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The Levant

BREAKING NEWS – ISIL beheads British hostage

THE LEVANT – A new video has surfaced showing Islamic State militants allegedly beheading UK aid worker Alan Henning, the Associated Press reports. According to AP, the footage shows an Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL) militant murdering Henning before threatening to also kill American Peter Edward Kassig. Before ending the …

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Libya aid push constrained by insecurity

THE LEVANT – A wave of violence between militia groups vying for power is sweeping across parts of Libya, prompting international organizations to put forth an ambitious plan to provide humanitarian aid to 85,000 people by the end of this year. Yet concerns remain over the feasibility of such an operation, …

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Obama team wanted US out of Iraq, says Panetta

THE LEVANT – Former Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has denounced the White House in a new memoir, accusing President Barack Obama’s top aides of undercutting efforts to secure a deal in 2011 that could have kept US troops in Iraq. Retaining a small US force would have helped contain sectarian …

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EU condemns new Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem

THE LEVANT – The European Union on Friday condemned an Israeli plan to build 2,610 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, calling it “highly detrimental” to diplomatic efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Brussels called on Israel to “urgently reverse” actions leading to settlement expansion in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians …

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Fast and Furious: Jassim Alseddiqi

THE LEVANT – A ‘bingo’ deal? You’ll know it  when you see it,” says Jassim Alseddiqi. “Before you execute that transaction, before you get the money. The ‘bingo’ feel of the transaction happens when you first source it.” Alseddiqi knows that moment better than most. As the chief executive of …

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26 rights groups urge Syria to free prominent lawyer

THE LEVANT – More than two dozen rights groups on Thursday called for the release of Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouq, two years after his “enforced disappearance” in Damascus. The appeal was co-signed by 26 human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and several …

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Turkish MPs back military action as jihadists advance

THE LEVANT – Turkey’s parliament Thursday authorised military action against the Islamic State jihadist group, whose fighters have battled their way to the doorstep of a key town across the border in Syria. The move allows the deployment of armed forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as the transit …

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Oman royal court says sultan in good health

THE LEVANT – Oman’s royal court sought to reassure the nation Thursday about the health of 73-year-old ruler Sultan Qaboos who has been undergoing treatment in Germany for almost three months. “The sultan is in good health and continuing to follow the medical treatment he has been prescribed and which …

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Turkish goes to war in Iraq and Syria

THE LEVANT – Turkey’s parliament on Thursday gave the government the green light to deploy the Turkish armed forces to combat Islamist jihadists in Syria and Iraq. In the 550 seat chamber, 298 deputies approved allowing the use of the armed forces in the neighbouring countries as well as for foreign …

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UN threatens sanctions after Libya talks

THE LEVANT – The UN Security Council on Thursday threatened sanctions against those who reject peace in Libya in a bid to shore up UN-brokered talks on ending the violence. UN special envoy Bernardino Leon held a first round of talks with rival politicians on September 29 that the council …

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Iran warns Turkey against aggravating regional tensions

THE LEVANT – Iran warned neighbouring Turkey Thursday against doing anything that might aggravate tensions in the region, after the parliament in Ankara voted to authorise military intervention in Syria and Iraq. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke by telephone with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and “criticised the method …

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Turkish MPs to Vote on Military Action Against ISIS

THE LEVANT – Turkey has deployed tanks and armored vehicles to reinforce its border with Syria as the Turkish parliament prepares to authorize military action against Islamic State (IS) jihadists. But analysts warn these moves are being met with resistance as questions remain over what form military action would take. …

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Mossad recruits online

THE LEVANT  – By Aaron Heller – It used to be that if you wanted to join one of the world’s most secretive espionage organizations you had to sneak into a foreign embassy, answer a cryptic newspaper ad or show up in a nondescript building in Tel Aviv to meet …

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Iran to help Lebanon fight extremism

THE LEVANT – Iran will supply the Lebanese army with military equipment to be used in fighting Muslim extremist groups, a visiting senior Iranian official said on Tuesday. The announcement marks the first time that Iran has said it would give Lebanon military assistance. Tehran has offered help in the …

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#IamTawfik: Grieving Civil Society Initiates Campaign

THE LEVANT – By Ayat Mneina – Grieving friends and admirers of Tawfik Bensaud and Sami El-Kawafi have started a social media campaign in their names less than a week after their assassinations.  This is the first time the vicious operation against Benghazi and Derna-which has previously targeted Libyan military figures, judges, …

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At UN, Syria closes the door on peace talks

THE LEVANT – Syria will not begin talks to end the three-and-a-half-year war while Islamist militants are rampaging through the country, the foreign minister told the United Nations on Monday. “We cannot start any political solution while terrorism is still rampant in Syria,” Foreign Minister Walid Mualem told the UN …

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Kurdish troops attack Iraq jihadists on three fronts

THE LEVANT – Kurdish troops backed by warplanes battled the Islamic State group on three fronts in northern Iraq Tuesday, clawing back land lost to the jihadists in recent months. The peshmerga struck before dawn against the town of Rabia on the Syrian border, north of the jihadist-controlled second city …

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Egypt court jails 68 pro-Morsi protesters

THE LEVANT  – An Egyptian court sentenced 68 people to up to 15 years in prison Tuesday over protest clashes, in the latest mass sentencing of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. They were accused of taking part in street violence in October 2013 in which more than 50 …

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Questions about the new war on terrorism

The Levant Exclusive – By Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh The US propaganda machine whirred back to life this week with the declaration of the launch of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. The US marketing campaign is reminiscent of the 1960s rock band reunion tours, as they ‘put the band back …

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DAASH An “Islamic State?”

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – Washington (As your journalist continues narrating this segment of the day-long questioning of the “Radicalization and the Politics of Alienation” in the current Middle East from here in the American Capital, the United States — along with its Arab allies — finally strike the pitiless “Caliphate” …

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British warplanes take off for Iraq

THE LEVANT – British warplanes flew their first mission over Iraq since parliament authorised strikes against Islamic State jihadists, but returned without bombing on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence in London said. Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 combat jets returned to Britain’s RAF Akrotiri base on Cyprus without dropping any …

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Yemen Al-Qaeda claims rocket attack near US embassy

THE LEVANT – Yemen’s Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for a rocket that hit near the US embassy in Sanaa Saturday, shortly after the mission said it was unlikely the target. “Ansar al-Sharia have targeted the US embassy in Sanaa with a (shoulder-launched) LAW rocket,” the jihadist group posted on …

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Yemen cuts fuel prices under deal between Houthis, state

THE LEVANT – The Yemeni government has reduced fuel prices by around 15 percent following a deal with the Ansarullah revolutionaries. The country’s state oil company made the announcement on Wednesday, cutting back a price rise introduced back in July that triggered nationwide protests. The company said the price of petrol …

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