BREAKING NEWS

Yemen bomb attacks kill Muslim Brotherhood politicians
 
Reformist takes over as Tehran mayor
 
Iraqi Kurdish leader to visit Egypt
 

ON THE GROUND


Iraqi Shiite leader calls for reining in Iran-backed militias

The leader of Iraq’s Shiite Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, warned today against the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units remaining outside state control. Sadr said that he is considering forming an alliance with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Ammar al-Hakim, another Iraqi cleric and politician. Sadr added, "We are going to form a nonsectarian alliance consisting of independent technocrats to take Iraq to safety while providing services to citizens." 

 

Abbas restricts social media in West Bank

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a decree restricting social media access in the West Bank, the main avenue of dissent. Rights activists have condemned the decree, arguing that it restricts freedom of expression. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said the PA has blocked some 30 websites over the past month. So far, Palestinian authorities have used the new law to arrest five journalists working for Hamas-run news outlets and question four journalists for social media posts critical of the PA.

 

Syrian army seizes key area along Jordan border

The Syrian army and its allies took control of about 500 square miles along the country’s southern border with Jordan on Thursday, according to Syrian state television. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad seized all checkpoints and border observation posts in Syria’s border province of Suwayda from rebel groups. "[Syrian troops] are now on the Jordanian border and back to outposts they had evacuated early in the conflict,” said a spokesman for the Western-backed Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo Brigade.

 

Egyptian police kill three suspects in attacks on Copts

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Thursday that authorities have killed three suspects in the spate of recent terrorist attacks against Coptic Christians. The militants were killed during a shootout in the country’s southern province of Qena. Information from a previously detained jihadi led the police to the alleged attackers’ hideout. After security forces arrived at the scene, the Interior Ministry said the jihadis opened fire, killing one police officer.

 

Kuwait cracks down on North Korea workers 

Kuwait took new measures against North Korea on Thursday following a new round of UN Security Council sanctions on Saturday targeting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. The measures include suspending direct flights to and from Pyongyang, stopping entrance visas for North Korean workers and ceasing the issuance of commercial licenses. Kuwait has also halted all financial transactions and loans to North Korea, banned all imports from the country and dismissed several diplomats. Kuwait has come under fire for hosting thousands of North Korean laborers, which the US State Department says are forced laborers at construction companies tied to the military regime whose wages help Pyongyang evade international sanctions.

 

Israel identifies Gaza residential buildings as military targets

Israel identified two residential buildings in the Gaza Strip as military targets on Thursday, claiming they contain entries to Hamas-run tunnels. The Israeli army released satellite images of the buildings but did not say how they had ascertained the existence of the tunnels. The Israel Defense Forces destroyed more than 30 tunnels during the 2014 Gaza war and is currently building an underground wall to block Hamas fighters from entering Israel. Israeli authorities expect to complete the barrier within two years.

 

Iran bans two soccer players for playing against Israelis

Iran on Thursday banned two soccer stars from its national team for life after they competed against an Israeli team. National team captain Masoud Shojaei and star midfielder Ehsan Hajisafi, who play for the Greek team Panionios in the Europa League, played against Tel Aviv's Maccabi last week. Iran, which bans athletes from competing against their Israeli counterparts, said the two players should have risked the termination of their contracts with Panionios rather than participate in the match.

 

Israel welcomes Iranian journalist expelled from Turkey

Iranian-born journalist Neda Amin arrived in Israel on Thursday after receiving a special tourist visa from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri. Amin fled Iran in 2014 after authorities banned her book “Zenjir” (“The Chain”). Since then, she has lived in Turkey as a political refugee. However, Amin angered Turkish authorities by working for the Times of Israel’s Farsi-language website, prompting Turkey to expel her last month.

 

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