The man who led the US troop surge that preceded Washington's exit from Iraq after a costly eight-year war says there should not even be US air support without major change in Baghdad. The comments from General David Petraeus, who commanded US troops in Mosul -- Iraq's second city which fell to jihadists last week -- during a long military and intelligence career, came as the Shiite-led government in Baghdad formally asked for air support. Petraeus made a name for himself during the Sunni Arab insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003 for questioning policies that he said risked fanning the resentment of the minority community that dominated Saddam Hussein's regime and all previous governments in Baghdad.
Iran's position in critical nuclear talks is "worrying", with no change on most issues, a Western diplomat said Thursday on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna. "It is worrying that there is no evolution on the part of the Iranians on most subjects, including sanctions," the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Israeli troops arrested some 30 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight as they ramped up a massive search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by Hamas, the army said on Thursday. The three teenagers, two of them minors, disappeared from a popular hitchhiking spot near the sprawling southern West Bank Gush Etzion settlement bloc late on June 12, with Israel blaming Hamas. It has launched a massive military operation to find them which also has the stated objective of crushing the Islamist movement's infrastructure in the West Bank. One of the sites targeted was the students' union at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah, the radio said.
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband was on Thursday to announce plans to withhold Jobseeker's Allowance from 18 to 21-year-olds unless they complete education or equivalent training if Labour come to power. Miliband was to reveal broad changes to the welfare system during a speech at the IPPR think tank on Thursday. He will announce that some benefits for the jobless, including Jobseeker's Allowance, would be replaced by a means-tested "youth allowance", only to be received if the claimant is in training or education.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Thursday said she was deeply concerned about 150 Australians learning the "terrorist trade" fighting alongside Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. The country's top diplomat was briefed by her intelligence analysts this week on the number of Australians, some dual citizens, taking up arms alongside rebel groups. There are about 150 Australians who have been or are still fighting with opposition groups in Syria and beyond," she told ABC radio. "In Syria it seems that over a period of time they have moved from supporting the more moderate opposition groups to the more extreme and that includes this brutal extremist group, ISIS."