Middle East


Two British Schoolgirls Who Ran Away To Syria 'Now Married To ISIS Men'

Photo Source: huffingtonpost.com

Two of the three British schoolgirls who ran away to Syria in February have reportedly married husbands selected by the Islamic State, further dimming chances that they will ever return home.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, were reportedly top students at Bethnal Green Academy in East London. They fled after secretly saving money to buy tickets to Istanbul, where they reportedly evaded Turkish intelligence services and crossed the border into Syria.


Pakistan calls for urgent measures as heatwave toll tops 450

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Pakistan's prime minister called for emergency measures as the death toll from a heatwave in southern Sindh province topped 450.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it had received orders from Nawaz Sharif to undertake immediate response measures.
The army has also been deployed to set up heat stroke centres and assist the NDMA, it added.
Many of the victims are elderly people from low income families.
Health officials say many deaths have been in the largest city, Karachi, which has experienced temperatures as high as 45C (113F) in recent days.
Hundreds of patients suffering from the effects of the heatwave are being treated at government hospitals, provincial health secretary Saeed Mangnejo said.
The demand for electricity for air conditioning has coincided with increased power needs over Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.


Taliban attack on Afghan parliament in Kabul ends

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

A co-ordinated Taliban attack on the Afghan parliament in Kabul has ended with all six gunmen killed, the interior ministry says.
Attackers detonated a huge car bomb outside the gates, stormed the compound, then entered a building next to the chamber.
Police evacuated the premises, while trying to fight the gunmen off.
The Taliban say they carried out the attack to coincide with a vote to endorse a new defence minister.
The spokesman for the interior ministry, Sediq Seddiqi, said the gunmen had attempted to storm the parliament building itself after the gates were breached by the suicide bomb.
They were fought off and entered a building under construction next to parliament. MPs were showered with broken glass, and the chamber filled with smoke as the fighting went on. It took nearly an hour before all the firing stopped.
At least 18 people are reported to have been wounded. Mr Seddiqi said no MP had been injured.


Yemen al-Qaeda chief al-Wuhayshi killed in US strike

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Al-Qaeda has confirmed that Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of its offshoot in the Arabian Peninsula, has been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.
His death was announced by the AQAP group in an online video. His successor was named as military chief Qasim al-Raymi.
Wuhayshi was seen as al-Qaeda's second-in-command and was a former personal assistant to Osama Bin Laden.
He built one of the most active al-Qaeda branches, say US officials.
In Yemen, resurgent al-Qaeda militants have seized territory and infrastructure - indirectly assisted by Saudi-led air strikes on the rebel Houthi movement, their Shia Muslim foes.
But the deaths of a number of leading figures in AQAP in recent months have reportedly fuelled rumours among supporters that it has been successfully targeted by intelligence agencies.


Eight out of 10 Malala suspects 'secretly acquitted'

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Eight of the 10 men reportedly jailed for the attempted assassination of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai were acquitted, it has emerged.
In April, officials in Pakistan said that 10 Taliban fighters had been found guilty and received 25-year jail terms.
But sources have now confirmed to the BBC that only two of the men who stood trial were convicted.
The secrecy surrounding the trial, which was held behind closed doors, raised suspicions over its validity.
The court judgement - seen for the first time on Friday more than a month after the trial - claims that the two men convicted were those who shot Ms Yousafzai in 2012.
It was previously thought that both the gunmen and the man who ordered the attack had fled to Afghanistan.


Paris 'love locks' removed from bridges

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Paris city officials have started to remove padlocks symbolically fastened to one of the French capital's main bridges by loved-up couples.
Tying a "love lock" on to the Pont des Arts before throwing the key into the River Seine beneath has become a tourist tradition in recent years.
But part of the bridge's railings collapsed under the weight last year.
Close to one million locks - weighing 45 tonnes - are due to be cut off over the next few days.
Workmen began removing grilles from the side of the Pont des Arts early on Monday morning.
The Pont de l'Archeveche, near the Notre Dame cathedral, is also having locks removed from its side.
Metal grilles on the side of the Pont des Arts, which dates from 1804, will be replaced by panels painted by street artists over the summer, before transparent panels are put in place later this year.


Middle East map carved up by caliphates, enclaves and fiefdoms

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Nearly a century after the Middle East's frontiers were established by British and French colonialists, the maps delineating the region's nation states are being overtaken by events.
Countries created to suit the imperial designs of London and Paris are being replaced by patches of territory carved out by jihadis, nationalists, rebels and warlords.
The border between Iraq and Syria is under the control of the so-called Islamic State; Syrian Kurds are experiencing the kind of autonomy their counterparts in Iraq have had for years; ethnic, tribal and religious leaders are running territories in Libya and Yemen.
As some of the nation states disintegrate, once powerful capital cities become ever more irrelevant. The rest of the world may have embassies in the Middle East but, increasingly, there are no effective ministries for them to interact with.


Tony Blair resigns as Middle East peace envoy

Photo Source: theguardian.com

Former British PM has written to UN chief to confirm resignation from job he took in 2007
Tony Blair is to step down next month as special representative of the Quartet of international powers seeking a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, after making little headway for nearly eight years and amid near-constant controversy about his role.
Officials in Jerusalem said the former British prime minister had written to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to confirm his resignation.


Iraq starts operation to drive Islamic State from Anbar

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Pro-government forces in Iraq have formally launched an operation to drive Islamic State out of Anbar province.
The announcement was made by a spokesman for the Popular Mobilisation (al-Hashid al-Shaabi), a force comprising dozens of Shia militias.
He said the operation would see government troops and militiamen move southwards from Salahuddin province and seek to cut off IS militants in Ramadi.
The provincial capital fell to IS this month after Iraq's army withdrew.
Since then government forces have been massing for a counter-attack in the western province, and they say they have regained some ground east of Ramadi in the past few days.
On Tuesday, fighting was reported south and west of Ramadi, as the Iraqi forces tried to cut off supply routes to the city.
The offensive has been welcomed by the Americans, with Vice-President Joe Biden pledging full US support, the BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says.


Islamic State 'seizes key Syria-Iraq border crossing'

Photo Source: bbc.co.uk

Islamic State militants have seized the last Syrian government-controlled border crossing between Syria and Iraq, a Syria monitoring group says.
Government forces withdrew from al-Tanf - known as al-Waleed in Iraq - crossing as IS advanced, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
The loss of al-Tanf to IS follows the group's takeover of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday.
The US says that fighting the militants will be a "difficult challenge".
Islamic State now controls "more than 95,000 sq km (36,679 sq miles)" of Syria, which is 50% of the country's entire territory, the UK-based SOHR said.
The militants dominate the provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqa and have a strong presence in Hasakeh, Aleppo, Homs and Hama.
However, correspondents say there are large areas under IS control in the east that are not very significant strategically.


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