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Arabs, Kurds Unite Against IS, But Post-Victory? 'God Knows'

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 15:36
The two fighters, one an Arab sniper, the other his Kurdish commander, are each driven by a personal grudge against the Islamic State group. They are working side by side in an elite commando unit of the U.S.-backed forces fighting the militants in the Syrian city of Raqqa. But they have vastly different visions of what happens once they succeed. Abdullah, the Arab fighter, fears the militants' fall in Raqqa will only be the start of more turmoil. He worries it will unleash a wave...
Categories: Iraq

Report: Iran Sent Warnings to US Aircraft Twice in 6 Months

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 14:15
Iran's Arabic language TV station al-Alam is reporting that the country's air defense base sent two warnings in the last six months to U.S. spy aircraft that approached Iranian airspace.   The TV's website quoted the country's chief of air defense, Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, as saying Iran warned a U2 reconnaissance aircraft on March 21. He did not mention the location.   He also said the country's air defense warned an American drone on Aug....
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Victory Over IS on Lebanon-Syria Border Is Boon for Hezbollah

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 03:06
As convoys of the Lebanese army on Wednesday returned from a recent operation against Islamic State militants in the border region with Syria, cheering civilians showered them with rose petals and danced around them with Lebanese flags. It was a moment for Lebanon to celebrate the expulsion of IS from its redoubt in Qalamoun region close to the Syrian border. IS had been in control of the region for more than three years. Experts warned, however, that what might seem to be a Lebanese...
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Islamic State Convoy Continues Syrian Trek Despite US Threats

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 01:28
A convoy of Islamic State jihadists is continuing its trip across Syria after getting stuck in the country’s eastern region, and most have crossed over into areas controlled by the radical Muslim group near the Iraq border, despite U.S. threats to bomb the group. The group of about 300 militants and their families left the Syria-Lebanon border earlier this week as part of a cease-fire deal struck between IS, Hezbollah and the Syrian government. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite group,...
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US-led Coalition Keeps Monitoring IS Convoy in Syria

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 03:42
A convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families being evacuated into jihadist territory in east Syria remained in government-held areas of Syria on Friday, U.S.-led forces said. "It has not managed to link up with any other ISIS elements in eastern Syria," said Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State. There are about 300 fighters and about 300 civilians in the convoy, which the Syrian army and Lebanon's Hezbollah group...
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Somalia Seeks US Help, Says Militants Plot to Supply Uranium to Iran

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 00:06
The Somali government has asked the United States to provide "immediate military assistance" because it says al-Shabab militants are plotting to supply uranium to Iran. In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz, Somali Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad Omar says the militant group has captured "critical surface exposed uranium deposits" in the central Somali region of Galmudug and intend to transport the uranium to Iran. The letter says the issue...
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US-backed Forces Claim IS Fighters Pushed From Raqqa Old City

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 21:37
United States-backed fighters in Raqqa say they have taken the last districts of the Old City from Islamic State jihadists. "We declare to our people the liberation of the old city of Raqqa," the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement. Talal Sello, a spokesman for the SDF, told French news agency AFP  that coalition fighters are now "on the edges of IS's security quarter in the city center, where most of its main bases are." About 25,000...
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At Hajj, Thousands of Muslims Carry Out ‘Stoning of the Devil’ Ritual

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:31
As the annual Hajj pilgrimage nears its end, thousands of Muslims carried out the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual Friday to mark the beginning of Eid al-Adha celebrations. Pilgrims threw stones at three walls at Jamarat in Mina, in one of the main rites of the Hajj. During Hajj, devoted Muslims perform a series of religious rituals, including walking seven times counterclockwise around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, which Muslims...
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Saudi Women Step into Security Role at Hajj for the First Time

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 08:34
Each year, Muslims retrace the steps of the Prophet Mohammed from nearly 1,400 years ago to Mecca and Medina, to complete the hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. About 2 million people are taking part in the event that began Wednesday and continues through Monday. Behind the scenes, more than 100,000 security men are deployed to ensure safety and security. And for the first time, Saudi women are part of security at an emergency call center in Mecca. VOA's Deborah Block has a report.
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US Commander: IS Leader al-Baghdadi Likely Still Alive

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 05:47
Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be alive, a top U.S. military commander said Thursday, contradicting Russia’s claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago. “Do I believe he’s alive? Yes,” said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who commands the coalition forces fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, referring to al-Baghdadi. At first, Townsend said his belief stemmed from a lack of evidence he had seen, “rumor or otherwise,” that al-Baghdadi...
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Beyond Harvey: Deadly Floods Cause Havoc in Africa, Asia

