Iraq retakes: Central Ramadi from Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ15122aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqi government forces retook central parts of the key city of Ramadi on Monday from Islamic State militants, the military said.

The announcement by Iraq's military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, was broadcast live on state TV. He said Ramadi had been "grabbed from the hateful claws" of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

Read more at USA Today

Iraqis celebrate: Victory in Ramadi over Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRA140912AA001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqis on Tuesday celebrated the biggest victory against the Islamic State since the extremist group seized chunks of their country last year: The recapture of Ramadi's city center.

Some people created traffic jams driving back into the heavily bombed-out city. Others flooded the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere in the country, carrying Iraqi flags and portraits of Iraqi military leaders and shooting off fireworks. The jubilation reflected a yearning to beat back the extremists that had been pent up for months.

Read more at USA Today

Iraqi military: Claims key victory in Ramadi, says ISIL is in retreat

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150318aa001.jpegBAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces on Sunday claimed control of a key government facility in central Ramadi, wresting more territory in the disputed city from Islamic State fighters after several days of fierce fighting.

In Syria, U.S.-backed fighters took control of a key dam, severing a supply line between Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital, and militant fighters on the Turkish border.

Read more at USA Today

Pakistanis outraged: Over unending terrorist rampages


LAHORE, Pakistan — Altaf Hussain will never forget his 6-year-old daughter's first day of school on Dec. 16, 2014. Seven Taliban gunman attacked the Peshawar Army Public School in Pakistan's unruly north, and killed the girl and 131 classmates. "Who knew that my daughter Khaula's first day at school will be her last day?" he lamented.

A year later, grief lingers over the loss of at least 141 people along with outrage over the Pakistani government's failure to curb terrorist rampages that continue to plague the region. The country closed schools nationwide Wednesday as part of a national day of mourning as well as a safeguard against possible attacks to mark the anniversary.

Read more at USA Today 

Online event: About evolution for Arabic readers is shut down

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU121126AA001.jpegHackers appear to have shut down an online event organized by Arab scientific organizations and designed to explain the concept of evolution to Arabic readers.

At least one opponent of the event is celebrating its demise with a sarcastic cartoon showing an event organizer consulting a psychiatrist. Evolution, particularly the idea that humans have evolved from animals, is a sensitive topic in Islam, and the concept is banned from many textbooks in the Arab region or else treated as an unproven theory.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Tashfeen Malik: Exposed to radical Islam at home, school in Pakistan, focus of investigation


LAHORE, Pakistan — When Pakistani-born Tashfeen Malik, 29, swore allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook in the final moments of her life last week and went on a deadly shooting rampage with her husband in San Bernardino, California, it was the culmination of years of exposure to radical Islam.

Malik's father, Haji Gulzar Ahmed Malik, had become explicitly more religious after moving to Saudi Arabia to pursue his engineering career 25 years ago, said Javed Rabbani, brother of Haji Gulzar Ahmed Malik and Malik's paternal uncle.

Read more at The Washington Times 

Iraqis liberated: From the Islamic State return to a destroyed Sinjar


SINJAR, Iraq — Farmer Ato Choki feels bittersweet emotions following the liberation of his northern Iraq community this month from more than a year of brutal Islamic State rule. "I was very happy to see the city free, but it's all destroyed," he lamented.

The militants, who were ousted by Kurdish fighters on Nov. 13, left their mark everywhere in Sinjar — from graffiti-sprayed walls to tunnels dug through the floors of homes that lead to bunkers built to withstand airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. One resident returned to his home to find Islamic State uniforms and a Quran in his child's bedroom.

Read more at USA Today 

Voices: Viral 'miracles' a terror tool in Mali


BAMAKO, Mali – When I woke up Friday morning, the first thing I heard was news of the terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in my city.

I couldn't help it – my first thought was how lucky I was. I could have been among those who were trapped in that hotel. I was there the day before, about 10 hours before the assault began. And scarier still, the terrorists, who had registered as guests several days before, were already there.

