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Dutch gang join fight against Islamic State in Iraq

THE LEVANT – The Dutch public prosecutor said on Tuesday that motorbike gang members who have reportedly joined Kurds battling the Islamic State group in Iraq are not necessarily committing any crime. “Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now it’s no longer forbidden,” public prosecutor spokesman Wim de …

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The Houthis seize control of Hodeidah

THE LEVANT – Yemeni rebels have captured the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, home to the country’s second most important port, just weeks after seizing the capital, a security official said Tuesday. The Houthi Shiite rebels met little resistance as they swept into Hodeidah, located 226 kilometres (140 miles) west …

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UAE introduces smart drone to monitor work sites

THE LEVANT – Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash recently launched a special, remote-controlled smart drone to support the inspection squad at the ministry during their field campaigns, especially for recording violations at construction sites during the midday break period. Using the smart drone in inspection campaigns is part of …

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UAE Hajj pilgrims were cheated by scammers

THE LEVANT – Haj pilgrims paid company Dh2.5m and unknowingly entered Saudi Arabia with fake permits. Around 100 UAE Haj pilgrims were scammed by an unauthorised company that used fake Haj permits to let the pilgrims enter Saudi Arabia, the Executive Director of Islamic Affairs at the General Authority of …

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Egypt to host donor conference for war-hit Gaza

THE LEVANT – Envoys from dozens of countries will gather Sunday for a conference that aims to raise billions of dollars to rebuild conflict-battered Gaza, despite fears of renewed violence and “donor fatigue”. The United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency has described the financial needs as “unprecedented” ahead of the Cairo …

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We must negotiate with IS, says father of slain US reporter

THE LEVANT – The father of James Foley, the US reporter beheaded at the hands of Islamic State militants in August, said Friday he believed governments would have to negotiate with the extremists “eventually”. The father of James Foley, the US reporter beheaded at the hands of Islamic State militants …

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What Makes Islamic State So Formidable?

THE LEVANT  – By Charles Recknagel –  From the use of suicide car bombs against enemy front lines to slaughtering prisoners of war to frighten opponents, Islamic State militants have proven brutally effective on the battlefield. Here are five things that make the group a formidable force. Suicide Bombers Many …

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Crusaders and Zionists

THE LEVANT – By Uri Avnery – Lately, the words “Crusaders” and “Zionists” have been appearing more and more often as twins. In a documentary about the ISIS I just saw, they appeared together in almost every sentence uttered by the Islamist fighters, including teenagers. Some sixty years ago I …

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Priest is freed from Al Nusra Front

THE LEVANT – A priest kidnapped by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in northwestern Syria was released on Thursday, the Franciscan Order said, days after his abduction alongside 20 other Christians. “Father Hanna Jallouf has been released this morning… he is under house arrest at the convent of Qunyeh,” the order said in …

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Nabeel Rajab is back behind bars – Bahrain

THE LEVANT – Leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab is to remain in custody and go on trial from October 19 on charges of posting tweets deemed insulting to authorities, prosecutors said Thursday. A general prosecutor, Hussein al-Buali, said Rajab was charged with “publicly insulting government institutions,” after the defence and …

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Libya PM says Egypt will help train army

THE LEVANT – Libya’s embattled prime minister, Abdullah al-Thani, said on Wednesday Egypt would help to train his army and called on compatriots to fight Islamist led-militias that have overrun the capital. Thani and the majority of an internationally recognised parliament elected in June are in virtual domestic exile in …

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Ancient prophecies of apocalypse rally IS jihadists

THE LEVANT – An infidel horde flying 80 banners meets a Muslim army at the Syrian town of Dabiq in an apocalyptic battle. The Muslims are decimated but ultimately prevail, ushering in the end of days. This ancient Sunni Muslim prophecy — mentioned in canonical accounts of the Prophet Mohammed’s …

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When America’s moderates act radical

THE LEVANT – Yesterday, an Antiochian Orthodox priest was kidnapped by Jabhat Al-Nusra from his monastery outside of the west Idlib city of Jisr Al-Shughour. Sources in the area confirmed the kidnapping of Father Hanna Moussa of Qanaya from the St. Joseph Monastery by members of the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist …

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ISIS in Kobani – Islamic state or empire?

THE LEVANT – By Patrick Cockburn – Isis is close to capturing the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, just a short distance from the Turkish border, after a three-week siege in which US air strikes turned out to be ineffective in preventing Isis winning an important victory. With Isis fighters …

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Turkey And The Kobane Question

The Levant Exclusive – by Samantha North* Istanbul’s protestors are out in force once more. Last night, the streets erupted, with cars blazing, windows smashed, and volleys of the usual tear gas unleashed by Turkish police. But this was not just another anti-government protest. This time, much more is at …

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Heavy toll in Iraq’s “forgotten” Anbar

THE LEVANT – Nine months of shelling, airstrikes and street battles have taken a heavy toll on Iraq’s “forgotten” province of Anbar, the first to be overrun by militants from the group now calling itself the Islamic State (IS). The cities of Ramadi and Fallujah have been reduced to bombed-out wrecks: hospitals, homes, …

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“My Syrian brother, you are welcome in Lebanon”: Activists meet discrimination against refugees with solidarity

THE LEVANT – Insults, attacks and curfews have become commonplace experiences for some Syrian war refugees in Lebanon, with rights watchdogs saying the community faces growing discrimination. In many parts of the country, it is no longer unusual to see posters prohibiting “foreigners” – understood to mean Syrians – from …

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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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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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