Iraqi forces mounted a massive operation on Saturday to better secure the country's western desert amid concerns it is being used by Sunnis heading to fight in neighboring Syria.
Some 20,000 troops attacked suspected hideouts of fighters linked to Sunni militant groups, including al-Qaida, and looked to secure a key road leading to Syria, top officers said.Full Story
King Abdullah II of Jordan, where some 500,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria are being sheltered, called on Saturday for an urgent political solution to the conflict raging north of the border.
"In Syria, a political solution is urgently needed to stop that country's dangerous fragmentation and to resolve the dire refugee crisis," the king said.Full Story
Suspected al-Qaida militants killed a policeman and a civilian in a grenade attack on a checkpoint in southeastern Yemen on Saturday, a security official and witnesses said.
The two assailants threw a grenade at the police checkpoint in the coastal town of Al-Shihr in Hadramawt province, the sources said, adding that two other policemen were wounded.Full Story
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Saturday that Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad should not take part in the proposed peace talks aimed at ending that country's deadly conflict.
"We support the will of the Syrian people, which has expressed its will clearly, saying it does not wish to see any role in the conference for Bashar Assad, or any of those whose hands are stained with Syrian blood," he told reporters in Jeddah.Full Story
Jordan's King Abdullah II said Saturday extremism has "grown fat" off of the longstanding conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
"Good faith talks must get going," Abdullah told the opening of a two-day meeting of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum on the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.Full Story
Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged the United Arab Emirates not to deport migrant building workers for staging a rare strike to demand better pay and conditions.
"It would be scandalous if the UAE deported workers who have taken a courageous stand for their basic rights," HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement.Full Story
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is "still possible,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday, hailing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive stalled talks.
In a speech to the World Economic Forum in the town of al-Shunah on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan, Abbas called on Israel to "end the occupation of our lands,” evacuate settlements and free Palestinian prisoners.Full Story
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Friday amid anxiety over a rash of bombings and violence in the country and the situation in Syria, the White House said.
"The vice president expressed concern about the security situation in Iraq and pledged continued U.S. support for Iraq in its fight against terrorism," said a statement from Biden's office.Full Story
Syrian troops have captured much of the rebel stronghold of Qusayr, in central Homs province, squeezing opposition fighters into the north of the strategic town, a military officer told Agence France Presse on Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said regime forces backed by members of Hizbullah were bombing northern areas of the city, encircling rebel fighters there.Full Story
The United States, Turkey and Qatar called Friday for an urgent debate on Syria at the U.N.'s top human rights body next week, citing the escalating conflict and the regime's assault on the central town of Qusayr.
"We ... request the Human Rights Council to hold an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in al-Qusayr," the ambassadors of the three countries wrote in their request to council president Remigiusz Henczel.Full Story