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3 Killed in Suspected IS Attack Outside Libyan Oilfield

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 19:53
Two guards and a soldier were killed and four other people were kidnapped early Saturday in a suspected Islamic State attack targeting Libya's Zella  oilfield, a security source said.  The death toll was confirmed by the National Oil Co. (NOC), which condemned the attack in a statement Saturday evening.  The attackers struck at an entrance gate to the field, which lies near the town of Zella about 760 km (470 miles) southwest of the capital,...
Categories: Iraq

Iran Dismisses Possibility of Conflict, Says Does Not Want War

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 19:09
Iran's top diplomat on Saturday dismissed the possibility of war erupting in the region, saying Tehran did not want a conflict and that no country had the "illusion it can confront Iran," the state news agency IRNA reported. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased in recent days, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy following attacks on oil tankers in the...
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Exxon Evacuates Foreign Workers From Iraqi Oil Field

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 17:25
ExxonMobil has evacuated its foreign workers from an oil field in the southern Iraqi province of Basra amid heightened tensions in the Middle East. A senior Iraqi official and three other sources told Reuters the employees were evacuated on Friday and early Saturday to Dubai or to a housing complex in Basra province. An Iraqi oil official also confirmed the evacuation with Associated Press. The chief of Iraq's state-owned South Oil Company, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, said the evacuation...
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US Warns Airliners Flying in Persian Gulf Amid Iran Tensions

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 16:35
U.S. diplomats warned Saturday that commercial airliners flying over the wider Persian Gulf faced a risk of being "misidentified" amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the risks the current tensions pose to a region crucial to global air travel. It also came as Lloyd's of London warned of increasing risks to maritime shipping in the region.   Concerns about a...
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Once Again, Iraq Caught up in Tensions Between US and Iran

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 15:19
When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down with Iraqi officials in Baghdad last week as tensions mounted between America and Iran, he delivered a nuanced message: If you're not going to stand with us, stand aside.   The message, relayed to The Associated Press by two Iraqi government officials, underscores Iraq's delicate position: Its government is allied with both sides of an increasingly contentious confrontation. As tensions escalate, there are concerns that...
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Escalating Violence in Syria’s Idlib Province Could Turn into Bloodbath

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 14:50
A senior United Nations official warns the alarming escalation of hostilities in northern Syria’s Idlib province could spiral out of control with disastrous consequences for its three million civilian inhabitants. The recent uptick in violence in Syria’s northern Idlib province is causing alarm among U.N. and international observers. Over the past two weeks, at least 100 civilians reportedly have been killed or injured in clashes between Russian-backed Syrian forces and al-Qaida...
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Reeling in Syria, Iraq, Islamic State Tries to Surge Online 

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 02:12
While Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq have largely been forced underground, the terror group's other fighters along with its media operatives appear intent on surging, combining an increase in attacks with ramped-up output on social media.    The strategy comes as little surprise to U.S. officials who have long warned the fight against IS would not end with the collapse of its self-declared caliphate in March.     But the wave of propaganda,...
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Rights Groups: 3 Iranian Writers Free, Plan to Appeal Sentences

Sat, 05/18/2019 - 00:22
This article originated in VOA's Persian service. An international writers association says three Iranian authors apparently sentenced to long prison terms this week in Iran remain free, pending possible appeals in their trial for alleged security offenses. In a statement to VOA Persian on Friday, London-based PEN International said it understands that writers Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan and Reza Khandan-Mahabadi have not yet been arrested. PEN International said it has not had...
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UN Decries Surge in Attacks on Hospitals in Syria's Idlib 

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 23:46
The United Nations condemned attacks on health facilities in Syria's northwest Idlib province Friday and warned that a military offensive there by the Bashar al-Assad regime with Russian support risked "catastrophic humanitarian fallout" if it continued.    "Since late April, this escalation in violence has reportedly killed and injured over a hundred civilians and further displaced 180,000," U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo...
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Western Powers Clash at UN with Russia, Syria over Syrian Hospital Attacks

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 23:25
The United Nations said on Friday at least 18 health centers have been attacked in the past three weeks in northwestern Syria, prompting a confrontation between western powers and Russia and Syria at the Security Council over who is to blame. While the area is nominally protected by a Russian-Turkish deal agreed in September to avert a new battle, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces — backed by Russians — have launched an offensive on the last major insurgent stronghold. Some...
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Egypt's President Pardons Hundreds, Including Prominent Journalist

