Sat, 22 Oct 2016 19:53:29 UTMOSCOW (AP) — The entire territory of Syria must be "liberated," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said in remarks televised Saturday, dismissing demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's departure as "thoughtless." The Turkish military intervened in the Syrian war in August this year under orders from Ankara to clear the border area of Islamic State fighters and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces linked to Turkey's own outlawed Kurdish insurgency. A U.N. official told The Associated Press that Syrian opposition fighters were blocking the evacuations because the Syrian government and Russia were not holding up their end of the deal and were impeding deliveries of medical and humanitarian supplies into Aleppo. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the truce collapsed while the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, reported artillery shelling on different neighborhoods and an attempt by government forces to advance south of the city. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West was turning a blind eye to the al-Qaida militants blocking humanitarian aid deliveries to Aleppo and trying to shift the blame onto Moscow. Asked if the deployment of a Russian aircraft carrier into the eastern Mediterranean was intended as a warning for the U.S. against striking Assad's forces, Peskov said Russia already has sufficient military assets in Syria. Earlier this month, the Russian military warned the U.S. against striking the Syrian army, stressing that Russian air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack. The Syrian army statement said "the new aggressive stance by Erdogan's regime is a dangerous escalation and flagrant violation" of Syria's sovereignty.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 19:20:17 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi army pushed into a town near the Islamic State-held city of Mosul on Saturday, a day after dozens of IS militants stormed into the northern city of Kirkuk, setting off two days of clashes and killing at least 80 people, mostly security forces. IS has heavily mined the approaches to Mosul, and Iraqi forces have had to contend with roadside bombs, snipers and suicide truck bombs as they move closer to the city. An Iraqi television journalist was shot and killed by a sniper south of Mosul, a day after another Iraqi TV reporter was shot dead while covering the clashes in Kirkuk. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the strike on the U.S.-led coalition, saying it had "all the signs of a war crime." A burning sulfur plant south of Mosul that was torched by the Islamic State group is releasing large amounts of noxious gas into the atmosphere, draping towns in the area in toxic smoke.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 19:02:49 UTTurkish jets attacked Kurdish militia targets north of Aleppo late on Wednesday. Turkey regards the Syrian Kurds an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish insurgency, but the U.S. considers them the most effective ground force in the fight against the IS group.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 18:50:18 UTBARTELLA, Iraq (AP) — The Iraqi army pushed into a town near the Islamic State-held city of Mosul on Saturday, a day after dozens of IS militants stormed into the northern city of Kirkuk, setting off two days of clashes and killing at least 80 people, mostly security forces. An Iraqi television station says one of its reporters was shot dead near Mosul, the second journalist in as many days to be killed while covering the conflict. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the strike on the U.S.-led coalition, saying it had "all the signs of a war crime." Carter's visit comes two days after a U.S. service member was killed outside Mosul, underscoring the risk that American troops are taking as they advise Iraqi forces in the fight. More than 4,800 U.S. troops are in Iraq and there are more than 100 U.S. special operations forces operating with Iraqi units. Elsewhere in Iraq, a burning sulfur plant south of Mosul that was torched by the Islamic State group is releasing large amounts of noxious gas into the atmosphere, draping towns in the area in toxic smoke. Two U.S. military officials said that while the fire was set two days ago, the winds shifted earlier Saturday, sending the smoke south toward Qayara West air field, a staging area for the Mosul offensive.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 18:07:51 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq where Iraqi forces and their allies launched a major offensive this week to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city from the Islamic State group (all times local): An emergency hospital south of the Iraqi city of Mosul has treated some 250 people for breathing difficulties linked to a sulfur plant that was torched by the Islamic State group. The ministry's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Friday's strike on a funeral procession in the town of Daquq has "all the signs of a war crime." Konashenkov said two jets of the U.S.-led coalition were involved in the raid, apparently mistaking the procession for militants of the Islamic State group. Daquq Mayor Amir Khodakram says an airstrike hit a funeral procession in the city center on Friday, killing 17 people, mainly women and children, and wounding another 50. A police commander in Kirkuk says the assault by the Islamic State group on the northern Iraqi city that began early Friday has killed at least 80 people, mostly security forces. Iraq's Prime Minister says the assault on the northern city of Kirkuk was not a military breach but a terrorist attack, and that security forces are close to regaining full control of the city. IS launched a wide-scale assault on Friday in and around Kirkuk, battling Kurdish security forces for more than 24 hours and killing at least 14 people. An Iraqi television station says one of its reporters has been shot dead near Mosul, the second journalist in as many days to be killed while covering the conflict. Alsumaria TV says cameraman Ali Risan was shot in the chest by a sniper Saturday during a battle in the al-Shura area, from where Iraqi forces are pushing north as part of an operation to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul. Islamic State militants have launched a rocket and opened fire on an Iraqi convoy near a town that was recently retaken from IS
