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Israeli Forces Raid Al-Aqsa Mosque After Clashes

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 23:43
Israeli troopers entered Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam, and carried out arrests Friday in what police described as a pursuit of youths who had lobbed rocks and fireworks during clashes with its forces outside. The rare raid, on a site that is an icon of Palestinians' statehood hopes and a frequent catalyst of their conflict with Israel, came as medics in Islamist-ruled Gaza said Israeli army gunfire killed a man taking part in weekly border...
Categories: Iraq

Lebanon's Druze Leader Attacks Syrian Government Over Massacre

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 23:22
The main leader of the Druze sect in Lebanon on Friday attacked the Syrian government for failing to stop an Islamic State massacre of Druze in Syria, saying it should have noticed the militants gathering to attack. "No one can tell me that the squadrons of many American, Russian and foreign planes did not see this gathering which suddenly took the regime by surprise and raided Jebel al-Arab," said Walid Jumblatt. Islamic State's assault on...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq Cleric Sistani Urges Action on Corruption as Protests Continue

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 21:45
Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for a government to be formed as soon as possible to tackle corruption and poor services as further protests took place in the south of the country on Friday. In a sermon delivered by a representative, Sistani — who is revered by millions of Shiites in Iraq and elsewhere — told the incumbent caretaker administration of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to respond to protesters' complaints. "The current...
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Tens of Thousands Displaced in Southern Syria in Urgent Need of Aid

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 20:20
The United Nations says nearly 200,000 people displaced by five weeks of fighting in southern Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, but access to them is severely limited. An assault by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies has succeeded in dislodging rebels from most of the territory they controlled in southwest Syria. Five weeks of airstrikes and barrel bombings have caused more than 182,000 people in the governorates of Dara'a, Quneitra and Sweida to flee their...
Categories: Iraq

Kurdish-Backed SDC Holds Talks With Syrian Government

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:21
A delegation of the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forced (SDF) is in Syria for talks with Syrian government officials, an alliance official said on Friday. The delegation arrived in Damascus two days ago, SDC co-chair Riad Darar said, adding that Kurdish authorities are working towards a settlement for northern Syria. This is the first SDC’s declared visit to Syria’s capital, which indicates the interest of Kurdish authorities to open...
Categories: Iraq

Lebanon Considering Legalization of Cannabis 

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 11:24
A Lebanese lawmaker has introduced a draft bill in parliament that would legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Speaking to the Associated Press, Antoine Habchi said he is proposing using the plant as alternative medicine to fight addiction and at the same time as a way to help Lebanon's Bekaa Valley restore its economy and generate much needed income. Habchi said that under the bill, cultivation would be tightly controlled. However, it will likely take months of...
Categories: Iraq

Palestinian Stabber Kills 1, Wounds 2 Inside Israeli Settlement 

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 02:10
A Palestinian sneaked into an Israeli settlement Thursday and stabbed three people, one fatally.  One Israeli report says other settlers shot and killed the Palestinian who the army calls a terrorist.  One of the victims later died at a hospital. One other was seriously wounded and a third was slightly injured. The Israeli army said the incident took place in the Adam settlement, between Jerusalem and the Palestinian town of Ramallah in the West Bank. Violence between...
Categories: Iraq

Coalition Admits 1K-plus Civilian Deaths From Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria  

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 01:40
The U.S.-led coalition Thursday acknowledged the deaths of 1,059 civilians from its aerial bombings against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. The coalition, which has run a military campaign against IS's self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria through Operation Inherent Resolve, said its jet fighters conducted 29,826 strikes between August 2014 and June of this year. The statement said the anti-IS coalition took necessary precautions to ensure its strikes followed the...
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Pentagon: Coalition Airstrikes in Afghanistan on Record Pace in '18

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 23:52
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan is on pace this year to drop a record number of bombs, according to Pentagon data. Through the first six months of 2018, the U.S. and its allies dropped 2,911 weapons on Afghanistan, according to data from the U.S. Air Force Central Command.  ​That is nearly twice the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan in the same period last year, and over 700 more than the previous high set in 2011 at the height of the war.  The expanded...
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US Releases Aid to Egypt Withheld Because of Rights Record

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 23:00
The Trump administration has released $195 million in military aid to Egypt that had been withheld because of concerns about the country's human rights record. A State Department spokesman said Wednesday that the move recognized steps Egypt had taken over the last year in response to U.S. concerns and sought to further strengthen the countries' partnership. He did not specify what steps Egypt took. One day before the release of the suspended aid, members of the House...
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Some Syrian Refugees Oppose Russian Repatriation Push