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 20:46
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has pardoned hundreds of prisoners and a prominent journalist who had criticized the country's establishment. Journalist Abdel Halim Qandil was pardoned after receiving a three-year jail sentence following a December 2017 conviction for "insulting the judiciary," the official journal of the Arab Republic of Egypt reported Thursday. Qandil was tried on the same charges with 17 other defendants, including ousted Muslim Brotherhood...
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Iran’s Regional Proxies Ensure It Will Never Fight Alone

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 20:31
In the event of war with the United States, Iran “will not be alone.” That message was delivered by the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group to a mass rally in Beirut in February marking the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. “If America launches war on Iran, it will not be alone in the confrontation, because the fate of our region is tied to the Islamic Republic,” Hassan Nasrallah said. From Lebanon and Syria to Iraq, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip, Tehran has...
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Palestinian Demonstrators Cancel Weekly Protest

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 20:08
Weekly protests at the border between Israel and Gaza were canceled Friday due to high temperatures and the Ramadan fast. The organizing committee of the protests made the announcement Friday, noting also that a big demonstration took place on Wednesday to recognize Nakba Day, or "Day of Catastrophe," the anniversary of May 15, 1948, when Palestinians were displaced from their homes for the creation of the State of Israel. It is only the second time the weekly protests...
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Airstrike Kills, Injures Dozens of Civilians in Yemeni Capital

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 19:21
U.N. agencies are expressing anger and sadness at the deaths and injuries of dozens of civilians, including children, hit by airstrikes on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Thursday night. This is just the latest tragedy to hit Yemen, which has been at war for more than four years.The U.N. human rights office reports nearly 7,000 civilians have been killed and 10,800 wounded as of November 2018. Most of the deaths and injuries are due to aerial bombardments by the Saudi-led coalition, it...
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Lloyd's Raises Gulf Insurance Risks After Ship Attacks

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 18:30
Lloyd's of London insurance market on Friday widened its list of areas in and around the Gulf posing "enhanced risk for marine insurers" after attacks on ships off the UAE. Lloyd's said that the Gulf, part of the Gulf of Oman, Oman and the United Arab Emirates had been added to the list. Saudi Arabia's risk areas were meanwhile expanded to include its coasts. It comes after marine insurers in London began Thursday an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation...
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Iranian Military Official: Missiles Capable of Striking Warships in Gulf

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 17:32
A senior member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps said Friday Iranian short-range missiles can "easily" reach warships in the Persian Gulf, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Revolutionary Guard deputy chief Mohammad Saleh Jokar's comments came amid rising tensions with the United States. The U.S. has increased its military presence in the region by deploying additional ships and tightened sanctions against Iran to counter alleged threats from...
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Algeria Election May Be Postponed, Protests Continue

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 17:01
Algeria's imminent presidential election looks likely to be postponed, a source said on Friday, as protesters returned to the streets for the 13th successive Friday to demand the removal of the nation's ruling elite. After two decades in power, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit last month under pressure from protesters and the army, but demonstrations have continued seeking political reforms and the removal of all officials belonging to the old guard. A presidential election...
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US Standoff With Iran Conjures Specter of Iraq War

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:36
U.S. President Donald Trump held a closed meeting Thursday with Swiss President Ueli Maurer at the White House. The White House said Trump expressed his "gratitude for Switzerland's role in facilitating international mediation and diplomatic relations on behalf of the United States." Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Japan, where he accused the U.S. of "escalations." VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports U.S. lawmakers voiced their concerns...
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Russia Presents UN Measure to Rein in Chemical Weapons Watchdog

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 04:20
Russia on Thursday presented a draft resolution to the Security Council accusing the UN's chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, of politicization just before a new probe begins of chemical attacks in Syria. The draft text, seen by AFP, states that the Council — where Russia holds veto power — is the only international body that can impose measures on countries that violate the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreed last...
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Khashoggi Fiancee: World 'Still Has Not Done Anything'

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 01:42
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist slain at a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey last year, said Thursday that she could not believe that no one has yet faced serious consequences for the crime.  "I cannot understand that the world still has not done anything about this," Cengiz told a U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee, speaking in Turkish through an interpreter.  "I...
Categories: Iraq