Middle East

Middle East
8:27 am
Thu October 2, 2014

U.N. Report Details Possible War Crimes By Islamic State Militants

Islamic State flags on the Mullah Abdullah bridge in southern Kirkuk earlier this week. A U.N. report says the extremist group has perpetrated possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 10:27 am

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET

A United Nations report out today lists what it describes as a "staggering array" of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq, including mass executions, the kidnapping of women and girls to use as sex slaves and the use of child soldiers.

It also points to shelling and airstrikes by Iraqi security forces that killed civilians and "may have violated the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law."

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Middle East
9:36 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Afghanistan Signs Deal Allowing 10,000 U.S. Troops To Remain

Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar (right) and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham exchange documents after signing the Bilateral Security Agreement, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (rear, left) and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in the background.
Jawad Jalali EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 1:29 pm

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET

Afghanistan has signed a pact with the U.S. to allow about 10,000 troops to remain in the country after the end of the year, when most American forces are to be withdrawn.

The country's newly inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, signed the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, which would leave in place the U.S. troops and a few others from NATO allies to bolster Afghan forces.

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Middle East
8:27 am
Fri September 26, 2014

U.K. Approves Joining Anti-ISIS Airstrikes In Iraq

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Houses of Parliament on Friday. He urged MPs to authorize the U.K.'s participation in anti-ISIS airstrikes.
PA EPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 3:23 pm

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET

The British Parliament has voted to approve the U.K.'s participation in U.S.-led airstrikes against the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq after Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that the extremists pose a "clear and proven" threat to British lives.

The 524-to-43 vote in Parliament came after a lengthy debate that followed the latest U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on targets of the hard-line Islamist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The strikes hit oil installations for a second consecutive day.

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Middle East
7:16 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Airstrikes Hit ISIS-Controlled Oil Refineries

An A-18C Hornet attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to conduct strike missions against Islamic State group targets.
Robert Burck AP

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 11:13 am

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET

The U.S. and some of its Arab coalition partners have conducted another round of airstrikes in Syria, hitting oil refineries that have fallen into the hands of Islamic State militants, who officials say are funding themselves with the petroleum revenues.

The Pentagon says 13 airstrikes hit a dozen "modular" oil refineries in eastern Syria. The refineries are thought to produce $2 million worth of refined petroleum each day for the self-declared Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

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Middle East
1:38 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Hollande: French Hostage 'Assassinated' By Algerian Extremists

This still image from video published on the Internet on Wednesday by a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, shows members of the group standing behind French mountaineer Herve Gourdel just before beheading him.
AP

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 3:28 pm

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

French President Francois Hollande announced the "assassination" of a hostage seized over the weekend in Algeria by a group said to be affiliated with the self-described Islamic State. The remarks by Hollande, speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, confirm the apparent beheading of French mountain guide Herve Gourdel that is shown in a video that surfaced earlier today.

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Middle East
7:52 am
Wed September 24, 2014

New Airstrikes Target The Islamic State's Oil And Gas Resources

Thousands of Syrians enter Turkey at Yumurtalik crossing gate near Suruc on Tuesday. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned of a growing refugee crisis.
Burhan Ozbilici AP

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Update at 6:50 p.m. ET

U.S. officials have confirmed that a new round of airstrikes in Syria is ongoing, NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman told All Things Considered.

"We know some of the targets are oil assets, oil wells being controlled by the Islamic State. There's not a lot of detail at this time ... but it's likely around the Raqqah area, which is sort of [the Islamic State's] de facto headquarters.

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Middle East
10:35 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Obama: Airstrikes in Syria "Not America's Fight Alone"

President Barack Obama speaks on Tuesday morning on the White House lawn.
whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama said the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria "makes it clear to the world this is not America's fight alone."

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Middle East
5:51 am
Tue September 23, 2014

U.S., Allies Hit Islamic State Targets In Syria, Pentagon Says

An Islamic State militant, left, stands next to Raqqah residents Sept. 16 as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in the northeast Syrian town.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:55 pm

The United States and its allies expanded their assault against the Islamic State on Monday, striking targets inside Syria for the first time, the Pentagon said.

In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. had used "a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles."

Kirby said that because these strikes are ongoing, he could not go into details about where in Syria the allies were attacking. But a Pentagon official tells NPR's Tom Bowman that the strikes occurred near Raqqah, an Islamic State stronghold.

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Massachusetts
2:49 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

3 Afghan Army Officers, Who Had Gone Missing, Detained At Canadian Border

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 2:53 pm

Update at 2:49 p.m. ET. Officers Found At Canadian Border:

After going missing over the weekend, three Afghan officers, who were being trained in the United States, were detained at the Canadian border, a Pentagon official tells NPR's Tom Bowman.

