The Daily Star : Middle East (169)

Iraqi forces battle toward landmark Mosul mosque

Iraqi special forces and police fought ISIS militants to edge closer to the al-Nuri mosque in western Mosul on Wednesday, tightening their control around the landmark site in the battle to recapture Iraq's second city

Arab leaders endorse two-state solution, say ready for reconciliation with Israel

Arab leaders said on Wednesday at the end of a one-day summit in Amman that they would be ready to have a historic reconciliation with Israel in return for its withdrawal from land it occupied in the 1967 war

Syrian army captures ISIS village near Aleppo

The Syrian army captured the small town of Deir Hafer east of Aleppo from ISIS on Wednesday, a Syrian military source said, part of its operations to drive back the exremist group and consolidate its control in that area

Tunisian former PM Jomaa launches 'non-ideological' political party

Tunisia's former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa launched a new political party on Wednesday which he said would be non-ideological and could "restore hope for Tunisians" frustrated by the country's transition

US envoy to UN: Syria's Assad 'hindrance to moving forward'

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Wednesday that Syria's President Bashar Assad is a "big hindrance in trying to move forward" to find an end to the country's six-year conflict

Etihad to lend US-bound passengers iPads as ban workaround

One Mideast airline affected by the ban on most electronics in the cabins of U.S.-bound flights will lend iPads to its top-paying travelers

Saudi King Salman invites Egypt's Sisi to visit

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has invited Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to visit his country, a public show of good relations following months of tension between the Arab world's most populous state and its richest

Palestinian tries to stab Israeli police, shot dead: police

A Palestinian woman attempted to stab Israeli police at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City Wednesday before being shot dead, the Israeli police said

Turkey arrests suspected ISIS European recruiter

Turkish authorities arrested a Syrian man who allegedly recruited militants from European countries to fight for ISIS, the state-run news agency reported Wednesday

146 migrants feared missing after boat capsizes in Med: UN

About 146 migrants are feared missing after their boat capsized after leaving Libya, according to a Gambian man who was rescued following the disaster, the United Nations' refugee agency said Wednesday

Egypt's cabinet approves 2017/18 budget, targeting 9.1 percent deficit

Egypt's cabinet approved the 2017/18 budget on Wednesday, targeting a 9.1 percent deficit for the year, Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy said

Engineers repair Syria's Tabqa dam spillways after shelling

Spillways at the Tabqa Dam in Syria are working normally after engineers managed to carry out repairs, a local alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias said on Wednesday, despite shelling from ISIS that temporarily halted their work

Over 60,000 S.Sudanese enter Sudan in three months: UN

More than 60,000 South Sudanese have entered Sudan in the first three months of 2017, the U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday, fleeing famine and war in the world's youngest nation

ISIS shelling stops work on damaged Syrian dam

ISIS shelled positions held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces at the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River Wednesday, forcing engineers to temporarily halt efforts to stop a potential collapse, a Reuters witness said

Bus bombing hits Syria's Homs, five dead: state media

A bomb attack on a bus in Syria's third city Homs killed five people and wounded at least seven Wednesday, state media reported

Evacuation deal reached for Syrian towns

Four Syrian towns are to be evacuated under an agreement between pro-government forces and rebels, in the latest of a series of deals to end crippling years-long sieges

Arab leaders meet to address conflicts and 'terror'

Arab leaders are set to meet in Jordan Wednesday for their annual summit with no expected breakthrough on resolving conflicts or "terrorism" in the region

U.S. weighs bigger role in Yemen war

The United States is considering deepening its role in Yemen's conflict by more directly aiding its Gulf allies battling Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, officials say, potentially relaxing a U.S. policy that limited American support.

US probably had role in Mosul blast that killed civilians: US general

The top U.S. commander in Iraq on Tuesday acknowledged the likelihood that the U.S.-led coalition had a role in blasts in Mosul that killed civilians this month but said an investigation was underway and that ISIS may also be to blame.

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Provincial councilors in disputed, oil-rich Kirkuk province voted Tuesday to fly the Kurdish regional flag over government buildings, a move likely to increase tensions with Baghdad.

UN may use other Yemen ports to ensure food pipeline, avert famine

By Stephanie Nebehay The United Nations is considering using other ports in Yemen or land convoys to deliver food for 17 million hungry people in case the main port of Hudaida is attacked, the chief U.N. humanitarian official there said on Tuesday.

Guns silent as engineers work to ease pressure on Syrian dam

Syrian engineers worked on Tuesday to open spillways and ease pressure on a major dam across the Euphrates River, amid a pause in a U.S.-backed assault to capture it from ISIS, a Reuters witness said

German prosecutors launch probe into Turkey spy claims

German prosecutors said Tuesday they had launched an investigation into claims that Turkish agents have been spying on alleged followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen in Germany.

Russia, Iran ink economic deals as Rouhani visits Moscow

Russia signed Tuesday a string of bilateral agreements with Iran as President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for his first official visit to Moscow.

Three Iraqi refugees in US charged with immigration fraud: Justice Dept

Three Iraqi refugees living in Virginia were arrested on Tuesday and charged with immigration fraud for allegedly attempting to obtain naturalization as U.S. citizens in a manner contrary to law, the Justice Department said.

