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Rights Group Finds 'Assembly Line' of Torture in Egypt

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 16:08
An international rights group says Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has given a "green light" to systematic torture inside detention facilities, allowing officers to act with "almost total impunity." In a 63-page report released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch says el-Sissi, a U.S. ally who was warmly received at the White House earlier this year, is pursuing stability "at any cost," and has allowed the widespread torture of detainees despite it being...
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Berlin Warns German Tourists About Vacationing in Turkey

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 15:54
Germany's Foreign Ministry has warned its citizens thinking of traveling to Turkey that they risk arbitrary detention even in Turkish resort areas. The hardening of the travel advisory follows detentions of Germans by Turkish authorities that are considered by Berlin to have been politically motivated. A dozen Germans are being held as political prisoners in Turkey, according to the German government — the latest flashpoint in deteriorating relations. Those arrested...
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UN Panel: Syrian Government Used Chemical Weapons in 20 Attacks

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 14:59
U.N. human rights investigators said in a report Wednesday that Syrian government forces were responsible for 20 chemical weapons attacks primarily against civilians during the past four years. The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said some of those attacks happened between March and July of this year in Khan Sheikhoun, Al-Latamneh and eastern Ghouta. The panel based its findings on interviews with witnesses, victims and medical workers, as well as satellite images, photos of...
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Haley: If Trump Does Not Certify Iran Deal, Doesn't Mean US Withdrawal

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 08:52
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation's Nikki Haley said Tuesday that if President Donald Trump decides not to certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal next month, it does not mean that the United States will withdraw from the agreement. VOA's Margaret Besheer reports
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Egypt to Host War Games with US After 8-year Hiatus

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 00:27
Egypt will host war games with U.S. troops this month for the first time in eight years, but the American contingent will be much smaller than in previous exercises, officials said Tuesday. Army Spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai said the 10-day military exercises, known as Bright Star, would begin Sept. 10 and include anti-terrorism training. "Operation Bright Star is among the most important joint American-Egyptian exercises as they reflect the depth of relations," el-Rifai said...
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Syria Fest Hits Washington Streets

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 22:01
Syria Fest debuted in Washington on Sept. 3, bringing to the nation's capital an immersive outdoor cultural experience promoting Syrian food, music, art, dance, history and culture.
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Trump's Decision on Iran Deal Does Not Mean US Withdrawing

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 19:36
A senior U.S. official said Tuesday that if President Donald Trump decides not to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, it does not mean that the United States will withdraw from the multilateral agreement.   “This is critically important, and almost completely overlooked,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said. WATCH: Trump Not So Sure About Iran Trump is expected to report to Congress every 90 days whether Iran is still in compliance...
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Syrian Troops Breach 3-Year IS Siege on Eastern City

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 18:44
Syrian troops and allied forces reached the eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Tuesday, breaching a three-year-old Islamic State siege on parts of the contested city near the Iraqi border, the army command and a war monitoring group said. Lifting the siege on Deir el-Zour, parts of which have been ruled by the extremist group since January 2015, marks another victory for President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been advancing on several fronts against IS and other insurgents over the past...
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UN: Yemen Catastrophe Man-made

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 18:28
The United Nations calls suffering endured by millions of people in Yemen after more than two years of civil war an entirely man-made catastrophe. The world body reports there have been more than 11,700 civilians killed or injured in Yemen since the Saudi Arabian coalition began airstrikes against Houthi rebels in support of the government in March 2015.  It blames more than 8,000 of the casualties on the coalition and more than 3,700 on the Houthis.   The report says...
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Egypt Blocks Website of Leading Rights Group

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 16:48
A leading Egyptian rights group says authorities have blocked its website in a "new attack" on free speech. The government in May began blocking hundreds of websites, including leading news sites, as part of a wider crackdown on dissent. It has also shut down the sites of VPN blockers, which allowed users to circumvent such measures. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms says its website has been blocked since Tuesday morning, but that it will continue publishing...
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Abbas Government Slammed for Detaining Palestinian Activist

