Baquba (Iraq) (AFP) - Mortar rounds on Sunday smashed into a central Iraq recruitment centre for civilians volunteering to fight a militant offensive, killing six people, police and a doctor said. Faced with a militant offensive sweeping south toward Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced the Iraqi government would arm and equip civilians who volunteer to fight, and thousands have signed up. And on Friday, influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a call to arms for people to fight "terrorists," a move that will boost recruitment.
Former UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said Sunday the unrest sweeping Iraq stemmed from the international community's negligence of the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Jihadist-led militants launched a lightning offensive on Monday, advancing to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Baghdad's city limits and bringing Iraq's security forces to the brink of collapse. Brahimi said that the international community's inaction on the conflict in Syria had precipitated the crisis in Iraq.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused militants from the Islamist movement Hamas of kidnapping three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. His remarks were made after troops arrested 80 Palestinians overnight, many of them Hamas members, in what was the widest arrest operation in years. "This morning I can say what I could not say yesterday before the broad wave of arrests of Hamas people in Judaea and Samaria," he said, using the biblical term for the West Bank. "Those who carried out the kidnapping of our youngsters are Hamas people -- the same Hamas with whom Abu Mazen has forged a unity government, which has very serious implications," he said referring to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Baquba (Iraq) (AFP) - An Iraqi air strike hit a convoy of Kurdish forces which have moved into an area of eastern Iraq during a militant offensive, killing six fighters, officers and a doctor said Sunday. Parts of Khanaqin, located 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital, were held by militants while others were controlled by Kurdish forces as of Saturday, officers said.
Aid agencies warned Sunday that starvation and diseases like malaria and cholera were set to intensify the crisis in South Sudan, which has been devastated by six months of conflict. War in the young nation has already killed thousands and forced more than 1.5 million people from their homes, and aid agencies warn of the risk of famine should fighting continue. "The conflict has taken thousands of lives and destroyed the livelihoods of millions," Oxfam’s South Sudan chief Emma Jane Drew said Sunday. "The people of South Sudan have been exposed to a triple crisis -- conflict, hunger and disease -- and with the rains now in full swing, the situation only stands to deteriorate."
Australia's foreign minister will meet ambassadors angered by the country's decision to stop referring to East Jerusalem as "occupied", Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday as he stressed there was "no change in policy". Australia has been warned of possible Arab trade sanctions after last week's move, which Attorney-General George Brandis said was made because the term "occupied" carried pejorative implications and was neither appropriate or useful. But the decision has sparked fury in the Arab world, and on Thursday 18 diplomats from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia protested to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. Israel seized East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community.
By Jim Finkle Boston (Reuters) - Massachusetts Democrats nominated state Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Treasurer Steven Grossman and former U.S. health care official Donald Berwick to run against each other in the state's September primary for the governor's race. The winner will run against a Republican in November to succeed Democrat Deval Patrick, who is stepping down after two terms running the liberal-leaning state. Coakley, who lost a 2010 U.S. Senate race to Republican Scott Brown in a major upset, holds a 49 percent to 14 percent lead over Grossman in a Boston Globe poll of state voters conducted in early June.
NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) — Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.
Four in 10 oil and gas wells drilled between fiscal years 2009 and 2012 escaped federal inspection even though they are near national forests, fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks. Here are the states with wells on federal or Indian lands that were deemed "higher priority" for drilling inspection by the Bureau of Land Management, and the number that were not checked: