Iraqis mourn: 37 killed in Islamic State attack on Shiite shrine in Balad

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GAZ140724aa001.jpegBALAD, Iraq — Iraqis on Friday mourned the victims of yet another terror attack, and some said they won't let the Islamic State ignite a new conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

At least 37 people were killed and more than 62 wounded when suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a Shiite shrine in this town, 50 miles north of Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

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Baghdad suicide bombing kills 115; ISIL claims responsibility

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ160615aa001.jpegAt least 115 people were killed Sunday in a suicide bombing in central Baghdad claimed by the Islamic State, the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in a year and one of the worst in more than a decade of war, officials said.

Among those killed were at least 15 children, 10 women and six policemen when a bomber's pickup truck laden with explosives went off outside a crowded shopping center, wounding 187 other people, police and Iraqi officials said, according to the Associated Press.

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Egypt banking on ancient attractions as Middle East unrest dents economy

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130924aa001.jpegLUXOR, Egypt — Mummies might be the solution to this country’s tourism woes.
Foreign visits to the Arab world’s most populous country, long vital to Egypt’s economy, have declined by around half in the wake of two passenger flight crashes, one a confirmed instance of terrorism, according to government statistics.

But archaeological tourism is helping Luxor buck the trend in Egypt, where foreign visitors to the pyramids and Red Sea beaches contributed around 12 percent to the national economy in recent years.

Read more at The Washington Times

Fight for Fallujah may be over, but people can't go home yet

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ160615aa001.jpegFALLUJAH, Iraq — Sanaa Abed has spent weeks in a sweltering tent in a refugee camp, waiting for Iraqi forces to liberate this city from Islamic State militants so she can return home.

But the mother of four must continue waiting until the city has been fully secured and safe for residents to move back.

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Kenya closing world’s largest refugee camp over Somali terror fears

KEN150915aa002DADAAB REFUGEE CAMP, Kenya — As dawn breaks in this dusty and sprawling settlement of 350,000 people, residents of the world’s largest refugee camp trek along main roads, carrying bags as they head to the markets to open up for business following early-morning prayers.

Shop owners hawk cellphones, clothing, goat meat, milk and other staples in the humid air scented by spiced tea and diesel. The market, run by refugees, is thriving, part of a bustling, massive pop-up “city” that over the years has become a regional commercial hub, but one that the Kenyan government now wants to dismantle.

Read more at The Washington Times

Iraq PM: Fallujah 'back home,' Mosul next

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150318aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Elite Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes punched through Islamic State defenses in Fallujah Friday, seizing the municipal compound and other buildings in the center of the city.

The breakthrough shifted momentum in the offensive that has raged for weeks, Iraqi officials said.

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Nigeria’s baby mills victimize vulnerable mothers, sell infants on black market

NIG151119AA001ENUGU, Nigeria — Four months pregnant, Ugwu Christabel, a scared 17-year-old from Aku in southeastern Nigeria, looked to the heavens for help after her parents threw her out of their home.

Then she looked to the Tex Hospital and Maternity Home in nearby Enugu, where single, pregnant girls sometimes go for care until they give birth.

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Food aid reaches Syria's starving town of Darayya

SYR1605aa001For the first time since 2012, food aid reached starving residents in the Syrian town of Darayya, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.

Trucks carrying medicine, flour and a month's worth of food arrived Darayya on Thursday, the humanitarian organization said in statements posted on its social media accounts.

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Inside Darayya, Syria: Kids in danger of starving to death

JOR15122aa001AMMAN, Jordan — Rola Hamada has no food at home to feed her four children and two grandchildren. That's nothing new in Darayya, Syria, she said.

A typical day means pulling any vegetables that may be in the garden to serve as breakfast. Then she goes to the city council's local aid office to get a pound of rice for dinner.

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Iraq refugees return home: 'Europe didn't welcome us'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_111111.jpegIDOMENI, Greece — Brothers Montather and Ali Al-Zobady gathered their belongings in this makeshift refugee camp on the Macedonian border and made their way to the Athens airport.

The Iraqi refugees weren’t trying to circumvent barriers in southern Europe to reach Germany like so many others in the past two years — they were going home to Diyala in eastern Iraq.

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Civilians fleeing: ISIL-held Fallujah face abuse, execution

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ160615aa001.jpegFALLUJAH, Iraq — Abu Mohammed al-Dulaimi finally made it out of Fallujah on Tuesday.

"I tried three times to flee the city and was forced to go back," the father of six said. Islamic State "militants captured me with a few men and humiliated us. They said to us, ‘You are women. You want to run away.’”

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Urgent search narrows to find cause of EgyptAir crash

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY160412aa001.jpegThree weeks after EgpytAir Flight 804 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea, safety investigators hope they soon find wreckage showing whether a mechanical flaw or crew mistake — or terrorism — downed one of the most widely used planes worldwide.

Although initial speculation pointed to terrorism that brought down the Airbus A320, no evidence of an intentional crash has been found and no one has claimed responsibility, which is rare in terrorism cases.

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Trapped civilians — including 20,000 children — stall Fallujah offensive

IRQ15122aa001BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces halted an assault to free Fallujah from Islamic State control Wednesday for fear of causing the deaths of civilians held hostage in the city, including an estimated 20,000 children.

"It would be possible to end the battle quickly if protecting civilians wasn't among our priorities," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on state television. "Our units are just outside Fallujah — victory is within our reach."