Read more at USA Today

Up to: 27 dead in Mali hotel siege; one American slain


BAMAKO, Mali — Malian security forces, aided by U.S. and French special forces, ended a 7-hour siege Friday at a Radisson Blu hotel Friday that left up to 27 hostages and two extremists dead, according to a U.N. official.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed that an American citizen is among those who were killed. The Washington Post identified the woman as Anita Datar, a 41-year-old international development worker from Takoma Park, Md.

Read more at USA Today 

Syrian refugees: Overwhelm Lebanon to the breaking point

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_LB151125aa002.jpegBEIRUT — Gharam Al Shuqi is one of three Syrian widows with 11 children squeezed into a windowless space that used to be a shop on a dusty road in Ghazze, a Lebanese city halfway between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.

Syrian refugees fleeing to Lebanon from the civil war next door — like Al Shuqi with her widowed sister and sister-in-law — now outnumber the local population around Ghazze by four to one. 

Read more at USA Today

Voices: Amid Paris headlines, don't forget Beirut


LONDON – As I compulsively checked my newsfeeds in the aftermath of the devastating attacks in Paris last Friday night, a new feature popped up on Facebook. My friends in the city, it told me, had checked in safe. I was relieved. Then I thought how useful the tool would have been just the day before, when a bomb, also the work of the Islamic State, had hit my former home of Beirut.

The suicide bomb had killed 43 people in a busy shopping district, the worst attack in Lebanon's capital since the end of its civil war in 1990. But Facebook hadn't deployed the Safety Check for Beirut. Nor had it offered users an easy way to show their solidarity with the country as it had with France, by giving the option of adding the national flag to profile pictures. And while the tragedy in Paris dominated the worldwide news agenda for days, Beirut had made only a few headlines.

Read more at USA Today 

'Massive' French: Airstrikes hit Islamic State to retaliate for attacks


France's military launched "massive" retaliatory airstrikes against Islamic State sites in Syria on Sunday night, saying French aircraft struck a command center and training camp at Raqqa.

The French Air Force posted videos on its Facebook page of the planes embarking on the raid of the extremist group's de facto capital. The strikes come two days after the worst attacks in Paris since World War II. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks at six sites that killed 132 people and wounded hundreds more.

Read more at USA Today 

Palestinian political: Divisions Play Out at Birzeit University

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAL151125aa001.jpegPalestine — The conflict between the two major Palestinian political groups—Fatah and Hamas—has turned students against each other at Birzeit University.

Whereas Hamas militants hold sway in the Gaza Strip, more moderate Fatah officials who control the Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank. The two sides have long been at loggerheads over who should lead Palestine and what stance they should adopt toward Israel.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media 

Nigerians disenchanted: As new president ‘too slow’ to deliver on lofty campaign promises

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NIG150410aa001.jpegABUJA, Nigeria — President Muhammadu Buhari rode to victory in May on a promise to revive the country’s moribund economy, vanquish Boko Haram terrorists who controlled much of the northeastern part of the country and tackle the pervasive corruption that has stifled development in Africa’s most populous nation.

Five months later there is growing disenchantment that the president has not delivered on his lofty promises, while taking an unprecedented amount of time just getting his government staffed.

Read more at The Washington Times

Forgotten war: Forgotten country, forgotten universities

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_LYB130412MG002.jpegThis month, hundreds of thousands of students in Libya are heading back to universities, keen to start a delayed academic year. But the semester could be stopped at any moment due to endless fighting and an absence of security.

“I want to go back to my faculty, but I am not sure I can really go back,” said Suad Al Mabrouk, a third-year student in medical school in Sabha University.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Sympathy for: ISIL runs high in Jordan's restive Maan


Maan, Jordan - When Ali ran away from home in the middle of the night two years ago to fight in the Syrian civil war, his father, Abdallah Salah, understood his son's decision.

