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Iraq

UN: 'Significant Number' of Displaced Syrians Returning Home

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 17:59
Almost a half-million displaced Syrians have returned to their homes since the beginning of the year, mostly to check on property and relatives, according to estimates from the United Nations. The U.N. refugee agency said Friday it had seen a "notable trend of spontaneous returns" this year, and estimated that more than 440,000 internally displaced Syrians and another 31,000 refugees who left the country had returned home. Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the agency, told...
Categories: Iraq

Suicide Bombers Target Lebanese Soldiers, Kill Only Themselves

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 16:51
Suicide bombers targeted Lebanese soldiers conducting raids on refugee settlements along the Syria-Lebanon border Friday, wounding seven troops but killing only themselves, the military said. According to the army statement, the soldiers were raiding a settlement in the border town of Arsal on Friday morning when the attacks took place. There were five suicide bombers and another man, who threw a hand grenade at soldiers as they conducted manhunts in the refugee settlements. One...
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Watchdog: Sarin Nerve Gas Used in Deadly Syrian Attack

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 11:23
An investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog confirmed Friday that sarin nerve gas was used in a deadly April 4 attack on a Syrian town, the latest confirmation of chemical weapons use in Syria’s civil war.   The attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province left more than 90 people dead, including women and children, and sparked outrage around the world as photos and video of the aftermath, including quivering children dying on camera, were widely...
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US-led Forces Tighten Ring Around IS Stronghold in Syria

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 08:38
American officials say that U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have surrounded the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, and that the extremists' escape routes have been sealed. The State Department said Thursday it is important that once Raqqa is free from Islamic State control, a government approved by the local population can be elected. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that the fall of Raqqa does not mean the end of Islamic State activity in Syria.
Categories: Iraq

Qatar Seeks US Backing for Negotiations With Saudis

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 08:09
Qatar’s foreign minister says Doha is interested in negotiating an end to the standoff with regional forces, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the country’s sovereignty. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani spoke at the Arab Center in Washington this week, two days after meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regarding the tiny Gulf nation’s growing dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and several other nations. Watch: Qatar Willing to...
Categories: Iraq

Qatar Says It is Willing to Negotiate But Will Not Give Up Sovereignty

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 08:07
Despite diplomatic activity in Washington this week, the blockade of Qatar by its Persian Gulf neighbors continues. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with top officials from Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, calling for negotiations to end the crisis. But Saudi Arabia says its demands on Qatar are non-negotiable, and Qatar says it will negotiate, but will not give up its sovereignty. VOA Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department.
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After Mosul, Iraq Plans to Launch Assault on IS in Hawija

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 03:15
As the push to recapture Mosul from Islamic State (IS) enters its final days, Iraqi forces say they will soon launch an assault on Hawija, the terror group's last stronghold in the country. Iraqi forces say IS's self-proclaimed caliphate is crumbling after three years of brutal control, although the militants are considered likely to persist as an insurgent force even after they are forced out of Hawija, roughly 160 kilometers (99 miles) south of Mosul. Iraqi forces say they do...
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IAEA: Iran Complying with Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Fri, 06/30/2017 - 02:35
The United Nations said Thursday that Tehran is in compliance with its obligations under an international nuclear deal, but U.S. envoy Nikki Haley disputed that. "Today's meeting of the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 2231 is taking place against a backdrop of steady implementation, cooperation and progress," U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman said in his semi-annual briefing on the subject. The resolution was adopted in July 2015, endorsing the...
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Report: Raqqa Completely Encircled by US-backed Forces

Voice of America - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 19:50
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have fully encircled Raqqa, which serves as the de-facto capital of the Islamic State group in Syria, cutting off the jihadist group’s last route out of the city, according to a monitoring group. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday that SDF forces captured two villages on the southern bank of the Euphrates River, effectively cutting off the last IS escape route. "They thereby cut the last route IS used to withdraw...
Categories: Iraq

Canada Extends Mission in Iraq to March 2019

Voice of America - Thu, 06/29/2017 - 17:53
Canada is extending its military mission against the Islamic State group in Iraq for another two years.   Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said Thursday that Canada is renewing its contribution to the Global Coalition until March 31, 2019.   Canada has about 200 special forces soldiers operating in northern Iraq supported by a combat hospital, a helicopter detachment, a surveillance plane and an air-to-air refueling aircraft. The government calls it an advise-and-assist mission...
Categories: Iraq