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Updated: 13 weeks 6 days ago

American Women, Children Tied to IS Headed Home

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 02:00
Two American women accused of joining with the Islamic State terror group, along with their children, are heading back to the United States.   Kamal Akif, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria, told VOA the women and six children were turned over U.S. custody Wednesday in the city of Ain Issa.   “U.S. government representatives were present today when the transfer of those women and children took place,” he told VOA in a phone interview, adding the...
Categories: Iraq

Sudan's Deadly Crackdown Evokes Arab Spring Bloodshed

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 23:26
In the Middle East, it has often begun the same way: a popular swell of street protests against long-entrenched autocrats and demonstrators inspired by burgeoning aspirations for democracy and freedom. But then the military moves in. Its ruthless, harsh force helps prop up the leader and his family, or safeguard the military's own longevity after a leader falls. Death, detention and disappearances become commonplace and in some cases, ruinous civil war with external intervention...
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Islamic Militants Attack Police Checkpoint Outside Northern Sinai Town of el-Arish

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 22:45
Islamic militants attacked a police checkpoint outside Egypt's northern Sinai port city of el-Arish just minutes before traditional prayers marking the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, following the month of Ramadan. In a statement, Egypt's interior ministry said that eight policemen were killed, along with five militants. Egyptian TV reported the attack on the police checkpoint outside the northern Sinai town of el-Arish without elaborating on details, ostensibly to avoid...
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Coalition War Planes Holding Fire Against IS in Syria

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 20:59
U.S. and coalition jets have been quiet in the skies over Syria, failing to launch any airstrikes against remnants of the Islamic State terror group for a second consecutive month.   The U.S.-led military coalition said Wednesday there were no airstrikes in Syria between May 5 and June 3, while reporting 11 strikes in Iraq during the same period.     According to the statement, the strikes in Iraq targeted 16 IS tactical units and destroyed 21 IS caves, along with two...
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US Senators Launch Bipartisan Bid to Block Saudi Arms Sales

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 18:38
Directly challenging President Donald Trump's use of executive power, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are banding together to introduce more than a dozen resolutions aimed at blocking the Trump administration's sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.   The maneuver amounts to a remarkable display of bipartisan pushback to Trump's foreign policy and threatens to tangle the Senate in a series of floor votes this summer. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on...
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Former Al-Qaida Propagandist Launches Counter-Jihadi Magazine

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 17:35
Once al-Qaida’s chief American propagandist, Jesse Morton is now propagandizing for peace. In 2009, Morton, then part of a group of Muslim extremists in New York, helped launch Jihad Recollections, the first in a line of online glossy magazines that captured the imagination of many young jihadists. With an emphasis on compelling visual presentation, the magazine came to be dubbed the Vanity Fair for jihadists, giving rise to several, more enduring iterations, including al-Qaida’s...
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In Egypt, Prayers and Family Feasts Mark End of Ramadan

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 14:59
The beginning and end of the Muslim season of Ramadan are determined by lunar sightings, which differ around the world. In countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab of Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, and Qatar, that happened Tuesday, while in Egypt, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan the conclusion – marked by the Eid al-Fitr celebration – occurred on Wednesday. Cairo-based photojournalist Hamada Elrasam captures a glimpse of the anticipation and celebration shared by all in Egypt.
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China's Xi: Iran Tensions Worrying, Calls for Restraint

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 08:12
A rise in tensions in the Middle East owing to U.S. pressure on Iran is worrying and all parties need to exercise restraint, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian media ahead of a visit to the country. Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated in the past month, a year after the United States pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions. Washington reimposed sanctions last year and...
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VOA Interview: Freedom House Report

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 07:01
A new Freedom House report says press freedom is deteriorating worldwide. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke to Sarah Repucci, the Senior Director for Research and Analysis for Freedom House about the report. Below is an an edited transcript. Q: According to the report, press freedom is deteriorating worldwide; worsening for Not Free states (Eurasia + Middle East/North Africa) combined with a negative trend among Free States, notably across Europe. Can you expand on these overall findings, and...
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Iran Recommits to Khomeini’s 'Resistance' on Death Anniversary, But at What Cost?