The news was first reported by WCVB-TV's Karen Anderson. She reported that the men told customs agents at the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge that they were refugees.

The men, Anderson reports, will be sent back to the United States.

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Middle East
7:14 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Kurds Say They Have Halted ISIS Advance Near Syria-Turkey Border

Syrian Kurds with their livestock wait behind a border fence near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province on Monday. Some 100,000 Kurds have fled from Syria into Turkey amid intense fighting between peshmerga forces and ISIS.
Murad Sezer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:17 am

Updated at 7:35 a.m. ET

Kurdish fighters claim to have halted an advance by self-described Islamic State militants in an area of the Turkish-Syria border region that has seen masses of refugees fleeing the fighting in recent days.

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Middle East
9:23 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Connecticut Senators Split on Vote to Arm Syrian Rebels

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and then Senator-elect Chris Murphy (File photo).
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal split their votes on legislation authorizing the U.S. military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting the so-called Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL.

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Middle East
6:38 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Senate Approves Measure To Arm And Train Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 7:11 pm

The Senate joined the House on Thursday in rare bipartisanship by approving a measure to train and equip members of the Syrian opposition.

The Senate passed the measure 78 to 22; the House passed its version with a 273-to-156 vote on Wednesday. The bill now heads to the White House for President Obama's signature.

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Middle East
8:20 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Connecticut House Members Mostly Reject Training of Syrian Rebels

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the McKeon amendment to arm and train Syrian rebels.
Ron Cogswell Creative Commons

Four of Connecticut’s five members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday against President’s Obama’s plan to help arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in their fight against the extremist group known as the Islamic State. The measure was approved by the House by a vote of 273 to 156.

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Armed Forces
2:15 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Obama Rules Out Another Ground War In Iraq

President Obama speaks at U.S. Central Command, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 2:13 pm

President Obama reiterated that he will not commit U.S. troops to fight another ground war in Iraq, adding that U.S. airstrikes, combined with expertise, would be more effective in defeating the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

"As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq," Obama said at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

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Islamic State
8:42 am
Tue September 16, 2014

U.S. Begins Airstrikes In Support Of Iraqi Ground Forces

Members of Iraqi security forces are seen during a fight with Islamic State militants Sunday on the outskirts of the city of Ramadi.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:01 pm

The United States has begun its first-ever airstrikes in direct support of Iraqi ground forces, in the opening move of what could be a protracted fight against so-called Islamic State militants in the region.

NPR's Tom Bowman, on Morning Edition, says the airstrikes, south of Baghdad, targeted an Islamic State position after Iraqi soldiers fighting them requested the assistance.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:08 am
Mon September 15, 2014

The Scramble on the Middle East, Child Abuse Laws, and The Roosevelts on PBS

Credit Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article full of President Obama's behind-the scenes reflections and conversations about ISIS and the Middle East. From that article: "He was acutely aware that the operation he was about to embark on would not solve the larger issues in that region by the time he left office. 'This will be a problem for the next president,' Mister Obama said ruefully, 'and probably the one after that.'"

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

The Middle East Conflict's Roots in Geography

The map of the modern Middle East.
Cathy Stanley-Erickson Creative Commons

Last week, President Barack Obama made his case for increased U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria. His plan to continue air strikes, and increase the arming of those opposed to the so-called Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL, has been met with some resistance from a war-weary public and Congress. But national security expert Scott Bates thinks that working with Iraqi Kurdish forces could be the key to defeating this extremist organization.

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World
6:57 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Leaders Meet In Paris To Forge Fight Against Islamic State Militants

French President Francois Hollande (right) and Iraqi President Fuad Masum attend the Conference for Peace and Security in Iraq at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris on Monday. The two leaders were among those urging quick action against Islamic State militants.
David Silpa UPI/Landov

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 12:44 pm

World leaders and diplomats from more than 20 countries have gathered in Paris to discuss strategies for defeating the Islamic State insurgency, with France's president urging that there's "no time to lose" and Iraq's new president insisting that extremists must be pursued to their sanctuaries in neighboring Syria.

"The Iraqis' fight against terrorists is also ours," French President Francois Hollande said. "There is no time to lose."

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Islamic State
8:57 am
Sun September 14, 2014

ISIS 'Are Not Muslims, They Are Monsters,' Cameron Says

A frame grab from a video released by the Islamic State shows an IS militant holding a knife before purportedly executing British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines.
Islamic State Video EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Sun September 14, 2014 8:01 pm

Vowing justice for murdered aid worker David Haines, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron says his killing by extremist group the Islamic State is "an act of pure evil." A video purporting to show Haines' beheading was released Saturday.