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:43:40 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter's push for Iraq to let Turkey play a role in the Mosul battle encountered resistance Saturday from Iraq's prime minister, who said his country's forces will oust Islamic State the militants from the northern city. The U.S. role "is to work with our partners in the coalition and the Iraqi government to try to resolve issues like this and make sure that we're all focused" on fighting IS. Carter, who already has been to Iraq twice this year, has overseen the steady increase in the number of U.S. forces deployed to the fight and the growth of America's effort to train and advise Iraqi troops. The U.S. military said a fire at a sulfur plant in northern Iraq set by IS on Thursday was creating a potential breathing hazard for American forces and other troops at a base south of Mosul that's being used by troops as a staging area. Asked how long U.S. troops would remain in Iraq once Mosul is retaken, Carter said the U.S. would continue any necessary counterterrorism operations to protect the United States, and that troops could keep training and advising Iraqi forces, if requested by the Baghdad government. More than 4,800 U.S. troops are in Iraq and there are more than 100 U.S. special operations forces operating with Iraqi units.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:02:09 UTCAIRO (AP) — Suspected Islamic militants on Saturday gunned down a senior Egyptian army officer near his home in an eastern Cairo suburb, according to two security officials. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing, but the attack bore the hallmarks of the militant Islamic groups fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Hasm, or "Decisiveness," a shadowy group suspected of links to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed responsibility in recent weeks for a series of attacks in Cairo, including a shooting against the country's former mufti, or chief Muslim theologian, and a car bomb against the chief prosecutor's deputy.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 15:37:07 UTKIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi official says Islamic State assault on Kirkuk killed at least 80 people, mostly security forces.
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 11:40:35 UTRussian and Syrian warplanes are bombing the streets into rubble and government forces are chipping away at the pocket of opposition control. Residents are planting vegetables in bomb craters and digging wells. Ever since it joined the uprising four years ago, eastern Aleppo tried to make itself a model for a Syria without President Bashar Assad. [...] their plans risk being overwhelmed under the pounding of missiles and bunker-busting bombs in the most relentless assault Aleppo has ever seen. In April 2015, while she was out shopping with her mother, an airstrike crushed her parents' home and killed her father and two of her three brothers. "Even making a cup of tea to start the day is an ordeal," al-Sayed said. To ensure a water supply, her husband, Mohammed Zein Khandakani, dug a well and is sharing the cost of a generator with neighbors to pump it. When a strike killed his best friend, Ahmed Farawati started a garden of greens and vegetables in the rubble of his friend's home. Aleppo was Syria's largest city and its commercial center, with a sense of its own identity and pride bolstered by a unique cuisine, distinct local culture and millennia of history in its Old City. When anti-Assad protests erupted across Syria in 2011, affluent merchants and professionals centered in Aleppo's western districts shunned the uprising. When rebel fighters from the rural north arrived in the summer of 2012, eastern Aleppo became the opposition's biggest urban holding. Backed by airstrikes, government forces advanced until they cut off all access to eastern Aleppo in July, sealing off a pocket about eight miles long and three miles wide. In late September, government forces began their assault to crush that enclave after the collapse of a Russia-U.S.-brokered cease-fire. The council is scrambling to keep its emergency plans functioning despite the pounding from the air. Two field hospitals were put out of service by
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 07:14:27 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrives in Iraq to assess progress of the operation to retake Mosul from IS militants.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:48:43 UTKIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Islamic State militants launched a wave of pre-dawn attacks in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, killing at least 14 people and setting off fierce clashes with Kurdish security forces that were still raging after sundown. North of the city, three suicide bombers stormed a power plant in the town of Dibis, killing 13 workers, including four Iranian technicians, before blowing themselves up as police arrived, said Maj. Ahmed Kader Ali, the Dibis police chief. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, condemned the assault, which he said also wounded three Iranian workers, according to the official IRNA news agency. The Turkmeneli TV station, which had earlier shown live footage of smoke rising from outside the provincial headquarters, said in a news bulletin that one of its reporters, Ahmet Haceroglu, was killed by a sniper while covering the fighting. Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition launched the multi-pronged assault this week to retake Mosul and surrounding areas — the largest operation undertaken by the Iraqi military since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Ravina Shamdasani, of the U.N. human rights office, said it had "verified information" that IS forced 550 people to relocate to Mosul from the nearby villages of Samalia and Najafia on Monday, part of an "apparent policy of preventing civilians from escaping to areas controlled by Iraqi security forces."
