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Iran Successfully Tests Ballistic Missile

6 hours 24 min ago
State media says Iran has successfully tested a new, medium-range, ballistic missile that was on display in a military parade Friday. State television aired footage of the test and in-flight video from the nose cone on Saturday.   It was not clear, however, when and where the test launch of the Khorramshahr missile was conducted.  The missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and has the capacity to carry several warheads. President Hassan Rouhani said Friday at the military...
Categories: Iraq

Ultraconservative Islam, King of Pop Meet in Egyptian Film

7 hours 8 min ago
An Egyptian ultraconservative Muslim preacher hears on his car radio news of the death of Michael Jackson, the pop singer he idolized in his teens, and he becomes so distraught he crashes his car.   The news of the passing of the King of Pop is the start of a crisis of conscience for Sheikh Khalid Hani, the main character of the movie Sheikh Jackson, Egypt’s first feature film to focus on the religious movement known as Salafis, followers of one of the strictest interpretations...
Categories: Iraq

World Leaders Take Stock of Counterterror Fight

9 hours 36 min ago
While Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs dominated headlines, countering terrorism and extremism took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top officials from 24 countries highlighted progress made in the fight to defeat the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. VOA Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from Washington.
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Turkey Issues Final Call to Iraqi Kurds to Cancel Independence Vote

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:27
Turkey's government will never accept a separate Kurdish state in neighboring Iraq and won't refrain from taking steps to prevent it, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday. Yildirim said Monday's independence vote by Iraqi Kurds is an issue of Turkey's national security. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a meeting Friday of Turkey's National Security Council, which called for the referendum to be canceled. Erdogan branded the vote as "illegal...
Categories: Iraq

Kurds to Vote on Statehood Unless Given Guarantees on Future, Official Says

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:25
A senior Kurdish official said Friday that the referendum on independence from Iraq would go ahead Monday unless the regional government was offered a strong package of guarantees on its future self-determination. “The leadership in Kurdistan and the people of Kurdistan need a strong package,” Falah Mustafa, the foreign policy chief of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told VOA in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Such a package "would guarantee us...
Categories: Iraq

Flight Attendant Helps Refugees by Selling Their Art

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:39
Kayra Martinez took calligraphy paper and pens into refugee tents in Greece last year. “That was the first time I had actually seen the children really calm,” Martinez said. “And I realized that this is something that they really love to do.” As a flight attendant for United Airlines, Martinez is often in Greece, where she was drawn to the refugee camps and began volunteering there in 2015. Focusing her efforts on Nea Kavala in northern Greece, she is now the first point of contact for...
Categories: Iraq

Kuwait to Host Iraq Reconstruction Conference in Early 2018

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:29
Kuwait will host a conference early next year focused on reconstruction efforts in Iraq following “unprecedented” advances made recently by the country’s military, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said Friday. McGurk, speaking during a briefing at the State Department, also told reporters it is “a matter of time” before Islamic State fighters are completely removed from Raqqa, Syria, and that “the end is now in sight.” He added,...
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Russia's Lavrov Rejects Idea of Renegotiating Iran Nuclear Deal

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:16
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday dismissed the notion of renegotiating the agreement curbing Iran's nuclear weapons development, maintaining U.S. concerns about Iran are beyond the scope of the deal. "This program is already finalized and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council resolution. Opening up this plan for negotiations basically would be disregarding this agreement," Lavrov told reporters at the U.N. General Assembly. U.S. President Donald Trump has...
Categories: Iraq

Kurds Press Historic Independence Vote Despite Regional Fears

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:02
Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighboring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir broader regional ethnic and sectarian conflict.  Kurdish flags — a red, white and green tricolor emblazoned with a golden sun — adorn cars and buildings across the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and billboards announce: "The time is now — say 'yes' to a free Kurdistan!" Massoud...
Categories: Iraq

Tens of Thousands Rally for Iraqi Kurdish Independence Vote

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 20:35
A controversial independence referendum is to be held in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25. The vote, which is not sanctioned by Iraq’s central government and not supported by the United States, carries great significance for Kurds, both inside and outside Iraq.
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Teenager Charged in London Subway Bombing

