Voice of America : Middle East (41)

Hezbollah, Syria, Lebanon Hit IS Along Border

Lebanon’s U.S.-backed army Saturday announced the start of a long-awaited military campaign to clear Islamic State militants from a remote corner near the frontier with Syria, an offensive that seeks to end a years-old threat to neighboring towns and villages. The Lebanese Hezbollah group and ...

Hezbollah, Syria, Lebanon Hit IS Along Border

Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah group Saturday started a joint military operation with the Syrian army against an Islamic State pocket on Syria’s border with Lebanon, the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar television station reported. The Hezbollah and Syrian army assault is taking place ...

Researchers Blame Saudi-Led Coalition for 'Worst Cholera Outbreak in the World' in Yemen

The majority of deaths from Yemen's cholera outbreak have occurred in rebel-controlled areas cut off from supplies due to airstrikes and blockades by a Saudi-led military coalition, according to research published on Friday. The study by London's Queen Mary University found eight out of 10 cholera ...

US Defense Chief to Visit Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will travel to Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine next week for talks with the leaders of all three nations. Pentagon officials said Friday that Mattis aims to reaffirm Washington's commitments to each of the countries. Mattis will begin his trip by meeting with Jordan's ...

Lebanon Palestinians Wary of Promises to Improve Their Plight

With the first ever full census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon underway, and a groundbreaking plan to strengthen their rights, Palestinians are hoping to see an improvement in their conditions. But a top priority for the Lebanese government continues to be security in the Palestinian camps, ...

East Libyan Forces Report Arrest of Commander Sought by ICC

Security forces in eastern Libya said Thursday that they had arrested the commander of an elite forces unit who was being sought by the International Criminal Court for allegedly executing dozens of prisoners. The general command of the Libyan National Army , the force that controls most of eastern ...

US Helping Clear 'Historic' Amount of Explosives in Mosul

The wires protruding from the small, misshapen stuffed animal revealed the deadly booby trap tucked inside. For the people of Mosul, the sophisticated bomb was a reminder of how difficult it will be to return to homes littered with explosives hidden by Islamic State militants and dotted with the ...

Civilian Deaths Surge in Raqqa as IS Tactics Slow US-backed Advances

As U.S.-backed forces continue to make slow progress in their offensive to oust Islamic State from its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, thousands of civilians who are trapped in the city face an increasing danger of getting caught in crossfire, rights organizations and local activists warn. ...

Security Forces Abused Civilians in Mosul Campaign, Iraq Admits

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said Thursday that a unit of the security forces committed "abuses" against civilians during the offensive to oust Islamic State insurgents from Mosul. His government began an investigation in May into a report by German news magazine Der Spiegel that ...

University: Iran Denies Appeal of Jailed Princeton Student

Iranian authorities have denied the appeal of a Princeton University student who had been convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the university and his wife said Thursday. Xiyue Wang, a history doctoral student and U.S. citizen who was conducting dissertation research in ...

Lebanon Palestinians Wary of Promises to Improve Their Plight

Iman Muhammad Sheikha seems to cling to the memory of her son as she describes, in minute detail, the moments surrounding his electrocution. She explains how Ahmad knocked into a high voltage cable just outside their home â€” one of thousands that form a deadly web over the streets of their ...

Saudi Arabia to Allow Qatari Hajj Pilgrims Through Border Crossing

Saudi state media reported Thursday that King Salman has approved opening a border crossing with Qatar in order to allow pilgrims to make the hajj. The Saudi Press Agency said that in addition to opening the Salwa border crossing, Saudi Arabia would send planes to Doha to transport Qatari pilgrims ...

US-backed Syrian Group Pardons 96 IS Members in Raqqa

A U.S.-backed Syrian group known as Civil Council of Raqqa granted amnesty to 96 alleged members of the Islamic State on Wednesday in what it said was an attempt to dissuade low-ranking IS members from allegiance to the terror group. The council, which is expected to rule Raqqa after IS is removed ...