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:54:59 UTIRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Raeda Paulos could hardly conceal her joy when the television inside her cramped trailer showed Iraqi forces raising the national flag over a church in her hometown, a day after it was freed from Islamic State rule. Iraqi special forces pushed into Bartella, nine miles (15 kilometers) from Mosul's outskirts, on Thursday, after fending off a wave of suicide truck attacks. Mateh works as a maid, but says it's hard to make ends meet for her family and her mother-in-law, who is ill. The villages where most of the fighting has taken place are largely uninhabited, so the U.S.-led coalition has been able to use airstrikes and heavy artillery to help flush the militants out. [...] the fighting has destroyed houses, bridges and roads, which could take months or even years to rebuild. For the Christians of Bartella, at least, the town's church is still standing, a foundation on which a community scattered by war may one day gather again.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:50:35 UTBEIRUT (AP) — A cease-fire to allow wounded civilians and rebels to leave besieged parts of Aleppo has been extended into the weekend by Russia, but hoped-for medical evacuations didn't materialize by Friday evening because of a lack of security guarantees, officials and residents said. The lull had been greeted with high hopes by U.N. officials, and the Syrian government opened a new corridor for those wanting to flee the neighborhoods shattered by weeks of Russian and Syrian airstrikes. A U.N. official told The Associated Press that Syrian opposition fighters were blocking the evacuations because the Syrian government and Russia were not holding up their end of the deal and were impeding deliveries of medical and humanitarian supplies into Aleppo. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said al-Qaida-linked militants in Aleppo were refusing to leave the city along the corridors created by the Russians and Syrian forces "despite the gestures of goodwill from Moscow and Damascus," he told reporters in the Russian capital. The pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV showed video of government bulldozers that had opened a road, with buses and ambulances parked and waiting to take out evacuees. Yasser al-Youssef, a member of the political bureau of the Nour el-Din el-Zinki rebel group, said the opposition had agreed to the initiative to evacuate wounded and allow in aid, but the Syrian government and Russia gave no assurances the wounded would not face arrest.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:38:12 UTWASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida man imprisoned in Iran before being released as part of a prisoner swap earlier this year has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Iranian government. The lawsuit says Iranian government officials initially confiscated his passports but later returned them, but when he tried to leave in 2015 he was imprisoned and tortured.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:22:35 UTIRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the developments in Iraq where Iraqi forces and their allies launched a major offensive this week to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city from the Islamic State group (all times local): A local television station says one of its reporters was killed by a sniper while covering clashes in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where Islamic State militants have been battling Kurdish security forces for several hours. IS launched a wave of attacks in and around Kirkuk at dawn, in an apparent attempt to divert Iraqi security forces from their offensive against the militant-held city of Mosul, some 170 kilometers (100 miles) away. A large fire has broken out in front of the provincial government headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where IS militants have been clashing with security forces since dawn. The U.N. refugee agency is reporting "modest" displacement from the Iraqi city of Mosul as government forces and their allies try to drive out Islamic State fighters. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says some 3,900 people, or about 650 families, have fled Mosul and al-Hamdaniya districts since the Iraqi government operation began this week. Shamdasani reiterated concerns IS could use civilians as human shields, and said the office was investigating reports the group had executed at least 40 civilians for suspected disloyalty, without elaborating on those reports "for security reasons." Iraqi special forces are clearing explosives and facing snipers in a town east of Mosul that commanders said they have completely retaken from the Islamic State group. An aide to the reclusive Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, reading a Friday sermon from the cleric, said we stress today upon our beloved fighters, as we have before on many occasions, that they exercise the greatest degree of restraint in dealing with civilians stuck in the areas where there is fighting. Iran's Forei
