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Creative Destruction of the Middle East Continues Unabated in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen

August 4, 2015 


Yemeni pro-government fighters preparing to fight the Houthi militia near Aden, August 4, 2015 Fighting has renewed in Baiji between Islamic State fighters and Iraqi army, August 4, 2015,


Turkish jets hit PKK targets, soldiers killed in southeast

DIYARBAKIR | By Seyhmus, Cakan and Jonny Hogg

Tue Aug 4, 2015 11:34am, EDTReuters --

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebel targets in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday, Dogan news agency reported, and three soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in a neighboring province, the military said.

Turkish F-16 jets carried out a 35-minute assault on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets in Daglica, in Hakkari Province near the border with Iraq, whose northern mountains offer a relatively safe base for the insurgents.

The air strikes came after two soldiers were killed by a remote-controlled mine in the neighboring province of Sirnak. In a day of apparent tit-for-tat violence, shortly after the raids by F-16 jets, another soldier was killed and one wounded when militants attacked a guard post in Sirnak with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Violence has swept eastern Turkey since last month, when the outlawed PKK ramped up attacks against Turkish security forces and Ankara launched reciprocal air strikes against its fighters in Turkey and northern Iraq.

A senior EU official expressed concern the violence could jeopardize any efforts to end the PKK's three-decade insurgency. The prospect of unrest in a country bordering both Iraq and Syria, focus of Islamic State activity, has aroused broader disquiet among NATO allies.

The deaths brought the number of Turkish security forces killed by the PKK since July 20 to at least 19, the worst bloodshed since a ceasefire agreed in 2013.

The PKK announced it was stepping up attacks in mid-July over what it said were ceasefire violations by the Turkish state. Violence has intensified since Turkey began an air campaign against PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24, in what Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called a "synchronized fight against terror".

Turkish jets have also hit Islamic State positions in Syria, and Turkey has granted permission to the U.S.-led coalition targeting the militants to use its air bases to launch further raids.

the Turkish Energy minister said the PKK had sabotaged the Shah Deniz pipeline, carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan, days after attacking an oil pipeline pumping crude to Turkey from Iraq.

(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir, Ece Toksabay and Jonny Hogg in Ankara,; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Ralph Boulton)


PKK attacks Turkey's halted Shah Deniz gas pipeline

Tue Aug 4, 2015 5:43am EDT

ANKARA, Reuters --

Kurdish militants attacked Turkey's Shah Deniz pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan early on Tuesday, but the blast did not impact supply as flow had already been halted for maintenance, the energy minister said on Tuesday.

The blast came days after another attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) halted flows along a pipeline carrying crude oil to Turkey from Iraq.

"With last night's attack, the separatist terror organization (PKK) has once again shown that they aim to prevent our people from accessing their most basic needs," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in an e-mailed statement.

The explosion on the Shah Deniz pipeline took place in Turkey's Posof province near the border with Georgia early on Tuesday.

Britain's BP said on Monday it had suspended operations on the Shah Deniz platform in the Caspian Sea as well as the Shah Deniz facility inside the Sangachal terminal for planned maintenance from Aug. 2.

Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan's biggest gas field, is being developed by partners including BP, Norway's Statoil, Azeri state energy company SOCAR and others.

There has been a surge in violence by the PKK against Turkish security forces and infrastructure since mid-July. Turkey launched reciprocal air strikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; writing by Ece Toksabay; editing by Jonny Hogg and Jason Neely)


UK extends Iraqi air campaign against Islamic State until March 2017

Tue Aug 4, 2015 4:19am EDT

LONDON, Reuters --

Britain will extend its air campaign in Iraq against Islamic State militants by a year, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Tuesday, saying it would use aging Tornado fighter jets to conduct strikes until at least early 2017.

Britain had previously said the Tornados would stay operational until March 2016, a year later than originally intended, and would then be finally taken out of service. But Fallon, on a visit to Iraq, said the Cyprus-based planes had capabilities which meant they should fly longer.

"The Tornado squadrons have proved their worth in the air campaign because of the precision weapons they have and because of the reconnaissance and surveillance that they carry out when they're not striking," Fallon told BBC radio.

"The Americans and other allies have particularly valued the contribution of the Tornado and that's why we are continuing the Tornado squadron for another year."

The U.S.-led coalition has conducted dozens of air strikes in Iraq and Syria in recent days, as its seeks to weaken militants who have seized large swaths of both countries as part of their drive to create an Islamic caliphate.

Britain is part of the U.S.-led coalition, but only has parliament's backing to carry out strikes in Iraq not Syria.

