Iran's President Hassan Rouhani warned on Sunday that Muslim states which funnel petrodollars to jihadist Sunni fighters wreaking havoc in Iraq will become their next target. Rouhani did not name any country, but officials and media in mainly Shiite Iran have hinted that insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are being financially and militarily supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "I advise Muslim countries that support the terrorists with their petrodollars to stop," Rouhani said in remarks reported by the website of Iran's state broadcaster. Riyadh has warned that Iran-ally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is steering Iraq towards civil war through policies that exclude the country's Sunni minority.
A camouflaged tank pokes out from under a tree in the rebel camp, pointed in the direction of the Ukrainian army about three kilometres away. A Russian flag has been hand-drawn on the side. "We took this tank and five armoured troop transport vehicles from the Ukrainian army. They number around 50, perched on a hillside beside Siversk, a town of 3,000 west of the separatist stronghold city of Slavyansk.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he was "confident" Egypt will receive Apache helicopter gunships soon, as he made a surprise visit to Cairo. Kerry became the highest-ranking American official to visit Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power after overwhelmingly winning an election in May. "They will be used in a place where Egypt has been working very, very hard in concert with Israel and... with us in order to push back against these terrorists."
US Secretary of State John Kerry on a surprise Egypt visit Sunday urged Iraqi leaders to rise above sectarianism, and said Washington was not responsible for the country's crisis. Kerry had arrived in Cairo as part of a diplomatic mission to push Egypt toward democracy, but also to discuss the crisis in Iraq, where Sunni militants have made new advances in an offensive that has alarmed the world. "ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant)... its ideology of violence and repression is a threat not only to Iraq but the entire region," Kerry said at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. Kerry also said the "US is not engaged in picking or choosing or advocating for any one individual, or a series of individuals to assume the leadership of Iraq.
Seventeen Yemeni policemen were wounded in an ambush by Shiite Huthis as fighting between government forces and the rebels neared the capital, officials said on Sunday. The Huthis -- also known as Ansarullah -- have advanced out of their northern mountain strongholds towards Sanaa in a suspected attempt to expand their sphere of influence as Yemen is reorganised into six regions. "Armed militants belonging to the Ansarullah Huthi (rebels) opened fire at security patrols carrying out their duties in the capital" on Saturday, state news agency Saba said. Militants blocked a road in Sanaa's Al-Jarraf district, where the rebels have a representative office near the interior ministry, and fired on police patrols from surrounding buildings.
Kosovo police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse stone-throwing protesters who set alight police cars demanding the removal of a plant pot barricade on a bridge linking ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the divided town of Mitrovica. The protesters later set on fire two Kosovo police cars and two vehicles belonging to the European Union rule of law mission, EULEX. They were angry over a three-year-old barricade put up by ethnic Serbs on the bridge over the river Ibar that separates the two communities. Until last week, it was an unsightly mess of earth and concrete blocks -- a largely symbolic barrier that symbolised the angry refusal of ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo to merge with the rest of the country after it declared independence in 2008.
Argentina on Sunday took its battle against paying hedge fund investors in its defaulted bonds to the US media, placing adverts in major newspapers demanding US courts help foster "fair and balanced" negotiations. The full-page ad -- which appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal -- lashes out at the "voracity" of the so-called "vulture funds." "Paying the vulture funds is a path leading to default," says the ad from the government of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner. "The will of Argentina is clear: we expect a judicial decision that promotes fair and balanced negotiating conditions to resolve this protracted and difficult dispute."
The British army has a global reputation for efficiency and performance, but new figures published on Sunday suggest that its soldiers might be getting a little soft. More than 32,000 soldiers failed a basic fitness test at some point in the past three years, and more than 22,000 were found to be overweight and at risk of health problems, according to Ministry of Defence figures. All soldiers in the British army are required to complete a personal fitness assessment twice a year, and those who fail must retake the test within seven days. According to the figures obtained by the Sunday Times newspaper, 29,600 men and 2,819 women failed their fitness tests between April 2011 and March 2014.
US President Barack Obama has warned that extremist militants who have surged through Iraq in a lightning and brutal offensive could also destabilize other countries in the volatile region. The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is rampaging towards the capital Baghdad in its bid to create an Islamic state that will incorporate both Iraq and Syria. Right now the problem with ISIS is the fact that they're destabilizing the country (Iraq)," he said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS television's "Face the Nation".
The newly elected No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Sunday he would not rule out sending American troops to Iraq to help Baghdad in its fight against a Sunni insurgency. Representative Kevin McCarthy, who was elected last week to the majority leader's post in the House, also said President Barack Obama needed to lay out an overall strategy for dealing with terrorism in the Middle East region. Asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether he would support putting "boots on the ground" in Iraq, McCarthy said: "I'd put everything on the table.
Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah on Sunday launched an assault to oust rebels from the foothills of the Qalamun mountains north of the capital, state television said. Elsewhere in the capital, fighters were due to withdraw "within hours" from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk following a truce struck on Saturday evening to end deadly fighting, a Palestinian official said. Regime forces took parts of the strategic Qalamun region near the border with Lebanon in April, but some 2,000 rebel fighters withdrew to the hills from where they have launched guerrilla attacks. Fourteen fighters from the powerful Shiite Hezbollah group have been killed in the area over the past two weeks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Hundreds of supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah held protests over alleged electoral fraud for a second day across Kabul Sunday, as a political stalemate deepens in the country. The protesters, some of whom gathered by the presidential palace, chanted "long live Abdullah" and called for the death of Afghanistan's electoral commission chief, who is handling fraud allegations relating to votes cast in the election's second round. A similar-sized gathering in Herat, western Afghanistan, saw a group largely composed of students burn their voter registration cards in protest against alleged irregularities in the contest between Abdullah and rival Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah has boycotted the election vote count, pitching Afghanistan into crisis as NATO combat troops withdraw from a 13-year war against Taliban insurgents.
Iraqi forces have made a "tactical" withdrawal from three western towns, a security spokesman said on Sunday, as Sunni militants widened an offensive that has already overrun swathes of territory. "The military units' withdrawal (from Al-Qaim, Rawa and Ana) was for the purpose of redeployment," Lieutenant General Qassem Atta said, referring to it as a "tactical" move. Witnesses said insurgents moved into Rawa and Ana, in Anbar province, on Saturday evening, after security officers and witnesses also reported militants entering Al-Qaim earlier in the day. Beginning late on June 9, militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but also including a number of other groups such as loyalists of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, overran most of one province and parts of three others north of Baghdad.
On a dusty patch of land off a highway in northern Iraq, Faisal watches his three-week-old son cry in the tent that is now his home. The temperature hovers around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), and aid being distributed to those at the camp, including mattresses and fans, has yet to reach Faisal's tent. Standing next to him is 25-year-old Mohammed, who fled his home in Mosul, the first city to fall to a major militant offensive that began last week and overran swathes of Iraq in a matter of days. The camp they are in is just outside the border with Iraq's autonomous three-province Kurdish region, which non-residents can enter only with a special permit.