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:06:49 UTTurkey regards the group an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish militant group, but the U.S. considers it the most effective force in the fight against the IS group — a stance Yildirim labelled "a grave mistake." The U.N.'s Human Rights Council has passed a resolution calling for enhanced investigation of rights violations and abuses in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, a measure aimed to put pressure on Russia. The council voted 24-7, with 16 abstentions, on the measure at a special council session Friday on the "deteriorating situation of human rights" in Syria and in Aleppo, a city that has recently faced an onslaught by Russian and Syrian airpower. The U.N. said it received verbal assurances for the extension of the break until Monday, but the Kremlin didn't confirm that Friday, saying it was possible if militants don't abuse it. Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, citing military officials, said the Turkish military bombed six targets of the Syrian Kurdish militia from the ground. The international group said Friday that despite humanitarian pauses in the northern city, there are concerns that there are an increased number of children already injured by cluster bombs who may be too unwell to leave or untreatable in the existing medical facilities. In its Friday report, Save the Children quoted The Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian group that tracks human rights violations, as recording 137 cluster bomb attacks in Aleppo from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10. Syria's ambassador in Geneva says the "human suffering in Aleppo is not an emergency" and has lashed out at "propaganda" by Britain and other countries, alleging that they have armed al-Qaida-backed fighters in Syria. Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala spoke during a special session of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council, where Britain and allies are leading a push for a resolution that would call for a stepped-up U.N. investigation on rights abuses a
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:59:05 UTThe Israelis have been maimed by war and violence which left them with daily remainders of their ordeals — either in the form of physical scars or deep emotional ones. At an event organized by a group called Artists 4 Israel, 11 tattoo artists from around the world splashed bold graphics on the wounded Israelis this week, transforming their pain into a source of pride. "If you look through time, body decoration was practiced in this part of the world and was practiced in many parts of the world, and always it was about healing and protection," said museum director James Snyder. On an operation in the West Bank city of Nablus in 2006, his patrol was ambushed by Palestinian militants and Meushar was shot through his pelvis, with the bullet exiting from his knee.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:09:37 UTGENEVA (AP) — UN humanitarian agency: Medical evacuations from Syria's Aleppo unable to take place so far due to lack of security.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:13:08 UTKIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi police say IS stormed a power plant north of Kirkuk, killing 11 people, including 2 Iranians.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:11:08 UTTo get there, Israelis drive up a steep, winding road, near ominous red road signs posted by Israel's military that warn them against entering the nearby Palestinian city of Nablus. Israelis and Palestinians are locked in continued conflict over land and national identity — currently a yearlong stretch of Palestinian lone-wolf attacks met by often deadly Israeli force. Unlike the outdoor huts Jews construct on the holiday, Samaritans build exquisite canopies of densely packed fruit, which are attached to metal frames and perched on stilts or suspended from living room ceilings. Since last year's shooting, the village has been under periodic Israeli military closures, occasionally preventing Tawfiq's employees from coming to work on the Samaritan mountain. The 81-year-old high priest with a white turban and white beard chatted about Islam and the Samaritan religion as his Palestinian employees held up their phones to photograph the concentric circles of pomegranates and greenish-yellow lemons accented by a stripe of citrons, a fruit associated with the holiday. The procession of visitors continued: an Israeli military official and his troops, a group of Palestinian journalism students, Palestinian families. The chairman of the area's Jewish settlement council, and the Palestinian governor of Nablus, paid separate holiday visits to the high priest. Usually, Palestinian and Israeli dignitaries observe the ceremony in relative coexistence, but this year, the Nablus governor stormed out of the ceremony when Dagan, the settler chairman, addressed the crowd.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 06:10:47 UTA senior U.S. defense official said the service member was in an armored vehicle traveling with Iraqi special forces northeast of Mosul when the vehicle hit a roadside bomb, possibly rolling over. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the death was a "reminder that our people who are participating in the counter-ISIL campaign, whether they be flying aircraft or working with the Iraqi security forces and the other forces and enabling their consistent advances of the kind that we see in the region of Mosul today, are in harm's way." "[...] it's necessary for us to enable in this case the Iraqi security forces and the peshmerga in northern Iraq — and it appears that it was in that role that the service member was killed," Carter added. Pentagon officials had acknowledged at the outset of the Iraqi-led offensive that U.S. special operations troops advising Iraqi security forces and Kurdish militia fighters could be wounded or killed as they advanced on Mosul. Asked earlier this week about the degree of risk facing U.S. special operations forces who are advising Iraqi forces in the Mosul operation, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Iraqis are in the lead but efforts are being made to limit the risk facing U.S. troops.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 05:04:45 UTIRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraq witnesses: Armed militants attack police compound in northern city of Kirkuk, fighting underway.