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Ethnically Divided Iraqi Town Fears Fresh Conflict After Kurds' Independence Vote

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 05:23
On the eve of the historic referendum on independence, Kurds across the region were celebrating. Young people honked their horns and shot celebratory gunfire into the air of major cities. But not in Tuz Khurmatu, an Iraqi town of more than 100,000 that is violently split among Kurds and Shi'ite Turkmen, who oppose Monday's referendum. "I hope the referendum will be canceled," said Luay, a Turkman shopkeeper in Tuz. "If they don't, the Kurds will take over by...
Categories: Iraq

Iraqi Government Asks Foreign Countries to Stop Oil Trade With Kurdistan

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 01:30
Iraq on Sunday urged foreign countries to stop importing crude directly from its autonomous Kurdistan region and to restrict oil trading to the central government. The call, published in statement from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office, came in retaliation for the Kurdistan Regional Government's plan to hold a referendum on independence on Monday. The central government's statement seems to be directed primarily at Turkey, the transit country for all the crude...
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Russian General Killed in Syria

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 00:07
The Russian Defense Ministry has announced one of its generals was killed while fighting Islamic State in Syria. "Division general Valeri Assapov was killed when a shell exploded during shelling by IS fighters," the ministry was quoted as saying by local media. He was serving as an advisor to Syrian government troops "in the operation for the liberation of the city of Deir el-Zour,'' it said. Deir el-Zour province, on Syria's eastern border with Iraq, is...
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US Officials: 17 IS Militants Killed in Libya

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 18:40
Seventeen Islamic State militants were killed during precision strikes carried out by the United States in Libya, officials said Sunday. "In coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord and aligned forces, U.S. forces conducted six precision airstrikes in Libya against an ISIS desert camp on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7:06 p.m. local time, killing 17 ISIS militants and destroying three (3) vehicles," U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. According to the statement, the...
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Monitor: Airstrikes in Syria's Aleppo Despite Cease-fire

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 17:52
A Syrian war monitoring group says airstrikes have targeted rural Aleppo for the first time in months since a cease-fire took hold in the province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes Sunday pounded Syria's rural Idlib and Hama, where insurgents led by an al-Qaida-linked group began an offensive against government troops in the area. There was no immediate word on casualties in Sunday's bombings. A "de-escalation" deal reached in May has...
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Iraqi Kurds Vote in Independence Referendum

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 17:44
Iraqi Kurds are voting Monday in an independence referendum that is widely expected to be approved while facing objection from the government in Baghdad as well as neighboring countries and the United States. Masoud Barzani, the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northeastern Iraq, has urged the five million eligible voters to cast their ballots in peace. "We have reached the conclusion that independence will allow us not to repeat past tragedies," he told...
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Turkish FM Visits 2 Turks Jailed in US for May Brawl

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:31
Turkey's top diplomat has visited two Turks imprisoned in the United States for their alleged involvement in an infamous brawl that has raised tensions between the two countries. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that he visited Sinan Narin and Eyup Yildirim late Saturday and said he passed on "our nation's love and greetings." The men were photographed in orange jumpsuits with the minister.   The two defendants are among 19 suspects accused of attacking...
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Iraq's Kurds to Vote on Independence Amid Fears of Unrest

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:25
'For the sake of the sacrifices and blood of the martyrs, let's all say yes for Kurdistan independence," reads a large billboard in the center of Kalak, a small town in Iraq's northern Kurdish region. "Independence is not given, it's taken!" reads another banner hanging below a cluster of red, green, yellow and white Kurdish flags.   Iraq's Kurds are set to vote Monday in a referendum on support for independence that has stirred fears of instability...
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West Signals It’s Wary of Iran’s Ballistic Missile Test

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 04:45
Western leaders reacted warily to Iran's announcement Saturday that it had successfully tested a new medium-range ballistic missile. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday, “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” Trump was referencing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that lifted U.N. economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its cessation of some of its nuclear...
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Turkish Parliament OKs Army's Cross-border Operations in Iraq, Syria

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 02:57
Turkey's main opposition united with the government Saturday to overwhelmingly pass a motion giving its military a mandate to carry out operations in neighboring Iraq and Syria. The parliament met in an emergency session two days ahead of an independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds. Addressing parliament, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli warned that the Kurdish referendum would bring very dangerous consequences, perhaps even clashes even in global terms. "Pulling out just a...
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Kurdistan Leader: Independence Vote Could Lead to Talks with Baghdad