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 02:56
Harvey has gathered headlines as the most powerful storm to hit Texas in half a century, but floods have killed many more people in Africa and Asia this year amid extreme weather worldwide. Here are some of them: South Asia Floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal have killed more than 1,200 people and affected 40 million, and are likely to intensify as monsoon rains continue, aid agencies say. All three countries suffer frequent flooding during the June-September monsoon season,...
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US: Iran Shows 'True Colors' by Restoring Hamas Ties

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 02:30
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday Iran had shown its "true colors" by restoring ties with Palestinian militant group Hamas and must be held to account by the international community. The new leader of Hamas in Gaza said on Monday that Tehran was again its biggest provider of money and arms after years of tension over the civil war in Syria. Hamas had angered Iran by refusing to support its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the...
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High Court Asks Israeli Government to Implement Western Wall Reform

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 00:10
The Israeli Supreme Court has demanded an explanation from the government for its decision not to implement an agreement that would have expanded the section of a revered Jewish shrine where women can pray alongside men. The deal between the government and several non-Orthodox groups, reached in January 2016, would have allowed mixed-gender worship at a part of the Western Wall. But the government suspended the deal six months later, after being pressured by its Orthodox coalition...
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Iraqi PM: 'Victory Has Arrived' in Tal Afar Over IS

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 23:29
Iraq's prime minister has declared victory over Islamic State in the city of Tal Afar and the entire province of Nineveh.   "Our happiness is complete, victory has arrived and the province of Nineveh is now entirely in the hands of our forces," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement. U.S. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of coalition forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, praised Iraqis for their "stunningly swift and decisive...
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Hezbollah Leader Says He Met Assad in Syria Over IS Evacuation

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:39
The leader of Hezbollah says he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss a deal that saw hundreds of Islamic State jihadists evacuated from the Syria-Lebanon border earlier this week. During a Thursday speech, Hassan Nasrallah said he asked Assad to negotiate the deal, which led to the evacuation of the IS fighters in exchange for information on the remains of nine Lebanese soldiers captured in 2014. "I went personally to President Assad and asked for his help to...
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Turkey on Diplomatic Push to Close Schools Linked to Influential Cleric

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:30
Turkey has been pressuring countries around the world to close or hand over control of schools linked to an influential Muslim cleric who was a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before becoming his most worrisome foe. Influential and polarizing, Fethullah Gulen has been accused of being behind a corruption probe of Erdogan’s government in 2013, which shattered their friendship. He also is accused of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that left 250 people dead...
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Report: Cluster Munitions in Syria, Yemen Increase Civilian Casualties

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:25
A report released ahead of next week’s U.N. conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions has condemned the continued use of cluster munitions by Syria and Yemen. They are the only two countries that still use the bombs, which are banned under international law. The report, known as the Cluster Munition Monitor, has recorded more than 230 cluster munition strikes in opposition-held areas across Syria over the past year. It says the number of attacks has increased since Russia...
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Suspected IS Suicide Bomber Hits Libya Checkpoint, Kills 2

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:05
A suspected Islamic State militant drove his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint east of the coastal Libyan city of Sirte on Thursday, killing two policemen, military officials said. The officials said the blast at Nofaliya, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sirte, also wounded two soldiers from the Libyan National Army, LNA.   The attack and the resulting death toll were reported by Col. Muftah Amgharief, from the security force guarding oil facilities in eastern Libya, and...
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Returnees to Old Mosul Find Little Besides Rubble, Lingering Danger

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 20:04
“All you can hear at night is the sound of broken doors flapping in the wind,” says Abd Elaam, a 50-year-old furniture maker. “Even soldiers stay indoors after dark.” Elaam is currently one of the very few civilians living in Old Mosul, an ancient neighborhood shattered by the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants. Like many families that survived IS rule, he says, his resources are completely exhausted by the war and he has nowhere else to go.   Other families...
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2 Million Muslim Pilgrims Mark Highlight of Annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 19:46
Around two million Muslim pilgrims have marked the high point of the hajj — the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — by ascending Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia. Saudi security forces remain on high alert, amid a variety of internal and external terrorist threats. Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims made the ritual ascent to the Namira mosque on Mount Arafat, outside Mecca, braving a blazing summer sun and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius. Saudi television showed a...
Categories: Iraq