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:55:12 UTBEIRUT (AP) — Turkey escalated its offensive Thursday against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, pounding them with airstrikes and artillery, and complicating the battle against the Islamic State group by Ankara and Washington, both NATO allies. A senior commander with the main Syria Kurdish militia confirmed the Turkish attack on his forces north of Aleppo but disputed the casualty toll, saying that no more than 10 fighters were killed. Like in Iraq, where Kurdish fighters are at the forefront of the offensive to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, Kurdish forces in Syria also have been battling IS militants and made significant territorial gains in Aleppo province. Turkey calls it an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish militants who have carried out deadly attacks in Turkey and considers it a terrorist organization. A U.S. defense official in Washington said the Syrian Kurdish fighters targeted by Turkish airstrikes Wednesday are not among the Kurdish groups that U.S. forces are advising and assisting, so there were no U.S. troops with those Kurds when they came under attack. Ilham Ahmed, a senior Syrian Kurdish official, said the Turkish attack was an aggression on her people's aspiration for self-administration in a contiguous territory in the north as well as a threat to the U.S-led anti-terrorism fight there. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an emergency meeting of the U.N. General Assembly that nearly 500 people have been killed and almost 2,000 injured since the Syrian government launched its offensive in eastern Aleppo on Sept. 23. The secretary-general said the bombing pause will hopefully allow urgent medical evacuations and delivery of emergency medical and humanitarian supplies, but he stressed that "this is the bare minimum." U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura insisted a unilateral cease-fire aims only to allow medical evacuations and is not part of a broader plan
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:47:25 UTBARTELLA, Iraq (AP) — In a significant escalation of the battle for Mosul, elite Iraqi special forces joined the fight Thursday, unleashing a pre-dawn assault on an Islamic State-held town east of the besieged city, and the U.S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began. More than 100 U.S. special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi units in the offensive, and hundreds more are playing a support role in staging bases. Roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices pose a particular danger to advancing Iraqi forces and the U.S. advisers who are with them. IS militants unleashed at least nine suicide car and truck bombs against the advancing troops, eight of which were destroyed before reaching their targets, while the ninth struck an armored Humvee, Lt. Col Muntadhar al-Shimmari told The Associated Press. [...] Iraqi Kurdish forces announced a simultaneous attack, with peshmerga fighters deployed on mountains northeast of Mosul descending from their positions and charging toward the front line. Under cover of mortar and gunfire, the Kurdish troops used bulldozers and other heavy equipment to fill trenches dug by the militants as part of their defense of the IS-held village of Barima, then advanced with their armored vehicles toward the extremists' positions. IS has used the tactic in past battles to wreak havoc among front line troops, but Iraqi forces have become better at stopping the suicide attackers. The Islamic State group captured Mosul and the surrounding area during a lightning advance across northern Iraq in the summer of 2014, and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of a self-styled caliphate from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:34:05 UT(AP) — Seated at his desk at a suburban San Diego middle school, 12-year-old Abdulhamid Ashehneh tries not to let his mind wander to the painful memories of his life in civil war-torn Syria. Syrian children face many of the same challenges as other young refugees — limited English, an interrupted education — but they are somewhat distinct in the level of trauma they have experienced, school leaders and resettlement workers said. In response to the influx, school districts are beefing up English instruction and making extra efforts to reach out to parents unfamiliar with the U.S. school system. At night, Arabic-speaking staff and teachers hold a "parent academy" where newly arrived moms and dads are given bilingual children's books in English and Arabic and guided on how to help improve literacy at home. During the second debate, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton's plan to expand the Obama administration's refugee program and accept 65,000 Syrian refugees the "great Trojan horse of all time." Resettlement agencies and school staff worry inflamed rhetoric about Muslims and Syrian refugees will trickle into the classroom. Watching her children learn English and adapt to U.S. schools has been redeeming for Abdulhamid's mother after two years in Jordan, where she often struggled to feed them and at one point lived in a feeble tent that would blow apart in the wind. Because it's my country.