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Even in Defeat, Islamic State's Foreign Fighters Expanding

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 22:00
This is part two of a four-part series. WASHINGTON — It was March 2018, approximately five months after U.S.-backed forces had declared victory in the battle for the Islamic State terror group's Syrian capital of Raqqa. And Afghan officials had reason to worry. Intelligence suggested the fallout from that victory had been making its way, slowly but surely, to their country. "There has been a growth in the number of the foreign fighters in the country," then-Afghan...
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Israelis Mark Independence Day After Spike in Cross-Border Violence

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 17:40
As a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza holds, Israel marks its Memorial Day and Independence Day this week. The population has just topped nine million and Israelis say they've never had a better friend than President Donald Trump in the White House. Israelis stood still Tuesday for a two-minute siren commemorating the more than 23,700 Israeli soldiers killed as well as more than 3,000 victims of terror attacks. All places of entertainment are closed, and...
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US Slaps New Sanctions on Iran as Tehran Suspends Some Parts of Nuclear Deal

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 10:44
President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions Wednesday on Iran, hours after the Iranian president said he was pulling out of parts of the 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers.   Trump said in an executive order there would be new sanctions on Iranian metal exports: steel, aluminum, copper and iron.    U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil, its No. 1 moneymaker, have had a devastating effect on its economy. Iran's metal industry is another major...
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Iran to Give Up Some 'Voluntary Commitments' to Nuclear Agreement

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 02:01
Iran is giving up some "voluntary commitments" to the six-nation nuclear deal, but is not pulling out of the deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif says. Iranian state media quote Zarif as saying Iran is making the move because "the European Union and others ... did not have the power to resist U.S. pressure." Zarif did not specify what he means.  But a newspaper tied to the hardline Revolutionary Guard says Wednesday's announcement would "ignite the...
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Iraq: Pompeo, Iraq Prime Minister Meet in Baghdad

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 00:40
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Tuesday and met with the Iraqi prime minister and other senior officials after voicing U.S. concern about Iraqi sovereignty due to increasing Iranian activity in the region. The visit came two days after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the United States was deploying the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group to the region as well as a bomber task force because of a...
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Pompeo Visits Iraq Amid Reports of Iranian Missile Threat

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 21:20
Jeff Seldin and Michael Bowman contributed to this report.​ PENTAGON / WHITE HOUSE — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made an unscheduled visit to Iraq, amid growing tensions with Iran after intelligence reports indicated that Iran moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores. The move, first reported by CNN, was one of several clues that Iran might be considering or preparing to attack U.S. forces in the region, a government official told...
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Fears Grow Islamic State's Foreign Fighters Ready to Carry On

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 21:12
This is part one of a four-part series. WASHINGTON — Even as the Islamic State’s caliphate was clinging to life with its last defenders cornered in a small town in northeastern Syria, the terror group managed to shock those who would eventually see it die.   Instead of waiting out about 1,000 civilians and 300 or so hard-core IS fighters who had retreated to Baghuz, the U.S.-led coalition watched for weeks in late February and March, as upwards of 30,000 civilians and 5,000...
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Russia-Backed Assad Forces Pummel Syria’s Idlib

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 21:03
Syrian and Russian warplanes have been escalating airstrikes on the last remaining rebel redoubt in northern Syria. The air raids are as much a message to Turkey as to die-hard rebels and jihadists in the province of Idlib, say analysts. Russia wants Turkey to do more to remove from the province jihadists fighters once affiliated with al-Qaida, they say. The U.N. is calling for de-escalation in northwestern Syria, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging all parties to recommit...
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Europe Ready to Reimpose Sanctions if Iran Breaches Nuclear Deal, French Official Says

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 20:46
Europe would have to reimpose sanctions on Iran if Tehran reneged on parts of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, a French presidency source said on Tuesday. Iran's state-run IRIB news agency reported on Monday that Tehran would restart part of its halted nuclear program in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, but added Tehran does not plan to pull out of the agreement. Iran's president is due to speak on Wednesday. "We do not want Tehran to...
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US-Iran Tensions Rise Ahead of Anniversary of Deal Pullout

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:51
A sudden White House announcement that a U.S. aircraft carrier and a bomber wing would be deployed in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran comes just days ahead of the anniversary of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is said to be planning a speech Wednesday on the anniversary to discuss the next steps Tehran will take in confronting the U.S. Officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran...
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Qatar to Send Money for West Bank, Gaza after Israel truce

