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Kerry: ISIS Is Committing Genocide

Says US will support efforts to 'analyze the evidence of atrocities'

(Newser) - John Kerry says the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and Shiite groups in Iraq and Syria. The secretary of state announced his findings from the White House on Thursday, citing evidence from a number of sources. "Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by its... More »

Iraq Breaking Apart: Kurds Plan Independence Vote

90 walk out of parliament meeting

(Newser) - With Iraq divided by violence , its Kurdish region is ready to consider forging a nation of its own. Massoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, says he's planning a referendum on independence that could occur in "a matter of months," the BBC reports. Kurdistan has... More »

Every Iraqi Urged to Pick Up a Weapon

Iraq's top cleric says 'everyone who can' must fight

(Newser) - Iraq's top Shiite cleric issued a statement during Friday prayers today, calling on everyone—Shiite and Sunni alike—to fight back against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the New York Times reports. It is "the legal and national responsibility of whoever can hold a weapon, to... More »

Iraq Inks Deal to Buy Arms from Iran

Nouri al-Maliki got tired of US foot-dragging: Iraqi lawmakers

(Newser) - Iran has agreed to sell arms and ammunition worth $195 million to Iraq after Washington apparently hesitated to make an arms deal with Baghdad. According to Reuters , signed documents show that Iran will sell mortar launchers, tank ammunition, light and medium arms, and other weapons—as well as night vision... More »

Villagers 'Massacred' by Syrian Rebels: Report

Shiite clerics hung from gates of town, activist claims

(Newser) - Rebels attacked a village in eastern Syria yesterday, leaving at least 60 people dead—most of them pro-government Shiite fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which says the rebels numbered into the thousands. A government official describes the attack on Hatla as "a massacre against villagers... More »

Russia Sends Syria Ships— and 'Ship Killers'

Moves seem designed to ward off international military intervention

(Newser) - Russia is reportedly sending military aid to Syria that seems designed to counter any attempt at military intervention from the US or other Western countries. US officials tell the New York Times that Russia has sent the regime new, radar-equipped anti-ship cruise missiles, weapons that could fend off an international... More »

Bombs Across Iraq Kill 63 Pilgrims

Attacks target Shiite pilgrims headed to Baghdad site

(Newser) - A series of coordinated car bombs went off in at least five Iraqi cities today, killing 63 people in one of the deadliest attacks since US forces left the country. The blasts appeared to be the third attack this week targeting Shiite pilgrims en route to the Baghdad neighborhood of... More »

Islamist Website: Kill This Rapper, and We'll Pay $100K

But Shahin Najafi denies 'O Naqi' is insulting to Islam

(Newser) - Most rappers hope their songs will be a hit—not make them the target of one. That's the situation facing Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rapper living in Germany who's accused of having "grossly insulted" an important Shi'ite Muslim religious figure in one of his songs. He... More »

Iraq's 'King of Clubs' Appears Online

Former deputy to Saddam Hussein rails against Shiites, Iran

(Newser) - He was the king of clubs. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the highest-ranking member of Saddam Hussein's government still at large, appears to have turned up in an online video posted yesterday, railing against Iraq's government, reports the AP . In the hour-long video, which appears on a website linked to... More »

Another Iraq Suicide Blast Kills 53 Shiites in Basra

Victims were marking a holy day

(Newser) - Iraq's Sunni-Shiite tensions worsened yet again today when a suicide bomber killed at least 53 Shiite pilgrims marking a holy day, reports Reuters . The bomber, dressed as a police officer, struck at a checkpoint in Basra. No claims of responsibility yet, but it bears the hallmarks of Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda,... More »

Despite Maliki Crackdown, US Still Selling Arms to Iraq

Iraqi PM hasn't followed through on his end of agreement

(Newser) - The US is charging ahead with an $11 billion arms deal with Iraq, and has even delivered some of the promised fighter jets, tanks, and weapons—even though Nouri al-Maliki has blatantly failed to follow through on an agreement intended to ensure he would not marginalize his Sunni rivals. Indeed,... More »

VP: Maliki Pushing Iraq Toward Sectarian War

Tariq al-Hashemi accuses Shiite PM of eliminating rivals

(Newser) - Sunni VP Tariq al-Hashemi today openly accused Nouri al-Maliki of trying to eliminate his political rivals and run Iraq like a "one-man-show," a move that Hashemi says is pushing the country toward sectarian war. The comments came during an interview with the AP, which notes that the escalating... More »

Iraqi VP: I'm No Terrorist

Tariq al-Hashemi says Maliki forced his guards to confess

(Newser) - Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vigorously denied the terrorism charges leveled against him yesterday , saying that Shiite-led security personnel had forced false confessions out of his personal guards. "I swear by God I didn’t do this disobedience against Iraqi blood, and I would never do this," he... More »

Political Crisis Flares in Iraq

Sunnis walk out of parliament, demand more power

(Newser) - Iraq's political structure already seems to be unraveling. Before the last US troops have left , Sunni politicians are walking out of parliament and threatening to quit altogether, the Washington Post reports. Ministers in the Sunni Iraqiya bloc are demanding more political power and greater control of Iraq's Shiite-dominated... More »

US Sees Iran's Hand in Iraq Violence

June the deadliest month in two years

(Newser) - June was the deadliest month in two years for US troops in Iraq, with 15 killed in various attacks—and the US thinks Iran is to blame. Military officials think Iran is handing militia groups more sophisticated weapons, like rockets, armor-piercing grenades, and improved jam-resistant roadside bombs, the Washington Post... More »

Saudis Forming Anti-Shiite 'Club of Kings'

Royal family moves to form alliance against Iran, uprisings

(Newser) - Saudi Arabia is moving to firm up alliances with Sunni nations in a bid to limit Iran’s influence and stem the tide of revolts in the Arab world. It has asked several countries across the Middle East and Asia, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, to join an informal alliance... More »

Secret Hand in Syria Crackdown: Iran

And it may soon help protesters in Bahrain, Yemen

(Newser) - Iran has a hand in the revolutions currently sweeping the rest of the Arab world. In Syria, Iran is secretly assisting President Bashar al-Assad to quell the pro-democracy demonstrations, US officials say. But in Bahrain and Yemen, Iran is looking to aid Shiite protesters, thus destabilizing the countries—both US... More »

Bahrain Detains Opposition Activists

Security forces take control of central Manama

(Newser) - Bahraini security forces detained at least six prominent opposition activists today, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights tells the AP . According to the society, two of those taken were also among the 25 Shiite activists who were released earlier in a bid to ease tensions. Their arrests suggest authorities... More »

Army Fires Rockets at Yemen Protest: Rebels

2 killed, 7 wounded in attack, say demonstrators

(Newser) - Yemen’s military fired rockets at rebel protesters in the northern city of Harf Sufyan today, killing two, and wounding 13, the demonstrators said in a statement. The AP reports that witnesses say soldiers in an army post opened fire with heavy machine guns, believing the protesters were trying to... More »

Libya's Revolt Could Solve Riddle of Missing Cleric

Moussa al-Sadr disappeared in 1978

(Newser) - Thanks to the Libyan revolution, Lebanon thinks it may finally learn the answer to a mystery that’s been vexing it for decades: What happened to Moussa al-Sadr? The cleric, a seminal figure in the Shiite empowerment movement, disappeared during a trip to Tripoli in 1978, the AP explains. Now,... More »

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