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Rouhani: “Iran could remain in JCPOA if interests guaranteed”

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said if the US decided to scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the other parties should guarantee that Iran will get all it wants from the 2015 nuclear agreement.  The US will be the real loser if it walks away from the nuclear accord, he added. “We have our own plan. Either what we demand from the JCPOA is fulfilled by the non-American (parties), (and in that case) the US withdrawal will be the removal of a trouble, or we (will resort to) our legal and rational option… if what we expect is not fully accomplished,” the president said.

He warned Washington against the “strategic mistake” of withdrawing from the nuclear deal, reiterating though that Iran has no concerns about the US’s cruel policies and wrong moves. US President Donald Trump in January set a 120-day deadline for US lawmakers and European allies to “fix” his predecessor Barack Obama’s main foreign policy achievement or face a US exit.

20 Islamic State members, planning to target parliamentary elections, arrested in Nineveh

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Police troops have arrested 20 Islamic State militants as they were planning to carry out terrorist operations during the parliamentary elections in Nineveh, a security source said on Thursday. “Information from the intelligence helped in arresting 20 terrorists who were planning to carry out terrorist operations during elections in Mosul city and its vicinity,” the police source told Alghad Press. The troops, according to the source, “managed to arrest the terrorists in several regions in al-Shuhadaa al-Thaniya district in Mosul.” Moreover, the Nineveh Police Command announced arresting an IS member in an operation in west of Mosul. Maj. Gen. Hamad Namis al-Jabouri, the commander, said troops arrested “IS member, known as Khaled al-Loweizi, in the market of Sumar district in west of Mosul.” Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against security troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country.

UN agency says 68 Iraqis killed and 122 injured in April clashes

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A total of 68 Iraqis were killed and another 122 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in April, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Of the overall figures, the number of civilians killed, excluding police, was 64, while the number of injured was 122, the UN agency said in its monthly statement released on Wednesday. Anbar was the worst affected Governorate, with 53 civilian casualties (24 killed, 29 injured), followed by Baghdad with 8 killed and 30 injured, and Kirkuk with 10 killed and 21 injured. “The casualty figures reported continue steadily to decline after the military defeat of Dae’sh (Islamic State) last year. This is good news, but the best news will be when Iraq is completely free of the threat of terrorism and is at peace,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq Ján Kubiš.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un tells China he is committed to denuclearization

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting Chinese diplomat on Thursday that he is committed to denuclearization, China’s foreign ministry said, as diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace to the Korean peninsula gather pace. China is North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite its anger at North Korea’ repeated nuclear and missile tests, and its support for strong UN sanctions against the North. China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, is visiting North Korea following last week’s historic meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s Kim Jong Un, when both pledged to improve ties.

The North surprised the world several days before the summit by declaring it would dismantle its nuclear test site to “transparently guarantee” its dramatic commitment to stop all nuclear and missile tests. Wang told Kim that North Korea had seized the day and made a decisive decision, bringing positive changes. China supported an end to the state of war on the peninsula, North Korea’s shift to economic development and the resolution of North Korea’s legitimate security concerns during the denuclearization process, he said.

US-led coalition signals end of major operations against Islamic State in Iraq

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The coalition has closed down its land forces command headquarters in Baghdad, “signifying the end of major combat operations against ISIS in Iraq,” the 75-member global alliance announced on Monday. The Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command supported Iraqi forces in the war against ISIS. Its train, advise, assist, and equip missions will now be consolidated within a single headquarters “as the nature of its support to the [Iraqi Security Forces] evolves from supporting and enabling combat operations to the training and development of self-sufficient Iraqi security-related capabilities.”

“Thanks to our partnered success, we are able to continue our support to the Government of Iraq under the unified command of CJTF-OIR,” said outgoing commander of the force Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt. The coalition has increasingly scaled back its activities in Iraq, focusing on training and advising Iraqi forces with the locals taking the lead in active combat missions.

 

Libya and US sign security cooperation deal

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The US and Libya’s Government of National Accord signed a security cooperation agreement, which includes a memorandum of intent for airport security and a letter of agreement to support Libyan policing, prisons and justice sector development. The agreement provide technical assistance in the field of criminal justice through training as well as the installation of a system to verify the authenticity of travel documents at airports and Libyan borders.

Three Islamic State members killed in confrontations against troops, southwest of Kirkuk

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Three Islamic State members were killed in confrontations with security troops, southwest of Kirkuk, a security source from the province said on Thursday. Speaking to AlSumaria News, the source said, “armed confrontations occurred between the Federal Police and al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) against Islamic State members in al-Khadra village in al-Zab town, southwest of Kirkuk.” The clashes, according to the source, who preferred anonymity, added that “three militants have been killed so far as the confrontations are still ongoing.” Security troops carry out operations, every now and then, in search for the dormant cells of IS.

Haidar Al-Abadi announces military operation in eastern Iraq

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Iraqi Prime Minister, Haidar al-Abadi announced on Tuesday a military operation to hunt for dormant Islamic State militants in Jazira area northeast of Baghdad and Euphrates heights. “We have started an operation in Jazira area and Euphrates heights to prevent the emergence of any terrorist group,” said Abadi at his weekly press conference in Baghdad. ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed, when US-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants’ capital in Mosul, after a nine-month campaign. Iraqi forces discovered a bomb-making factory in western Mosul, interior ministry said on Sunday. Iraqi Ministry of Interior said in a statement that a unit of Mosul directorate police found a factory where vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were made by Islamic State in New Mosul neighborhood. The factory had 150 kilograms of ammonium nitrate used in the VBIEDs in Mosul, the ministry added.

Iraq will not allow its soil to be used for attack on Syria

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The Iraqi government spokesperson, Saad Hadithi, said on Tuesday that Baghdad will not allow the country’s soil to be used for attacks on Syria. Hadithi said in a statement that the Syrian conflict allowed ISIS extremists to emerge and flourish into Iraq in 2014. Baghdad will not launch any attack on Syria and let any operation from Iraqi soil against its neighbor Syria, Hadithi added. Baghdad attempts to maintain unity and stability for Syria in an effort to completely defeat ISIS and create the circumstances that will prevent its return, he said

Rouhani and Putin visit Turkey in bid to end Syria war

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The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterated their commitment to work toward achieving a sustainable cease-fire between warring sides in Syria and bringing peace and stability to the war-torn country. Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of lasting cease-fire between the conflicting parties and advancement of the political process envisaged by UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” said a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting of the three leaders in Ankara on Wednesday. In the statement, Rouhani, Putin and Erdogan also emphasized their “strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character of Syria.”

They also stressed that there could be “no military solution” to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be settled only through a “negotiated political process.” The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey, whose countries act as guarantors of the Syria cease-fire, also reaffirmed their determination to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate Daesh, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or Daesh as identified by the UN Security Council and underscored the success of their collective efforts in the fight against international terrorism. Addressing the summit, Rouhani said the Syrian region of Afrin, captured by Turkish forces, should be handed over to Syria’s Army. “The developments in Afrin can only be useful if they do not violate Syria’s territorial integrity, and control of these areas should be handed over to the Syrian Army,” Rouhani said.

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