US fines Virgin Atlantic $1 million for flights over Iraq
The U.S. Transportation Department has fined British airline Virgin Atlantic up to $1.05 million for flying over restricted airspace in Iraq while operating flights in a partnership with Delta Air Lines. The federal agency said the flights occurred between September 2020 and September 2021 while the Federal Aviation Administration had told U.S. airlines to avoid the area. Atlanta-based Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic.news.yahoo.com
Turkey strikes in Syria, Iraq a week after Istanbul bombing
Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week’s bomb attack in Istanbul. Warplanes attacked bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Syrian People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the ministry said in a statement, which was accompanied by images of F-16 jets taking off and footage of a strike from an aerial drone. The ministry cited Turkey’s right to self defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter in launching an operation it called Claw-Sword late Saturday.news.yahoo.com
Amid unrest, Iranian Guard attacks militant group in Iraq
Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard on Saturday attacked a Kurdish militant group's base located in the north of neighboring Iraq, state media said, a week after widespread anti-government protests began over a young woman's death in police custody. The death of a 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after being detained by Iranian morality police, has launched unrest across Iran's provinces and capital of Tehran.news.yahoo.com
Republicans reverse course as Senate passes burn pits legislation after days of pressure
AdvertisementAsked to explain the GOP reversal, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered no broad explanation and acknowledged the legislation would pass with broad support. “I think in the end the veterans service organizations are going to be pleased with the final result.”Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont. ), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, credited the veterans groups and Stewart with taking what was previously a relatively obscure health issue and turning it into a national cause. Instead, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough arrived with the pizza to the group. Studies have shown that Veterans Affairs rejects the vast majority of claims.washingtonpost.com
Key Islamic State figure killed in Syria drone strike, U.S. says
Maher al-Agal, who worked “aggressively” on building ISIS networks outside of Iraq and Syria, according to the U.S. military, was one of two targets of the strike outside Jindaryis, about 35 miles west of Aleppo. Al-Agal was considered to be one of the top five ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials said. A second official closely associated with him, whom the military did not identify, was “seriously injured” during the strike, according to CENTCOM.washingtonpost.com
Justices say vet who lost job as Texas trooper can sue state
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a former state trooper to sue Texas over his claim that he was forced out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq.The justices ru[San Marcos, TX] [Hays County news] San Marcos News, San Marcos Record [Texas State]sanmarcosrecord.com
Justices say vet who lost job as Texas trooper can sue state
The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a former state trooper to sue Texas over his claim that he was forced out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq. The justices ruled for Army veteran Le Roy Torres under a federal law that was enacted in 1994 in the wake of the Persian Gulf war to strengthen job protections for returning service members. “Text, history, and precedent show that the States, in coming together to form a Union, agreed to sacrifice their sovereign immunity for the good of the common defense,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court.news.yahoo.com
Navy destroyer bears name of decorated Marine killed in WWII
The christening of a Navy destroyer on Saturday highlighted the sacrifices of two generations — the ship’s namesake killed in World War II and another Marine who died more than 60 years later. The future USS Basilone bears the name of a Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor before his death on Iwo Jima. The legacy and sacrifice of such Marines are never forgotten, Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black told a crowd of 2,000 gathered next to the warship at Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works in Maine.news.yahoo.com
Bipartisan group of Texans in the U.S. House support ending president’s authority to use military force in Iraq
All Texas Democratic members backed the bill, along with five Republicans: U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess of Lewisville, Michael Cloud of Victoria, Lance Gooden of Terrell, Louie Gohmert of Tyler and Chip Roy of Austin.
Pope Francis to visit Hungary in September, cardinal says
(AP Photo/Yara Nardi, pool)BUDAPEST – Pope Francis will travel to Hungary's capital in September where he will participate in the closing Mass of a multiday, international Catholic gathering, according to the cardinal of Hungary's Roman Catholic Church. Francis will instead visit on the final day of the eight-day 52nd Congress in Budapest on Sept. 12, he said. Ad“Today we can perhaps learn the most from Pope Francis, and not only about faith and humanity. Traveling back to the Vatican from a trip to Iraq on Monday, the pope told Italian media that following his visit to Budapest he may visit Bratislava, the capital of neighboring Slovakia. While that visit isn't confirmed, Slovakia's president, Zuzana Caputova, said she had invited the pontiff to visit during a meeting in the Vatican in December.
Where IS ruled, pope calls on Christians to forgive, rebuild
Pope Francis celebrates mass at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Irbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Sunday, March 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)IRBIL – Pope Francis urged Iraq’s Christians on Sunday to forgive the injustices against them by Muslim extremists and to rebuild as he visited the wrecked shells of churches and met ecstatic crowds in the community’s historic heartland, which was nearly erased by the Islamic State group’s horrific reign. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was at the heart of the IS so-called “caliphate” and witnessed the worst of the group’s rule inflicted on Muslims, Christians and others, including beheadings and mass killings. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, became IS’s bureaucratic and financial backbone. Things are difficult for those living here.”At Qaraqosh, Francis urged its residents to continue to dream, and forgive.
