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The Levant

2 million Muslims stone the devil during hajj

THE LEVANT – Two million Muslims ritually stoned the devil Saturday in the last major ritual of this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia, while fellow believers around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice. Two million Muslims ritually stoned the devil Saturday in the last major rite of …

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Sectarian strife in Yemen reaching Danger Zone

By Nasser Sahah – The sectarian strife in Yemen we’re facing is not only a political crisis but a sectarian one. It has existed for years but now it’s out in the open; Sunni-Shiite tensions are rising in Yemen. Yemeni Zaidis, from the Shia school of thought, accounts for 40 …

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Ayatollah Khamenei’s Message To Hajj Pilgrims

THE LEVANT – Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a message to the Hajj pilgrims on Friday. The full text of the message is as follows: In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful And praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds and Allah’s Greetings to Mohammad …

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Syria troops threaten rebel supply route to Aleppo

THE LEVANT  – Syrian troops have seized a village just north of Aleppo that could allow them to cut off a supply line to rebel-held districts of the country’s second city, a monitoring group said Friday. Soldiers, backed by fighters from Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, took Handarat, four kilometres (2.5 …

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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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