• Iraqi militias train young teens to face the threat of IS

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — In the steamy Baghdad night, sweat poured down the faces of the Iraqi teens as they marched around a school courtyard, training for battle against the Islamic State group. This is summer camp in Iraq, set up by the country's largest paramilitary force after Iraq's top Shiite cleric issued an edict calling on students as young as middle-school age to use their summer vacations to prepare to fight the Sunni extremists. These young fighters could have serious implications for the U.S.-led coalition, which provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to the Iraqi government.

  • Iraqi militias train young teens to face the threat of IS

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — In the steamy Baghdad night, sweat poured down the faces of the Iraqi teens as they marched around a school courtyard, training for battle against the Islamic State group. This is summer camp in Iraq, set up by the country's largest paramilitary force after Iraq's top Shiite cleric issued an edict calling on students as young as middle-school age to use their summer vacations to prepare to fight the Sunni extremists. These young fighters could have serious implications for the U.S.-led coalition, which provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to the Iraqi government.

  • Syrian militants, rebels capture key hills, power station

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian militants and other rebels captured strategic hills and a power station in the northwest on Tuesday, a push that brings them closer to several President Bashar Assad's strongholds, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center said the militants were advancing in the Sahl al-Ghab region north of the central province of Hama. Syria's state news agency SANA says troops repelled the attack, killing and wounding dozens. The Observatory said 11 militants were killed in Tuesday's battles. The militants launched their offensive in the northwestern Idlib province in March, when they captured the provincial capital. Tuesday's fighting was near the town of

  • Jordan court sentences 12 in alleged Hamas plot

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A government official says Jordan's state security court sentenced 12 defendants to prison terms ranging from one to 15 years in what local media described as a plot by the Islamic militant Hamas group to carry out attacks in the West Bank. The official says eight defendants received terms from one to five years Tuesday and four others were sentenced in absentia to 15 years each. He says charges included conspiring against state security, but did not provide details about the alleged plot. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss court proceedings with the media. The al-Ghad newspaper says the charge sheet alleges recruits were trained in Jordan and in Hamas-ruled Gaza

  • Iran says will hold 'high-level' talks with EU

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that "high-level" talks will soon be launched with the European Union following a nuclear agreement reached with world powers earlier this month. Mohammad Javad Zarif said the talks "in the near future" would focus on energy, the environment and human rights, as well as "extremism, terrorism and sectarianism" in the Middle East. He spoke after meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Tehran. Zarif said the talks would begin at the deputy minister level and later be upgraded to foreign ministers. "Various issues are matters of interest for both sides, such as energy, transportation, trade, environment, human rights and drug (trafficking)," he sa

  • AP News Guide: Turkish-US deal may have far-reaching effects

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — In a major policy shift, Turkey has agreed to allow the United States to use a key base to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State group and agreed on the outlines of a plan to rout the extremists from a stretch of Syrian territory along the Turkish border. Here's a look at where things stand: ___ WHAT'S AT STAKE A 110-kilometer (68-mile) stretch along the Turkish border in Syria is under Islamic State control. Turkey and the U.S. agreed to push the group from there, replacing its militants with relatively more-moderate Syrian insurgents and eventually establishing a safe zone where tens of thousands of displaced Syrians could live. The U.S. says the plan does not include the imposition of a no

  • Pro-government forces besiege rebel-held base in Yemen

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Pro-government fighters in Yemen have besieged a military base held by Shiite Houthi rebels for 40 hours after cutting off major supply routes to the facility, Yemeni military officials said Tuesday. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with reporters, said the fighters besieged the al-Anad base in Lahj province as part of their push north from the southern port city of Aden, which they captured earlier this month. In the nearby strategic town of Sabr, 20 Houthi fighters were killed in clashes, residents and security and medical officials said. The fighting in Sabr, which lies on a key supply route, has intensified as the rebels have brought in reinf

  • Officials: Iran may take own samples at alleged nuclear site

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    VIENNA (AP) — Iran wants its own officials to take soil samples at a site where it is alleged to have experimented with ways to detonate a nuclear weapon, and the U.N. agency probing the suspicions may agree provided it is allowed to monitor the process, two officials told The Associated Press Tuesday. The investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency is part of the overarching nuclear deal reached earlier this month between Iran and six world powers. Iran denies any such work but has agreed to give the IAEA access to the Parchin military complex. Several U.S. senators cited Obama administration officials last week as saying Iran could conduct its own soil sampling at Parchin.

  • Dubai launches expansion of Mideast's biggest port

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Middle East's biggest sea port is growing. Dubai port operator DP World said on Tuesday it is beginning a $1.6 billion expansion of the Gulf commercial hub's sprawling Jebel Ali port. The expansion will add a fourth container terminal to the port on a reclaimed island north of one of its existing container terminals. The first phase of the project will be able to handle the equivalent of 3.1 million standard 20-foot shipping containers annually by 2018, boosting capacity by 16 percent. Jebel Ali is the centerpiece of government-backed DP World's network of more than 65 marine terminals around the world.

  • EU moves to protect cheese from both sides of divided Cyprus

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Tuesday moved to recognize halloumi, or hellim in Turkish, as a protected cheese from both sides of the Greek-Turkish divided island of Cyprus and lauded it as a symbolic step toward further reunification. The salty, chewy cheese is perhaps Cyprus' greatest gift to world gastronomy and the 28-nation bloc took a major step toward full name protection by publishing its official application for the status, which would mean only cheese made in Cyprus could be called halloumi in EU countries. The island nation was forcibly divided in 1974 into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north. It joined the EU in 2004, but only the south enjoys the benefits of membership.