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 23:37
The president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said Monday's referendum on independence would not result in an immediate change, but instead would trigger talks with Baghdad about an independent future. Barzani told VOA's Persian service that following the referendum — which has widespread support among Iraqi Kurds — the Kurdish government would begin discussions with Iraqi officials on such issues as border demarcation, division of natural...
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Leaders Air Grievances at United Nations Gathering

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 23:30
There were some verbal fireworks at the U.N. General Assembly Saturday as the foreign minister of North Korea responded to President Donald Trump and a senior Indian official lashed out at Pakistan. One of the most anticipated speeches of the week was North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho. He did not disappoint. Ri called Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania” who is on a suicide mission of his own, and peppered his 22-minute address with other choice words and...
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US-backed SDF Says it Took Syria's Largest gas Field From IS

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 17:24
U.S.-backed Syrian fighters captured Saturday the country's largest gas field from the so-called Islamic State group in an eastern province that borders Iraq as they race with government forces to capture the energy-rich region, a senior official with the group said. Nasser Haj Mansour of the Syrian Democratic Forces said the Conoco gas field and plant came under full control of the group on Saturday morning after days of fighting with the extremists. He added that SDF fighters also...
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Iran Successfully Tests Ballistic Missile

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 11:20
State media says Iran has successfully tested a new, medium-range, ballistic missile that was on display in a military parade Friday. State television aired footage of the test and in-flight video from the nose cone on Saturday.   It was not clear, however, when and where the test launch of the Khorramshahr missile was conducted.  The missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and has the capacity to carry several warheads. President Hassan Rouhani said Friday at the military...
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Ultraconservative Islam, King of Pop Meet in Egyptian Film

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 10:35
An Egyptian ultraconservative Muslim preacher hears on his car radio news of the death of Michael Jackson, the pop singer he idolized in his teens, and he becomes so distraught he crashes his car.   The news of the passing of the King of Pop is the start of a crisis of conscience for Sheikh Khalid Hani, the main character of the movie Sheikh Jackson, Egypt’s first feature film to focus on the religious movement known as Salafis, followers of one of the strictest interpretations...
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World Leaders Take Stock of Counterterror Fight

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 08:08
While Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs dominated headlines, countering terrorism and extremism took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top officials from 24 countries highlighted progress made in the fight to defeat the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. VOA Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from Washington.
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Turkey Issues Final Call to Iraqi Kurds to Cancel Independence Vote

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:27
Turkey's government will never accept a separate Kurdish state in neighboring Iraq and won't refrain from taking steps to prevent it, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Friday. Yildirim said Monday's independence vote by Iraqi Kurds is an issue of Turkey's national security. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a meeting Friday of Turkey's National Security Council, which called for the referendum to be canceled. Erdogan branded the vote as "illegal...
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Kurds to Vote on Statehood Unless Given Guarantees on Future, Official Says

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:25
A senior Kurdish official said Friday that the referendum on independence from Iraq would go ahead Monday unless the regional government was offered a strong package of guarantees on its future self-determination. “The leadership in Kurdistan and the people of Kurdistan need a strong package,” Falah Mustafa, the foreign policy chief of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told VOA in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Such a package "would guarantee us...
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Flight Attendant Helps Refugees by Selling Their Art

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:39
Kayra Martinez took calligraphy paper and pens into refugee tents in Greece last year. “That was the first time I had actually seen the children really calm,” Martinez said. “And I realized that this is something that they really love to do.” As a flight attendant for United Airlines, Martinez is often in Greece, where she was drawn to the refugee camps and began volunteering there in 2015. Focusing her efforts on Nea Kavala in northern Greece, she is now the first point of contact for...
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Kuwait to Host Iraq Reconstruction Conference in Early 2018

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:29
Kuwait will host a conference early next year focused on reconstruction efforts in Iraq following “unprecedented” advances made recently by the country’s military, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said Friday. McGurk, speaking during a briefing at the State Department, also told reporters it is “a matter of time” before Islamic State fighters are completely removed from Raqqa, Syria, and that “the end is now in sight.” He added,...
Categories: Iraq