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Iraqi forces: In Fallujah repel ISIL attack

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ151130aa01.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqi forces repelled a fierce counterattack by Islamic State militants inside Fallujah on Tuesday, as government troops continued a slow advance to recapture the key city.

"The terrorists are counting on snipers and suicide car bombs and suicide attackers with vests but that won't hinder our advance," said Yahiya Rasul, spokesman for the Joint Operation Command, adding that the Islamic State "is mining the town, and throwing car bombs. We are managing to deal with these."

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Iraqi forces: Enter Fallujah, take on Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ130228JR011.jpegFALLUJAH, Iraq — Iraqi military and militia forces rolled into this war-battered city Monday, capturing a police station and advancing the crucial campaign to drive Islamic State militants from one of their last major Iraqi strongholds.

"Our forces are still fighting in three directions in Fallujah," said Yahiya Rasul, spokesman of the Joint Operation Command. "The fight is intense."

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Iraqi forces: May face human shields as Fallujah offensive begins

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRA132811aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraq's military and militia forces advanced Monday to liberate Fallujah from the Islamic State, as airstrikes pounded the city that officials see as key to stopping a spate of attacks by the militant group.

The mission to free Fallujah is complicated by reports from remaining residents that the extremist group is holding civilians hostage as human shields inside the city.

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EgyptAir official: Debris not from vanished flight

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY160516aa001.jpegDebris found Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea was not from an EgyptAir flight that vanished from radar en route from Paris to Cairo early Thursday, an airline official said.

Ahmed Adel, EgyptAir vice chairman, told CNN Thursday that a statement he made earlier to the network was not accurate.

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EgyptAir crash: Focuses scrutiny on aviation security

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY160412aa001.jpegA 'strong' possibility that a terror attack brought down EgyptAir 804 early Thursday over the Mediterranean will prompt U.S. officials to take a hard look at international security measures in airports in Paris and Cairo, which both send flights directly to the United States, experts said.

The EgyptAir flight left from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, which sends dozens of flights daily to the U.S. and meets the toughest safety standards. In recent months, following terror attacks last November in Paris, French authorities revoked security passes for dozens of workers with suspected ties to radical Islamists.

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EgyptAir air marshal's uncle: 'Only God knows what happened to them'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY160516aa001.jpegPARIS — EgyptAir Capt. Khaled Darwish landed here Thursday after a flight on its way to Cairo crashed with 66 people on board. He quickly said that disaster won't deter him from flying for the state-owned carrier.

"My company is a good company." Darwish said. "I don't have any reasons to be upset at them."

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Palestinian Student Faces the End of Her Undergraduate Experience

PAL151125aa001Over the past few months, I worked intensely on my senior project, a film essay about partisanship in the Palestinian media after the Fatah–Hamas conflict. I completed the pre-production, the shooting and the post-production.

But part of the essay was a theater performance, and I faced a lot of obstacles pulling that off.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Damascus University: Seeks to combat forged degrees

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_1111.jpegDamascus University recently issued its first digitally enhanced diplomas, part of an initiative to combat the use of forged diplomas by students wanting to claim they graduated from the country’s oldest institution of higher education.

Reports have surfaced of diploma-forging rackets in Turkey and in Persian Gulf countries, as Syrian refugees who have fled their country’s brutal war seek to boost their qualifications in order to gain access to educational or work opportunities, either in the region or beyond.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Despite IS: Plundering, ancient Palmyra can be restored

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150410aa001.jpegAMMAN, Jordan — Images of Islamic State militants dynamiting irreplaceable Roman ruins in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra sparked anguish and outrage among scholars and archaeologists around the world.

But optimism is cautiously rising about the ability to restore the damaged sites despite the destruction of several World Heritage monuments in the complex, say some of the first outside specialists to reach Palmyra after Islamic State forces were wrested from the city.

Read more at The Washington Times

In Palestine: Lives on edge with West Bank violence

PAL151125aa001HEBRON, West Bank — Abu Saleh owns a supermarket near an Israeli military camp in this city divided between his fellow Palestinians and ever-rising numbers of Israeli settlers.

He has been caught between the two sides a lot lately.

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Hope emerges: For historic sites in Palmyra

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150410aa001.jpegPALMYRA - In March of this year, the Syrian army retook Palmyra, once dubbed the “Bride of the Desert,” ending nearly a year of occupation and destruction by the Islamic State.

That year resulted in the destruction of some of the ancient city’s most precious sites, including its triumphal arch, temples, tower tombs, and the artifacts once displayed in its museum. Islamic State militants bombed most of the major sites, and used the city’s theater to carry out public executions of its opponents, including, in August of last year, the beheading of Khaled Al-Asaad, the 82-year-old retired antiquities chief at Palmyra.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Boko Haram: Women captives spurned on return home

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Africanwomen130318AA001.jpegMAIDUGURI, Nigeria — After three months of sexual abuse, Jummai Usman managed to escape the clutches of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. But when she returned to her village of Bama last year, her loved ones shunned her.

"I was treated as if I was also Boko Haram," said Usman, 45, a mother of eight who now lives in a refugee camp here. "My relations, friends and neighbors were suspicious of me. I didn’t like the way people treated me back there, like they were suspecting I could lead the insurgents back to attack them. So I left."

Read more at USA Today

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