Turkey launched its first air strikes on Islamic State in Syria a week and a half ago as it also began attacking Kurdish militants.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Andrew Osborn)


Anti-Houthi fighters score more gains in south Yemen

Tue Aug 4, 2015 1:32pm EDT

ADEN, Reuters --

Southern Resistance fighters react as they prepare to go to the frontline of fighting against Houthis in Yemen's southern port city of Aden July 16, 2015. Reuters/Stringer

ADEN Fighters loyal to Yemen's deposed president seized about 10 southern villages from Houthi forces on Tuesday, maintaining momentum in their offensive a day after capturing the country's biggest air base, residents and loyalist sources said.

Clashes took place across the southern province of Lahj, most of which is now back in the hands of the Saudi-backed loyalist forces.

Militias siding with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia in March, and army units trained and equipped by Gulf Arab countries have made advances against the Iranian-allied Houthis in recent weeks.

Boosted by Saudi-led air strikes, they drove the Houthis from the port city of Aden last month then pushed northward and recaptured the Al-Anad air base from Houthi forces on Monday after besieging it for days.

"The next step for the popular resistance and army forces after liberating Aden is the clearing of the provinces of Abyan and Lahj," a commander in the anti-Houthi forces told Reuters.

Militia sources said a thousand Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived in Aden on Monday.

Yemen's Arab neighbors intervened in the country in March to halt the advance of the Houthis -- Shi'ite Muslims from the north whose fighters seized the capital Sanaa in September and took over most of the country.

The Sunni Muslim Gulf states say the Houthis are a proxy for their archrival, Shi'ite Iran, and aim to restore Hadi to power in Sanna.

The Houthis have been pounded with hundreds of air strikes for more than four months and the raids and other warfare has killed more than 4,000 people. Disease, hunger and water shortages have also contributed to a humanitarian crisis.

In a significant move for desperately-needed humanitarian supplies, two officials from the exiled government told Reuters it would now require all aid ships to dock at the loyalist port of Aden.

Arab ships have been imposing a near-blockade on Yemen to bar arms transfers to the group but had permitted food, fuel and aid to regularly dock at ports held by the militia to relieve civilians in the hinterlands suffering from shortages.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, renewed his call on Tuesday for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict, based on a plan involving Houthi withdrawals from main cities to pave the way for the exiled government's return.

"There must be a withdrawal, a ceasefire and an agreement on them both," Ould Cheikh Ahmed told Egyptian TV channel CBC.

"The government (must) return gradually to perform its duties in infrastructure and services... it must return to Sanaa and to the big cities, that's essential," he said.

(Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf, Writing by Noah Browning, Editing by Ralph Boulton)


Syrian army advances on plain after rebel offensive: monitor

Sat Aug 1, 2015 2:25pm EDT

BEIRUT, Reuters --

Fighters from a coalition of rebel groups called ''Jaish al Fateh'', also known as ''Army of Fatah'' (Conquest Army), man a checkpoint on Zeyzoun thermal station, after they took control of it from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, in al-Ghab... Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

BEIRUT The Syrian army and allied militia have regained control over several northwestern villages from insurgents on a plain crucial for defending costal areas that Damascus holds, a group monitoring the war said on Saturday.

The military is battling insurgents including al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front and the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham for control of Sahl al-Ghab, a plain that runs alongside the western coastal mountains as well as lying close to Hama city.

The insurgents launched an attack this week in the area but the government has fought back using aerial bombardments, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian air force pounded the area more than 270 times in four days, the Observatory said, and by Saturday government forces had retaken several villages and areas located inside the plain.

These included Khirbat al-Naqus and Mansoura as well as surrounding areas, it said. The army had also won back Ziyadia village and Zezoun power station, one of the country's major thermal power plants, which Nusra Front said it had captured earlier in the week.

A total of 39 combatants had been killed in the recent violence, the Observatory said.

State news agency SANA reported late on Friday that the army had taken control of Ziyadia and Zezoun as well as other locations and had "eliminated many terrorists".

Insurgents have made advances against the military in several parts of Syria in recent months, including capturing most of Idlib province to the northeast of Sahl al-Ghab plain.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alluded to military setbacks last Sunday when he said the army had been forced to give up some areas in order to hold onto more important ones during the four-year conflict.

Syria's western flank, which runs in part along the Mediterranean coast and Lebanese border, is home to major cities including Damascus and is seen as crucial for Assad's hold on power.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


The following are Arabic news stories from Iraq by :




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