Although his 18-year-old son died only 45 days later, Salah accepted his son's fate.

Read more at Al Jazeera 

Islamic financing: Is growing across the globe, trumping Western banking

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Currency.jpegABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — It works like this: No interest on investments, but the borrower and the lender share the risk and split the returns. This growing form of banking, known as Islamic finance, is now making significant headway into Africa, one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

In fact, proponents of Islamic banking are touting this alternative to classic Western financial practices as a better way to help Africa improve roads, develop state-of-the-art health care systems and create a massive middle class to address some of the issues hindering growth.

Read more at The Washington Times

Taliban backs: Relief efforts after deadly Pakistan quake

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK151031aa001.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan — The Taliban on Tuesday urged its fighters to aid earthquake victims and said it would not block governmental relief efforts in the battered region of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The communique was issued as workers scrambled to deliver emergency supplies to the isolated, mountainous area that was rocked by a magnitude-7.5 quake Monday. The death toll rose to more than 370 on Tuesday, but authorities warned it could continue to climb as rescuers reach remote villages where communication lines were cut off by the quake.

Read more at USA Today

Quake rocks: Afghanistan, Pakistan, at least 311 dead

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK151031aa003.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan — At least 311 people were killed when a magnitude-7.5 earthquake centered in Afghanistan rocked neighboring Pakistan and rattled buildings as far away as India.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was in the far northern Afghan province of Badakhshan, which borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.

Read more at USA Today

Education is: The only weapon left

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130828AA002.jpegA month into my senior year, I’m nervous about entering the “real world” after college ends. Yet, at the same time, the real world keeps intruding into college.

I started my semester off on the right foot at Al-Quds Bard College, with progress on my senior project, a film about how Palestinians view the local media in the years since the rift between Fatah and Hamas opened in 2007. I’m also taking three great courses: documentary film theory and practice, installation art, and critical literary theory. It’s a lot of difficult, heady stuff. But the intellectual energy I receive from the courses is worth it.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Without jobs: Dignity eludes many Tunisian youth

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa002.jpegTUNIS, Tunisian — “Labor, Freedom, National Dignity” was the slogan of the Tunisian revolution.

Today, however, it’s clear to many Tunisian officials that the country’s universities aren’t helping fulfill the first of those goals, undercutting progress in achieving the other two.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Iraq’s Kurds: Key U.S. ally in Islamic State fight, embroiled in violent political crisis

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFG15225AA001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Iraq’s Kurds, who have emerged as the most effective U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, have been plunged into a violent political crisis that threatens to split their government, adding a level of instability and division to the troubled region.

The crisis exploded after Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani refused to step down when his term ended Aug. 19.

Read more at The Washington Times

Moroccan government: Cracks down on journalists and activists

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_DEU130418AA001.jpegRABAT, Morocco — As he sits in a jail cell with seven other inmates, Hicham Mansouri, an investigative journalist, worries about his colleagues on the outside. For now, at least, they remain free.

“They got to me as a warning to the others,” said Mr. Mansouri, referring to other members of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism. “Moroccans should start getting concerned about what is happening in their country. The media is more repressed.”

Read more at The New York Times

Researchers say: Nefertiti may be in Tut's tomb

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130924aa001.jpegCAIRO — Archaeologists in Egypt said Thursday they could be on the brink of answering one of the oldest questions about one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

The discovery of two secret chambers in King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor caused researchers to speculate it could contain the long-sought resting place of Queen Nefertiti.

Read more at USA Today

Put the: Refugee crisis on pause, Syria's orchestra in exile just performed in Germany

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130312AA001.jpegBERLIN, Germany — Two years ago, after he fled the Syrian civil war and settled in Germany as a refugee, bassoonist Ahmed Qafour figured he would never play alongside his countrymen again.

Qafour dropped out of the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus in 2012 because of the war. He arrived Germany in 2013 on the invitation of other Syrian musicians playing in the Young Euro Classic festival.

Read more at Global Post

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