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  • China says may have citizens fighting in Iraq 

    Wu Sike, China's Middle East Envoy, talks during his news conference in AmmanBy Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - Muslim extremists from China's far western region of Xinjiang have gone to the Middle East for training and some may have crossed into Iraq to participate in the upsurge of violence there, China's special envoy for the Middle East said on Monday. China has repeatedly expressed concern about the upsurge in violence in Iraq and the march of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized much of the north of the country as Baghdad's forces there collapsed. ISIL has renamed itself the Islamic State and proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate on land it has captured in Syria and Iraq.

  • Gaza's Christians bury their first casualty of the war 

    An image of Jesus Christ rests on the rubble of the home of Jalila Ayyad, a Christian woman killed following an Israeli airstike on her home in Gaza City on July 27, 2014Jalila Ayyad's widower George still had a black eye and bloodstains on his shirt as he processed ahead of her coffin, hours after the air strike that destroyed their home. Jalila, 60, was the first Christian casualty of a bloody Gaza war. The simple coffin -- white with a black cross -- was carried reverently down the marble stairs of the cemetery, and into the chapel of the Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City. "She died under the rubble," said Jalila's nephew, Fuad Ayyad.

  • U.N. Security Council calls for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza 

    An Israeli soldier checks his weapon atop a tank near the border with GazaBy Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council agreed on a statement on Sunday urging Israel, Palestinians and Islamist Hamas militants to implement a humanitarian truce beyond the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr and engage in efforts to achieve a durable ceasefire. The statement expresses strong support for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance" in Gaza, where Israeli troops and Hamas have been fighting for nearly three weeks. Gaza Strip residents and Reuters witnesses said Israeli shelling and Hamas missile launches slowly subsided on Sunday, suggesting a de facto truce might be taking shape ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which begins on Monday. The Security Council statement, drafted by Jordan, "urged all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond" and "calls on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative." Diplomatic efforts led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to end the conflict have shown little sign of progress.

  • U.S. diplomats' return to Libya could be more hazardous than exit By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If evacuating U.S. embassy staff from Libya was perilous - three F-16 fighters and Marines in Osprey aircraft flew overhead a road convoy from Tripoli to Tunisia - sending them back in could be politically hazardous for President Barack Obama. U.S. diplomats work in dangerous places such as Baghdad and Kabul, but the ghosts of Benghazi hang over the U.S. presence in Libya after an attack on a U.S. mission in the eastern Libyan city in 2012 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Republicans, preparing to battle Obama's Democrats in mid-term elections in November, have been quick to characterize the chaos in Libya as further evidence of the administration's weak foreign policy. The eight or so U.S. diplomats who had been in Libya and a security staff numbering 200 or more drove out of the country on Saturday under a heavy escort, amid the worst violence in the capital and in Benghazi since Washington and its NATO allies helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
  • Thousands march in French city of Marseille in support of Israel Thousands took to the streets of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday to show their support for Israel, the first such demonstration in the country since the start of the recent fighting in Gaza, organizers said. "We are here to show our solidarity with Israel, which has been attacked and has a right to defend itself," William Labi, head of the body governing Jewish congregations in Marseille, told Reuters. Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in central Paris on Saturday when thousands of protesters defied a ban by French authorities to rally against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israel began its offensive earlier this month, citing a surge in rocket attacks launched from Hamas militants in the Gaza strip.
  • 'Please stop!', Pope Francis makes plea for peace Pope Francis made an emotional plea for peace on Sunday in an impromptu addition to comments delivered at his weekly Angelus address in Saint Peter's Square. As the Argentinian-born pontiff wrapped up his regular address to the faithful, he spoke of the upcoming centenary of the outbreak of World War One and said his thoughts were on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine in particular.
  • West Bank glows with anger over Gaza destruction By Ali Sawafta RAMALLAH West Bank (Reuters) - While the Gaza Strip burns, the occupied West Bank is smoldering, with violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces raising the specter of a new popular uprising after years of relative calm. In just a three-day period late last week, 10 Palestinians died and some 600 wounded during a spate of angry protests against the prolonged military offensive in nearby Gaza. On Sunday, Israeli police said they foiled a potentially deadly attack when they stopped a car laden with explosives as its driver tried to reach Israel via a West Bank checkpoint, while riots broke out once more overnight in East Jerusalem.
  • Destroy Hamas? Something worse would follow: Pentagon intel chief A top Pentagon intelligence official warned on Saturday that the destruction of Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place, as he offered a grim portrait of a period of enduring regional conflict. The remarks by Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, came as Israeli ministers signaled that a comprehensive deal to end the 20-day-old conflict in the Gaza Strip appeared remote. At least 1,050 Gazans - mostly civilians - have been killed, and 42 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have died. Flynn disparaged Hamas for exhausting finite resources and know-how to build tunnels that have helped them inflict record casualties on Israelis.
  • U.S. evacuates Libya embassy after 'free-wheeling militia violence' 

    Entrance of the compounds of the U.S. embassy is pictured in TripoliBy Patrick Markey TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The United States evacuated its embassy in Libya on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military escort after escalating clashes broke out between rival militias in Tripoli. Security in the Libyan capital has deteriorated following two weeks of clashes between brigades of former rebel fighters who have pounded each other with rockets and artillery fire in southern Tripoli near the embassy compound. The violence is the worst seen in Tripoli and in eastern Benghazi since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Western governments fear Libya is teetering toward becoming a failed state just three years after the NATO-backed war ended his one-man rule.

