02132016Sat
Last update: Sat, 13 Feb 2016 05pm

Middle East

World - Middle East

Iraqi PM rejects idea of building security wall around Baghdad BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday dismissed plans announced by the military this week to build a concrete wall around Baghdad in a bid to prevent attacks by Islamic State militants."Baghdad is the capital of all Iraqis," he said in a statement. "There can be no wall or fence to isolate it or prevent other civilians from entering it."Baghdad Operations Command said on Wednesday that preparatory work for a security barrier was underway but provided few details.Islamic State, the ultra-hardline group that seized vast swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad in 2014, has claimed several attacks in recent months in the city. The last one, on Jan. 11, targeted a shopping mall and killed at least 18 people, according to police sources.Abadi's statement said Baghdad would be secured by reorganising checkpoints and closing gaps in the security perimeter while easing transit in and out of the ...

World - Middle East

Syrian President Assad's mother dies aged 86: state media BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's mother, Anisa Makhlouf, has died at the age of 86, Syrian state media said on Saturday.Makhlouf was married to the late president Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.They married in 1957 and had five children: Bushra, Basil, Bashar, Majed and Maher.Copyright Reuters, 2016 ...

World - Middle East

Thousands brave freeze at Turkey border as Syria warns Riyadh, Ankara BEIRUT: Thousands of Syrians braved the freezing cold at Turkey's border Saturday after fleeing a regime assault that threatens a new humanitarian disaster, as Damascus warned Riyadh and Ankara not to send in troops.The government said any uninvited foreign soldiers who enter Syria would go home "in a wooden coffin", following reports that Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which support rebel forces, could deploy troops.Tens of thousands of people have fled fierce fighting as government forces ...

World - Middle East

Iranian FM hopes Syria peace talks halt only temporary LONDON: Iran hopes the break in the Syria peace talks is only temporary, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday, as he warned outside actors should not seek to dictate the agenda.Speaking at a Syria donors' conference in London, Zarif insisted Tehran believed that intra-Syrian talks were the "only way out" of the bloody civil war tearing the country apart.Zarif's was the first visit to Britain by an Iranian foreign minister to Britain in 16 ...

World - Middle East

Zarif says any Syria ceasefire should exclude operations against Nusra, IS LONDON: Any ceasefire in Syria should not include stopping military operations to combat terrorist groups, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday."Ceasefire, based on everybody's interpretation, does not include giving a breathing space to recognised terrorist organisations," he told an event in British parliament. "Having a ceasefire is different from letting up the fight against terrorism."He named the Nusra Front and Islamic State as such organisations.Earlier Zarif had called for an immediate ceasefire ...

World - Middle East

Venezuela oil minister calls Qatar meeting 'productive' DOHA: Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino said on Thursday that his meeting with his Qatari counterpart was "good and productive". Del Pino was speaking to reporters in Doha after meeting with Qatari energy minister Mohammed al-Sada. He made no further comment. Qatar holds the presidency of OPEC, which rotates every year. Venezuela has been calling for an emergency meeting of producers to discuss steps to prop up prices, which are at their lowest since ...

World - Middle East

UN adjourns Syria talks, asks big powers for help GENEVA: UN-mediated talks to end the war in Syria are on pause until Feb. 25, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday, saying the talks had not failed but needed immediate help from international backers led by the United States and Russia."I have concluded frankly that after the first week of preparatory talks there is more work to be done, not only by us but by the stakeholders," he said."I have indicated from the ...