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Iraq

Iran President's Cabinet Cuts Guard From Defense Ministry

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 17:47
After decisively winning re-election almost three months ago, Iran's president on Tuesday proposed a new Cabinet for his second term that cuts out the hard-line Revolutionary Guard from controlling the Defense Ministry for the first time in nearly 25 years. However, Hassan Rouhani's Cabinet for now also fails to include women and his pick for the Justice Ministry is on a European Union sanctions list over human rights abuse allegations. The Cabinet selection shows Rouhani, a...
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UN Braces for New Evacuations From IS-held Parts of Iraq

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 16:41
The U.N.'s humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq says aid providers are bracing for the possible evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians as Iraqi forces prepare for the “imminent” start of three operations against Islamic State holdouts.   Lise Grande says teams are moving to areas near the expected operations in Tal Afar near Mosul; Hawija in Kirkuk province to the southeast and the western Anbar province.   She says they were briefed in recent days about military...
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Report: Turkey Begins Building Border Wall With Iran

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 16:07
A Turkish media report says Turkey has begun construction of a wall along the country's frontier with Iran, mimicking the Turkish barrier along the Syrian border.   The private Dogan news agency said the governor of Agri province, Suleyman Elban, inspected the construction of the security wall on Tuesday. The Turkish authorities are constructing the 2-meter wide, 3-meter high barrier with portable blocks, the report said.   Turkey is building the wall along parts of the...
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Iraqis with Deportation Orders Win Their Day in Court

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 09:52
A judge in Detroit has halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqis nationwide until their cases can be reviewed. Most of these Iraqi nationals were convicted of non-violent crimes, making them subject to deportation. But as VOA's Sama Dizayee reports, they face persecution if they are sent back.
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UN Chief Supports Commission on Syria Despite Resignation

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 03:12
The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supports the work of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, expressing regret at the resignation of Carla del Ponte but stressing the need for accountability for crimes against civilians during the 6-year civil war. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Monday that Guterres believes accountability is "critical" and the commission's work is "an important and integral part of the accountability...
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US Urges UN Force in Lebanon to Prevent Hezbollah Weapons

Voice of America - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 02:00
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon on Monday to step up efforts to prevent the spread of illegal arms in the south, which she said "are almost entirely in the hands of Hezbollah terrorists.''   Haley made clear in a statement that the United States is seeking "significant improvements'' to the U.N. force, known as UNIFIL, when the U.N. Security Council renews a mandate that is due to expire Aug. 31.   Her statement...
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Syrian Army Steps Up Strikes on Capital's Last Rebel Enclave

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 22:26
The Syrian army stepped up shelling and air strikes on the last rebel-held enclaves in the Syrian capital on Monday, its heaviest bombardment in a two-month campaign, rebels and witnesses said. From the strategic Qasyoun Heights that overlooks Damascus, elite units of the army pounded Jobar district, some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City wall and Ain Terma just to the south. The army's offensive has dented a Russian-sponsored ceasefire announced two weeks ago in the Eastern...
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Israeli Court: Netanyahu Must Show Call Logs with US Backer

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 21:27
Israel's Supreme Court ruled Benjamin Netanyahu must reveal phone call logs with U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and a former editor of his free newspaper in Israel, as police press ahead with investigations into corruption cases involving the prime minister. The decision Monday came after an appeal by investigative journalist Raviv Drucker of Channel 10 TV. Netanyahu backer Adelson owns the pro-government daily Israel Hayom. Police are investigating Netanyahu in two...
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Turkey Hints at Military Operation Against Syrian Kurds

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 21:16
Turkey is building up military forces on the Syrian border, while Turkish President Recep Erdogan steps up his rhetoric suggesting an imminent military operation into Syria. Ankara is reportedly courting Moscow for its support for a possible operation into Syria's Afrin enclave, which is now under the control of the Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara accuses the YPG, which controls large swathes of Syrian territory along its border, of being an offshoot of the PKK, which is fighting the...
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Syrian Army Increases Strikes on Capital's Last Rebel Enclave

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:16
The Syrian army intensified shelling and air strikes on the last rebel enclave in the Syrian capital on Monday, its heaviest bombardment in a two-month military campaign, rebels and witnesses said. From the strategic Qasyoun Heights that overlooks Damascus, elite units of the army struck Jobar district, some 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the Old City wall and Ain Terma just to the south. The offensive has dented a Russian-sponsored cease-fire announced two weeks ago in the Eastern Ghouta...
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Jordan King in Rare West Bank Trip Seen as Message to Israel

