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Iraq

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...
Categories: Iraq

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Thursday, some national envoys opposed adopting the list, triggering a process that could lead to it being delayed or withdrawn, the diplomats said.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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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US's Kushner Makes Little Headway on Mideast Peace Plan in Gulf

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:59
White House adviser Jared Kushner made a whirlwind visit this week to rally U.S.-allied Gulf Arab allies to support his still- unannounced Middle East peace plan, the leaked contours of which suggest little has been done to address Arab demands. Kushner’s approach to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not appear to have progressed since his last regional tour in June, focusing largely on economic initiatives at the expense of a land-for-peace deal long central to the official...
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Erdogan, Kushner Discuss Middle East Peace Efforts

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:31
White House adviser Jared Kushner and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan at a meeting Wednesday in Ankara. Kushner has special responsibility for Israeli-Palestine policy and is touring the region to build support for what he reportedly calls "the deal of the century.” Erdogan is a critical player in the region because of his strong backing of the Palestinian cause and Hamas. Hamas is working closely...
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Israeli PM Vows to Bar Iran From Securing Presence in Syria

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 19:10
Israel's prime minister vowed to prevent Iran from securing a lasting presence in Syria as he visited Moscow on Wednesday for talks focusing on regional security. For Benjamin Netanyahu, it's the first trip to Moscow since September's downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces that were responding to an Israeli airstrike. The incident left 15 Russian crew dead and threatened to derail close security ties between Russia and Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin said...
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At Least 25 Killed in Fiery Cairo Train Crash

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:13
Egyptian media say more than 25 people were killed and dozens wounded Wednesday after a passenger train crashed into the platform at Cairo's main rail station. The impact caused a fuel tank on the platform to explode, setting fire to the train. The accident at the Ramsis railway station set off a massive fireball, incinerating the front cars of the train and causing horrific burns to passengers and bystanders on the platform adjacent to the crash. Surveillance cameras captured the...
Categories: Iraq

At Least 25 Killed in Locomotive Crash, Fire at Egypt's Central Cairo Station

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:08
At least 25 people were killed and dozens injured after a locomotive crashed into a platform at high speed at Cairo's main railway station on Wednesday, causing its fuel tank to explode.
Categories: Iraq

Iran's President Rejects Resignation of His Foreign Minister

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:13
Iran’s president rejected the resignation of his foreign minister on Wednesday, throwing his full support behind the diplomat who negotiated the country’s nuclear deal with world powers as both men face growing pressure from hard-liners as the accord unravels under American pressure. President Hassan Rouhani earlier gave a speech praising Mohammad Javad Zarif after the foreign minister’s sudden resignation shocked the Islamic Republic late on Monday night. His rejection of the...
Categories: Iraq

IS Families in Syria Flee Group's Last Stronghold

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 07:09
Coalition-backed Syrian forces are close to defeating the last Islamic State militant stronghold in Syria, but the battle is fierce as militants defend their web of tunnels inside a camp crowded with women and children. In recent days, thousands more people have poured out of the battle zone, some near death and others vowing that IS will fight on. VOA Middle East correspondent Heather Murdock is on the scene in Syria and has this report.
Categories: Iraq

First Iranian-American Woman to Win Oscar Turns to Iran-Themed Films

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 06:00
The first Iranian-American woman to win an Oscar, Rayka Zehtabchi, says she wants to build on Sunday’s triumph of her documentary about menstruation by producing several films with Iran-related themes. “I’m very interested in telling Iranian stories as well as women’s stories,” the 25-year-old Los Angeles-based filmmaker told VOA Persian in a Skype interview on Monday. “I was raised in Southern California pretty much my whole life, but the older I get, the more I feel like I connect with...
Categories: Iraq

Syrian Kurds Seek Other Means of Trying IS Militants

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 05:30
In an effort to reduce the burden of Islamic State foreign fighters, U.S.-backed Syrian forces have recently handed over more than 300 IS militants, who have been captured in Syria, to the Iraqi government, which will reportedly try them for their actions against Iraqi civilians and security forces.  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officials have indicated that the move has been made to seek legal avenues outside Syria to try the militants for the crimes they have committed, since the...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq PM Says Country Could Take Non-Iraqi IS Detainees From Syria

Voice of America - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 03:56
Iraq could help transfer non-Iraqi Islamic State detainees held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday. Iraq will either help repatriate those citizens to their home countries, or prosecute on its own those suspected of having committed crimes, he said at his weekly news conference. "Some countries could ask Iraq to help to transfer some of her Daesh citizens to the other country, like France for example," Abdul Mahdi...
Categories: Iraq