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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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Thank you for bombing

THE LEVANT – By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross – Washington says its air war on the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria is part of a strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the organization. It may have another effect: swelling al Qaeda’s ranks and giving the jihadist group that Osama bin …

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Jordanian court frees radical cleric Abu Qatada

THE LEVANT – A Jordanian court acquitted radical cleric Abu Qatada of terrorism charges and immediately freed him on Wednesday, ending more than a decade of legal cases against the firebrand preacher. Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain last year, was found not guilty of conspiring to attack tourists …

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Clashes erupt at flashpoint Jerusalem holy site

THE LEVANT  – Clashes broke out at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday as Palestinians protested against Jews visiting the flashpoint holy site on the eve of Jewish New Year, police said. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP that Palestinian youths had thrown stones and petrol bombs at police, injuring …

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Yemen: Provide Whereabouts of ‘Disappeared’ Activist

THE LEVANT –  Yemeni authorities should urgently provide information on the whereabouts of a forcibly disappeared southern movement activist, Human Rights Watch said today, following a letter to the interior minister on September 17, 2014, which received no response. The authorities should provide Khaled al-Junaidi, 42, immediate access to his …

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