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 16:58
Jordan's king flew by helicopter to the West Bank on Monday - a rare and brief visit seen as a signal to Israel that he is closing ranks with the Palestinians on key issues, such as a contested Jerusalem shrine. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah II met for about two hours, after a red-carpet welcome for the monarch at the Palestinian government compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The two leaders discussed the recent showdown with Israel over the...
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Iran Ridicules US Push for Inspecting its Military Sites

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 15:07
Iran has mocked the U.S. push for inspections of the country's military sites, calling it a "ridiculous dream that will never come true." This comes after U.S. officials said last month that the Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that Tehran struck in 2015 with world powers.   Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, told reporters on Monday in Tehran that...
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Ex-war Crimes Prosecutor Quits Panel Probing Syria Abuses

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 02:53
Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte says she is resigning from the U.N.'s independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, decrying Security Council inaction to hold criminals accountable in the war-battered country where "everyone is bad." In comments published Sunday by the Swiss magazine Blick, Del Ponte expressed frustration about the commission and criticized President Bashar Assad's government, the Syrian opposition and the international community...
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Despite Trump Claim, Hezbollah Operation Boosts Lebanon Role

Voice of America - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 02:23
As President Donald Trump recently stood beside the Lebanese prime minister praising his government for standing up to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militants were busy demonstrating just how wrong he was. They were clearing the country's eastern frontier from al-Qaida fighters in a sweeping offensive and negotiating a complex prisoner deal with the group. Far from being an ally in the fight against Hezbollah, the Lebanese government headed by Saad Hariri is based on a partnership...
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Joining Some Arab States, Israel Says it Plans to Ban Al-Jazeera TV

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 22:39
Israel said Sunday it plans to ban Qatar's flagship Al-Jazeera network from operating in the country over allegations it incites violence, joining Arab nations that have shut down the broadcaster amid a separate political dispute. The news organization, in turn, said it will take legal action. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al-Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel. Kara said he has asked cable...
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Israel Plans to Close Local Al Jazeera Offices

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 18:13
Israel plans to ban the Al Jazeera news network from the Jewish state, the communications ministry said Sunday. Communications minister Ayoub Kara said that he wants to revoke press credentials from Al Jazeera reporters, which would prevent them from working in the country. Kara made the announcement at a news conference Sunday, which Al Jazeera reporters were barred from attending, the news network reported. Al Jazeera also said that Kara had moved to shut down both English and...
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Syrian Forces Make Gains in Energy-Rich Homs Province

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 17:39
Pro-government forces captured the Islamic State group's last stronghold in the energy-rich Homs province in central Syria on Sunday, paving the way to advance on the besieged eastern city of Deir el-Zour, state media and a war monitoring group reported. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said 30 IS militants were killed in the last 24 hours of battle for the town of al-Sukhna, in Homs, before it was captured Saturday by pro-government forces. It...
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UN Condemns Brutality of Yemen Conflict after Airstrikes on Civilians

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:27
A top United Nations official in Yemen said reported airstrikes in which at least 12 civilians were killed, including children, were an example of the "disregard" for civilians' safety shown by all the combatants in Yemen's civil war. The civilians were killed and 10 others wounded in Sa'ada province after attacks on a house and a private vehicle, the U.N's Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said, citing reports from fellow aid groups. Reuters...
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Turkish Police Say Working with Australia on Foiled Etihad Bomb Plan

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 15:23
Turkish police said they were working with Australian authorities to investigate a foiled plot to bomb an Etihad Airways flight using explosives which Canberra said were flown in from Turkey. In a statement issued late on Saturday police said they had contacted Australian authorities as soon as they received news of the foiled plot. The two sides have "started working to clarify unclear and unconfirmed matters regarding the possibility that explosive substances were sent from...
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Netanyahu Aide Says Israeli Leader Calm in Face of Charges

Voice of America - Sun, 08/06/2017 - 14:56
A close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is relaxed and confident amid reports of the slew of corruptions charges against him. Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev says Sunday she has full confidence in the prime minister and denounced what she called a media campaign to topple him.   Netanyahu himself did not address the latest developments at his weekly Cabinet meeting.   Israeli police recently announced that they suspect Netanyahu of being involved in...
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