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Pence: US Embassy Will Move to Jerusalem in 2019

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 16:46
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the United States would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. "In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year," Pence said, addressing the Knesset, Israel's lawmaking body, in Tel Aviv. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital and, as such, President Trump has directed the State...
Categories: Iraq

Turkey Steps Up Offensive Against Syrian Kurdish Militia

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 13:31
Turkish forces shelled northern Syria on Monday, pressing a campaign to push Kurdish militia out of the Afrin area, while officials said the operation will be over quickly. The Kurdish militia YPG also reported clashes Monday with Turkish forces northwest of Afrin. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said in addition to being brief, the military offensive would serve to reduce Turkey's terror risk. Ankara accuses YPG, which controls Afrin, of being linked to an...
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US Jerusalem Decision in Focus as Pence Visits Israel

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:53
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday it was an honor "to be in Israel's capital, Jerusalem," highlighting a U.S. decision to recognize the city as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Donald Trump parted from decades of U.S. policy by saying Jerusalem is Israel's capital and setting in motion the process of moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. "In making his historic announcement on December 6, President Trump did so...
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Tunisian Forces Kill Senior al-Qaida Member

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 03:16
Tunisian special forces have killed a senior member of al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in a remote western area of the country, near the border with Algeria. Tunisian officials have identified the militant as Bilel Kobi, a senior aide to  Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the leader of the militant group. Another jihadist was also killed in the operation as a special unit of the National Guard and soldiers circled an armed group of militants in the western region of Kasserine overnight...
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Mattis: Turkey Alerted US Before Striking Kurds in Syria

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 22:21
Turkey alerted the United States before striking a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in northern Syria, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "They warned us before they launched the aircraft that they were going to do it," Mattis told reporters Sunday on a plane headed for Southeast Asia. Turkey on Saturday began bombing the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin along the Turkish border in northern Syria, in an attempt to drive the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or...
Categories: Iraq

Iran May Try to Loosen Revolutionary Guard's Grip on Economy

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:23
Iran's supreme leader has ordered the Revolutionary Guard to loosen its hold on the economy, the country's defense minister says, raising the possibility that the paramilitary organization might privatize some of its vast holdings. The comments this weekend by Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami appear to be a trial balloon to test the reaction of the idea, long pushed by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate. Protests over the country's poor economy last...
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Turkey Steps Up Offensive Against Syrian Kurdish Militia Amid Growing Diplomatic Pressure

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 13:51
Turkish land forces have advanced into Syria trying to push a Kurdish militia out of the Afrin area. Over 40 targets were hit by Turkish jets and artillery, and there are reports of civilian casualities. Quoting YPG forces, a stringer for the VOA Kurdish Service in Afrin reported that three Turkish military tanks were destroyed in the nearby towns of Bilbil and Shara. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the objective of Operation Olive Branch was to establish a 30-kilometer...
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Saudis Urge Oil Production Cooperation Beyond 2018

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 13:04
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister urged global oil producing nations on Sunday to extend their cooperation beyond 2018, but said this might mean a new form of deal rather than continuing the same supply cuts that have boosted prices in recent months. It was the first time that Saudi Arabia had publicly raised the possibility of a new form of coordination among oil producers after 2018. Their agreement on supply cuts, originally launched last January, is set to expire in December this...
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Turkey: Border Town Hit by Rockets From Syria

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 12:11
Four rockets fired from Syria hit a Turkish border town Sunday as Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters pushed forward with an offensive to drive Syrian Kurdish forces from an enclave in northern Syria, the state-run news agency reported. Gov. Mehmet Tekinarslan said four rockets struck the town of Kilis, hitting two houses, an office and slightly wounding one person. The Turkish artillery returned fire, the governor said. The attack came after dozens of Turkish jets pounded the...
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Pence Visits Jordan on Mideast Peace Mission

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 10:56
Jordan's King Abdullah expressed concern about Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. During the second stop on the vice president's four-day tour of the Middle East, Pence said that the two countries had agreed to disagree on the controversial decision announced last month. "Friends occasionally have disagreements, and we agreed to disagree on recognizing Jerusalem. We agreed all parties...
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Turkey Aims Airstrikes at U.S.-backed Kurdish Group in Syria

