Middle East

A Syrian rebel fighter watches smoke rising from an explosion, at an unknown location in Idlib province, Sept. 5, 2018. The Russian military confirmed that airstrikes were carried out on Syria's last major rebel stronghold of Idlib.
International calls for restraint grew Wednesday for Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, to avoid a bloodbath and humanitarian disaster in Syria's Idlib province.The northwestern province along the Turkish border is the last major part of Syria in rebel hands. Syrian forces are surrounding the province, and observers say a multiparty operation may be imminent.Meeting Wednesday with the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, President Donald Trump…
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Wed, 09/05/2018 - 20:25
FILE - An Egyptian military vehicle is seen on a highway in northern Sinai, Egypt, May 25, 2015.
The Trump administration is justifying the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional military aid to Egypt, citing the country's progress over the last year in counterterrorism efforts and some improvements in its human rights record.A State Department official told VOA the United States has worked closely with the Egyptian government over the last year to further strengthen bilateral ties in support of common security and counterterrorism goals."The…
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Wed, 09/05/2018 - 19:00
UN envoy Martin Griffiths attends a news conference ahead of Yemen talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland Sept. 5, 2018.
The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is hopeful that talks in coming days with delegations from the government of Yemen and Houthi rebels will lead to full-blown peace negotiations.Thursday’s formal consultations will be the first time in two years that Yemen’s warring parties will meet. Griffiths calls this an opportunity to restart talks. Griffiths does not underestimate the difficulties ahead, but said it will be important to focus on confidence…
Lisa Schlein
Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:10
FILE - Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. is watching to see if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons during its offensive on the rebel-held bastion of Idlib, noting Syrian opposition fighters are not able to carry out such attacks.   “We have zero intelligence that shows the [Syrian] opposition has any chemical capability,” Mattis said. On the other hand, Mattis said there is evidence that President Bashar al-Assad has “done this before and…
William Gallo
Wed, 09/05/2018 - 08:25
FILE - Reza Khandan, left, and his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of Iran's most prominent human rights lawyers, in Tehran, Sept. 18, 2013.. Khandan was arrested, Sept. 4, 2018, after he had publicly campaigned for the release of Sotoudeh, who had been...
The U.S. State Department and human rights groups have expressed shock and outrage at Iran’s arrest of the husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a detained rights lawyer whose release he campaigned for.Rights groups said security agents detained Reza Khandan at his home early Tuesday and took him to Tehran’s Evin prison. The groups quoted Khandan’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, as saying Iranian authorities charged Khandan with national security offenses and promoting nonobservance of the…
Michael Lipin
Tue, 09/04/2018 - 22:45
FILE - Israeli soldiers stand guard atop a watch tower along the Israel-Gaza Strip border, May 15, 2018.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday that she has read the Trump administration's much-anticipated Middle East peace plan. And while it is "getting close," it will not be rolled out later this month during the U.N. General Assembly, as some had predicted."I can tell you that Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have done unbelievably detailed work in it," Haley said of the two presidential advisers tasked with coming up with a plan to resolve one of the world's most…
Margaret Besheer
Tue, 09/04/2018 - 19:30
Syrian army soldier stands guard as Russian military police vehicle passes by near the town of Alhureyeh, Aug. 14, 2018.
Israeli jets flying high over Lebanon struck at targets inside Syria on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, in a rare daytime raid that killed at least one person.Syria's SANA state news agency said the country's air defenses shot down five missiles, adding that one person was killed and 12 others were wounded.It reported strikes on the Wadi Ayoun area in the western Hama province and on the town of Baniyas in the coastal Tartous province.The Britain-based Syrian…
FILE - A general view taken with a drone shows part of the rebel-held Idlib city, Syria, June 8, 2017.
The Syrian province of Idlib has been a perilous, frequently bombed sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of Syrians forced to flee homes elsewhere in their war-shattered country. But within days the largest remaining rebel enclave could be reduced to a killing zone — effectively underscoring the end of the seven-year-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.Abutting the Turkish border and northwest of Aleppo, Sunni rebel groups have controlled Idlib for years —…
Jamie Dettmer
Tue, 09/04/2018 - 15:45
Syrians use dirt to put out a fire at the scene of a reported airstrike in the district of Jisr al-Shughur, in the Idlib province, Sept. 4, 2018.
The United States promises to "respond swiftly and appropriately" if Syria uses chemical weapons in Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in Syria.The White House said Tuesday it is "closely monitoring" the fate of Idlib, where it said "millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent ... attack" by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.It said President Donald Trump "has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic…
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Tue, 09/04/2018 - 15:35
Charity Groups Africa Hunger Aid
Yemen's tanking economy threatens to kill more people than bombs and guns, an aid agency warned on Tuesday as the currency hit its lowest level ever, compounding the world's biggest hunger crisis.The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said soaring food prices were pushing many people closer to the brink in a country where millions are already close to famine."This economic collapse could kill even more Yemenis than the violence underlying it," NRC's Yemen country director…
FILE - A refugee waits for a medical check in the UNWRA health center at the Asker refugee camp, near Balatah, east of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, Sept. 1, 2018.
UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, says it has been able to reduce, but not eliminate a $446 million budget deficit caused by a sharp cut in funding from Washington.  It says the shortfall could impact the services the agency provides to millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.  UNRWA reports it has been able to raise $238 million in additional funding from contributors such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the European Union, and Canada.  This…
Lisa Schlein
Tue, 09/04/2018 - 12:45
Cairo, Egypt
Police on Tuesday arrested a man carrying a crude explosive device near the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt's capital, according to security officials.They said the man, whom they did not identify, was intercepted outside the concrete blast barriers that encircle the U.S. and nearby British embassies in the leafy district of Garden City.   The U.S. Embassy said in a tweet that it was "aware of a reported incident" near the embassy and advised American…
FILE - Syrians gather at a site of car bomb in the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, Aug. 2, 2018.
Russia on Tuesday joined Iran in expressing support for Syria's impending operation to retake control of rebel-held Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in the country.Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Idlib is a pocket of terrorism, and that the situation there is undermining efforts to find a political resolution to the Syrian conflict.That follows statements Monday by Iran's Foreign Ministry saying Idlib should be cleared of "terrorists." Iranian…
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Tue, 09/04/2018 - 08:45
A scene of the local movie "10 Days Before the Wedding" is being played in Aden, Yemen, Sept. 1, 2018.
Yemenis file into a makeshift cinema for the first time since fighting broke out in their city of Aden more than three years ago - and watch some of their own story reflected back at them on the projector screen.The film they have come to see is "Ten Days Before the Wedding" - a gripping drama about a young couple from the southern port city whose marriage plans are nearly derailed by the country's civil war and other troubles.It is the first film publicly screened there…

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