Mass wedding in Kurdistan
Baghdad. U.S. Marine jets dropped laser-guided bombs and other ordnance on insurgent positions northwest of Baghdad, killing nine insurgents, including five Syrians, the U.S. military said. The airstrike was launched after troops from the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and the Iraqi 1st Division came under fire in a village west of Haditha, 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad. Jets from the 2nd Marine Air Wing dropped three laser-guided bombs and one global positioning system guided bomb, destroying all three buildings, the statement added.
Baquba. Insurgents launched coordinated attacks against four Iraqi army checkpoints along a road between Baquba and Baghdad, killing six Iraqi soldiers. At least eight people-- three soldiers, four policemen and one civilian -- were wounded as fighting continued into late afternoon.
Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's King Fahd requires constant medical attention after a tracheotomy.
Algiers. Al Qaeda's killing of two Algerian diplomats in Iraq has thrown into doubt a government amnesty proposal and forced a rare debate on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's handling of Algeria's own Islamist threat.
Baghdad. Shi'ite leaders told a conference the Constitution due to be completed next month will solve many of Iraq's problems. About 700 members of the Gathering of Islamic Students of Iraq
packed the auditorium of a hotel once frequented by Saddam Hussein's agents, and listened to Shi'ite politicians and clerics predict a bright future once Iraq's new constitution is drafted and approved.
Teheran. Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called for the release of jailed journalist Akbar Ganji, whose family says he has been on hunger strike for over six weeks. Ganji, an outspoken critic of the Islamic state's clerical leadership, was jailed in 2001 following a series of articles he wrote linking officials to the murder of political dissidents.
Diyarbakir (Turkey). Kurdish guerrillas have kidnapped the mayor of a town in eastern Turkey and police and troops have launched a search, security officials said. Hasim Akyurek, mayor of Yayladere in Bingol province and a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, was abducted on Wednesday while on his way to inspect preparations for a local festival, the officials said.
London. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said he might take action against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq if U.S. forces did not stop the rebels infiltrating across the border into Turkey.
Menoufiya. (Egypt) President Mubarak, 77, announced that he would run for president a fifth time in his hometown, 80 km north of Cairo. Mubarek also announced that he would replace the current State of Emergency with anti-terrorism laws. [Le plus ça change...--Nur]. The Kefaya (« enough») movement said it would boycott the elections. The Kefaya spokesman, George Isaac told AFT that Mr. Mubarek had only "empty words" for democratization. The Marxist movement Tagammou and the Nassirites have decided to boycott both the presidential and the legislative elections to protest the restrictions place on independent candidates by the recent amendment to the Constitution. Meanwhile, the head of the al-Ghad Party (liberal), opposition leader Ayman Nour, said he wound announce his candidacy for the presidency on Saturday.
Cairo. Mohammed Mehdi Akef, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the Sharm al-Sheikh bombings.
Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ahmed Qoreï assured that the Palestinian authority would intervene against armed Palestinian groups to prevent attacks during the Israeli evacuation of Gaza. Meanwhile, Ariel Sharon announced that "thanks to the Gaza evacuation" Israel would never return to its 1967 borders nor permit the return of Palestinian refugees.
Gaza. Gunmen kidnapped a intelligence colonel in a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza. Witnesses say the kidnappers were members of al-Fatah.
Jerusalem. Israel announced that a triple barrier will be built around Gaza. An Israeli military source days a triple barrier would be built around the Gaza Strip to stop infiltration by militants following the Israeli evauation. The plan will add two barbed-wire barriers, observation towers, cameras and remote controlled machine guns. At certain points along the barrier, 20-foot high concrete walls will be constructed.
The cost is expected to be $20 million and be completed by spring 2006. The Jewish state said it would maintain control of Gaza airspace and the coastline. [This is really bad news. We have Sharon smirking about how he hornswaggled Bush with the Gaza pullout while Peres is grubbing for money. Bush is a naieve man.--Nur]
Ramallah. A 25 year-old Palestinian were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near Tulkarem. The Israeli military claimed that Mouayad Moussa was a member of Islamic Jihad.
Ramallah. Palestinian Authority orders 100,000 flags. Gaza factories are preparing 60,000 Palestinian flags. 35 000 others will be made with the al-Fatah logo while another 20,000 will carry a portrait of Abbas and Yassir Arafat.
Jerusalem. The Knesset has adopted a retroactive law limiting the claims of Palestinians injuried or suffering losses as a result of Israeli actions during the Intifada. The Justice and Defense ministries hope to avoid millions of dollars in damages.
Jerusalem. The Knesset extend a law by nine months which prohibits residency in Israel of any Palestinian spouse of an Israeli Arab.
Baghdad. The Iraqi authorities have requested the Multinational force to protect diplomatic missions.
Baghdad. A group linked to al-Zarqawi uploaded a video showing a hostage, presented as a Kurdish member of PKK working as anti-insurgency spy.
Baquba. Four soliders and a policemen were killed and another policeman wounded in two attacks targeting checkpoints in Baquba and Khani Bani Sadr.
23:54 Washington. The Iraqi insurgency gets most of its money through the delivery of cash from neighboring states, notably Syria, said US Treasury official Daniel Glaser. Iraqi rebels are suppored by charity organizaiton and Iraqi expatriates, said Glaser. They also finance themselves through criminal activity such as drug smuggling. Glaser told the US House of Representatives that a signficant number of former Iraqi political figures are held or monitored by the Syrians but blamed the Syrians for not interdicting the funds going to the rebellion.
