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Oct 8, 2014

Iran moved nuclear research body to dodge U.N. inspections: dissidents

PARIS (Reuters) – An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Wednesday that a facility in Tehran that the United States suspects is involved in nuclear weapons research has been moved to avoid detection by the United Nations atomic watchdog.

The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. But analysts say it has a mixed track record and a clear political agenda. Iran says allegations of nuclear bomb research are baseless and forged by its enemies.

Oct 7, 2014

Lebanese army to get first Saudi-financed weapons soon: former PM

PARIS (Reuters) – Lebanon’s army will soon receive military equipment as part of a $1 billion grant from Saudi Arabia to help it fight Islamist militants encroaching into Lebanon from Syria, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday.

Hariri, who has close links to the Saudi royal family, originally announced the deal after visiting King Abdullah in August, just days after Islamist militants attacked and briefly seized the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

Oct 7, 2014

Chad to double oil output by 2016, develop minerals -minister

PARIS, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Chad expects to double oil
production by the end of 2015 as new fields come on stream and
has appointed firms to inventory potential mineral deposits in
an effort to diversify the economy, its finance minister said.

The former French colony, one of the poorest nations in the
world, has been rocked by humanitarian crises over the past
decade including conflicts in the east and south, drought in the
arid Sahel region and flooding.

Oct 6, 2014

Mali PM: France, U.N. must step up fight against Islamists in Mali

PARIS (Reuters) – Mali’s prime minister said on Monday Islamist militants had been given an opportunity to return to the north of the country after France redeployed troops across the region and urged French and U.N. forces to go on the attack to stop their resurgence.

Nine U.N. peacekeepers from Niger were killed on Friday when gunmen on motorbikes ambushed their convoy on Friday, the deadliest attack yet on them in the west African nation.

Oct 2, 2014

French troops edge closer to Libya border to cut off Islamists

PARIS (Reuters) – France is setting up a base in northern Niger as part of an operation aimed at stopping al Qaeda-linked militants from crossing the Sahel-Sahara region between southern Libya to Mauritania, officials said.

Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamists in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali last year, redeployed troops across West Africa earlier this year to form a counter-terrorism force.

Oct 1, 2014

France boosts military response to Islamic State, eyes next phase

PARIS (Reuters) – France is sending more fighter jets and a warship to strike Islamic State militants in Iraq and will discuss with the United States long-term coalition strategy to tackle the insurgency, including in Syria, officials said on Wednesday.

France was the first country to join the U.S.-led coalition in air strikes on IS insurgents in Iraq, who have also taken control of large parts of neighboring Syria during the course of the three-year-old civil war there.

Sep 30, 2014

Syrian Kurdish leader fears Kobani massacre if weapons don’t arrive

PARIS (Reuters) – A Syrian Kurdish leader called on Tuesday for Western states to provide weapons to his forces fighting Islamic State in the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani, warning that his fighters were outgunned and risked massacre if help did not arrive soon.

Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has close links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, said that his calls for arms had so far been rebuffed by the United States and European nations, blaming Turkey for obstructing his efforts.

Sep 30, 2014

Amid jihadi gains, priceless Iraqi artefacts hit black market

PARIS (Reuters) – Ancient Iraqi artefacts are appearing on the black market as Islamic State militants use intermediaries to sell priceless treasures to finance their activities after sweeping through the north of the country, Iraqi and Western officials said.

The militants gained some experience of dealing in antiquities after taking control of large parts of Syria, but when they captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and the Nineveh province in June, they gained access to almost 2,000 of Iraq’s 12,000 registered archaeological sites.

Sep 25, 2014

France strikes Islamic State in Iraq after U.S.-led Syria raids

PARIS/BEIRUT (Reuters) – French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq on Thursday and the United States and its allies stepped up air raids in Syria against Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of both countries.

France’s strikes were its first since Sept. 19 when Paris joined the United States military action against Islamic State in Iraq and followed the beheading of a French tourist, reported late on Wednesday, in Algeria in retaliation.

Sep 25, 2014

France opens door to possible Syria strikes after tourist killed

PARIS (Reuters) – France on Thursday opened the door to possibly joining air strikes in Syria just hours after an Algerian Islamist group beheaded a French tourist in retaliation for Paris’ military action against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

France has repeatedly ruled out taking part in air action in Syria where Islamic State has its power base. It fears that strikes against militants there would leave a void that only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces could fill, making it difficult for “moderate” rebels to counter the more organized Syrian army.