  • Thousands ignore ban in Paris to protest Israeli offensive in Gaza By Michel Rose PARIS (Reuters) - Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in central Paris on Saturday when thousands of marchers defied a ban by French authorities to rally against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip. French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned organizers in a television address that they would be held responsible for any clashes and could be prosecuted for ignoring a ban that was confirmed by the country's top administrative court. TV footage showed a minority of demonstrators wearing balaclavas and traditional Arab keffiyeh headdresses throwing projectiles at riot officers after two hours of peaceful protest. By 1700 GMT (13:00 EST), most demonstrators had been evacuated from the square and order restored.
  • Israel agrees to extend Gaza war truce by 4 hours 

    A Palestinian woman inspects the damage of her destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Gaza residents used a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Saturday to stock up on supplies and survey the devastation from nearly three weeks of fighting, as they braced for a resumption of Israel's war on Hamas amid stalled efforts to secure a longer truce. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel agreed Saturday to extend a 12-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war by four hours, a Cabinet minister said. In Gaza, a health official said the Palestinian death toll in 19 days of fighting had surpassed 1,000.

  • French minister calls on protesters to observe ban PARIS (AP) — French police fired tear gas as clashes broke out at a banned pro-Gaza demonstration on Saturday as thousands defied a ban on the protest.
  • Thousands of Pro-Palestinians march in London 

    Protesters in central London on July 25, 2014 demonstrate against Israeli actions in GazaAt least 10,000 pro-Palestinian protesters opposed to Israel's military action in Gaza marched through central London for the second week running on Saturday. The march started outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, in the west of the British capital, before passing Downing Street and coming to a halt outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Demonstrators held placards reading "Stop Israeli State Terror!", "Freedom for Palestine" and "Gaza - End the Siege." They also chanted "Shame on you David Cameron" as they filed past the British prime minister's Downing Street office.

  • Top diplomats in Paris call for extension to 12-hour Gaza truce 

    (From L) Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah speak after their meeting, on July 26, 2014, at the foreign ministry in ParisUS Secretary of State John Kerry and top diplomats from Europe and the Middle East meeting in Paris Saturday called for an extension to a temporary truce currently in force between Israel and Hamas. Both sides have agreed to a 12-hour "humanitarian" ceasefire in Gaza that started at 0500 GMT Saturday, putting a brief stop to a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians -- a large majority of them civilians. The 19-day Israeli offensive on Hamas-ruled Gaza was launched in response to rockets fired by militants of the Islamist group into the Jewish state, and 37 Israeli soldiers have also died in the violence. "We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire currently in force, by 24 hours that could be renewed," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after the meeting.

  • Egypt summons Turkish envoy for second time over Erdogan comments 

    Turkey's PM Erdogan addresses members of parliament from ruling AK Party during meeting at Turkish parliament in AnkaraEgypt summoned the Turkish charge d'affaires on Saturday for the second time in a month to complain about comments by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan deemed insulting to the leadership in Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said. In an interview with broadcaster CNN, Erdogan repeated the phrase that caused offense last time, calling Egypt's president, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a "tyrant". He also accused Egypt of not being "sincere" over the Gaza crisis. "The Arab republic of Egypt expresses its deep rejection of the latest comments made by the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan," the foreign ministry said.

  • Holy month of Ramadan is a big boon for retailers 

    In this July 12, 2014 photo, Lebanese shoppers are seen reflected, at left, by a shop window that is decorated with the Islamic crescent symbol representing the season of Ramadan, with the words, "Happy Ramadan," bottom, at the Beirut Mall, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, is a boon for retailers in the Middle East, South Asia and beyond. And while some Muslims welcome it as a positive sign, others see it as commercialization of a sacred time of year, threatening to subvert its very nature. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Glitzy billboards in the Middle East and postage stamps in the U.S. Advertisements for lingerie and sales on modest skirts. Lavish buffets and cellphone apps.

