islam and requires fairness and ``if...
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Algeria's Bouteflika Seeks Fifth Term as President Amid Protests

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 16:46
Longtime Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said Sunday that he would not serve a full term if elected again in April, as protests against his intention to run for another fifth term continued. Bouteflika's campaign manager Abdelghani Zaalane said the president would call for new elections within a year if he won a fifth term, in televised remarks after he submitted the 82-year-old president's papers to confirm his bid for April's elections. Anti-government...
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Israeli Leader Condemns Attack on French Synagogue Memorial

Voice of America - Sun, 03/03/2019 - 15:31
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned an attack on a Holocaust memorial in the French city of Strasbourg. Netanyahu on Sunday condemned the "horrific, anti-Semitic" defacing of a monument marking the site of a synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in 1940. French police on Saturday launched an investigation the incident, in which a heavy memorial stone was moved off its base in the eastern city. The incident comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in France in...
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Major Challenges Loom Amid IS 'Last Stand' 

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 23:27
Heavy fighting continued throughout the first full day of the final assault on the Islamic State militant group's last bit of land, according to Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali.      Victory may be near, with the militants surrounded and all civilian "human shields" believed to be safe in camps beyond the fighting in Baghuz, soldiers say. But some local leaders warn that with this victory will come a new set of problems....
Categories: Iraq

Former Yazidi Captives of IS Reunite With Families in Iraq

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 21:41
A group of Yazidi women and children reunited with their families in Iraq Saturday after five years of captivity at the hands of the Islamic State group, hugging and kissing relatives in emotional scenes that underscored their years-long ordeal and that of their devastated community. Elated families met their loved ones at a rural truck stop on the road between Sinjar and Dohuk, tossing candy in the air like confetti, the women ululating with joy. The 18 returning children, aged 10 to...
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UN: Nearly 2 in 3 Syrians in Need of Humanitarian Aid

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 16:30
The United Nations reports 11.7 million people or nearly two-thirds of Syria’s population is dependent on international humanitarian assistance for survival.  The U.N. has drawn up a so-called humanitarian response plan detailing the staggering needs in advance of an international pledging conference for Syria in Brussels March 12 to 14. The U.N. has not yet come up with a dollar amount for its humanitarian plan for Syria.  But based on last year’s $3.36 billion-dollar appeal,...
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US-Backed Forces Slow Assault on Last Shred of IS Caliphate

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 13:25
The assault on the last patch of land claimed by the Islamic State terror group's caliphate in Syria slowed as it entered its third full day, with U.S.-backed forces announcing a delay due to the presence of additional civilians, many of whom were being used as human shields. "We're slowing down the offensive in #Baghouz due to a small number of civilians held as human shields by Daesh," Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, announced on Twitter...
Categories: Iraq

Corals Thrive in Red Sea as Reefs Worldwide Are Devastated

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 09:31
Scientists estimate half of the world's corals have been devastated as climate change has led to warmer oceans. When water temperatures get too high, corals become stressed and expel the algae that coats their tissues and provides the corals' primary food source. The corals gradually lose their color, known as bleaching, and many of them die. But surprisingly, there are corals in one sea in the Middle East that are resistance to the rising temperatures. VOAs Deborah Block explains why.
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Iranians Say Apple Is Blocking Made-in-Iran Apps in Crackdown

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 03:59
U.S. tech giant Apple Inc. appears to have started blocking Iranian iPhone users from using Iranian-developed apps as part of a global crackdown by the company on developers who misuse its technology.    Iranian state media, tech executives and rights activists all have reported via social media that Apple began revoking enterprise certificates from Iranian app developers on Tuesday, resulting in Iranian iPhone users being unable to use apps for daily activities such as...
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Protests Grow in Algeria as Aging Leader Eyes 5th Term

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 03:12
Algeria is facing its biggest demonstrations in years, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to protest another re-election bid by ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. For the moment, Boutelika is expected to formally present his candidacy by Sunday’s deadline. He also announced he had selected Transport Minister Abdelghani Zaalane to replace former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal as his campaign chief for the upcoming presidential poll, according to a statement...
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Chemical Weapons Watchdog Says Chlorine Was Used in Douma

Voice of America - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 01:24
The global chemical weapons watchdog said Friday it found “reasonable grounds” that chlorine was used as a weapon in a deadly attack on the Syrian town of Douma last year. The determination was contained in a detailed report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact finding mission that investigated the April 7, 2018 attack. Medical workers said at the time that the attack killed more than 40 people. The mission's mandate does not include laying...
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Erdogan Threatens to Reverse Local Election Results 

Voice of America - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 23:37
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose AK Party is facing major defeats this month in local elections, is being accused of behaving like a "dictator" after his threat to remove victorious pro-Kurdish mayoral candidates. Erdogan, addressing supporters this week, issued a stark threat to voters in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast: Candidates deemed sympathetic to the PKK Kurdish separatist group who are elected will be removed. "If you happen...
Categories: 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...
Categories: Iraq