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Last update: Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02am

Middle East

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Iraq PM says sending ground troops to Syria would be ‘dangerous escalation’ BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned on Wednesday of a "dangerous escalation" if ground troops were deployed to Syria, comments aimed at Sunni Arab countries that have said they are prepared to enter the fray.The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday his country would be willing to commit special forces to the fight, as Syrian troops, backed by Russian air strikes, press a major offensive around the city of Aleppo.The Aleppo campaign has reversed opposition gains on the ground and encircled rebels, which Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states have backed against President Bashar al-Assad."Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for a political solution to the Syrian crisis and not to send ground troops because that would lead to a dangerous escalation," Abadi said during a visit to Rome, according to a statement on his website.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Sunday it was also willing ...

World - Middle East

Iraq PM calls for 'fundamental' change to cabinet BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called Tuesday for the inclusion of technocrats and academics in the government in a "fundamental" reshuffle to his cabinet."I call for fundamental change to the cabinet to include professional and technocratic figures and academics," Abadi said in a speech broadcast on state television.The premier called on parliament "and all the political blocs to cooperate with us in this serious phase."Iraqi ministries are divided up between the country's leading political ...

World - Middle East

Iraq's largest dam at 'higher risk' of failure: US BAGHDAD: Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, the country's largest, is at now at a "higher risk" of failure that could devastate areas to its south, according to a US assessment released by the Iraqi parliament.The dam was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in maintenance after the Islamic State jihadist group briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure."All information gathered in the last year indicates Mosul Dam ...

World - Middle East

Syria air strike hits MSF-supported hospital, 3 dead: statement PARIS: An air strike hit a hospital in southern Syria that was supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), killing three people and wounding six others, including a nurse, the medical charity said on Tuesday."The strike on Tafas field hospital, some 12 kilometres (seven miles) from the Jordanian border, took place on the night of February 5. It caused partial damage to the hospital building, and put its heavily-used ambulance service out of action," MSF said ...

World - Middle East

Israeli parliament takes first step to pass controversial NGO law JERUSALEM: The Israeli parliament voted early on Tuesday to pass a controversial bill in its first reading that would compel NGOs that receive most of their funding from foreign governments to declare it in official reports.The proposal -- denounced by critics as likely to encourage a \ witch-hunt against leftist groups that campaign for the defence of Palestinian rights -- passed with 50 votes in favour and 43 against following a tense debate.Copyright AFP (Agence ...

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Kerry hopes for talks in weeks on ending Yemen conflict WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday it may be possible to hold talks over the next few weeks on ending the conflict in Yemen."Over the course of the next week it may become possible to try to engage in some productive conversations about how to bring that conflict to a close," Kerry told reporters after talks at the State Department with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. He did not elaborate, saying ...

World - Middle East

Egypt flooded Gaza tunnels at Israel's request: minister JERUSALEM: An Israel minister said Egypt flooded tunnels on its border with the besieged Gaza Strip at the Jewish state's request, before a spokeswoman on Sunday said the remarks were misinterpreted.Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud party, said on Saturday that Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi "did flood a large part of the tunnels between Gaza and Sinai", calling it a "good solution".The Palestinian coastal enclave's southern border with Egypt's Sinai ...