  • Oil rises just above $102 a barrel The price of oil traded around $102 a barrel on Friday, nearly unchanged, as worries over supplies and geopolitical tensions eased.
  • France to host meeting on Gaza cease-fire talks PARIS (AP) — More than a half-dozen foreign ministers including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a meeting in France to press for a cease-fire in Gaza.
  • AP ANALYSIS: Old story, new twists in Gaza war CAIRO (AP) — The third Gaza war is playing out much like the first one more than five years ago: The harrowing civilian toll in Gaza is now at the center of the discourse, eclipsing the rocket attacks by Hamas militants that were the stated reason for the Israeli assault.
  • Erdogan to be 'active' Turkish president: deputy PM 

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling Justice and Development party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on July 22, 2014Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be an "active" head of state if he wins presidential elections in August and will play a particularly strong role in foreign policy, one of his government's most senior ministers said. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc signalled that Erdogan would be a stronger president than previous holders of the hitherto ceremonial post but insisted he would always act within the framework of the law. Arinc said Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) wanted to change Turkey's constitution to potentially enshrine the presidency with more powers, describing the current version as a "no longer valid" relic of a military coup. Erdogan is the hot favourite to win the August 10 elections, the first time a Turkish president will be elected by popular vote, and continue his over-decade-long domination of Turkey which has already transformed the country.

  • Iran detains four journalists, three of them Iranian-American, says CPJ 

    The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian is shown in this Washington Post photoBy Parisa Hafezi ANKARA (Reuters) - (This story corrects name of UAE-based newspaper in para 2 to the National (not the Nation)) The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday called on the Iranian government to immediately release four detained journalists, three of whom it said had U.S.-Iranian nationality. Two of the detainees are Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the National, the CPJ said in a statement. "We call on Iranian authorities to immediately explain why Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, and two other journalists have been detained, and we call for their immediate release," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.

  • London shares slide on weak German confidence data 

    The FTSE 100 index was up 0.20 percent to 6,805.17 points in opening deals MondayLondon's leading share index slipped on Friday as a fall in German business confidence overshadowed positive British growth data, dealers said. The benchmark FTSE 100 index slipped 0.44 percent to 6,791.55 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 dropped 1.82 percent at 4,330.55. The crises in Ukraine and the Middle East are eroding business confidence in Germany, which could in turn derail European recovery. Back on the trading floors, Royal Bank of Scotland was the star performer after the lender saw its share price soar 10.77 percent after it announced net profits almost tripled to Β£1.425 billion in the six months to the end of June.

  • Iran confirms it is holding 4 journalists WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran confirmed on Friday that it has detained four journalists, including a reporter for The Washington Post and two freelance photographers, but did not disclose details about why they were being held.
  • Israeli team's soccer match in Austria moved on security grounds A soccer match to be played in Austria on Saturday by Maccabi Haifa and Paderborn has been moved to a new venue due to security concerns after a violent anti-Israel protest disrupted the Israeli team's last game in the Alpine republic. The match will now take place in the town of Leogang in Salzburg province, where Maccabi Haifa's training camp is located, after the town of Kirchbichl, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) away, refused to host the game for security reasons. Protesters against Israel's military offensive in Gaza invaded the pitch and attacked Maccabi Haifa players at a friendly game against Lille on Wednesday in the Austrian town of Bischofshofen, causing play to be abandoned. Hannes Empl, head of the SLFC organization that hosts soccer training camps in the Salzburg region, said on Friday the players were slightly tense but ready for the match to go ahead as normal.
  • Israel rallies behind army in Gaza war By Crispian Balmer KFAR AZAR Israel (Reuters) - When 20-year-old Israeli soldier Daniel Pomerantz died in a Hamas ambush in the Gaza Strip, his small village near Tel Aviv decided they finally needed a cemetery to bury their dead. "When a war ends, we always hope it will be the last one," said Sara Mozes, who was born in a refugee camps in Germany after the Holocaust horrors of World War Two and moved to Israel as a baby in 1948, the year the country was founded. Pomerantz was one of 33 soldiers who have died so far in the offensive launched by Israel on July 8 in an effort to halt repeated rocket fire by Hamas Islamists, who are battling to end an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip.
  • Oil price slips below $102 a barrel The price of oil slipped below $102 a barrel on Friday, falling for a second day after spiking on lower U.S. inventories and tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.
  • German business confidence drops for 3rd month BERLIN (AP) — German business confidence fell for a third consecutive month amid ongoing concerns about the economic impact of the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, though consumer confidence in Europe's largest economy remained robust, surveys showed Friday.
  • Peres steps down as Israeli president, sees peace 'one day' By Allyn Fisher-Ilan JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's elder statesman Shimon Peres bowed out of active political life on Thursday with an ardent defense of the war in Gaza against Hamas militants and a defiant prediction that peace will "one day" come to the Middle East. At a ceremony overshadowed by the 17-day Gaza conflict in which nearly 800 people have died, Peres, 90, relinquished his largely ceremonial post as Israeli president to Reuven Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party. In his farewell speech, Peres invoked the biblical prophets he said had taught Israel to see "social justice and world peace as guiding principles" and he urged the Jewish state to "practise equality for all its citizens".
  • Beaten Sudan editor out of hospital 

