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Jets Strike US-backed Forces in Eastern Syria

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 03:15
U.S.-backed militias in Syria said they came under attack Saturday from Russian jets and Syrian government forces in Deir el-Zour province, a flashpoint in an increasingly complex battlefield. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting with the U.S.-led coalition, said six of its fighters were wounded in the strike. The Pentagon said Russia bombed a position east of the Euphrates river where it knew SDF fighters and coalition advisers were...
Categories: Iraq

Transcript of Interview With Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 03:10
A transcript of an interview Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi by The Associated Press. AP: Thank you mister prime minister for having The Associated Press here in Baghdad. Al-Abadi: Welcome. AP: I'm going to start off by asking you about the referendum that is upcoming in the Kurdish region in Iraq. It appears the referendum is going to go ahead as planned on Sept. 25 and if it is held, I'm interested in what your response will be. Al-Abadi: Well our...
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Syria's Deir el-Zour Coming Back to Life After 3-year Siege

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 19:04
On a scorching afternoon in the Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, two dozen people patiently line up at Rashid Izghair's shop, which only opened a few days earlier, to get the most basic of supplies: milk, pasta and canned food - items they had been deprived of for nearly three years. Government forces broke a nearly three-year siege of Syria's largest eastern city earlier this month in a major offensive against the Islamic State group. Now, tens of thousands of residents such as these...
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World Hunger Swells as Conflict, Climate Change Grow

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 17:55
The United Nations reports world hunger is rising because conflicts and problems related to climate change are multiplying. The report finds about 815 million people globally did not have enough to eat in 2016 — 38 million more than the previous year. The statistics in this report are particularly grim. They show that global hunger is on the rise again after more than a decade of steady decline. The report, a joint product by five leading U.N. agencies warns that malnutrition is...
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Egypt Court Sentences 7 to Death Over Links to IS

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 13:53
An Egyptian court has sentenced seven people to death over links to the so-called Islamic State group in Libya. Saturday's ruling refers the case to the Grand Mufti, the country's top theological authority, to solicit his non-binding opinion on the sentences. The referral is a formality in cases of capital punishment. The court has set a Nov. 25 date for issuing the final verdict in the case, which involves 20 defendants. The verdict is subject to appeal. Charges include...
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Millions of World's Children Lack any Record of Their Births

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 13:44
Would a 15-year-old girl be married off by her parents in violation of the law? Would another girl, who looks even younger, get justice after an alleged statutory rape at the hands of an older man? In their impoverished communities in Uganda, the answers hinged on the fact that one girl had a birth certificate and the other didn't. Police foiled the planned marriage after locating paperwork that proved the first girl was not 18 as her parents claimed. The other girl could not prove...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Kurds Prepare for Independence Vote, Despite Opposition

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 08:17
The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government on Friday upheld a plan to hold a referendum for independence from Iraq on Sept. 25, after calls for postponing the ballot from regional and Western powers. VOA's Heather Murdock has this report from Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
Categories: Iraq

Ankara Threatens Sanctions Against Iraqi Kurds Over Independence Vote

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 03:20
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned Friday that the Iraqi Kurdish plan to hold an independence referendum was a "grave mistake."  Iraqi Kurdistan regional President Masoud Barzani has called for the referendum on Sept. 25 in the semi-autonomous area. Turkey, which borders the Iraqi Kurdish region, has strong ties with Barzani, but Ankara has been stepping up its pressure to call off the vote. “There are 10 days left (to the referendum). Therefore, I want to repeat...
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Syria: Turkey, Russia, Iran Agree to Safe Zone Deal

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 20:37
Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed Friday to a deal that will see the countries work together to police a de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib province for the next six months, according to a joint statement issued by the three countries following talks in Kazakhstan. The three nations also agreed to set up a coordination center to monitor the implementation of other de-escalation zones around Syria during the latest round of peace talks in Astana. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry,...
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Visiting London, U.S. Secretary of State Chides Iran, Urges China to Block North Korean Oil

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:24
Visiting London Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to cut oil exports to North Korea to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons program. Tillerson also had strong words for Iran, which he said was clearly in default of expectations with regard to the 2015 nuclear agreement. Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital.
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Mexico Accepts Israeli Offer to Help Develop Central America

