Battle for Iraq's Mosul could take months: ICRC

Stillhart Director of Operations for the ICRC gestures during an interview with Reuters in GenevaBy Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) – The Iraqi government’s assault to retake the city of Mosul could take months, prompting more and more civilians to try to flee to avoid being trapped between frontlines, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross told Reuters. A growing number of wounded, more than 100 on some days, are emerging from rural areas surrounding the city of one million that is held by Islamic State forces, said Dominik Stillhart, director of ICRC operations worldwide. “What we see now on the ground is indeed that the fight in Mosul is not just going to stop anytime soon because the resistance is very strong,” Stillhart, back from visiting Iraq, said in an interview on Thursday at ICRC headquarters in Geneva.

Pro-Assad Syrian mufti rejects terrorism claims on Ireland visit

Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun speaks during Christmas mass at the Cathedral of Mary in Damascus on December 25, 2013, in a picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)Syria’s pro-regime Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun on Thursday rejected claims he had encouraged terrorism in Europe, during a rare visit outside Syria that has triggered outrage from rights groups. “They say that I said I will send terrorists to Europe to kill themselves. “I said, don’t bombard Syria or Lebanon.

Bahraini rights lawyer charged with insulting state institutions: HRW

Bahraini authorities have put a prominent human rights lawyer on trial for charges that include insulting state institutions, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday, in a further crackdown on dissent. The New York-based rights group said that Mohammed al-Tajer, who has defended opposition figures and rights activists involved in 2011 pro-democracy protests, was questioned by the public prosecutor on Nov. 10 for inciting hatred of a religious sect and misusing a telecommunications appliance. Public prosecutors had cited a private WhatsApp voice message sent in early 2016 in which 50-year-old al-Tajer said that the country’s public prosecution was employing surveillance teams to intercept “every word about Sunnis, Saudi Arabia, hatred of the regime, or insults against the king”, HRW quoted his lawyer as saying.

Abbas is Israel's top 'ideological' foe: Netanyahu ally

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas addresses members of his Fatah party in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 30, 2016A leading minister called Mahmud Abbas Israel’s top ideological enemy on Thursday after the Palestinian president suggested he could withdraw recognition if progress was not made towards peace. “Abu Mazen talks about stopping recognising Israel — he never really recognised Israel’s right to exist and the Jewish people’s right to a state of their own,” Steinitz told army radio, referring to Abbas.

الأمم المتحدة: 30 ألف شخص فروا من المعارك في شرق حلب خلال الأيام الماضية

30 ألف شخص تلقوا مساعدات بعد فرارهم من الجزء الشرقي المحاصر من حلب خلال الأيام الماضية، وبهذا يبلغ عدد النازحين في المدينة 400 ألف شخص، بحسب ما ذكره مبعوث الأمم المتحدة الخاص، ستيفان دي ميستورا.

Oil price rally likely short-lived as OPEC deal not enough to reduce glut

An employee of Cosmo Energy Holdings' Cosmo Oil service station checks its nozzles at a branch in Tokyo“The cut by OPEC will be largely offset by increases in U.S. production where the rig count has already increased,” said India Oil Corp’s Director of Finance A K Sharma. Higher oil prices and lower production costs are encouraging U.S. shale operators to increase output, while Kazakhstan started production at the Kashagan field in October. Traders said the extent of the impact of the output deal will also depend on how it affects exports from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members.