  • UAE slashes fuel subsidies, announces 24 percent price hike

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates has slashed gasoline subsidies, announcing Tuesday that it will raise the cost of a liter of regular gasoline by 24 percent amid globally low oil prices that have cut into the country's revenues. Starting Aug. 1, drivers will pay 2.14 dirhams (58 cents) per liter of gasoline at the pump instead of 1.72 dirhams (47 cents), or about $2.21 a gallon instead of $1.78, the government's new fuel price committee said. Meanwhile, the price of diesel will be lowered, with drivers paying 2.05 dirhams a liter instead of 2.90 dirhams — a 29 percent decrease. The move is part of a wider strategy to phase out subsidies and offset the effect of a drop in revenues.

  • Gaza teachers head to Qatar as part of new employment drive

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — About 100 Palestinian teachers have departed the impoverished Gaza Strip for potential teaching positions in Qatar. Two buses with banners praising Qatar and its emir dropped off the teachers Tuesday afternoon at the Gaza side of the border crossing with Israel. From there they travel to Jordan and Qatar. The teachers are the first class of those applying for jobs in Qatar since the oil-rich Gulf emirate launched its new Palestinian employment program. Qatar recently launched a series of initiatives in Gaza, building a hospital, repaving roads and funding construction of a large housing project that will accommodate 1,000 families. According to the World Bank, Hamas-run Gaza has the highes

  • Sepp Blatter deserves the Nobel Prize, Vladimir Putin says

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    MOSCOW (AP) — Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter just can't stop praising each other. The Russian president, speaking with Swiss TV on Monday, said the embattled head of FIFA deserves a Nobel Prize for his work. Two days after Putin and Blatter hosted the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup, Putin said "people like Blatter ... deserve special recognition." Blatter had opened the draw ceremony Saturday — held at a palace in St. Petersburg that is an official Putin residence — and warmly congratulated his host. "Thank you, President Putin, you make us happy and comfortable," said Blatter, who was making his first trip outside his native Switzerland since American and Swiss investigations of corruption in socc

  • UN: civilian death toll in Yemen fighting up to nearly 1,900

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    BERLIN (AP) — The United Nations says the civilian death toll from four months of fighting in Yemen has risen to nearly 1,900, with at least 202 people killed over the past 12 days. The U.N. human rights office in Geneva said Tuesday that another 353 civilians were wounded from July 16-27. That brings its total count to 1,895 dead and 4,182 wounded since March 26. It says 20 civilian facilities were partially or completely destroyed, bringing to 207 the total so far. Yemen's fighting pits Shiite rebels known as Houthis and troops loyal to the former president against southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants and the president's loyalists.

  • Detained Post reporter's lawyer in Iran asks for his release

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The lawyer of detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tuesday her client should be freed in the wake of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Iranian media reported. Both the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies quoted Rezaian's defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, as saying Iran's new penal code also meant the Iranian-American journalist should be freed. Ahsan did not elaborate, but new laws in Iran bar those on trial for charges other than murder from being in detention for more than a year before a verdict.

  • South Korea sees end of MERS threat after outbreak killed 36

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Tuesday it is now virtually free of the deadly MERS virus that killed 36 people and sickened nearly 200 since an outbreak was declared in May. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in a government meeting urged people to return to normal as the country hasn't had a new MERS case in more than three weeks. More than 16,000 people were isolated at hospitals and homes as the government tried to stop the disease's spread, and the last person was lifted from quarantine on Monday. "It is the judgment of medical experts and the government that people can now feel safe," Hwang said in the meeting, according to the prime minister's office.

  • Explosion shuts down Iran-Turkey natural gas pipeline

    Updated: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's energy minister says an explosion on a natural gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey caused a large fire and shut down the flow of gas. Taner Yildiz said Tuesday the explosion was in Agri province, some 15 kilometers from the Iranian border, and he suggested Kurdish rebels were to blame. He said the fire was quickly brought under control. The attack late Monday comes amid a spike in violence in recent weeks. Turkey last week launched raids against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq — at the same time that it began cracking down on the Islamic State group — ending a fragile cease-fire with the Kurds. The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has attacked pipelines in the past as part of i

  • North Korea official says not interested in Iran-style deal

    Updated: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    BEIJING (AP) — The North Korean ambassador to China says that his country has no interest in an Iran-style nuclear disarmament deal because North Korea is a "nuclear weapons state." Ji Jae Ryong told a news conference Tuesday that the Iranian nuclear deal reached earlier this month was an achievement made through protracted efforts, but that North Korea was different to Iran because it is "a nuclear weapons state both in name and in reality." He said: "We are not interested at all in dialogue to discuss the issue of freezing or dismantling our nukes unilaterally first." North Korea's nuclear program is a major regional concern. International talks over North Korea's nuclear disarmament have been stalled since early 20

  • US, Turkey plan for 'safe zone' free of IS in northern Syria

    Updated: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a plan to rout the Islamic State group from a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border — a plan that opens the possibility of a safe haven for tens of thousands of displaced Syrians but one that also sets up a potential conflict with U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces in the area. The move further embroils Turkey, a key NATO ally, in Syria's civil war, and also catapults it into a front-line position in the global war against IS. A senior Obama administration official said Monday that U.S. discussions with Turkey about an IS-free zone focused on a 68-mile stretch still under IS control. The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes there, which

  • Obama calls GOP criticism of Iran deal 'ridiculous,' 'sad'

    Updated: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — President Barack Obama unleashed a blistering and belittling rebuke of Republican White House hopefuls Monday, calling their attack on his landmark nuclear deal with Iran "ridiculous if it weren't so sad." Standing before television cameras during a trip to Africa, Obama suggested the bellicose rhetoric from some GOP candidates was an attempt to divert attention from Donald Trump, the wealthy businessman-turned presidential contender whose popularity is confounding the Republican field. "Maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it's not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now," Obama said during a news conference in




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