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.
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.
Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 3:29 pm
An initial investigation by Dutch experts appears to support the long-held theory of what happened to MH17 over eastern Ukraine: The Malaysian airliner was brought down by multiple "high-energy objects from outside the aircraft."
Although the preliminary technical report by the Dutch Safety Board did not directly say the objects were surface-to-air missiles, it left little room to conclude otherwise.
Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 3:14 pm
A report presented by the United Nations today paints a pretty grim picture of Syria.
It tells the story of a country mired in a ruthless civil war in which all sides are indiscriminately killing and torturing civilians. It presents a laundry list of human rights violations and war crimes undertaken by both the forces of President Bashar Assad and non-state armed groups, such as the Islamic State, that are fighting to topple the regime.
Originally published on Sat August 23, 2014 3:15 pm
Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET
The United Nations is calling for action to prevent what it's describing as a possible massacre in Iraq's northeastern city of Amerli, which has been under siege for two months by Islamic State militants.
The city's population is largely Turkmen Shia, seen as apostates by the hard-line Sunni Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 6:11 pm
Iraq's president has asked the parliament's deputy speaker to form a new government, after members of the Shiite coalition that had backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki nominated the deputy, Haider al-Abadi, to the post Monday.
Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 9:03 pm
(This post was last updated at 8:44 p.m. ET.)
The U.S. military conducted several strikes against Sunni extremist militants near Irbil in Iraq Friday, in what the White House calls a limited engagement.
"Military officials say unmanned aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position," NPR's Tamara Keith reports, "and then when the fighters returned, they were attacked as well. Later, four FA-18 aircraft struck an ISIS convoy and another mortar position using eight laser-guided bombs."
Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 9:54 am
Just as the latest cease-fire expired, rockets flew into Israel from Gaza and Israel responded by ordering airstrikes in Gaza.
And just like that, a three-day negotiated peace came to an end. But NPR's Jackie Northam, who is reporting from Jerusalem, tells us it's still unclear if this renewed fighting is a sign of something broader.
Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 8:02 am
After nearly a month of fighting, a negotiated, three-day peace has taken hold in Gaza.
As NPR's Emily Harris reports, Israel has also ordered all of its troops out of Gaza. But this may not mean the end of the current conflict, because the Israel Defense Forces said its troops would maintain a defensive position and respond to any attacks.
Case in point: By morning just before the truce started, Emily said she heard rocket fire out of Gaza. But things have calmed down and the AP reports that in Gaza "traffic picked up and shops started opening doors."
Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 11:23 am
While fighting between Israel and Gaza militants rages on for a fourth week, there's another war being fought among Israelis themselves — a war on speech. The nation is proud of its tolerance for free expression. But some Israelis critical of the war say their views are under attack; others say the dissent has gone too far.
But just hours in, fighting erupted again in Gaza.
Palestinian authorities told The Associated Press that at least 27 people were killed in Gaza after an Israeli tank opened fire. NPR's Emily Harris reports that Israel accused Hamas of continuing its rocket fire.
Ever since its sweeping victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel has been regarded as the dominant military power in the Middle East. No Arab state has risked a full-fledged war in decades, and few question the conventional wisdom that Israel would swiftly defeat any national army in a traditional, head-to-head confrontation.
Yet for the third time in the past decade, Israel's powerful military finds itself in a protracted, messy fight with a small, elusive, Islamist group and has been unable to score a quick and decisive victory.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called reports that Israel's government had rejected a U.S. truce in Gaza "a mischievous leak" and said he's confident a deal can be reached.
Referring to earlier reports by Israeli TV that a seven-day cease-fire had been unanimously rejected, Kerry, speaking at a news conference in Cairo, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assured him that the report is "an error and inaccurate.
As the conflict between Israel and Gaza approaches the three-week mark, the fighting seems to have only intensified. At least 119 Palestinians were killed Thursday, making it the bloodiest day of the war.
Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 10:36 pm
Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET.
A spokesman for Hamas claimed Sunday that the group has captured an Israeli soldier. Reuters quotes Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, as saying that no Israeli soldier has been kidnapped.
It's the latest development in a bloody day of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Israel's military said today that a series of attacks on its forces inside the Gaza Strip has killed 13 soldiers, by far the heaviest single-day toll for its troops since the beginning of the offensive nearly two weeks ago.
Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 11:45 pm
Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET.
International investigators say armed rebels have limited their inspection of the Eastern Ukraine site of the downed Malaysian Airlines flight that killed nearly 300 passengers and crew, as Kiev accused pro-Russian separatists of destroying evidence at the scene.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to the Middle East on Saturday in hopes of finding a way to stop the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
"Israel has legitimate security concerns, and we condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel that ended yesterday's temporary cease-fire," Jeffrey Feltman, deputy U.N. secretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council on Friday. "But we are alarmed by Israel's heavy response."