The Latest: Pope Francis delivers sermon in Baghdad church
Pope Francis, center arrives to concelebrate a mass in the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 6, 2021. Francis honored Iraq’s persecuted Christians by celebrating Mass on Saturday at the Chaldean Catholic cathedral in Baghdad. ___6:30 p.m.U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he is pleased to see the historic visit by Pope Francis to Iraq. The pope hopes to ensure the place of Iraq's Christian population, dwindling under years of violence and discrimination. Francis’ interfaith meeting in Ur came after his historic encounter in nearby Najaf with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Pope, top Iraq Shiite cleric deliver message of coexistence
Women wait outside the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 6, 2021, where Pope Francis, depicted on a giant poster at their back, is concelebrating a mass. AdTogether, the day’s events gave symbolic and practical punch to the central message of Francis’ visit, calling for Iraq to embrace its diversity. Al-Sistani is one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam, deeply revered among Shiites in Iraq and worldwide. Later, Pope Francis evoked the common reverence for Abraham to speak against religious violence at the inter-faith gathering at the Plains of Ur, near the southern city of Nasiriyah. Associated Press journalists Anmar Khalil in Najaf, Iraq, and Samya Kullab in Baghdad contributed.
Biden signals support to replace war power authority
The U.S. has blamed the militia for numerous attacks targeting U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq in the past. But several leading members of Congress, including members in Biden’s own party, denounced the strikes — the first military action he has authorized. Kaine and others argued offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base early Wednesday. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said.
Turkey vows to expand anti-PKK operations in northern Iraq
Turkish soldiers carry the national flag-draped coffin of Turkish soldier Er Sedat Sorgun, one of thirteen soldiers, police and civilians who had been abducted by Kurdish insurgents and found killed in northern Iraq, during the funeral in the city of Erzurum, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Tuesday to expand cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, following the killings. (IHA via AP)ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Tuesday to expand cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, following the killing of 13 Turkish soldiers, police and civilians who had been abducted by Kurdish insurgents. Turkey has long been seeking to form a secure zone along its borders with Iraq and Syria to force Kurdish insurgents away from the frontier. Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK began an insurgency in Turkey’s majority Kurdish southeast region in 1984.
Biden administration suspends some sanctions on Yemen rebels
(AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Monday suspended some of the terrorism sanctions that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed on Yemen’s Houthi rebels in his waning days in office. The Treasury Department said it would exempt certain transactions involving the Houthis from sanctions resulting from Pompeo's designation of the group as a “foreign terrorist organization” on Jan. 10. The sanctions Pompeo imposed had taken effect Jan. 19, just a day before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, and had been roundly criticized by the United Nations and relief organizations. Six years of war between a U.S.-backed Arab coalition and the Houthi rebels have been catastrophic for Yemen, killing more than 112,000 people and reducing infrastructure from roads and hospitals to water and electricity networks to ruins. Saudi Arabia has advocated the terror designation, hoping it would pressure the rebels to reach a peace deal.
US to move aircraft carrier out of Mideast amid Iran tension
The Pentagon announced Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, that the USS Nimitz, the only Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Middle East, will return home to the U.S. West Coast. Navy via AP)WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has decided to send home the only Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Middle East, a move that will reduce American firepower in the region amid heightened tensions with Iran. Sending the aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, home to the U.S. West Coast would seem at odds with the idea that a show of force is needed to deter Iran. “Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. The U.S. has maintained a near-continuous aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf region since the USS Abraham Lincoln was sent in May 2019 amid concerns that Iran was considering attacking U.S. interests in the region.
US bomber mission over Persian Gulf aimed at cautioning Iran
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. The United States flew strategic bombers over the Persian Gulf on Wednesday for the second time this month, a show of force meant to deter Iran from attacking American or allied targets in the Middle East. Because of the potential for escalation that could lead to a wider war, the U.S. has sought to deter Iran from additional attacks. Iran denied involvement but was blamed by the United States for that attack. That flight was repeated this week, with two B-52s flying nonstop from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and heading home Wednesday after cruising over the western side of the Gulf.
US general says IS in Iraq and Syria still long-term threat
He said a solution must come from a joint effort by diplomatic, security and humanitarian organizations. The U.S. also has about 3,000 troops still in Iraq; on Tuesday the Pentagon announced that Trump had ordered a drawdown to 2,500 in Iraq with no change for Syria. Trump has pushed for the repatriation of foreign fighters in Syria, but their home countries have largely refused to take them back. In the short run, McKenzie said, IS is in no position to pose a major security threat to the United States. The al-Qaida extremist group and like-minded militants also are severely hobbled but not eliminated, he said.