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Politics
9:34 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Obama's Hawkish Plan For Islamic State Puts Doves In A Quandary

President Obama's plan to degrade and destroy the Islamic state poses a challenge for members of his own party, who have traditionally provided the anti-war voices in Congress.
Saul Loeb AP

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 3:47 pm

President Obama arguably won the Democratic primary in 2008 because of his strong opposition to the Iraq war. Now he's arguing he doesn't need congressional approval to ramp up a bombing campaign in Iraq and expand air strikes into Syria.

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National Security
5:04 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Susan Rice: Islamic State Fight Will Not Be 'Iraq War Redux'

National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 1:06 pm

In an interview with NPR, President Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice says the United States will not be drawn into a ground war in Iraq and Syria, even if local forces are ineffective at holding gains made against the group calling itself the Islamic State.

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Congress
1:01 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Boehner: House GOP 'Ready To Work With The President'

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Boehner says Congress stands ready to work with the president on the threat from Islamic State militants.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 3:31 pm

House Speaker John Boehner, commenting on President Obama's strategy to defeat Islamic State militants, says Congress has received a request for authorization to train Syrian rebels and "we ought to give the president what he's asking for."

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Middle East
9:17 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Transcript: President Obama On How U.S. Will Address Islamic State

President Obama delivers a prime-time address from the White House on Wednesday about his plan for fighting the Islamic State.
Saul Loeb Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 10:32 pm

The prepared text of President Obama's speech, as released by the White House:

My fellow Americans — tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

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White House
9:15 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Obama Says U.S. Will 'Take Out' Islamic State 'Wherever They Exist'

In this image made through a window of the Oval Office, President Obama speaks on the phone to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Wednesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 10:51 pm

In a prime-time speech on Wednesday, President Obama said the United States plans to "take out" the Islamic State "wherever they exist."

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Islamic State
10:48 am
Wed September 10, 2014

How Far Will President Obama Go?

President Obama has been wary of open-ended military commitments in the Middle East. But the president, shown speaking in Estonia on Sept. 3, now appears likely to expand the current bombing campaign against the Islamic State.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 1:43 pm

President Obama previewed his plan for dealing with the Islamic State by comparing it to counterterrorism operations in recent years and said it would not be an invasion akin to the ground war in Iraq.

As he prepares to lay out the details in a speech to the nation Wednesday night, several key factors are likely to determine the success or failure of any military mission.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Obama Wants Congress' Support On ISIS, But He May Not Need It

President Obama will address the nation Wednesday to present his strategy against the Islamic State.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 2:57 pm

The top four congressional leaders will be at the White House today to talk to President Obama about U.S. military action against the group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. This comes just one day before Obama will address the nation and lay out his strategy for dealing with the extremist group.

The president says he wants congressional buy in, but "buy in" can mean a lot of things.

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Islamic State
9:08 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Arab League Chief Urges 'Confrontation' With Islamic State Militants

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby (foreground) speaks to the head of the Syrian Coalition (second from right) during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday. Elaraby is urging the league's members to confront Islamic State extremists.
Amr Nabil AP

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 2:45 pm

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby is calling on the organization's members for a "comprehensive confrontation" of Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria in apparent support of U.S. plans to build a coalition to stop the militants.

Elaraby said a "clear and firm decision for a comprehensive confrontation" was needed to confront the "cancerous and terrorist" groups in the region.

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NATO
12:34 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Obama: Our Goal Is To 'Dismantle' The Islamic State

President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the NATO summit at Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales, on Friday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 12:43 pm

During a press conference to mark the end of a two-day meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Wales, President Obama said he found "conviction" among U.S. friends and allies that the international community must "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State.

Obama said the militant Sunni group cannot be contained because it is already causing so much damage.

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World Relations
8:33 am
Fri September 5, 2014

U.S. Announces Coalition To Fight Against The Islamic State

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 11:28 am

The United States says it has formed a coalition of 10 countries to help in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq.

The group consists of the United States plus Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark.

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White House
9:28 am
Wed September 3, 2014

'Justice Will Be Served,' Obama Warns The Islamic State

President Obama speaks during a press conference with Estonia's president at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 12:42 pm

Speaking in Estonia today, President Obama issued a warning to the extremist group that took responsibility for beheading two American journalists: "We will not be intimidated," Obama said, according to Time. "Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long, and that justice will be served."

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