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Iraq

Turkey's Erdogan Vows Tough Sanctions to Thwart Iraqi Kurdish Independence

Voice of America - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 02:00
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country will close its border with Iraqi Kurdistan as part of new sanctions following an independence vote by Iraqi Kurds earlier this month. The announcement follows Erdogan's visit Wednesday to Tehran. “All air spaces will be closed, the flights already are suspended. Who will come? How will you go? Soon, the borders also will be closed. How will you be able to exit and enter?" Erdogan said to a meeting in...
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US Officials: Trump to Decertify Nuclear Deal With Iran

Voice of America - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 00:40
President Donald Trump is likely to decertify the nuclear deal with Iran and turn it back to Congress for possible renewed sanctions, senior U.S. officials said Thursday. Trump is expected to announce his plans in a speech next week in which he will say the agreement is not in the U.S. national interest, the officials said. This would not scrap the 2015 deal, but instead return it to Congress. Lawmakers would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions that were suspended...
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ICRC: Spike in Syria Military Operations Resulting in Huge Loss of Life

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 20:22
The International Committee of the Red Cross reports an alarming spike in military operations in parts of Syria in the past two weeks is causing high levels of civilian casualties and the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure. The ICRC says the recent escalation of fighting in Syria is resulting in the worst and most intense levels of violence since the battle for Eastern Aleppo in 2016. The Red Cross says the violence that has been going on in Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and western...
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Putin Hosts Saudi King to Talk About Oil, Syria

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 17:55
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Saudi Arabia's King Salman for talks in Moscow on Thursday in the first official visit of a Saudi monarch to Russia that was expected to focus on oil and the war in Syria. At the Kremlin's opulent St. Andrew's Hall, Putin in televised remarks hailed the king's visit as a "landmark" event. Salman in his reply called Russia a "friendly nation" and said his country is committed to strengthen ties "in the...
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Erdogan: Turkey Will Close Iraq Border and Air Space Soon

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 17:54
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey would soon close its border with northern Iraq and shut its air space in response to last week's Kurdish independence referendum. Erdogan, who held talks in Tehran on Wednesday with Iranian leaders, also said Turkey would decide jointly with Iran and Iraq's central government in Baghdad whether to cut oil exports from Kurdish northern Iraq. His comments came 10 days after Kurds in northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly for...
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Italian Effort to Stop Migrants Fuels Bloody Battle in Libya

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 17:28
It began when a Libyan militia paid by Italy to stop migrants heading to Europe intercepted a group of human traffickers offshore. That confrontation has spiraled into a weeks-long battle among rival militias for control of a Libyan coastal city that has left dozens dead.   The bloodshed in the city of Sabratha is in part an unexpected consequence of Europe's effort to stem the flow of migrants from Libya across the Mediterranean. It illustrates how easily things can escalate out...
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Iraq Claims Victory in ISIS’ Last Urban Stronghold

NY Times Iraq - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 16:37
With the fall of Hawija, the militants’ foothold has been reduced to a shrinking area along the Euphrates River in Iraq and substantial territory across the border in Syria.
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Turkey: 5 Kurdish Militants Killed Near Mediterranean Coast

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 16:26
Turkey's state-run news agency says security forces have killed five suspected Kurdish militants in an operation close to a tourist resort near the Mediterranean coast. Anadolu Agency said a group of seven suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, were located Thursday in a forest area in the town of Koycegiz, north of the resort of Marmaris. Five were killed in a joint operation by police and the gendarmerie while two militants escaped.   The operation...
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Iraq Retakes Town of Hawija From Islamic State

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 15:48
Iraqi forces have captured the town of Hawija from Islamic State militants, the country’s prime minister said Thursday. Haider al-Abadi declared victory during a joint news conference with French leader Emmanuel Macron in Paris, calling it “a victory not just for Iraq, but for the whole world.” U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops, along with Iranian-backed Shi'ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilization Forces, carried out the offensive on Hawija, which began on...
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Abadi: 'We Don't Want Armed Confrontation' With Kurds

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 13:26
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday urged Kurdish peshmerga forces to continue working with Iraqi security forces in the fight against Islamic State, while also reiterating his rejection of Kurdish independence. Speaking during a visit to Paris, Abadi said his government does not want armed confrontation with the Kurds, but that "federal authority must prevail." Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favor of a non-binding independence referendum last month. Leaders...
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Chemical Weapons Watchdog: Traces of Sarin in Syria Attack

