• UN rushing aid to 25,000 people fleeing Ramadi fighting

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations says it is rushing aid to nearly 25,000 people fleeing Ramadi for the second time in a month after the Islamic State group seized the key Iraqi city. The deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters Tuesday that most of those fleeing are headed toward Baghdad, with many trying to enter through security checkpoints. He said the U.N. had not confirmed reports of militias turning people away, adding, "It would be an area of great concern if people are being pushed away from places of safety." He says thousands of families had returned to their Ramadi homes when renewed fighting forced them to flee again. Haq says the U.N. and partners have helped mor

  • Syrian insurgents seize last military base in Idlib province

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Insurgents in Syria captured the last military base and several small villages in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, marking the latest collapse of government troops in the region now almost entirely in opposition hands, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said factions — including al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, and the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham — captured Mastoumeh base after days of fighting. It said government forces left the base and withdrew to the nearby town of Ariha. The Local Coordination Committees said the Islamic militants targeted the government forces as they were retreating, heading toward Ariha.

  • American tourist dies while hiking amid heatwave in Israel

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say an American tourist has died while hiking during a heatwave in Israel on a trial leading to the ancient Jewish desert fortress of Masada. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the 20-year-old woman from Florida fell about 5 meters (about 16 feet) at the site of Masada on Tuesday, one of the hottest days of the year. He says the fall was not the cause of death but that the woman suffered dehydration after the fall, which then led to her death. Other hikers noticed she had gone missing and her body was found after an hour. Her name was not immediately released while Israeli authorities contact her family. Israel is experiencing a heat wave that sparked fires around the country e

  • Mother of US reporter missing in Syria pleads for answers

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — The mother of an American journalist missing in Syria for nearly three years pleaded on Tuesday for information about him, saying she believes that he is still alive. Austin Tice, of Houston, Texas, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria's civil war. A video released a month later showed the journalist blindfolded and held by armed men, saying "Oh, Jesus." He has not been heard from since. "I am here asking for information and for help to find my son and bring him safely home," Debra Tice said at a news conference in Beirut marking more than 1,000 days since his disappearance. "We know Austin is not being held by any part of the opposition. Still, after all these 1,009 days, we do not know where he is

  • Amnesty International warns over torture practice in Morocco

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccan authorities still use torture widely despite a ban on the practice, the Amnesty International rights group said in a report Tuesday documenting the abuse. Despite the ban and statements against torture by King Mohammed VI, law enforcement authorities still abuse protesters, rape detainees with objects and beat confessions out of suspects, it said, detailing 173 cases of abuse and torture since 2010. "For real and tangible reform, we need more than just words, because there is a huge gap between theory and practice," Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther told journalists. The Moroccan government rejected the findings, calling into question the credibility of Amnest

  • Israel advances plan to develop Western Wall holy site

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's new Cabinet has approved a plan for development at the Western Wall, a key Jewish holy site next to Jerusalem's most combustible area. Past development projects in the area have sparked tensions with Palestinians, who accused Israel of threatening a compound that is holy to both Muslims and Jews. The five-year plan, beginning next year, will include upgraded infrastructures, archaeological activity and development of the Western Wall site and underground tunnels that follow the length of the wall, a remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple complex. In 1996, the opening of an exit from the tunnels into a Muslim area of the city sparked bloody riots. The prime minister's office announced the

  • Albania hosts security summit on extremist recruitment

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Security officials from the western Balkans and several European Union countries were meeting in Albania Tuesday as part of a U.S. government initiative to fight European recruitment by violent Islamic groups to fight in Iraq and Syria. U.S. Under Secretary of State Sarah Sewall attended the two-day conference in the Albanian capital Tirana and urged countries in the region to improve cooperation against recruitment and draw up national strategies to combat the problem. "Violent extremism is spreading geographically and ... no region, no country, no community is immune to this threat," Sewall said.

  • Report: Afghanistan's Taliban sends delegation to Iran

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A delegation from Afghanistan's Taliban has arrived in Iran to discuss the situation of Afghan migrants and issues in the Islamic world, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported Tuesday. The report said the delegation arrived in Iran on Monday and was headed by Muhammad Tayyab Agha, who is in charge of the Taliban's political bureau in Qatar. It says the delegation met Iranian security officials and that similar delegations have visited Iran twice in the past. It was not immediately clear why Iranian officials would hold talks with the Taliban. The Taliban espouse a radical version of Sunni Islam that considers Shiites apostates, and when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s they near

  • Iran extends new credit line to Syria

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's official news agency says Iran is extending a credit line to make up for market needs and reports that the two countries have signed several agreements in the fields of electricity, industry, oil and investment. The new credit was announced Tuesday during a visit to Damascus by Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran is a top ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is believed to have supplied his government with billions of dollars since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Tehran extended a $1 billion credit line to Syria to help support the local currency in June 2013. The new credit — it was not clear how much — comes as the Syrian pound

  • Trial of Washington Post reporter in Iran to start next week

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The trial of a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran for nearly 10 months will begin next week, a defense lawyer representing the Iranian-American journalist said Tuesday. State TV and other news outlets quoted an unnamed judiciary official as saying the first session of the trial of Jason Rezaian, 39, will be held next Tuesday. The official did not say whether the hearing would be open to the public. It said two other suspects who were detained alongside Rezaian will also be tried. Rezaian's defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed the report. She told The Associated Press that she learned of the hearing from news outlets but confirmed the news with the court.