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 15:18
Leading rights groups called Tuesday for the release of a prominent Palestinian activist who was detained after criticizing the autonomy government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.   Issa Amro's detention signals a growing crackdown on free expression in the autonomous Palestinian enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said the London-based group Amnesty International and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights.   Amro, 35, was detained Monday by...
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Syrian Forces Break Islamic State Siege of Deir el-Zour

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 14:08
Syrian activists and state media said Tuesday government troops broke a nearly three-year siege by Islamic State militants on the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. The reports said the troops reached a key government air base on the western edge of the city. After Syria's 2011 uprising, rebel groups and jihadists seized Deir el-Zour and the province by the same name. Islamic State fighters took command of the region by 2014. Estimates of the number of people living in the city...
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Amid War, Syria Hopes to Reach World Cup for First Time

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 23:14
In the midst of a long-running and ruinous war, millions of Syrians may finally have something to be joyful about. Syria's national soccer team has a chance to qualify for next year's World Cup — what would be the Arab nation's first-ever appearance in the sport's most prestigious event. The team, referred to by many Syrians as the "Qasioun Eagles" after a mountain overlooking the capital Damascus, has been on an impressive run despite being forced to play all...
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Egypt Finalizes Deal With Russia for First Nuclear Plant

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 19:45
Russian media say Egypt has finalized a deal to build a nuclear power plant with funding from Moscow after nearly two years of negotiations.   The reports Monday came after Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China, where they were attending a summit.   The nuclear plant will be built in Dabaa, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast.   Egypt's presidency says el-Sissi has...
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Rights Group Urges Saudis Not to Expel Ethiopians

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 18:35
Human Rights Watch is urging the Saudi government to halt its plan to expel hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian immigrants who missed a late August deadline to register or face deportation. Felix Horne, HRW’s senior researcher for the Horn of Africa, says the immigrants have a legitimate concern of being imprisoned or worse if they return to their home country. “They say that they will be killed, arrested and tortured by the government they fled from," Horne told VOA's Horn of...
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France FM Visits Libya to Boost Reconciliation Deal

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 18:34
France's foreign minister is visiting Libya to encourage the implementation of a reconciliation agreement reached by the main Libyan rivals in Paris in July.   Jean-Yves Le Drian met on Monday with Fayez Serraj, the prime minister-designate of the U.N.-backed government, in the capital, Tripoli. He is also visiting Misrata and Benghazi, where he will meet with factions opposed to Serraj.   In July, Serraj and Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the commander of Libya's self-styled...
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Syrian Forces Close to Seizing Oil-Rich Deir el-Zour from Islamic State

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 17:02
Syria said Monday its military forces and their allies are closing in on Deir el-Zour, battling to end the three-year Islamic State control of the oil-rich eastern city near the Iraqi border. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported advancing Syrian forces are less than 10 kilometers from a besieged government air base, a key outpost.  State television reported Damascus's forces were within three kilometers of meeting up with their comrades. After...
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Qatari Exiles, Largely Unknown, Boosted by Diplomatic Crisis

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 16:26
A Qatari exile wants to discuss the possibility of a “bloodless coup” amid a diplomatic dispute pitting Doha against other Arab nations. Another exile, a little-known Qatari ruling family member, meets with Qatar’s main foe Saudi Arabia and immediately gets suggested as a replacement for Doha’s ruling sheikh. However, whether Khalid al-Hail’s planned conference or Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani’s sudden prominence represents any bloc within Qatar remains an open question. The rise of these...
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Ankara Hits Back at German Chancellor's Criticisms of Turkey

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 15:00
Turkish officials have voiced anger at German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her electoral challenger, Martin Schulz, for criticizing Turkey during a televised pre-election debate Sunday. Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted Monday, “We hope that this problematic atmosphere that sacrifices Turkish-German relations caused by a narrow political vision changes soon." During their debate, Merkel said Turkey should not become a member of the European Union, while...
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Annual Five-Day Hajj in Saudi Arabia Comes to End

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 16:13
The annual five-day Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia known as hajj is officially over.   Khalid al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, announced Sunday the formal end of the pilgrimage at a news conference in the holy city.   Hajj draws people from around the world to Saudi Arabia each year. The crowds, squeezed shoulder to shoulder in prayer five times a day, fill the city of Mecca and surrounding areas to perform a number of physically demanding and intricate...
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