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Just how much can Lebanon change under Aoun?

By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem* — Following the election of Gen. Michel Aoun as president of the Lebanese Republic on Oct. 31 and the appointment of Saad Hariri as prime minister on Nov. 3, the two men will face numerous challenges, starting with forming a national government. Hariri is seeking to …

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Elite Iraqi troops battle ISIS on Mosul streets

MOSUL, Iraq: Elite Iraqi troops battled ISIS in the streets of Mosul Friday as U.S.-backed forces in Syria pressed an advance on extremist bastion Raqqa after a sandstorm eased. The high winds in the desert which separates the Syrian Kurdish-Arab militia alliance from the extremists’ stronghold in the Euphrates Valley …

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US Iran deal foes sharpen their knives

THE LEVANT NEWS – Advocates of the nuclear deal with Iran are convinced the pact is in mortal danger following Republican Donald Trump’s upset victory in the presidential election. Deal skeptics on Capitol Hill have already prepared a raft of bills that have a far better chance of making it …

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Smoking ’causes hundreds of DNA changes’

By Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent for BBC —  Image copyrightPA   Smoking leaves an “archaeological record” of the hundreds of DNA mutations it causes, scientists have discovered. Having sequenced thousands of tumour genomes, they found a 20-a-day smoker would rack up an average of 150 mutations in every lung cell each year. …

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Assad aide meets with Lebanese president

BEIRUT: An aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad affirmed “deep” bilateral ties between Damascus and Beirut after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun Monday. The Syrian Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadellulah Azam told reporters after the meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace to congratulate him on …

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ISIS hits back in Mosul but faces new Raqqa front

By Ahmed Rasheed and Rodi Said | BAGHDAD/AIN ISSA, SYRIA – Reuters —ISIS fighters targeted Iraqi troops with car bombs and ambushes in Mosul, stalling an army advance in their north Iraq stronghold, but faced attack on a new front on Sunday when U.S.-backed rebels launched a campaign for the Syrian …

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Bank of Ireland’s closure of Palestine Solidarity accounts

The Levant News – Sir, – We are shocked and appalled by Bank of Ireland’s unilateral closure of the accounts of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), a volunteer-run group advocating for Palestinian human rights as enshrined in international law, and a legally constituted, fully audited, transparent organisation. Despite the …

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Hariri ends consultations to form new Lebanese government

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri ended consultations with parliamentary blocs Saturday following two days of talks over the formation of a new government ahead of his meeting with President Michel Aoun. “The atmosphere was positive. There was a lot of cooperation between me, Speaker Nabih Berri and his Excellency, …

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Iraqi troops on southern front battle for last town before Mosul

By Babak Dehghanpisheh for Reuters | NEAR HAMMAM AL-ALIL, IRAQ — Iraqi troops advancing towards Mosul battled on Saturday for the last town left between them and the Islamic State stronghold to the north, which is already under assault from special forces fighting inside the city’s eastern districts. Saturday’s attack on Hammam …

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Documents show ISIS obsessions

By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Georgy  for REUTERS| ZARQA/SHURA, IRAQ —After ISIS conquered villages in northern Iraq, it spelled out in minute detail the rules of its self-proclaimed caliphate, from beard length to alms to guidelines for taking women as sex slaves. Islamic State documents and posters, obtained in villages …

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Ashura rituals stir controversy among Shiites

THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem* — Each year, as they commemorate Ashura, the Shiites debate whether certain rituals are permissible. Some of those rituals are violent, such as Tatbir and hitting oneself with chains practices that harm one’s body and distort the revolution and objectives of Imam …

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Explaining Mosul in Five Maps

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN AND JACOB L. SHAPIRO for Mauldin Economics — The Islamic State captured Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from the Iraqi government after a seven-day battle in June 2014. The US-backed Iraqi assault to recapture Mosul began with great fanfare on Oct. 18. This piece will lay out the …

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Nasrallah congratulates Aoun on presidential post

The Levant News – Beirut – “Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, telephoned the new elected President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, and congratulated him on his election as head of state. He wished him long life and good luck in his new national responsibilities.” Source: NNA

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Michel Aoun wins Lebanon presidency thanks to Hezbollah

BEIRUT: Michel Aoun has been declared Lebanon’s 13th president after gaining a simple majority in the second round of voting in Monday’s highly-anticipated presidential election in Parliament, putting an end to the country’s 2-1/2 year vacuum. The Change and Reform bloc leader and founder of the Free Patriotic Movement initially …

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Lebanese Parliament elects Michel Aoun as president

Michel Aoun

By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam for REUTERS| BEIRUT — Twenty-six years after being forced from Lebanon’s presidential palace and into exile by the Syrian army, Michel Aoun is set to be elected head of state on Monday, backed by many of his old enemies. Barring a surprise, many of …

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman in West Bank

The Levant News — Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday shot dead a 19-year-old Palestinian woman who Israeli police claimed that she had advanced towards them with a knife in her hand at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. A police spokesman said the woman was shot after ignoring orders …

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I will not vote for Aoun: Speaker Nabih Berri

The Daily Star — BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday said he will not vote for Free Patriotic Movement founder Michel Aoun in the upcoming parliamentary session to elect a president, although he will congratulate him if he wins. “I confirm that I will take part in the session …

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Hitler house in Austria to be demolished after long row

The Levant News — The house in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born is set to be demolished to stop it becoming a focal point for neo-Nazis. The future of the former guesthouse has been widely debated, with opinion torn between razing it or changing its use. The argument was …

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What are the humanitarian needs in wake of Mosul offensive?

By Lin Taylor for Reuters – Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in the country. The United States predicted Islamic State would suffer”a lasting …

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Syria—what cost “victory?”

by Graham E. Fuller* — A deep contradiction lies at the heart of US policy towards the present horrifying conflict in Syria. Which is better? To now reluctantly accept continuation of Bashar al-Asad in power in Damascus for the foreseeable future, thereby hastening the end of the war and the …

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IS bombing kills 31 at Kurdish wedding in Syria

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Kurdish wedding in Syria’s northeastern city of Hasakah on Monday, killing at least 31 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Islamic has claimed responsibility for the attack targeting the wedding ceremony of a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces …

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