  • UN virtual reality film highlights plight of Syrian refugees

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United Nations is using virtual reality technology to help the public experience what it is like to live in a Syrian refugee camp, showing how the latest technology can be adapted for humanitarian efforts. "Clouds Over Sidra" is a short documentary film following a day in the life of a 12-year-old Syrian girl living in a refugee camp in Syria's neighbor Jordan. Using special VR headsets, viewers feel like they are transported inside the Zaatari refugee camp that has been the 12-year-old's home for the past one and a half years. In a scene in which children stream into a makeshift school, the technology makes the viewer feel like they could reach out and interact with the smiling children who se

  • Palestinian patients find help in Israeli hospital

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The bedroom of Palestinian siblings Ahmed and Hadeel Hamdan looks like a hospital ward, filled with beeping machines, monitors, solution bags and sterilizing fluids. This is where the Gaza teenagers spend 12 hours a day connected to dialysis machines. These contraptions — and their hopes for a better life — come from a surprising source: an Israeli hospital. Israel considers the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to be a hostile entity, and it has maintained a blockade over the seaside territory — and fought three wars — since the Islamic militant group seized power in 2007. At the same time, it also allows thousands of Gazans to travel each year to hospitals in Israel.

  • Syrian refugees struggle amid aid cuts, lack of labor rights

    Updated: Tue, May 19, 2015

    SALHIYEH, Jordan (AP) — A Syrian refugee couple and their baby boy were recently dropped from a U.N. food voucher program and live on $9-a-day jobs on a peach farm in northern Jordan. In a town nearby, a 16-year-old boy quit school to work as a mechanic's helper because his refugee family needs the extra $21 a week. With the Syria conflict in its fifth year, the struggle for survival is getting tougher for many of the close to 4 million Syrians who fled to neighboring countries, particularly those in Jordan and Lebanon, where the highest number of refugees have settled. There appears to be no quick and practical way to halt the downward slide.

  • Khamenei's adviser dismisses Iran role in Argentina bombing

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An adviser to Iran's supreme leader is dismissing accusations that he masterminded Argentina's worst terrorist attack and says that he and the Islamic Republic are innocent. Ali Akbar Velayati, who was foreign minister of Iran at the time of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, is now an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Former Iranian officials have been on an Interpol capture list for years, but Argentine prosecutors have never been able to question them. Iran has long denied any role in the unsolved bombing that left 85 people dead. "We believe that this is a baseless accusation, false — a lie," Velayati said in an interview with Argentina's C5N TV

  • UN: Yemen crisis could open jihadist path through Somalia

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in a new report that the crisis in Yemen could open a corridor for jihadist movements through Somalia, which is located just across the Gulf of Aden. Ban said in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Monday that security in Somalia and the region is threatened by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. He pointed to continuing al-Shabab attacks in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and the country' central and southern regions as well as increased activities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the massacre of 147 students at Garissa University College in neighboring Kenya in April.

  • Correction: Vatican-Palestinians story

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a story May 16 about Pope Francis meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, The Associated Press erroneously omitted two words when quoting the pope. Francis told Abbas "you are a bit an angel of peace," not "you are an angel of peace." The original Italian quote was, "Lei e un po un angelo della pace.

  • UN chief concerned at death sentence for Egypt's Morsi

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is raising "serious concern" at the death sentences against ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and 105 others. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that Ban reaffirmed the United Nations' position against the death penalty. An Egyptian court sentenced Morsi, who led the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and the others to death Saturday over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Haq said Ban will monitor the appeals process very closely. "The secretary-general underscores the importance of all parties taking steps to promote — and avoiding those that could further undermine — peace, stability a

  • IS militants look for collaborators after taking Iraqi city

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State militants searched door-to-door for policemen and pro-government fighters and threw bodies in the Euphrates River in a bloody purge Monday after capturing the strategic city of Ramadi, their biggest victory since overrunning much of northern and western Iraq last year. Some 500 civilians and soldiers died in the extremist killing spree since the final push for Ramadi began Friday, authorities said. Responding to a call from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, hundreds of Iranian-allied Shiite militiamen rushed to a military base near Ramadi, the capital of overwhelmingly Sunni Anbar province, to prepare for an assault to try to retake the city, Anbar officials said.

  • Troops practice retaking land in 18-nation drill in Jordan

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    AQABA, Jordan (AP) — Troops participating in an 18-nation drill have staged mock exercises, including recapturing an international border and a ship seized by militants. Some 10,000 troops are taking part in the two-week "Eager Lion" exercise hosted by Jordan for the fifth year. Many are from countries that have joined a U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State extremists. The group has captured large areas of Syria and Iraq, and seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi over the weekend. Maj. Gen. Rick B. Mattson, head of training in the U.S. military, said Monday the military drill "shows there is a common interest among all 18 nations for regional stability and this is why we are here." In a live-fire drill on retak

  • Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen resume after truce expires

    Updated: Mon, May 18, 2015

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi-led airstrikes targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels resumed on Monday and fierce clashes were underway across the impoverished country after a five-day truce expired. The cease-fire had been repeatedly violated, with both the rebels, known as Houthis, and Saudi-backed forces loyal to exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi trading blame for the continued violence. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes to convene a peace conference on Yemen in the near future, but wants the fighting to stop before he sends out invitations, his spokesman said. U.N.




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