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:30:10 UTThe Russian military says that in the first day of the pause in fighting over the Syrian city of Aleppo, the corridors set up for civilians to escape the besieged city and for rebels to make safe passage came under consistent fire. Thursday's announcement came after Turkish jets raided several villages held by Syrian Kurdish forces the previous day in Syria's northern Aleppo province where the Kurdish forces and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are jostling for territory once held by the Islamic State group. The military statement called the Turkish air incursion a "flagrant aggression that targeted innocent civilians is a dangerous development." Turkish jets have flown numerous sorties over Syrian airspace in support of Syrian opposition forces and Turkey has sent tanks and ground troops across the border into Syria. Russian state-run media say three Russian officers are reported to have been wounded by gunfire along one of the humanitarian corridors leading out of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told U.S. counterpart John Kerry that militants have been violating the pause in the fighting, meant to allow suffering civilians to leave the city and also offer safe passage for the rebels. A U.S. defense official in Washington says the Syrian Kurdish fighters targeted by Turkish airstrikes on Wednesday in northern Syria are not among the Kurdish groups that U.S. forces are advising and assisting, so there were no American troops with those Kurds when they came under attack. Shoigu's statement came after U.N. aid official for Syria, Jan Egeland, told The Associated Press received Russian assurances to extend daily pauses in military action against rebel-held eastern Aleppo for four more days. Jan Egeland has told The Associated Press that the U.N. on Thursday received verbal assurances for the extension by a day, from three days previously, both from Russia's dip
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:32:22 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi special forces charged into the Mosul battle Thursday with a pre-dawn advance on a nearby town held by the Islamic State group, a key part of a multi-pronged assault on eastern approaches to the besieged city. The special forces backed by attack helicopters fought their way into the town of Bartella, where IS militants unleashed at least nine suicide truck bombs. The U.S. military, meanwhile, said an American soldier died from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb explosion in northern Iraq, in connection with the Iraqi effort to retake Mosul. More than 100 U.S. special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi troops and hundreds more are supporting the offensive from staging bases. The Islamic State group captured Mosul and the surrounding area during a lightning advance across northern Iraq in 2014, and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of a self-styled caliphate from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:15:02 UTRAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pushing for leadership elections in his Fatah movement and the PLO before the end of the year, as part of what senior officials say is largely an elaborate attempt to block the return of an exiled rival backed by several Arab states. Abbas's decision to hold such elections is a response to growing Arab pressure to take back Mohammed Dahlan, a former top aide and millionaire businessman who in exile forged close ties with leaders of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the region. The Palestinian president was jolted into action several weeks ago, when the so-called Arab Quartet — pro-Western, majority- Sunni Muslim states Egypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia and the UAE — presented a "road map" to Abbas for reviving frozen peace talks with Israel. Abbas was livid and countered that Arab leaders should stop meddling in internal Palestinian affairs — rare public criticism of Arab allies by a leader whose people depend on Arab financial and diplomatic support. Abbas repeatedly delayed the convention, both because Dahlan was still enjoying strong support and because the Palestinian leader had no strong interest in making changes. [...] many Dahlan followers have been purged from Fatah.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:03:14 UTMore than 100 U.S. soldiers are embedded with Iraqi forces, and hundreds more are playing a support role in staging bases. Qatar's foreign minister says Iraqi officials have offered assurances at a conference in Paris that "sectarian forces" won't be given a chance to commit "atrocities" as government forces fight to take Mosul from the Islamic State group. Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says the British military is launching cyberattacks against the Islamic State group in support of the offensive against militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul. A senior military commander says Iraqi special forces have driven Islamic State militants out of a town east of Mosul. An Iraqi court has issued an arrest warrant against the former governor of Ninevah province, accusing him of facilitating the entry of unauthorized Turkish forces into northern Iraq. The Judiciary Council said on Thursday that a complaint against Atheel al-Nujaifi was submitted by three lawmakers from Ninevah province in late 2015, shortly after the Turkish troops were deployed to a base north of the provincial capital, Mosul. France's foreign minister is warning that up to a million people might try to flee the fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and says authorities must check each one to make sure Islamic State extremists aren't escaping among the civilians. An officer in Iraq's special forces says Islamic State militants deployed nine suicide car bombs as troops advanced to the town of Bartella outside the IS-held northern city of Mosul. Iraqi special forces have entered a town near Mosul hours after joining a massive operation to retake the Islamic State-held city. An Associated Press reporter traveling with the elite force says they entered the town of Bartella from the east on Thursday after a heavy gunbattle that saw IS militants unleash a number of suicide truck bombs. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is vowing to protect civi
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:45:38 UTBAGHDAD (AP) — U.S. military says American soldier dies of wounds from bomb in northern Iraq.