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 22:45
Even as Russia pushes to repatriate Syrians who fled their country amid civil war, many of the refugees in Jordan said Thursday they will not return before the war has ended and their safety is assured. Some Syrians interviewed in Amman also said they don’t trust Russia as a mediator because it helped President Bashar Assad retake large swaths of territory from fighters who revolted against him. “As a free, honest Syrian citizen, I consider Russia as a state occupying Syria,” said...
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Egypt President Ratifies Law Protecting Military Officers

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 22:21
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Thursday ratified a bill that could immunize senior military officers from future prosecution related to violence after the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The law, published in the official gazette Thursday, grants senior military officers selected by Sissi rewards including immunity from investigation for alleged offenses after the suspension of Egypt's former constitution in July 3, 2013 until...
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As Temperatures Rise, Egyptians Cope

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 22:15
Researchers say Egypt, with its arid, sun-scorched landscape and its limited sources of water, is one of the countries potentially most at risk of suffering dramatic effects of climate change.At no time of year is climate change more on the minds of Egyptians than summer, when many try to escape temperatures that have historically reached as high as 47 degrees Celsius. Photojournalist Hamada Elrasam shows how Egyptians, are coping. ​About the photographer: Photojournalist and...
Categories: Iraq

As Temperatures Rise, Egyptians Cope

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 22:07
Researchers say Egypt, with its arid, sun-scorched landscape and its limited sources of water, is one of the countries potentially most at risk of suffering dramatic effects of climate change.  At no time of year is climate change more on the minds of Egyptians than summer, when many try to escape temperatures that have historically reached as high as 47 degrees Celsius.  Photojournalist Hamada Elrasam shows how Egyptians, are coping.
Categories: Iraq

Saudi Official Suspends Oil Shipments Via Bab al-Mandab, Red Sea

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 20:58
Saudi Energy Minister Khaled Faleh says the state-owned Saudi oil giant Aramco was temporarily stopping oil shipments through the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV.  The action follows reports that two giant Saudi oil tankers had been targeted by Yemen's Houthi militia near the Red Sea port of Hodeida. The TV channel reported that Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates may suspend oil shipments through the Red Sea, as well. The head of Iran's...
Categories: Iraq

Military Officials Fear Islamic State Still Potent in Iraq, Syria

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 20:27
The latest numbers from the U.S.-led coalition to destroy the Islamic State terror group appear, at first glance, to be damning. A self-declared caliphate that once ruled vast swaths of Iraq and Syria has been reduced to about 300 square kilometers in eastern Syria, military officials say. "They're really in the disarray. They're in a really disorganized manner," French Brig. Gen. Frederic Parisot, director of civil-military operations for the coalition told Pentagon...
Categories: Iraq

US, France Sanction Entities Tied to Syrian Chemical Weapons

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:24
The United States and France have imposed sanctions upon groups and individuals with links to Syria's chemical weapons program, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday. "Syria's horrific use of chemical weapons, including attacks against innocent women and children, remains deeply embedded in our minds," said Sigal Mandelker, treasury undersecretary for terrorism, said in a statement. "Today, we are continuing our campaign to stop the Assad regime's ruthless...
Categories: Iraq

Israel Kills 3 Palestinians in Gaza After Israeli Troops Came Under Fire

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 22:26
The Gaza Health Ministry said three Palestinians were killed Wednesday in Israeli strikes east of Gaza City. The Israeli military said it was "targeting Hamas military posts in the Gaza Strip" after Israeli troops on the border came under fire. An Israeli officer was also wounded by a Palestinian sniper. The latest clash comes days after Gaza's Hamas leaders and Israel agreed to a cease-fire in an attempt to de-escalate hostilities. The cease-fire was broken last...
Categories: Iraq

US Base in Southern Syria Sends ‘Signal’ to Iran

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 19:55
The U.S. base near southern Syria’s al-Tanf border crossing was set up to train local Syrians to fight Islamic State militants, but it also serves as a counterweight to Iranian activities in the war-torn country, U.S. officials and experts tell VOA. “Our mere presence there accomplishes that, whether it’s a goal or not,” Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said. The U.S. military’s primary focus across Syria has been the defeat of Islamic State...
Categories: Iraq

Analysts Hope US-Iran War of Words Will Lead to Dialogue

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 18:55
As an August 4 deadline approaches for the first round of new U.S. sanctions on Iran, the war of words between Tehran and Washington has prompted some Mideast commentators to question if a conflict might break out. But Iran's currency, the riyal, has hit a record low of 95,000 to the dollar,  losing more than half its value since the start of the year and putting pressure on the government to do something. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ignited a flurry of speculation...
Categories: Iraq