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 03:15
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday that his country had accepted Israel's offer to help it and the United States develop Central America, as Israel and Mexico seek to deepen business ties. Speaking at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pena Nieto added that the two nations had agreed to update their free trade agreement, which was signed in 2000. "We have agreed to establish and begin the ... negotiations to look over this...
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US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 03:00
The impending Kurdish referendum for independence will have significant consequences for the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, said Brett McGurk, the U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter IS. He asked Kurdish leadership to halt the vote in exchange for a plan proposed by the United States, the United Nations and the United Kingdom. "We would obviously very much encourage the political leaders here in the Kurdistan region to embrace this...
Categories: Iraq

Trump Administration Seen Taking Harder Line on Iran

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 02:30
President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to take unspecified action against Iran next month, expressing continued dissatisfaction with the 2015 nuclear agreement signed by Iran and a group of world powers, including the United States. "We are not going to stand for what they're doing to this country," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. "They have violated so many different elements, but they've also violated the spirit of that deal. And you will see...
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Pentagon: American Fighting for ISIS in Syria Now in US Custody

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 00:15
An American citizen fighting for Islamic State in Syria is in U.S. custody after surrendering to coalition-backed Syrian fighters. “Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) turned over an American citizen who surrendered to SDF on or around Sept. 12,” Defense spokesman Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told VOA on Thursday. Defense Department personnel have detained the American as “a known enemy combatant” and say they will transport the captive “humanely,” according to...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq Dismisses Kirkuk Governor Amid Dispute With Kurds

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 22:39
Iraq's parliament on Thursday voted to dismiss the Kurdish governor of the ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, in a move that could escalate tensions ahead of a planned Kurdish referendum on independence. To the south of Baghdad, meanwhile, militants attacked a checkpoint and nearby restaurant in southern Thi Qar province, killing at least 60 people and wounding 83, according to provincial Gov. Yahya al-Nassiri. The so-called Islamic State group, through its Amaq news agency, claimed...
Categories: Iraq

Why is the Kurdistan Referendum Controversial?

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 22:30
In the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, traffic cameras nail speeders, and trash thrown on the street is whisked away by morning. High-level officials from all over the country dine in five-star hotels, and parks, malls and cafes are packed on nights and weekends. People speak Kurdish, listen to Kurdish music, marry Kurdish spouses and eat Kurdish food. There are plenty of Arab residents and visitors, but they come with permission from Kurdish authorities, and after passing through...
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UN Promotes Mediation to End Libya Chaos

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 22:19
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday welcoming recent efforts to bring opposing sides together on the conflict in Libya, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling ripe for mediation to end the chaos and restore peace. The resolution extends the U.N. political mission in the country until September 15, 2018, with a mandate "to exercise mediation and good offices" to support "an inclusive political process" and a Libyan...
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Turkish Dissident Trial Begins Amid Controversy

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:24
In the Turkish capital, Ankara, the trial of two educators charged with terrorism has started.  The defendants have been on a hunger strike for more than five months to protest their firing as part of a government crackdown after last year’s failed coup. Their hunger strike and trial have become a focal point of government opposition. The Ankara courthouse where Semih Ozakca and Nuriye Gulmen are on trial was surrounded by a large security presence. Police outside the court prevented...
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Yemeni Rebel Leader Threatens Attack on UAE Territory

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:01
The leader of Yemen's Shiite rebels is threatening to attack territory in the United Arab Emirates, a key member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting to defeat his Iranian-backed forces and restore an internationally recognized government.   In a speech aired Thursday on the rebel-run al-Masirah TV, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi says the UAE is now within range of missiles available to his forces after a "successful'' missile test showed they could reach the UAE capital, Abu...
Categories: Iraq

Twin Attacks Kill at Least 60 in Southern Iraq

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 18:12
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for gun and car bomb attacks that killed at least 60 people Thursday in southern Iraq. More than 80 other people were wounded in the attacks near Nasiriyah, the capital of Dhiqar province, officials said. Militants opened fire at a restaurant, and shortly afterward a suicide attack carried out by a driver in an explosives-laden vehicle struck a nearby security checkpoint, officers said. Three of the dead were police officers, while a...
Categories: Iraq