Turkey sends team to UK over flight ban

Turkey sent a team of experts to Britain Tuesday to try to pursuade London to lift a ban on passengers carrying large electronic devices on flights from Istanbul, the Turkish transport minister said.

Yemen says it captured senior Al-Qaeda leader

Yemeni troops captured a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during an early morning raid on Tuesday in the southeastern Hadramawt region, a local security official said.

Pro-Kurdish party slams 'media embargo' before Turkey vote

A major Turkish party said Tuesday it was being denied TV airtime for its campaign to oppose boosting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers, with a referendum on the proposal less than three weeks away

Tunisian official 'caught red-handed taking bribe'

A Tunisian allegedly caught red-handed taking a bribe was among three regional officials sacked on Monday by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who has vowed to fight graft

ISIS counterattacks to defend north Syria town: activists

Clashes raged around a key northern Syrian town on Tuesday after ISIS launched a counterattack to fend off a U.S.-backed advance near the extremists' stronghold Raqqa.

UN chief: With US cuts looming, UN to rally other donors

The United Nations, faced with the possibility of deep U.S. funding cuts, is trying to mobilize more support from Europe, the Arab Gulf states and elsewhere, the U.N. chief said on Tuesday, adding that a time of growing global need is "not the moment to reduce solidarity."

ISIS counter-attacks to defend north Syria town: monitor

ISIS launched a counter-attack Tuesday against US-backed fighters closing in on a key extremist-held town in northern Syria, a monitor said

Syria gets 50,000 tons of Russian wheat in aid, none from commercial deals

Syria has received 50,000 tons of Russian wheat as humanitarian aid, Syrian and Russian government sources said on Tuesday

Russia general claims US-led coalition hit dam in Syria

A senior Russian general on Tuesday criticized the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS militants for allegedly targeting infrastructure - including a key dam - in territory held by the extremist group in Syria

UN chief urges divided Arab states to come together on Syria

The U.N. secretary-general has appealed to Arab nations to set aside differences and help end Syria's six-year-old civil war

Investigators probe Mosul blast as Iraqi forces push into Old City

Investigators are in the Iraqi city of Mosul to determine whether a U.S.-led coalition strike or ISIS-rigged explosives caused a huge blast that destroyed buildings and killed more than 200 people, a U.S. military commander said

ISIS is herding civilians into buildings in West Mosul, using them as human shields: UN

ISIS is herding civilians into buildings in West Mosul, using them as human shields: UN

Putin to meet Iran's Rouhani in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin was Tuesday to host Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for talks that will be closely watched for signs of their next moves in Syria

Iran says Russia can use military bases 'on case by case basis'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters Tuesday that Russia could use Iranian military bases to fight terrorists in Syria on a "case by case basis"

Malaysia says Kim Jong-Nam's body still in KL morgue

Six weeks after the airport assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, Malaysia Tuesday said it was still waiting for family to claim the body, denying rumors it had been sent back to Pyongyang

Coalition isn't protecting Mosul civilians: rights group

A recent spike in civilian casualties in Mosul suggests the U.S.-led coalition is not taking adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths as it battles ISIS alongside Iraqi ground forces, Amnesty International said Tuesday

SDF fighters battle Daesh around Tabqa

U.S.-backed forces battled Daesh around a key Syrian town Monday, after the capture of an air base brought them closer to besieging the militants in their stronghold Raqqa.

Backgammon, football after war reaches Damascus district

When Syria's war came to 73-year-old Joseph Mghazi's street in the Abbasiyeen neighborhood of Damascus, he ignored his neighbor's entreaties to halt his habitual streetside backgammon games.

Turks in Germany start voting in Erdogan referendum

Turks living in Germany began casting their ballots on Monday in a referendum that proposes changing Turkey's constitution to increase President Tayyip Erdogan's powers

Tunisians demand change to Muslim marriage decree

An alliance of Tunisian human rights groups on Monday called on authorities to scrap a 1973 decree that bans Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims

More than 10,000 attacks on Yemeni women in 2016: UN

The conflict in Yemen has made women and girls more vulnerable to gender-based violence, with more than 10,000 cases reported last year, the UN Population Fund said on Monday

Iraqi forces make new push in Mosul Old City: federal police

Iraqi forces said they launched new assaults in Mosul's Old City on Monday after more than two weeks of only small advances and a high civilian death toll appeared to prompt a change in tactics

Turks in Germany start voting in Erdogan referendum

Turkish voters in Germany, as deeply split as those in their ancestral homeland, started casting early ballots on Monday in a referendum that could vastly boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers

Hamas partially reopens Gaza crossing after assassination

Hamas authorities partially reopened the crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel Monday, after a one-day closure following the assassination of one of the group's leaders

Suspected al-Qaeda bomber kills 5 soldiers in Yemen's south

Yemeni security officials say a suicide bomber likely from al-Qaeda has attacked a government building in the southern Lahj province, killing five soldiers and wounding ten, including civilians