Middle East updates / Kurdish toops retake Mosul dam

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Magnitude 6.1 earthquake hits near Iran-Iraq border; U.S. expands air campaign in Iraq.

11:35 A.M. Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have pushed Islamic State militants out of Mosul dam, state television reported on Monday.

The television station quoted Lieutenant-General Qasim Atta, a military spokesman, as saying the forces were backed by a joint air patrol. He did not give details. An independent verification was not immediately possible. (Reuters) 

10:50 A.M. Health officials in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi say that a Nigerian woman who arrived on a flight transiting the city and who may have been infected with the Ebola virus has died.

The city’s Health Authority said in a statement carried by the state news agency WAM late on Sunday that the 35-year-old was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.

Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi’s main airport and as medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection.

The woman’s husband and the five medics who treated her are being isolated pending test results. (AP)

10:15 A.M. Britain’s role in the Iraq crisis has moved beyond a “humanitarian mission” and its expanded operations could last for months, its defense minister said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.

Britain has so far limited itself to aid drops, surveillance and a deal to transport more military supplies to Kurdish regional forces allied with the Baghdad central government against Islamist insurgents who have overrun much of northern Iraq. In addition, Britain’s trade envoy to Iraq has said SAS special forces are gathering intelligence there.

“This is not simply a humanitarian mission,” Defence Minister Michael Fallon told The Times newspaper.

Warning that the operation could last months, Fallon was reported as saying that RAF Tornado military jets and a spy plane were flying further into Iraq, beyond the focus area of the humanitarian crisis in the Kurdistan region, to gather information on the forces of Islamic State. (Reuters)

9:51 A.M. One Egyptian policeman was killed and another wounded in an armed attack at a checkpoint in the northern province of Gharbiya on Monday, state news agency MENA said.

Authorities closed of the area and started searching for the perpetrators, an Interior Ministry source told MENA.

Security forces have come under attack in Egypt by Islamist militants since former army chief Abdel Fattah al Sisi, now the country’s president, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year.(Reuters)

7:43 A.M. A strong, magnitude 6.1 earthquake jolted a sparsely populated mountainous province near Iran’s border with Iraq on Monday, Iranian state television reported.

There were no reports of fatalities but a local official said there were injuries and that the temblor had caused damage.

The TV said the quake hit the town of Murmuri, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran, at 7:02 local time (0232 GMT). Read the full story here

7:31 A.M. Japan has received information that one of its citizens has been captured in northern Syria by the Islamic State militant group and is analyzing it, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

A video clip posted earlier on YouTube showed a man lying on the ground being questioned by unidentified persons and responding that he was Japanese and that his name was Haruna Yukawa.

The name is the same as that of a chief executive of a self-described private mercenary and security firm. No one answered the telephone at the Tokyo-based company.

In the video clip, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, the man can be heard being asked in English, “Why do you have a gun?” But his answer is inaudible.

A Facebook posting by the head of the Japanese security firm on July 11 shows him test firing an assault rifle in what he says is Aleppo, Syria. His Facebook page also shows pictures purporting to be from the Iraqi border. In a series of pictures, he poses in an armoured vehicle and complains of the heat.

7:12 A.M. The U.S. has expanded its air campaign in Iraq with attacks aimed at helping Iraqi forces regain control of the strategic Mosul dam.

The White House said President Barack Obama notified Congress on Sunday that the widened mission would be limited in duration and scope.

The administration’s letter to Congress said “the mission is consistent with the president’s directive that the U.S. military protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq, since the failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians and threaten U.S. personnel and facilities — including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.” It also noted that the failure of the dam could “prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services” to the Iraqi people.

The letter said: “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution.”

 

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