23:51 London. The estimate of 25,000 Iraqi civilians killed in Iraq since March 2003 is "the absolute minimum" reports The Lancet
23:47 Washington. Iranian cadres are training Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, said Assistant Secretary of State David Welch to the House International Relations Committee. Welch also testified there was «a continuing covert Syrian presence there» despite the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. And, Welch said, there are armed Palestinian groups in Lebanon, as well. He said the United States would have no contact with Lebanon's energy and water minister, Mohammed Fneish, who is a member of Hezbollah. Welch reiterated the long-standing U.S. view that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. But Welch and James Kunder, an assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said the administration had asked Congress to approve $35 million in U.S. aid and $1.7 million in other support.
23:46 Baghdad. The U.S. military is considering offering protection to foreign diplomats in Baghdad after al-Qaida agents killed three Arab envoys this month, said US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
23:26 Washington. U.S. investigators want Israeli diplomats to tell them about any contact they had with a U.S. analyst charged with disclosing classified data, a diplomatic source close to the probe said on Thursday. The U.S. government recently contacted the Israeli Embassy in Washington to request information about any meetings between embassy diplomats and the Defense Department analyst, Lawrence Franklin. Franklin worked on the Iran desk within the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the time the government says he disclosed to an unidentified foreign diplomat classified information about a Middle Eastern country's activities in Iraq. A six-count indictment charged him with conspiracy to share classified information with people not authorized to receive it. Though the individuals were not named in the court documents, federal law enforcement officials said they were two senior employees of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Franklin has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial date was set for Sept. 6. He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years if convicted of all counts.
22:50 Vatican City. Responding to Israeli criticism, the Vatican on Thursday said it hasn't condemned every strike by Palestinian militants against the Jewish state because Israel's military response to the attacks has sometimes violated international law. Israel's Foreign Ministry had complained Monday that Benedict, in a public appearance at his Alpine vacation retreat on Sunday, «deliberately» didn't mention a July 12 suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya while the pontiff did refer to recent terror strikes in Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq.
22:54 Paris. At least seven people from France have been killed in Iraq after joining insurgents there, French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy told a newspaper Le Parisien
. The interior minister also said he wanted to reinforce surveillance of flights to Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which he said are stopovers for Europeans heading to Iraq to join militant groups .
22:15 Baghdad. Millions of dollars in reconstruction aid to Iraq have been skimmed of by American officials and entrepreneurs. In the region of Hilla alone $7 million was siphoned off by US contractors and officials. US Department of Justice official will publish a detailed report on Saturday.
21:49 Paris. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appealed to French Jews to move to Israel while avoiding the suggestion of anti-semitism in France.
21:16 Paris. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says it is his goal to transport 1,000,000 Jews to Israel during a meeting with the Jewish community of France. However, the President of the Representative Councils of Jewish Institutions in France, Roger Cukierman, stated that French Jews do not share a common view on Israel. Meanwhile David de Rothschild, the President of United Jewish Appeal of France, said that Jews should strive to maintain their communities outside Israel. [Monsieur, je suis français...--Nur].
16:37 Jerusalem. Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Thursday urged the international community to donate tens of millions of dollars to upgrade border crossings in the Gaza Strip, a move he said is critical for boosting the Palestinian economy after Israel's upcoming withdrawal from the area. Peres said roughly US$120 million is needed to improve the three major crossings into Gaza. He said the money would be used on new technology that would allow goods to move quickly in and out of Gaza, and to reduce the wait times for Palestinian laborers entering Israel. He said Israel would be willing to contribute funds and suggested that US$50 million pledged by the United States for the Palestinians be put toward the effort. To reduce Gaza's isolation after the withdrawal, Israel and the Palestinians are discussing other measures, such as reopening Gaza's airport and building a seaport. [Not happening--Nur]. There is also a proposal to establish a rail link between Gaza and the West Bank, a project Peres said would take three years to complete and cost US$400 million. Israel has also announced that it plans to withdraw from the Philadelphi corridor along Gaza's border with Egypt, which has agreed to station about 750 soldiers in the area to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza. However Israel has conditioned its offers of eased movement on improved Palestinian efforts to rein in militants--a major sticking point in current talks. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed disappointment over those talks, saying the arrangements for a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza and other measures have fallen short of what had been negotiated before the outbreak of violence in 2000.
16:32 Baghdad. General Petraeus will be replaced by Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who commanded the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, at the end of the summer.
15:57 Beirut. Lebanon's new government defended the right of Hizbollah guerrillas to resist Israel and pledged solid ties with Syria
on Thursday. Hizbollah often clashes with Israeli troops in the Shebaa Farms, a border area Beirut says is Lebanese soil still occupied by Israel. The United Nations says Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon is complete and Shebaa is Israeli-held Syrian land.
14:20 Baghdad. Train tank car bombing kills one and wound four.
14:08 London. Three Turkish nationals were arrested this morning by British police at the Tooting Broadway station. The three are workers in a kebob and hamburger stand.
10:17 Baghdad. A huge fire broke out this morning the the Dura neighborhood of south Baghdad after a train transporting tank cars filled with petroleum what struck by a bomb layed along the tracks. The bomb exploded when the locomotive of the train was 1km away from the Dura refinery. An enormous black cloud covers the area.
08:13 Baghdad. Two US soldiers killed by a bomb in north Baghdad.
07:13 Jerusalem. Palestinians fire three homemade rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot.
07:31 Kabul. A US combat helicoper caught fire as it was landing in Spin Boldak, on the border with Pakisatn. The 31 people aboard were unharmed.
09:57 Cairo. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has call an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League in Sharm el Sheik on 3 August.