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Iraqi Forces Opening Second Front South of ISIS-Held Mosul

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An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga stands guard near the Mosul Dam

Iraqi forces lined up for opening a second front on Saturday in preparation for an assault on ISIS-stronghold, Mosul. The offensive comes a day later to government troops declaring victory over the terrorists in Fallujah.

Elite counter-terrorism forces and two army divisions, backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, advanced from a northern refinery town towards an airfield strategically considered a key for retaking Mosul, security officials said. Mosul is Iraq’s largest northern city and ISIS’s de facto capital in the country.

Government troops cleared two villages and pressed around 20 kilometers along a desert route west of Baiji, the first advance past the town since its recapture in October, the security officials said.

Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi said the assault marked the launch of operations pushing ISIS out of Qayara, about 115 km north of Baiji, where an airfield could serve as the staging ground for a future offensive on Mosul, a further 60 km north.

Army troops on a separate front pushing west from Makhmour for the past three months have made only halting progress on the opposite side of the Tigris river. “The launch of operations to liberate Qayara will not give the terrorists a chance to catch their breath,” Obaidi said on Twitter alongside a picture of Humvee military trucks snaking down a desert road.

Iraqi forces entered the center of Fallujah, an hour’s drive west of Baghdad, on Friday morning after a four-week operation that sent its tens of thousands of residents fleeing to overwhelmed displacement camps nearby.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had declared victory over ISIS extremists by evening, but police sources said on Saturday that government troops had not yet entered seven northern districts captured by the terrorist organization and were still clearing southern areas.

Counter-terrorism forces took control of Fallujah hospital, and were clearing the eastern al-Dhubat neighborhood, a military statement said.

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170 injured in fresh clashes in Palestine

The march of the millions is coming and is expected on May 15. This will be the climax of the Great March of Return.

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File Pic of Palestinians protester

Gaza, May 5 (IANS) Almost 170 Palestinian protesters were injured on Friday in clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel, an official said.

Ashraf al Qedra, a Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that 170 demonstrators were injured, sustaining gunshots, rubber bullet injuries and gas suffocation.

Eyewitnesses said after Friday prayers, hundreds headed to five different locations along the border. Israeli soldiers using loudspeakers warned the demonstrators, asking them to “Go home for your safety”.

The protestors rolled burning tires to within 500 meters of the fence.

The Israeli military said some 7,000 Palestinians were protesting along the border. When “violent riots” erupted in five locations, it said troops responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire.

Sallah Abdul Aati, one of the organizers of the rallies, said the protests will continue.

“The march of the millions is coming and is expected on May 15. This will be the climax of the Great March of Return,” he said.

The protests have been held for six consecutive weeks. As Israel celebrates its 70th independence anniversary, the Palestinians are demanding that the Palestinian refugees forced to leave their homes during the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 be allowed to return.

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Rouhani warns Trump against walking away from n-deal

I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly.

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Tehran, April 24 : Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday warned his US counterpart Donald Trump that abandoning a nuclear deal that the Tehran government signed with world powers in 2015 would lead to “serious consequences”.

Speaking live on television, Rouhani said his government had kept its end of the deal and warned Trump not to tear up the agreement, which had also been signed by Russia, China, Germany, the UK and France.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he added.

Trump has said that unless the US’ European allies put right what he has described as “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12, his government would re-establish economic sanctions on Iran, dealing the pact a major blow, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rouhani stressed that Iran was complying with the deal, as has been confirmed a dozen times by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose Director General Yukiya Amano said in March that a possible failure of the agreement would be a great loss.

French President Emmanuel Macron was in Washington in an attempt to try and persuade Trump not to walk away from the accord.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any US attempt to wreck the nuclear deal.

Iran has said it would ramp up its nuclear programme if the deal collapses.

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Putin warns against further actions violating UN charter

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Vladimir Putin

Moscow, April 16 : Further actions violating the UN charter such as the recent US-led strikes on Syria will result in chaos in international relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over phone on Sunday.

The two leaders condemned Saturday’s airstrikes by the US and its allies on Syria and agreed that it would hinder the process of a political settlement in the war-torn country, according to a Kremlin statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was stated that this illegal action seriously damages the prospects for a political settlement in Syria. Putin in particular stressed that if such actions, carried out in violation of the UN Charter, continue, it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the statement read.

The US, together with Britain and France, launched missile strikes on Syria on Saturday, saying that it was in response to an alleged chemical weapon attack by the Syrian military. The Syrian government has categorically denied the accusation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the same day held an emergency meeting over the missile attack at Russia’s request but failed to approve a resolution condemning the bombardment.

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