Israel Says Will Revoke Press Credentials of Al Jazeera Reporter

Israel intends to cancel an Al Jazeera journalist's press accreditation on the grounds that he is biased in favor of Palestinians, the director of the government press office said on Wednesday. Nitzan Chen said Al Jazeera correspondent Elias Karram's press card would be revoked, pending a hearing, ...

Security Risk Seen in Foreign Recruits Fighting for Kurds in Syria

An influential London think tank is urging the British government to stop Britons from enlisting with a Western-backed Kurdish militia in Syria that's battling the Islamic State terror group on the ground that it, too, is a terrorist organization. The Henry Jackson Society warns in a study released ...

US-backed Syrian Civil Council Pardons Dozens of Islamic State Members

In an attempt to stabilize Raqqa after the Islamic State, the U.S.-backed Raqqa Civil Council on Wednesday announced it has pardoned 96 local members of IS who reportedly did not engage in crimes. VOA’s Mahmoud Bali reports.

Iraq Asks World's Help in Investigating IS Crimes

Iraq asked for international help Wednesday to collect and preserve evidence of crimes by Islamic State militants and said it was working with Britain to draft a U.N. Security Council resolution to establish the investigation. Britain, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Nadia Murad, ...

Lebanese, Syrian Ministers Vow to Improve Economic Ties

Lebanese and Syrian ministers pledged Wednesday to boost economic ties. The announcement was part of a visit that has challenged the Lebanese state's policy of neutrality toward Syria's war. Government ministers from Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Shiite Amal party arrived in Syria for a trade fair, a ...

Group Estimates 34,000 Gallons of Oil Spilled Off Kuwait

An analysis of satellite imagery by a U.S.-based nonprofit organization suggests at least 34,000 gallons of oil have leaked out during a spill off the coast of Kuwait. West Virginia-based SkyTruth says satellite photos from the day of the spill off southern Kuwait show it spread over a distance ...

Lebanon Repeals 'Marry the Rapist' Law

Lebanon's parliament on Wednesday abolished a law that allowed rapists to avoid prison by marrying their victims. The repeal of the law, which had been in place since the 1940s, follows years of campaigning by women's rights advocates. Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt have canceled similar "marry the ...

Report: Pace of Airstrikes, Clashes in Yemen Sharply Higher in 2017

Yemen suffered more airstrikes in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2016, increasing the number of civilian deaths and forcing more people to flee their homes, according to a report by international aid agencies. The pace of clashes on the ground has also intensified this year, ...

US Air Force Upgrades Middle East Command Center

With its wall-sized screens simultaneously showing America's air wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, this war room at the heart of America's biggest military campaigns is already something of a technological marvel. “It's state of the art but too slow for the future,” said General David ...

Thousands Flee as Iraq Steps Up Airstrikes on IS-held Town

Thousands of Iraqis have fled an Islamic State-held town west of Mosul as Iraqi and coalition warplanes step up strikes ahead of a ground offensive to drive out the militants. Tal Afar and the surrounding area is one of the last pockets of IS-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July ...

Jordan Holds Local Elections in Step to Devolve Powers

Jordan held local elections Tuesday in a move that officials said would help devolve some powers to larger cities and underdeveloped rural regions, but that critics said fell short of promised wider political reform. The countrywide municipal vote — the first since 2013 — was a stated bid ...

US: Islamic State Has Committed ‘Genocide’ Against Religious Believers

The United States accused Islamic State insurgents on Tuesday of carrying out a reign of violence targeting religious minorities and opposition ethnic groups, even as they have been losing control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Islamic ...

Libya Army Commander Arrest Sought by ICC for Alleged Executions

Judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a Libyan National Army commander accused over the alleged execution of dozens of prisoners. Prosecutors at the world's permanent war crimes court are seeking Mahmoud al-Werfalli's hand-over to face charges of murder ...

Algerian Presidency Brings Ouyahia Back as Prime Minister

Algeria's presidency has recalled veteran crisis manager Ahmed Ouyahia as prime minister, a job he held in the 1990s when Algeria was battling an Islamist insurgency. Ouyahia, 65, will replace Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who held the job for just three months, the office of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ...