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 17:49
British police on Friday charged an 18-year-old man with attempted murder following the bombing of a London Underground train last week that injured 20 people. The man, Ahmed Hassan, reported to be from Iraq, was arrested in the port of Dover — a popular departure point for ferries to France. He also was charged with the use of an explosive, police said. Following Hassan’s arrest, police searched the suburban home of a couple that fostered refugee children, where he had been living....
Categories: Iraq

Iran: ‘We Will Strengthen Our Missile Capabilities’ 

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:08
Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities and will not seek any country’s permission, President Hassan Rouhani said Friday in a snub to demands from U.S. President Donald Trump. Rouhani was speaking at a military parade where an Iranian news agency said one of the weapons on display was a new ballistic missile with range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), capable of carrying several warheads. The Tasnim news agency, which quoted the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division,...
Categories: Iraq

Former US Diplomat: Efforts to Derail Kurdish Referendum Won't Work

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 02:15
A former U.S. diplomat says there's no way to derail Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum next Monday, despite efforts by the U.S. and other countries to have the vote postponed. "There really is no possibility of calling it off," said Peter Galbraith, who took a special interest in the Kurdish situation in the late 1980s and early '90s and helped uncover former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against the minority group. "You can't...
Categories: Iraq

UN Team to Collect Evidence of Islamic State War Crimes in Iraq

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 01:45
The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants "that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide." Britain, which drafted the resolution, said the team would bring some justice to those who had experienced atrocities at the hands of IS, variously known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqis Track Abandoned Homes With Digital Tools

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 23:32
In camps across northern Iraq, people forced from their homes by Islamic State militants are using their phones to track what is happening to their properties, according to researchers who say returning home is crucial for building a safe future in the war-torn nation. More than three million Iraqis have been driven from their homes, land and farms, according to the United Nations, many of them by armed groups like Islamic State (IS). As pro-government forces intensify the fight...
Categories: Iraq

US, Russian Generals Meet to Discuss Deir El-Zour Tensions

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:00
American and Russia military leaders held an unprecedented, face-to-face meeting in recent days to discuss the increasing tensions around the Islamic State stronghold of Deir el-Zour, Syria, a coalition spokesman said Thursday. U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the U.S.-led counter-Islamic State coalition, told reporters via video conference from Baghdad that the discussion between generals from both countries lasted more than an hour. Dillon added that the coalition and...
Categories: Iraq

UN Votes to Help Iraq Collect Evidence Against Islamic State

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:39
The U.N. Security Council has authorized the world body's investigators to help Iraq collect evidence that could lead to prosecuting Islamic State extremists for war crimes.   The council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday. It asks the world body to establish an investigative team to help Iraq preserve evidence “that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide” committed by the Islamic State group.   Iraq and Britain spearheaded the measure. Iraqi...
Categories: Iraq

Israel's Backing of Iraqi Kurds' Independence Vote Strains Ankara Ties

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:23
Israel’s support of next Monday’s independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds is threatening to strain recently restored diplomatic relations with Turkey. Ankara has been condemning the planned vote, warning of severe consequences for the region. Israel has a long tradition of seeing the region’s Kurds as a buffer from both Arab and Iranian threats; but with Turkey having its own restive Kurdish minority, Israel’s support of the vote has drawn strong condemnation in Turkey.  Aydin...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq Launches Offensive to Recapture Hawija

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:45
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Thursday his forces have begun an offensive to retake control of the town of Hawija, one of the last areas in Iraq held by Islamic State militants. Hawija is located 240 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and just west of the oil city of Kirkuk.   Counter-Islamic State coalition spokesman U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters via video conference from Baghdad Thursday that Iraqi forces cleared 11 villages Thursday...
Categories: Iraq

Russia: Special Forces Helping Syria Win Key City

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:01
Russian special forces are helping Syrian government troops fight Islamic State militants in the battle for the strategic city of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria, the defense ministry in Moscow said Thursday. Russia began its operation to support President Bashar Assad’s offensive against the IS in Syria in 2015 but has mostly focused on providing air cover to government troops on the ground. The campaign for Deir el-Zour, Syria’s largest eastern city, is caught up in a race between...
Categories: Iraq