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Egypt Launches New Sinai Security Effort Amid Reports of Israeli Help

Voice of America - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 00:13
Egypt and Israel have fought three wars, but now they reportedly are cooperating as they face a common foe: a jihadist insurgency in the Sinai. However, neither state is acknowledging the warming ties. On Friday, the Egyptian military spokesmen announced the launch of a major security operation against "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across the country, focusing on the northern and central Sinai region, where last year militants attacked a Sufi mosque...
Categories: Iraq

Tillerson to Press Turkey to Free Detained Americans, Show Restraint in Afrin

Voice of America - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 00:02
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press Turkey to release Americans detained by Ankara, and urge the NATO ally to show restraint in military operations in northern Syria, according to senior U.S. officials. "At times like this, engagement is all the more important," said a State Department official on Friday, while acknowledging, "It's going to be a difficult conversation." Turkey is the second stop of Tillerson's five-nation visit to the Middle...
Categories: Iraq

Egypt Launches Nationwide Counterterror Operation

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 22:02
The Egyptian military, including ground units, the air force, navy and police, launched a nationwide operation against terrorists Friday, focusing on the northern Sinai region, Egypt's Delta, and areas close to the Libyan border. Egyptian media report that strategic sectors of the country are on high alert.   Amateur video on Arab TV showed Egyptian Air Force planes targeting regions of the northern Sinai where intermittent insurgent attacks have kept the country's military on...
Categories: Iraq

US Steps Up Effort to Avert Confrontation With Turkey Over Syrian Kurdish Militia

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 21:51
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is due in Turkey this weekend, as a potential military confrontation looms between the two countries over Syria. The NATO allies disagree over Turkey’s military intervention in Syria against a Kurdish militia which is a key U.S. ally in the war against Islamic State. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this week lambasted Washington, accusing it of making deals with Islamic State militants and claiming his government has lost confidence...
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Libya: Twin Bombings Kill Two, Injure Dozens

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 18:13
At least two people were killed and dozens more injured in twin bombings Friday on a mosque in the Libyan city of Benghazi, medics said — the second attack on a place of worship in Benghazi in the past month. At least 62 people were wounded in the attacks on the Saad Ibn Ibada mosque near the Majouri district of Libya's second city during Friday prayers. The devices appeared to have been detonated remotely. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Two...
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Britain Targets Global Corruption With Law to Seize Unexplained Wealth

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 13:50
Politicians, public figures and criminals suspected of buying property with corrupt money will be forced to explain their wealth or see their assets seized under new legislation that has come into force in Britain this month. The so-called Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) have been welcomed by campaigners, who say the British capital is at the center of a global web of embezzled money. The anti-corruption organization Transparency International has identified five properties they say...
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US Airstrikes on Syrian Government-backed Forces New Twist to Syrian War

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:08
U.S. officials say U.S. airstrikes against government-backed troops in eastern Syria late Wednesday and early Thursday were purely defensive. A Pentagon official said Thursday the airstrikes were launched after the Syrian government and its local supporters posed a threat to the Syrian Democratic Forces and their U.S. advisers in eastern Deir el-Zour province. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports renewed fighting on several fronts in Syria gives scant hope for a peaceful solution to the seven-year...
Categories: Iraq

Officials: US Not Planning to Contribute Money at Iraq Reconstruction Conference

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 03:43
The United States does not plan to contribute any money at a conference in Kuwait next week to fund Iraq's reconstruction drive after the war against Islamic State forces, U.S. and Western officials said, a move critics say could deal a new blow to American standing internationally. "We are not planning to announce anything," a U.S. official said Thursday regarding financial assistance at the conference, which U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend. The...
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Kurdish Fighters Capture 2 British IS Converts Known for Western Beheadings

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 02:54
U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have captured two fugitive British Islamic State converts — part of a group of four terrorists known for torturing and beheading Westerners, U.S. officials say. The officials identify the two as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh. Kotey "likely engaged in the group's executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electric shock and waterboarding," the State Department has said. It also said el-Sheikh "earned a...
Categories: Iraq

Kurds: Turkey Shelling Closes Schools for 40,000 Students in Northern Syria

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 02:12
Kurds in northern Syria say Turkish bombings have barred more than 40,000 students from education as local officials in Afrin shut down schools following airstrikes in the city's countryside. "We regrettably have decided to halt the second term of the school year due to the attacks on Afrin," Salaw Hamosharo, the spokeswoman of the Afrin Education Commission, told VOA. "Over 300 primary, secondary and high schools have been closed down," she added. The...
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Iran Says It Can Discuss Other Issues If Nuclear Deal Successful