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:15
Qatar on Tuesday said it is sending $480 million to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after a cease-fire deal ended the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants since a 2014 war. Qatar's Foreign Ministry said $300 million would support health and education programs of the Palestinian Authority, while $180 million would go toward “urgent humanitarian relief” in U.N. programs and toward electricity. The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip suffers from chronic...
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Runaway Saudi Sisters Leave Georgia to Start New Life

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:03
Two runaway Saudi sisters who won global attention for fleeing to Georgia and pleading online for protection said on Tuesday they were preparing to start new lives in a country where their family could not find them. Maha, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25, started an online campaign to find a safe haven in April after arriving in Georgia to escape relatives they said abused them, in the latest case to highlight Saudi Arabia's strict social control over women. "We are thrilled to...
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Mixed Mideast Reaction Over US Carrier, Bomber Task Force Deployment

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 07:20
An announcement by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton that Washington is sending an aircraft carrier group and bomber task force to the Middle East is drawing mixed reactions from countries in the region. Iran has condemned the move, while some U.S. allies nod in agreement.  Arab media announced the U.S. deployment of the aircraft carrier group USS Abraham Lincoln and an air strike force, amid reports of possible tensions with Iran and threats by Iranian officials to...
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Iraqi Fishermen Still Use Method Passed Down Over the Centuries

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 06:02
Fishermen in Iraqi Kurdistan are still using an ancient fishing technique that has been passed down over the centuries. While some fish as a hobby, others in the northern city of Ranya, do it for living. They say the ancient method comes with a lot of challenges and requires patience, but is effective. VOA’s Rebaz Majeed spent a few hours with the fishermen of Ranya and filed this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.
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Lebanon Central Bank Workers Strike, PM Demands Budgetary 'Realism'

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 05:00
Lebanese central bank employees went on strike on Monday over state budget proposals that would cut their benefits but Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said failure to pass a "realistic" budget would be like a "suicide operation" against the economy. Hariri said he expected a resolution of the row at the central bank on Tuesday but criticized a wave of "preemptive" strike action over the draft austerity budget, adding that the government was taking measures to...
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Syrian Troops Captured Village, Strategic Hill from Insurgents

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 04:10
Syrian troops captured a village and a strategic hill from insurgents Monday in the country's northwest, pro-government media said, amid the heaviest fighting to hit the region in eight months. A nearby Russian air base was also targeted by a missile attack from militants. The Syrian government's advance was the deepest push so far this year into Syria's last major rebel stronghold. The latest wave of violence, which began April 30, has raised fears the government may launch a...
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Startup Brews Change for Lebanon's Special Needs Workers

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 02:35
Farah Ballout's big, infectious smile is the first thing that greets you at her workplace, a cafe in Lebanon with a mission to do more than just brew coffee. Before she was hired, the 29-year-old — who has Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that means she has developmental disabilities — had struggled to find work in a country with high unemployment. "I feel like it is a dream that I started here," Ballout said as tears rolled down her face. "It feels like you are...
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Israel's Gaza Blockade Under Scrutiny After Latest Violence

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 02:17
For 12 years, Israel has maintained a blockade over the Gaza Strip, seeking to weaken the territory's militant Hamas rulers. And for 12 years, Hamas has remained firmly in power, developing a thriving homegrown weapons industry along the way. This weekend's violence, the worst in a string of flare-ups since a 2014 war, provided the latest illustration of the limitations of the blockade and fueled calls Monday in Israel for a rethinking of the longstanding policy, which many see as...
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Istanbul Revote Sparks Fears of Political, Economic Chaos

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 01:00
Turkey is set for a revote in the aftermath of the hotly contested mayoral elections in Istanbul.  The country's Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) upheld President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party's (AKP) petition to annul the March 31 result, which ended the AKP's 25 years of rule.  A revote threatens to plunge the country into political and economic chaos. Turkey's state news agency reported the new vote would be held June 23. The...
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Beans or Brioche: Breakfast Divisive in Libyan Conflict

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 00:29
Coffee and a pastry covered in chocolate, honey and almonds or a savory bean stew sandwich with juice or a fizzy drink. What you have for breakfast has come to symbolize the divisions in Libya where regions, tribes, armed groups and towns with different traditions have been vying for power since Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011. An assault by eastern forces allied to Khalifa Haftar on Tripoli last month has all but wrecked U.N.-backed efforts for a peace deal between the rival...
Categories: Iraq