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 20:34
Turkish warplanes have launched airstrikes against a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in the Syrian enclave of Afrin. Turkey says the offensive, which was expected, struck more than 100 targets, including the city of Afrin itself. The city has several hundred thousand residents. The airstrikes were aimed at positions occupied by the YPG Kurdish militia. Ankara accuses the militia of ties to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the...
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UN: Millions of Iraqi Children Affected by Conflict, Poverty Face Grim Future

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 16:41
The U.N. children’s fund warns that millions of Iraqi children affected by conflict and poverty face a grim future and are in desperate need of international support. UNICEF says that in Iraq more than four million children, about one quarter of all Iraqi children, live in poverty.  Most of these children, it says, are scarred by years of conflict and deprivation. The government has made great strides in bringing the fighting to an end in several areas of the country.  But...
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Pence Vows Firm Support of Egypt in Its Fight Against Terrorism

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 12:26
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence pledged Saturday that the U.S. would continue to support Egypt in its battle against terrorism. "We stand shoulder to shoulder with you," Pence said in front of reporters after meetings in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to discuss terrorism and security issues. Egypt is grappling with serious security problems, including attacks by Islamic State militants in the North Sinai area. El-Sissi said the two men...
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Iraqi Activist Returns to Ancient Mosul Church IS Used to Detain, Torture People

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 04:51
Mosul civilian activist Ahmed al-Rahal has returned to the ancient Tahira Church in Mosul, which was once used by the Islamic State to torture hundreds of prisoners. The church now lies in ruins following an Iraqi operation to remove IS from the city. VOA's Kawa Omar reports.
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10 Syrians Freeze to Death Trying to Cross Mountainous Border With Lebanon

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 01:38
Lebanon’s army says 10 Syrians froze to death while trying to cross into the country via a dangerous smuggling route through the mountains. Military officials say the Syrians, including two children and six women, were caught in a strong snowstorm while trying to cross the mountainous frontier between the two nations. An army statement said troops received a tip Friday morning that the group of refugees had gotten stuck in the snowstorm. It said an army patrol found the bodies of nine...
Categories: Iraq

US Criticizes Turkish Shelling of Kurdish-Held Syria Region

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 23:10
While the United States supports Turkey's concern about a safe and secure Turkish-Syrian border, military operations by Turkey into northeast Syria will not advance regional stability, the State Department said Friday. Turkey was reportedly intensifying the shelling into Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region.  "We do not believe that a military operation, whether in Afrin or directly against the self-defense Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the north or northeast...
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Islamic State Trials: Iraqi Judges Seek Justice Amid Disorder, Danger

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 22:15
"Execution is not enough punishment for Islamic State militants," said Amar Hazzam, 45, who sells cheese and yogurt at a street market in Mosul. A few vegetable sellers gather around him and nod. "It doesn't even compare to what they did to us." About 10 kilometers outside of the city in the town of Tal Kef, thousands of suspected militants are being processed through trials that judges say are fair, despite public outcry for revenge.  Judges dismiss...
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Saudi Minister Previously Detained in Corruption Crackdown to Head Davos Delegation

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 19:34
Saudi Arabia's delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos next week will be led by state minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was released from detention related to an anti-corruption purge in November, Saudi sources said. Assaf, who was also a former finance minister and a board member of national oil company Saudi Aramco, was among people detained and under investigation by a new anti-corruption body, a senior Saudi official had told Reuters. After he was seen attending a...
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China Calls Deadly Tanker Collision 'Unprecedented'

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 19:16
A Chinese official says the explosion and sinking of an Iranian oil tanker in the East China Sea was without precedent, creating enormous difficulties for rescue and recovery efforts. Transport ministry official Zhi Guanglu on Friday said the sinking of the Sanchi after a Jan. 6 collision with a grain freighter was a first for a tanker carrying natural gas condensate. The disaster cost the lives of the tanker's crew of 30 Iranians and 2 Bangladeshis, only three of whose bodies were...
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Gaza Family Kills Relative After Hamas Says He Aided Israel

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 18:25
A Palestinian family says it has killed one of its members after Gaza's Hamas rulers said he aided Israel in killing three of the militant group's commanders. The family said in a statement that a relative shot Ahmed Barhoum dead Friday but did not say which family member pulled the trigger. It said they followed developments in the Hamas investigation and believed their son was guilty. The family noted the relative was arrested and interrogated by the "resistance,"...
Categories: Iraq