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 06:30
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Katherine Ahn contributed from Washington. Iran has marked the 30th anniversary of the death of the leader of its Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, by recommitting itself to pursue his bedeviled path of “resistance” against enemies.  Khomeini died of cancer on June 3, 1989, 10 years after leading a revolution that replaced Iran’s monarchy with an enduring theocracy that has become embroiled in regional conflicts,...
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Government Confirms Iran to Free imprisoned Lebanese Man

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 06:10
Lebanon's Foreign Ministry says Iran has agreed to release a Lebanese man who has been imprisoned there since 2015.   In a statement, the Foreign Ministry says it has been contacted by the Iranian ambassador in Beirut who said authorities have agreed to release Nizar Zakka, based on a request by President Michel Aoun on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.   Countries typically issue pardons and amnesties as a good...
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Iran Honors Iraqi Shiite Paramilitary Group That US Labels Terrorists

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:45
In an apparent effort to sway Iran’s public opinion in favor of the regime’s involvement in Middle East conflicts, the Iranian government’s television channels are airing a video that glorifies a key anti-American Iraqi Shiite group. The music video, titled “The Noble Ones," has been shown several times on state TV channels. It praises Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group that was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States earlier this...
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Nechama Rivlin, Israeli First Lady, Dies at 73

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 05:35
Israel is mourning first lady Nechama Rivlin, who died Tuesday months after a lung transplant. She was 73 years old and was a frequent presence beside her husband, President Reuven Rivlin, despite her illness. Nechama Rivlin was born in an Israeli farming community. Her parents emigrated from Ukraine. She married the lawyer and future president in 1971 and was known as a popular first lady whose interests focused on the arts, the environment and children with special...
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Celebrating Eid al-Fitr With Message of Peace

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 03:35
Muslims around the world are marking the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, a community celebration of food and fellowship. For a mosque in California, the festival conveys a message of hope to persecuted minorities and those who suffer because of their religion.
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Media Repression on the Rise in 'Free' Countries

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 03:34
Global press freedom is on the decline, including in countries that have long been determined to be "free." Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, reports that new forms of media repression and manipulation are spreading in traditionally open societies, from Central Europe to the United States, where it cited "new and are very worrying" attacks on journalists and media outlets by the Trump administration. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
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Iran Vows to Keep Missile Program, Rejects US Offer to Negotiate

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 21:37
Iran's Supreme Leader says his country will not give up its missile program after the United States said last week it is willing to negotiate with Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on state television Tuesday "this political trick will not deceive Iranian officials and the Iranian nation." Khamenei's comments were made on the 30th anniversary of the death of Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and one week after U.S. President...
Categories: Iraq

WFP: Growing Violence Destroys Vital Crops, Farmland in NW Syria

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 21:18
The World Food Program says escalating violence has destroyed crops and farmland in Idlib and North Hama in northwest Syria, depriving thousands of people of food.  Dozens of people reportedly have been killed and wounded and at least 300,000 forced to flee their homes since the latest outbreak of fighting last month between Russian-backed Syrian forces and rebel armed groups.  World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel says other casualties of the war are the thousands of...
Categories: Iraq

Baghdad's Green Zone Reopens to the Public

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 19:35
Iraqi security officials say Baghdad's Green Zone area, the heavily fortified strip on the west bank of the Tigris River, is now open to the public around the clock. Maj. Gen. Jassim Yahya Abd Ali tells The Associated Press that the area that houses the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices is now open "twenty-four hours a day without any exceptions or conditions."   The area was closed to the public since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple dictator Saddam...
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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's Wife Nechama Dies at 73

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 18:06
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, has died. She was 73. The president's office announced Tuesday she had passed away of lung failure, three months after receiving a transplant. Nechama Rivlin had been ill for years, but still regularly appeared in public alongside her husband with a mobile oxygen device. The Israeli presidency is a mostly ceremonial role. Nechama Rivlin was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with...
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Libyan Coast Guard Intercepts Some 100 Europe-Bound Migrants

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 17:51
Libya's coast guard says it has intercepted a boat carrying nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country's Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Tuesday that the rubber vessel had 92 African and Bengali migrants, including 11 women and four children. They were intercepted Monday off the coast of the western town of Garaboli, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. He says the migrants were given humanitarian and...
Categories: Iraq