News

    Iraq Announces Closure of Iranian, Syrian Border Crossings Ahead of Security Crackdown

    Barry Newhouse

    Iraqi officials have announced they will close all checkpoints on the Iranian and Syrian borders, as part of the new plan to crack down on religious militias and end the rampant sectarian cleansing in the capital. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from northern Iraq that Baghdad's most powerful Shi'ite militia is denying American allegations its leader has fled to Iran.

    Iraqi General Abboud Gambar appeared on national television, Tuesday evening, outlining some of the measures of the new security plan.

    The general says Iraq will close both of its border crossings with Syria and all four checkpoints with Iran.

    The general says the closures will be temporary, with most crossings re-opening after 72 hours. He did not say when the closures would occur, nor if Iraq's border crossings with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait would be affected.

    General Gambar announced all people unlawfully occupying homes in Baghdad must return to where they came from, within 15 days. Baghdad's rampant sectarian fighting has emptied many neighborhoods of religious and ethnic minorities. Thousands of squatters now occupy the abandoned homes.

    The general also says Baghdad's nighttime curfew will be extended by an hour and he has announced new restrictions on carrying weapons.

    He says only those authorized to carry weapons will be allowed to do so.

    The general says only American forces, Iraqi Defense and Interior Ministry forces and some licensed private security contractors will be allowed to carry weapons.

    In the Shi'ite holy city, Karbala, Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed a crowd chanting: "Our souls, our blood to you Iraq."

    The prime minister pushed back against those urging the government to move more quickly to solve Iraq's problems.

    He says a faster approach would be a useless waste of time. He also says Iraq's Shi'ite-majority parliament has approved of the more slow-going approach.

    Iraqi officials have leaked details of the new security crackdown for weeks but have refused to say when it will begin.

    In the Shi'ite holy city, Najaf, officials from the powerful Shi'ite militia, Mahdi Army, denied U.S. allegations their leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, has fled to Iran. White House officials said Tuesday Sadr drove to Tehran, in recent weeks, because of a possible fracture between extremists in his Mahdi Army militia and his political bloc. Sadr's office in Najaf said Wednesday that he remains in the city, but has reduced public appearances for security reasons.

    Also Wednesday, the U.S. military said it killed 15 suspected terrorists in operations in the Iraqi capital and detained 27 suspected al-Qaida members in Baghdad and Ramadi.

    American officials also confirm the Marine transport helicopter that crashed last week, in al-Anbar Province, was shot down by enemy fire. Military officials had initially said the crash, which killed all seven Americans on board, was caused by mechanical problems.

    U.S. officials say they are reviewing flying procedures, after losing several helicopters to enemy fire in recent weeks.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.