Iraq’s president to visit Saudi Arabia as part of regional tour

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Iraq's President Barham Salih and Jordan's King Abdullah review an honor guard at Amman military airport, Jordan, November 15, 2018. (Reuters)
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Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan meets with Iraq's President Barham Salih during his visit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 12, 2018. (Reuters)
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Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah receives Iraq's President Barham Salih during his visit in Kuwait, November 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Iraq’s president to visit Saudi Arabia as part of regional tour

  • Salih visited the UAE on Monday and Kuwait on Sunday
  • The Iraqi president visited Jordan on Thursday where he met King Abdullah II of Jordan

JEDDAH: Iraq’s President Barham Salih will visit Saudi Arabia as part of a regional tour that will also include a visit to Iran on Saturday.
The Iraqi president visited Jordan on Thursday where he met King Abdullah II of Jordan. The two leaders discussed projects in the fields of energy, the extension of an oil pipeline between the two countries, and supplying electricity to Iraq.
“The governments of Iraq and Jordan will promote economic cooperation: the joint industrial city, energy cooperation, the oil pipeline from Basra to Aqaba,” Salih tweeted.
Salih also visited the UAE on Monday and Kuwait on Sunday.
On Saturday the Kurdish president will meet Hassan Rouhani in Tehran and a number of Iranian leaders and officials to discuss bilateral relations, ways to increase cooperation, and developments in the region, the Iraq state news agency said.
The veteran politician was elected last month as Iraq attempted to form a government after months of deadlock since elections in May.
His meetings in Iran will be dominated by a number of pressing political, economic and security issues.
The election left Iraq’s main political forces divided into pro and anti Iran factions. Many in Iraq have become critical of Iran’s heavy-handed influence in the country and its funding of powerful armed factions.
Because of its economic ties with Iran, Iraq has also been put in a difficult position by fresh US sanctions against Tehran.
Last week, the US said Iraq could continue to import natural gas and energy supplies from Iran for a period of 45 days, after reimposing sanctions on Tehran’s oil sector.
Iraq’s central bank said in August that Baghdad would ask Washington for exemptions from some of the sanctions.


Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

Updated 17 June 2019
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Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

  • Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham being blamed for the attack

DAMASCUS: Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham for the attack.

SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible.

It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll — saying five children were among those killed — and also blamed militants based in rural Aleppo for the attack.

But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied militant groups were responsible.

The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province.

More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.