Rouhani: If US Continues Threats, Iran Could Jump-start Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that his country preferred abiding by the 2015 international agreement on its nuclear program, but that if the United States continued "threats and sanctions," then Iran could quickly revitalize its nuclear activity to a level even higher than it was ...

In Iran, Islamic State Seeks to Fan Militancy Among Minorities

Islamic State is seeking to radicalize disaffected ethnic minorities in majority Shi'ite Iran to encourage attacks intended to avenge Tehran's offensive against the group across the Middle East. Sunni Islamic State, in decline in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for an unprecedented attack on ...

Iran: Nuclear Deal Can Be Abandoned ‘Within Hours’

Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday. “If America wants to go back to the experience , Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week ...

US Navy Reports Another Tense Encounter with Iran Drone

An unarmed Iranian drone shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier at night and came close enough to F-18 fighter jets to put the lives of American pilots at risk, the Navy said Tuesday, reporting the second such tense encounter within a week. The Iranian Sadegh drone flew without any warning lights during ...

Bomb Kills 13 in Southern Yemen

A bomb went off on Monday at a busy district in a southern Yemeni city, killing 13 people and wounding an unspecified number, according to security officials. They said the explosion struck a market in Qataba, in the southern Dhale province, but provided no further details. No one immediately ...

Cash Crisis Exposes Rift Within Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen

Yemen's Central Bank says the Saudi-led coalition is "strangling" the economy by preventing planes from flying in newly-minted cash, reflecting a struggling between the government and the United Arab Emirates, key members of the military alliance.   Both are at war with the Shi'ite Houthi rebels, ...

Iraqi Shi'ite Militias Pledge to Take Part in Next IS Fight

Iraq's Shi'ite militias announced on Monday they will participate in the next major battle against the Islamic State group after the Iraqi forces' victory in Mosul last month.   The Shi'ite militias did not fight in the urban part of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, but were key in clearing ...

Lebanon's Hezbollah Says US Can't Hurt it, Dismisses Sanctions

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah on Sunday dismissed the prospect of tougher U.S. sanctions against his group, which is backed by Iran, and said the U.S. administration had no way to harm it. "The American administration, with all available and possible means, will not be able to damage the ...

US Condemns Murders of 7 Syrian White Helmets

The United States is condemning the murders of seven Syrian White Helmet civil defense members in rebel-controlled Idlib province. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert calls the murders sad and horrifying. "These cowardly acts of masked men took the lives of civilian volunteers who work ...

Egypt's Railway Authority Chief Resigns Over Fatal Crash

Egypt's transport minister said Sunday that he has accepted the railway authority chief's resignation over a deadly train crash near the coastal city of Alexandria that killed 43 people and injured scores. Hesham Arafat announced at a news conference after meeting the prime minister Sunday that he ...

Iran Parliament Approves Increase in Funding to Its Missile Program

Iranian legislators voted Sunday on a bill to increase spending of the country’s missile ballistic program. The overwhelming support for the bill comes after tensions between Iran and U.S. President Donald Trump who imposed new sanctions on the Iranian government. “The Americans should ...

US-backed Syrian Rebels Seek to Reposition for Deir ez-Zor Battle

In a race with the Russia-backed Syrian government forces and Shiite militia groups to capture the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor from Islamic State militants, a Syrian rebel group supported by the U.S. claims it is in talks with the U.S.-led coalition to relocate its fighters to northern Syria. Such a ...

UN Steps Up Aid to Iraqis Returning to Battle-scarred Mosul

The U.N. Refugee agency reports it is stepping up humanitarian aid for thousands of Iraqis who are returning to Mosul in the aftermath of the government’s recapture of the former Islamic State stronghold. The U.N. refugee agency says the task ahead is mammoth given the scale of destruction, ...

Egypt Train Crash Kills 43, Injures 122

Two passenger trains collided on Friday just outside Egypt's Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, killing 43 people, according to authorities, the country's deadliest rail accident in more than a decade. Magdy Hegazy, a top health official in Alexandria, said that along with the 43 killed, the ...