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-09-12 18:06Iraq MPs vote against Kurdish independence referendumThe concept of an independent state is seen as a dream come true for a broad spectrum of Iraqi Kurds, but some in the community fear the referendum could undermine plans to pursue the battle against IS.After driving IS from second city Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraqi forces are readying to retake Hawija, one of the jihadists' last urban bastions in the country.The town lies on a major fault line of Arab-Kurdish tensions because it is located in oil-rich Kirkuk -- a province contested by the Baghdad government and the autonomous Kurdish region and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen.Authorities in Kirkuk have, against the advice of the central government in Baghdad, decided they will take part in the referendum, in what could further stoke tensions.In June, the United States voiced its support for the "aspirations" of the Kurdish people but said holding a referendum now was not the priority, citing instead the fight against IS and rebuilding the country.Iran and Turkey, which have dismissed the referendum as "wrong" and a "mistake", offered to mediate between Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan, and Baghdad.Political scientist Abdelhakim Khasro said there are no constitutional or legal "obstacles" to stop the Kurds from holding a referendum."The only obstacle serves the interest of regional countries and aims at weakening Kurdistan," he said.
-09-12 09:48Saudi-led strikes against children constitute war crimes, says Human Rights Watch"The attacks, which struck four family homes and a grocery, in one case killing 14 members of the same family, caused indiscriminate loss of civilian life in violation of the laws of war. Such attacks carried out deliberately or recklessly are war crimes," the New York-based HRW said.Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Iran-backed Huthi rebels forced him into exile.
-09-12 02:05Hopes fade as Gulf crisis hits 100-day landmark"If the present trajectory is anything to go by, I expect this crisis to last well into the next year," Christopher Davidson, a Middle East expert at Britain's Durham University, told AFP.Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremists and being too close to Iran.
-09-11 12:59Peres memoir to be released as Israel marks one year since deathIsrael begins marking one year since the death of former president Shimon Peres this week with memorial events, while the respected statesman's memoir is also being released.Peres's death last year led to an outpouring of grief and tributes from leaders worldwide, many of whom also attended the Nobel peace prize winner's funeral in Jerusalem.
-09-11 03:09Assad may win war but will preside over a ruined Syria"Assad remains in charge of most of the population and most of the important territory, and I expect him to continue to rule most of Syria," said Aron Lund, a Syria expert with the Century Foundation think-tank."The war goes on, but in the larger strategic sense he has defeated those who sought to depose him," Lund told AFP.
-09-10 13:45The battle for Mosul from behind the camera"In all my life as a reporter, I've never had suicide bombers right in front of me," said Patrick Chauvel, one of four finalists for the top prize at the Visa pour l'Image festival in the southern French city of Perpignan.Chauvel, who has covered numerous conflicts since Vietnam, told AFP Iraqi soldiers and civilians were faced with "an army of suicide bombers" from Islamic State (IS).
-09-10 06:15The siege broken, Deir Ezzor Syrians prepare for pizzaHe brought down the shutters on his restaurant nearly three years ago, when Islamic State group militants cut off regime-held parts of the eastern city.Russian-backed Syrian forces broke through on Tuesday, and food supplies have now begun entering a western enclave of the city via the newly opened road.
-09-07 17:13Parched Jordan starts growing vegetables in desertKing Abdullah II and Norway's Crown Prince Haakon attended a ceremony to mark the official opening of the "Sahara Forest Project" near the southern port city of Aqaba.In a first stage, the project aims to produce up to 130 tonnes of organic vegetables per year from an area the size of four football pitches.
-09-07 15:59MSF accuses EU of fuelling migrant abuses in LibyaJoanne Liu, president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), published an open letter describing "the horrific situation" for refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres she visited last week.Libya's detention of migrants "must be named for what it is: a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion," Liu wrote in the letter addressing European governments.
-09-05 09:46Palestinian family evicted from Jerusalem home of 50 yearsIsraeli police on Tuesday evicted a Palestinian family from the east Jerusalem home in which they lived for over half a century, making way for Israelis deemed the legal occupants.Plans for the eviction had been criticised by the European Union, United Nations and various Western governments, though not the United States.