Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Independent Kurdish state would destabilize region
2014.08.18 01:38:37

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned against the formation of an independent Kurdish state, saying this would risk further destabilizing the region.

"An independent Kurdish state would further destabilize the region and create new tensions, possibly also with the states neighboring Iraq," Steinmeier said in an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper published on Sunday.

"That's why I hope that Iraq's state unity will be preserved."

The Kurds have used sectarian chaos in Iraq to expand their autonomous territory to include Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil deposits that could make the independent state many dream of in Iraq's mountainous north, and beyond, more viable.

Kurds are considered the largest ethnic group without a state, with more than half of them living in Turkey. [Reuters]

Tags: Iraq | Germany | Turkey

Hits: 115 |

Hamas says Israel must accept Palestinian demands or face long war
2014.08.18 01:24:04

Hamas has said offers made to the Palestinian delegation in Cairo do not meet the aspirations of its people raising doubts about the chances of reaching a truce with Israel in the Cairo-brokered talks.

Hamas wants an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the coastal enclave lifted, as well as the establishment of a seaport and airport, as part of any enduring cessation of hostilities with the Jewish state.

"Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war," Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas's foreign affairs, said on Facebook.

Israel said it had also not yet accepted any proposals made in the Egyptian-mediated talks but, like the Palestinians, its envoys would continue attending them on Sunday.

Egypt, which is mediating between the sides and, like Israel, views Hamas as a security threat, has given little detail on any progress in the talks.

"As of now, Israel has not agreed to any proposals," an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.

The ceasefire concludes on Monday night.


Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

Hits: 131 |

Cameron warns IS could come to streets of Britain
2014.08.17 11:34:53

Islamic State fighters sweeping across Syria and Iraq are a direct threat to Britain and the country must use all of its "military prowess" to halt their advance, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday.

However, the Conservative Party leader said he did not think British troops should be deployed in Iraq, and that he would consider working with Iran to combat the threat of Islamic State group.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Cameron warned that the West faces a "generational struggle".

"If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain," he said.

"I agree that we should avoid sending armies to fight or occupy, but we need to recognize that the brighter future we long for requires a long-term plan." [AFP]

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Britain

Hits: 182 |

Thousands of pro-peace Israelis stage demonstration
2014.08.17 09:06:54

Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv on Saturday, backing peace talks with the Palestinians to end the Gaza conflict.

The pro-peace protest was the largest in Israel since it launched operation Protective Edge on July 8, an offensive that has seen at least 1,980 Palestinian deaths and 67 on the Israeli side.

It was organized by the opposition left-wing Meretz party and Peace Now, a group opposed to Jewish settlement building on occupied territory, and the communist Hadash party. [AFP]

Tags: Gaza | Israel

Hits: 151 |

Kurdish troops recapture Mosul dam
2014.08.17 02:50:24

Kurdish troops backed by US warplanes launched a bid Saturday to recapture Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, from Islamic State group fighters, a senior Kurdish military official said.

"Kurdish peshmerga, with US air support, have seized control of the eastern  side of the dam" complex, Major General Abdelrahman Korini told the AFP news agency.

Witnesses said the air strikes started early in the morning and reported that fighting was ongoing in the afternoon.

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 165 |

Barzani appeals to Germany for weapons
2014.08.17 02:49:17

The leader of Iraq's Kurds has appealed to Germany for weapons to help Kurdish fighters battle the Islamic State group, saying foreign powers must find a way to cut off the group's funding.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, said the Kurds needed more than the humanitarian aid that Germany began sending on Friday to support people forced to flee their homes by the Sunni militant group's advance.

The European Union on Friday gave a green light to EU governments to supply arms and ammunition to the Kurds if it has the consent of the government in Baghdad.

"We also expect Germany to deliver weapons and ammunition to our army so that we can fight back against the IS terrorists," Barzani told German magazine Focus.

He said they needed German training and what they lacked most were anti-tank weapons.

Barzani also said foreign governments had to find a way to choke off the Islamic State's sources of funding.

"A grand alliance must drain the IS's financial sources and prevent individuals from aligning themselves with the IS group," he said.


Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Masoud Barzani | Germany

Hits: 153 |

Iraq's Christians seek refuge in Lebanon
2014.08.17 02:47:42

Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq in recent months trying to escape persecution by the Islamic State group.

Some of these families have started trickling into Lebanon to seek safety.

But many are struggling to survive, living off the charity and generosity of others, as the fighting in Iraq shows no sign of letting up.

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Lebanon

Hits: 162 |

Airstrikes target IS-controlled Mosul dam
2014.08.17 02:46:06

Residents living near Iraq's Mosul dam, held by the Islamic State group, say the area is being targeting in airstrikes.