Acting Pentagon chief cites risks during troop reductions
“After this retreat, there will still be American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We believe that there is strong bipartisan support from Congress and the administration for both Iraq and Afghanistan,” they wrote. That person, whose title is assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, currently reports to the defense secretary through the undersecretary of defense for policy. This change in the administrative chain of command for special operations was required by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. There currently is no Senate-confirmed assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; Ezra Cohen holds the job in an acting capacity.
Pentagon to cut troop levels to 2,500 in Iraq, Afghanistan
Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, who takes office Jan. 20, just five days after the troop withdrawals are to finish. Miller, who refused to take questions from reporters after reading a prepared statement before TV cameras at the Pentagon, said the U.S. will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500, and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500. It also runs counter to his guidance that troop withdrawals be based on the conditions on the ground, not a date on the calendar. He has accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of setting a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan that worked against the achievement of military goals. Biden has sounded less absolute about troop withdrawal.
New US citizen refugees excited for first presidential vote
UK was a small child when his parents fled Myanmar, leaving him and his siblings to be cared for by their maternal grandmother. Through its citizenship classes, the International Rescue Committee has helped around 6,000 refugees and other newcomers become Americans each of the last few years. Born in Iraq and now a U.S. citizen living in Jacksonville, Florida, Alawee said she also plans to cast her first presidential ballot Nov. 3. “I can't wait.”___BAWI UK was a small child when his parents fled Myanmar, leaving him and his siblings to be cared for by their maternal grandmother. The family resettled in Phoenix, where they all became U.S. citizens.
Iran vows 'hit' on all involved in US killing of top general
“We took out the world’s number one terrorist and the mass murderer of American troops and many, many troops and many people all over the world,” Trump said. Very bad guy.”Salami rejected the report of an Iranian plot to assassinate Ambassador Lana Marks, but made clear that Iran intends to avenge the general's death. “Do you think we hit a female ambassador in return to our martyred brother?’ the general said. You should know that everybody who had role in the event will be hit, and this is a serious message. Trump has stepped up economic pressure on Iran with sanctions since he pulled the United States out of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.
Trump bestowing Medal of Honor on soldier for hostage rescue
Maj. Payne will receive the honor in a White House ceremony on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Trump picked the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to honor Sgt. The team used bolt cutters to break the locks off the prison doors, freeing 38 hostages, according to the White House. Once the door was kicked opened, both American and Kurdish commandos escorted about 30 more hostages out of the burning building. He was initially given the Army’s second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross, for the special operations raid, which was upgraded to a Medal of Honor.
Shiite Muslims mark holy day of mourning in virus' shadow
A health worker sprays disinfectant to sanitize the inside of the holy shrine of Imam Abbas during Muharram procession in Karbala, Iraq, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is a month of mourning for Shiites in remembrance of the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
Asia Today: SKorea records 113 new cases, most from overseas
SEOUL South Korea has reported 113 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, its first daily jump over 100 in nearly four months. The KCDC said 86 of the new cases were linked to international arrivals while the other 27 were local transmissions. It said the imported cases included 36 South Korean workers who returned from Iraq and 32 crew members of a Russia-flagged cargo ship docked in the southern port of Busan. South Korean officials consider imported cases as less threatening than local transmissions as they mandate tests and enforce two-week quarantines on all overseas arrivals. He said 89 of the 293 South Korean workers who arrived home Friday aboard two military planes from Iraq were exhibiting symptoms.
There are as many National Guard members activated in the US as there are active duty troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan
That represents approximately the same number of active duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. As of Monday, nearly half of the US has activated guard members to respond to civil unrest. Additionally, about 45,000 National Guard members are supporting the Covid-19 response across all 50 states, three territories and D.C., bringing the total number of activated National Guard soldiers and airmen to 66,700. President Donald Trump said Monday in the Rose Garden that the United States is taking new measures to quell riots across the United States. This mass activation of the National Guard comes amid a seventh day of protests over the death of Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
US sending additional forces to protect embassy threatened by protesters in Iraq
The US had sent two Apache helicopters to fly over the embassy in a show of force, a US official told CNN earlier Tuesday. The US also earlier deployed about 100 US Marines from a crisis response task force based in Kuwait to bolster security at the embassy. The embassy, in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, has been put under lockdown, but protesters have not been able to breach the compound, an embassy spokesperson told CNN. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” Trump tweeted.
Houston energy insiders, Iraqi nationals have very different worries about unrest brewing in Middle East
HOUSTON – Iraqi nationals living in Houston worry their countrymen back home will face the immediate backlash of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani’s death. Oil prices already jumped following Soleimani’s death. “Many of the abuses was directed and ordered by Qassem Soleimani,” said Al Bayati. Al Bayati and Aldulaimi said peaceful protesters, who are pushing for government reform, became the frequent target of attacks by Iran-backed militia groups. Al Bayati, a political activist, said many of the protesters simply want a government that is accountable to the people.