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:36
The global chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday it found traces of sarin following an attack in northern Syria in late March, days before a deadly strike using the same nerve agent in another Syrian town.   The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that tests found traces of “sarin or sarin-related chemicals” in Ltamenah after a March 30 attack that injured 50 people. No deaths were reported. The organization didn’t release further details. Days...
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Russia: Airstrikes on Militants in Syria Kill Dozens, Injure Leader

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:20
Russia’s military says its jets have been targeting positions of an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria for two straight days, killing seven militant commanders and dozens of fighters. Russia also said the leader of the group, who reportedly had been injured in a Russian airstrike, has fallen into a coma.   Russian jets have been bombing the positions of the Levant Liberation Committee in the Idlib province for two straight days, killing seven militant commanders and dozens of...
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Iraqi Military Captures Hawija From Islamic State

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 11:14
Iraqi forces have captured the town of Hawija and the surrounding area from Islamic State, though some fighting still raged in a pocket to the north and east of the town where the militants were surrounded, the military said on Thursday. With the capture of Hawija, the militants' last stronghold in northern Iraq, the only area that remains under control of Islamic State in Iraq is a stretch alongside the western border with Syria. Hawija is near the Kurdish-held oil city of...
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Saudi Monarch Begins Historic Trip to Russia

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 03:15
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is in Moscow for the first ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Russia. During the four-day visit, the king is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks on issues ranging from oil to Syria. The visit reflect strengthening ties between two historic rivals, pushed closer by a mutual need to stem the drop in global oil prices. The rivalry between two of the world’s largest oil producers goes back to the Cold War when the Saudis helped arm...
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Trump Soon to Announce His Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 02:45
U.S. officials say President Donald Trump is set to deliver a speech next week in which he will make known his decision on whether the United States will remain in the 2015 landmark deal between Iran and leading world powers on curbing Tehran's nuclear program. The Associated Press reports the speech has been tentatively scheduled for October 12, just ahead of the October 15 deadline Trump faces to tell Congress if he believes Iran is complying with the eight-party pact and if it...
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Tourists Trickle Back to Tunisia After 2015 Militant Attacks

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 00:48
Dozens of tourists pack beach chairs at a Tunisian luxury hotel, where everything from the swimming pool to the wall paint, the furniture at the shiny reception hall, the police post at its gate and even its name is new. Nothing reminds holiday-makers of the day in June 2015 when an Islamic State militant shot dead 39 foreigners in this beach resort, triggering an exodus of tourists from the country and severely damaging its economy. Now some of those tourists are coming back, thanks...
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Leaders of Iran, Turkey Stress Opposition to Kurdish State

Voice of America - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 00:07
With Turkey's president by his side, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pledged Wednesday that they would ensure borders in the region remain unchanged after the recent Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq.   Both Iran and Turkey opposed the referendum, which overwhelmingly passed last week, and have sent troops to their borders with the Iraqi Kurdish region. Iraq's central government also staunchly opposed the vote.   “We will not accept changing borders in the...
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Iraqi Army, Allied Shiite Forces Enter IS-held Hawija

Voice of America - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 23:50
The Iraqi army and members of the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have entered the town of Hawija in an operation to oust Islamic State from its last stronghold in northern Iraq, commanders on the ground told VOA. "The army, the federal police, the rapid response, and the Popular Mobilization forces are storming the center of Hawija town," the Iraqi Joint Command Operations said quoting Abdul-Amir Rashid Yarallah, the commander of the Hawija operation. "The...
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UNHCR: Millions of Refugees in Middle East at Risk as Winter Nears

Voice of America - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 19:17
The U.N. refugee agency warns that millions of refugees in the Middle East are at great risk as winter approaches. Nearly 15 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people are scattered across Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, the U.N. says, with about four million needing help to prepare for the freezing temperatures, snow and heavy rains. However, only one in four are likely to get the support they require. The UNHCR has received one-quarter of the...
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Report: Sarin Gas Used in Syria Prior to Khan Sheikhun Attack

Voice of America - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 18:55
Syrian forces used sarin gas in an attack on an opposition-held town in March, five days before a deadly attack on Khan Sheikhun that drew a response from the U.S. military, according to a chemical watchdog group. The leader of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, told the French news agency, AFP, a test conducted by the group showed sarin gas was used during an attack on Al-Lataminah in northern Syria on March 30. He said 50 people were reportedly...
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