The residents speaking on condition of anonymity said the airstrikes hit on Saturday afternoon.

The Islamic State group seized the dam on the Tigris River on August 7 as part of their offensive that's seen the capture large swaths of Iraq.

[Associated Press]

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 162 |

Iraqi government accuses Islamic State of 'massacre'
2014.08.17 02:45:11

The Iraqi government has accused the Islamic State group of carrying out a "massacre" in the northern Iraqi village of Kocho, killing dozens of people from the Yazidi religious minority.

"We have information from multiple sources, in the region and through intelligence, that [on Friday] afternoon, a convoy of [IS] armed men entered this village," senior Iraqi official Hoshyar Zebari told the AFP news agency.

"They took their revenge on its inhabitants, who happened to be mostly Yazidis who did not flee their homes," Zebari said, referring to a religious community regarded as heretics by IS.

"They committed a massacre against the people," he said. "Around 80 of them have been killed."

Harim Kamal Agha, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in Dohuk province, which borders Nineveh, put the death toll at 81 and said IS had taken women to prisons they control.

Yazidi fighter, Mohsen Tawwal, told the AFP he saw a large number of bodies in the village.

"There were corpses everywhere. We only managed to get two people out  alive. The rest had all been killed," he said.


Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

Hits: 164 |

Why Is The US Dropping Bombs In #Iraq, Again?
2014.08.17 02:34:23

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 351 |

Saudi religious leader calls for 'global code of conduct' to curb violence
2014.08.17 02:32:55

A leading Sunni Saudi religious leader has called for a global code of conduct for leaders, scholars and young people to halt a further slide into violence and "terror" in the Middle East.

Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, decried "mass massacres against humanity" in Gaza, Syria and Iraq during his Friday sermon in Mecca.

"All of this happens under the sight and hearing of the international community ... which raises fear that a generation would come to believe only in violence, terror and the clash of civilizations," Saudi state news agency SPA quoted Sudais as saying.

He said "there was an urgent need to prepare a global code of conduct in which the leaders and scholars would deliver their messages and in which the youths would set their thoughts right and the path of the new media is set right," SPA added.

The report did not go into details of the contents of such a code of conduct.

The US-allied kingdom has grown increasingly alarmed since the Islamic state group captured large areas of neighboring Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic caliphate.


Tags: Iraq | Saudi Arabia

Hits: 298 |

KUB-Gas head office burnt down
2014.08.17 02:31:41

The head office of KUB-Gas LLC. oil and gas company in the Ukrainian city of Luhansk has burnt down. According to Lugansk News Today, the company is owned by Canadian businessmen.

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 118 |

UN imposes sanctions on Islamic State group
2014.08.17 02:15:43

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at weakening the Islamic State group in Iraq amid reports the group killed dozens of residents in besieged ethnic Yazidi areas.

Responding to the growing threat from the group, the UN imposed sanctions on six men for recruiting or financing foreign fighters, and threatened additional sanctions against those supporting the groups.

The resolution was drafted by Britain and adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, meaning it can be militarily enforced.

The resolution notes that oil fields controlled by the Islamic State group, Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked groups are generating income that is supporting their recruitment efforts and ability to carry out their operations.

Speaking after the resolution was approved by the Council, British Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said the resolution takes significant steps toward cutting off that funding.

"They may have some short-term resources at their disposal, but they cannot survive independent of the outside world," Grant told reporters.  

"We've been very clear that there should be no sale, export of any assets that could support ISIL or ANF (Al Nusra Front) or al-Qaeda. That is very clear in this resolution, and member states have a binding obligation under Chapter 7 to prevent that happening," Grant said.

Both Syria and Iraq welcomed the resolution.

[Associated Press]

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Syria

Hits: 246 |

Greek Catholic Church in Syria
2014.08.17 02:14:23

Leader of the Greek Catholic Church in Syria called upon Christians of the Middle East to "stay for the co-existence to survive" in the region.

Gregory III Laham, the Greek Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, said during a news conference on Friday in Damascus that the heads of Eastern churches have met in Lebanon earlier this month to see how they can "play a real role in this very tragic situation of all Christians and more, all population in the Middle East."

During the meeting in northern Lebanon patriarchs have expressed their outrage over the displacement of Christians in northern Iraq and appealed to the international community and Muslim countries in particular - to take action and stop the persecution.

The Islamic State group's lightning advance since June has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, and last week prompted the US to launch aid operations and air strikes as the militants threatened religious minorities and the Kurdish region.