Voice of America - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 02:10
The West must ensure the Iran 2015 nuclear deal succeeds before trying to negotiate other issues, a senior Iranian official said in a rare public suggestion Tehran could discuss matters such as its regional activities or missile program with world powers. "Now they ask Iran to enter discussions on other issues. Our answer is clear: Make the [deal] a successful experience and then we discuss other issues," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told a conference in Paris on...
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Mars on Earth: Simulation Tests in Remote Desert of Oman

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:59
Two scientists in spacesuits, stark white against the auburn terrain of desolate plains and dunes, test a geo-radar built to map Mars by dragging the flat box across the rocky sand.   When the geo-radar stops working, the two walk back to their all-terrain vehicles and radio colleagues at their nearby base camp for guidance. They can't turn to their mission command, far off in the Alps, because communications from there are delayed 10 minutes.   But this isn't the Red...
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Saudi Writer Sentenced to Prison for Criticizing Royal Court

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:39
A criminal court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a columnist to five years in prison for insulting the royal court, the official body that represents the king and crown prince, according to state-linked media on Thursday. It's the latest case targeting critics of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who in September oversaw the arrest of dozens of prominent Saudi figures, including moderate clerics, for not publicly supporting or for criticizing his domestic and foreign...
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Mattis: 'Self-Defense' Attack Doesn't Mean US Getting into Syrian Civil War 

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:20
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the U.S. is not trying to get involved in the yearslong Syrian civil war, after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed about 100 pro-government forces who had attacked coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. “It was self-defense. Obviously, we are not getting engaged in the Syrian civil war,” Mattis said. Some 300 pro-government forces attacked an SDF headquarters near Deir el-Zour, Syria, Wednesday but retreated after the U.S.-led coalition...
Categories: Iraq

Egyptian Start-Up Tackles Social Issues with Video Games

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 10:49
An Egyptian startup is designing video games in which the object is not just to win, but to become aware of social issues. Faith Lapidus reports.
Categories: Iraq

US Official: Dozens of Assad-Aligned Troops Killed in Thwarted Attack

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 08:20
More than 100 fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were killed after U.S.-led coalition and coalition-backed local forces thwarted a large, apparently coordinated attack late Wednesday and early Thursday, a U.S. official said. The heavy death toll underscored the large size of the attack, which the U.S. official said included about 500 opposing forces, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars. The official spoke to Reuters on condition of...
Categories: Iraq

Iraq Launches New Operation Against Militants in NE Region

Voice of America - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 00:25
The Iraqi army and the Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces on Wednesday started a major offensive against armed militants in the country's northeastern region near the border with Iran. Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a statement the operation was aimed at cracking down on remaining Islamic State fighters regrouping in the Tuz Khurmatu district in Saladin province following the terror group's defeats in Mosul and Hawija.  "With the aim of enforcing...
Categories: Iraq

At US Outpost in Syria, US General Backs Kurdish Fighters

Voice of America - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 23:09
On the ground in Syria, the top U.S. general in the coalition fighting the Islamic State group pledged on Wednesday that American troops would remain in the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij despite Ankara’s demands for a U.S. pullout. “We're here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area,” Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk said during a visit to U.S. forces in Manbij. ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.  Funk’s visit comes amid rising...
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Tehran Steps Up Pressure on Ankara Over Syrian Operation

Voice of America - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 22:54
Iran is the latest country to add its voice to growing calls for Turkey to curtail its military operation in Syria against a Syrian Kurdish militia. Turkey-Iran relations have recently improved, but Tehran is seen to be increasingly concerned about the lack of clarity on the scope and duration of the Turkish military operation and Ankara's goals. "We wish for Turkey's operation in Syria to end at the earliest time," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters...
Categories: Iraq

US 'Deeply Concerned' About American's Return to Iranian Prison

Voice of America - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 22:45
The United States on Wednesday said it was "deeply concerned" that Iran had returned Iranian-American Baquer Namazi to prison after briefly releasing him so he could receive medical treatment. The White House said it understood that the 81-year-old former U.N. official was returned to Iran's "notorious Evin Prison against the strong advice of his doctors and the Iranian regime's own medical examiner." Namazi is serving a 10-year sentence based on...
Categories: Iraq