    Osman Mirghani, chief editor of the Al-Tayar daily, lies on his bed after he was severely beaten by armed men who raided the offices of the Sudanese newspaper earlier this week, on July 24, 2014 in Khartoum's twin city of OmdurmanWith his arm in a sling and a deep gash on the bridge of his nose, a Sudanese newspaper editor has left hospital five days after an unusual physical attack. Several men stormed the offices of the Al-Tayar daily on Saturday evening, seized reporters' equipment and severed computer connections before turning on chief editor Osman Mirghani. "I can recognise them," because only one attacker had covered his face during the beating, Mirghani said at his home on Thursday. It was a rare assault on a journalist in Sudan, although reporters regularly complain of censorship by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

  • Israel swears in new president amid Gaza war 

    Outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) hugs Newly sworn-in President Reuven Rivlin during a ceremony at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 24, 2014. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres ended his term as president of Israel on Thursday — a man who symbolizes hopes for peace capping a seven-decade public career amid the brutal reality of war. Peres handed the ceremonial but high-profile presidency over to Reuven Rivlin, a legislator from the hawkish Likud Party. (AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool)JERUSALEM (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres ended his term as president of Israel on Thursday — a man who symbolizes hopes for peace capping a seven-decade public career amid the brutal reality of war. Peres handed the ceremonial but high-profile presidency over to Reuven Rivlin, a legislator from the hawkish Likud Party.

  • Turkey's Erdogan says Israel should face trial over Gaza assault By Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Turkey would push for Israel to be tried at an international criminal court if it kept up its assault on Gaza and he accused the Jewish state of "spitting blood". Turkey, a member of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, was once Israel's closest regional ally but has become one of its most vitriolic critics, with Erdogan last weekend accusing it of "surpassing Hitler in barbarism" with its Gaza offensive. "If Israel continues with this attitude, it will definitely be tried at international courts," Erdogan, who is campaigning for a presidential election on Aug. 10, told a rally of supporters in the southern port city of Mersin.
  • US lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv airport WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban Wednesday on U.S. flights in and out of Israel, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.
  • US Marines probe corporal who vanished in Iraq CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina (AP) — U.S. Marine Corps officers have launched a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or months later after returning to the United States, a military spokesman said Thursday.
  • U.S. Jewish group wants its award back from Turkey's Erdogan An association of Jewish Americans said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has become the world's "most virulent anti-Israeli leader" and demanded he return an award it gave him a decade ago, partly for his efforts to broker peace between Israel and Palestinians. The New York-based American Jewish Congress awarded Erdogan its "Profile of Courage" award in 2004 for what it said was his stance on fighting terrorism and working towards a peace. "Now, we want it back," the association's president, Jack Rosen, said in an open letter to Erdogan dated July 23 and made public on Thursday. He cited the Turkish leader's comments last weekend that Israel had "surpassed Hitler in barbarism" through its attacks on Gaza.
  • FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel.
  • Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — Marine Corps officers have launched a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or months later after returning to the United States, a military spokesman said Thursday.
  • Militants order female genital mutilation in Iraq: U.N. 

    This Tuesday, July 22, 2014 photo shows a motorist passing by a flag of the Islamic State group in central Rawah, 175 miles (281 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, nearly six weeks since a Sunni militant blitz led by the Islamic State extremist group seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq. (AP Photo)The United Nations, expressing deep concern, said on Thursday that militant group Islamic State had ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation. One document posted on Twitter suggested it may be a year old and have been issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the group's previous name. Such a "fatwa" issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcock told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil. There was no immediate comment from Islamic State which has led an offensive through northern and western Iraq.

  • Oil drifts down despite China manufacturing bounce The price of oil fell below $103 a barrel Thursday, giving back part of its gains from the day before, despite improvements in Chinese manufacturing.
  • French Jews living in fear, minister says Many members of France's Jewish community are living in fear after pro-Palestinian protests in recent weeks were marred by violence and use of anti-Semitic language, the country's foreign minister said on Thursday. France has both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe and flare-ups in the Middle East have often in the past added to tensions between the two communities. "Jews in France should not be afraid but many of them are afraid," Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio after one listener called in to share her experiences of hearing anti-Semitic comments in public. France's Jewish population has grown by nearly half since World War Two to total some 550,000 Jews according to the community's umbrella group CRIF.
  • Philippines deports Australian Islamic preacher MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine authorities said Thursday they deported an Australian Islamic preacher suspected of links to terrorists based on YouTube videos allegedly showing him advocating jihad and urging local Muslims to support militants in the Middle East.



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