Tags: Syria | Lebanon

Hits: 112 |

Ukrainian soldiers killed
2014.08.17 02:13:23

At least three Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 13 others were injured during the last 24 hours, according to the Ukraine government.

MWC has also learned that government forces have also retaken the town of Zhdanovka in the Donetsk region.

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 139 |

Life After Murder In Jerusalem
2014.08.17 01:57:36

Tags: Gaza | Israel | Jerusalem

Hits: 415 |

US jets strike Islamic State group positions around Mosul
2014.08.17 01:55:33

US fighter jets launched a bombing campaign against positions of the Islamic State group near Mosul dam and surrounding towns early Saturday morning, the Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported.

The jets bombed IS positions in four areas near the dam as well as in Rabia crossing, Mahmoudia, Telskouf, Zumar and Tilkef.

A Peshmerga eyewitness said this is the heaviest US bombing of IS positions since the start of airstrikes last week.

Rudaw reporter Hevidar Ahmed said that a gas station used by IS fighters to fuel their vehicles and a major junction leading to Mosul were targeted by the US fighter jets. [Rudaw]

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 123 |

Islamic extremists on a sanctions list
2014.08.17 01:52:28

The UN Security Council on Friday added the names of six Islamic extremists to a sanctions list, citing their alleged ties to the so-called Islamic State or its rival the Al-Nusra Front.

Abdelrahman Muhamad Zafir al Jahani, Al-Qaeda envoy to Syria

One of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, Abdelrahman Mouhamad Zafir al Dabidi al Jahani traveled to Syria in mid-2013 as a senior al-Qaeda leader offering support to jihadists. According to US officials, he was named as part of a group seeking to reconcile extremists from the Al-Nusra Front and ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He is listed for "participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities" by the Al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Hajjaj Bin Fahd Al Ajmi - Al-Nusra financier

A Kuwaiti national already targeted by US sanctions, Hajjaj bin Fahd al Ajmi has been described as a funnel for financial aid to Al-Nusra in Syria. He is said to travel regularly to Syria from Kuwait to deliver money and installed Kuwaiti nationals in Al-Nusra leadership positions.

Abu Mohammed al Adnani - ISIS spokesman

As spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Adnani proclaimed the caliphate on June 29 and announced that it would be known simply as the Islamic State. He has also called on followers to take Baghdad in video recordings.

His real name is thought to be Taha Sobhi Falaha, born in 1977 in Banash, a village in near the Syrian city of Aleppo. He was first the spokesman of ISIS and was later appointed an emir.

Said Arif, recruiter for Syria's battlefields

Algerian-born Said Arif is said to be a leader in the recruitment of foreign fighters -- many from France -- to Syria. He was arrested in Damascus in 2003 and sent to France to face trial for terrorism-related crimes. He was convicted in 2007 but managed to flee in October 2012 while under house arrest in France. He is listed for his ties to Al-Nusra.

Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharekh, Al-Qaeda's man in Syria

A Saudi national, Abdul Mohsen Abdallah Ibrahim al Sharekh is better know as Sanafi al Nasr and is allegedly the head of Al-Qaeda operations in Syria, with connections to Pakistan. He is listed for his involvement with the Al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali, Al-Nusra financier

Based in Kuwait, Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali has collected large donations from Kuwait to support Al-Nusra in Syria, most notably for purchases of arms and equipment. He also arranged travel for a number of foreign fighters to Syria.


Tags: Syria

Hits: 281 |

US warns 'provocative' Russia as Ukraine tensions rise
2014.08.17 01:49:12

Washington on Friday urged Moscow to stop its "extremely dangerous and provocative" activities after Ukraine said it had destroyed part of a Russian military convoy that entered its territory.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden warned that "the escalation in Russian activity designed to destabilize Ukraine in recent weeks is extremely dangerous and provocative".

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told British Prime Minister David Cameron that government artillery had destroyed a "considerable part" of a small military convoy that entered the country, the presidency said in a statement.

Moscow's defence ministry dismissed the alleged military column as a "phantom", its latest denial of Western accusations that it is funneling weapons to the pro-Russia separatists who launched an insurgency against Kiev in April. [AFP]

Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

Hits: 114 |

Offers made to the Palestinian side
2014.08.17 01:16:30

Hamas's head of foreign affairs has said that his organization was not satisfied with the offers made to the Palestinian side for a truce with Israel to stop the violence in the Gaza Strip.

Negotiations for a truce with Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza with other Palestinian factions, have been going on in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Hamdan said on his Facebook page on Saturday that the offers do not meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

"Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war," he added.


Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

Hits: 140 |

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