Turkey has agreed to allow the U.S. military to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants from a U.S. air base in Incirlik, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing defense officials. Local media in Turkey said an agreement was finalized late on Wednesday, but Reuters could not immediately confirm the report. The White House said President Barack Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Wednesday, but it declined to say whether they had reached an agreement on the air base.
By Patricia Zengerle and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Nouri WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both counter-attacked on Thursday against conservatives at home who are trying to block last week’s nuclear deal. In Washington, Kerry told skeptical lawmakers that rejection of the accord would give Tehran “a great big green light” to accelerate its atomic program. Rouhani, elected two years ago on a promise to reduce the international isolation of the country of nearly 80 million people, defended the agreement following criticism from the Revolutionary Guards and conservative lawmakers that it endangers Iran’s security.
Amnesty International on Thursday protested at what it called a "staggering execution spree" in Iran so far this year that has seen almost 700 people put to death. "At this shocking pace, Iran is set to surpass the total number of executions in the country" recorded by Amnesty for the whole of 2014. Said Boumedouha, deputy head of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said the spike "paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale".
At least 10 migrants who were seeking to reach Europe are feared dead after their inflatable dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya, a local prosecutor on the Italian island of Sicily said Thursday. A UNHCR spokesman had earlier said that the potential toll could reach up to 40, but prosecutor Francesco Paolo Giordino said it would be closer to "about a dozen". "From what I managed to find out, the victims were on an inflatable boat that was carrying about 100 migrants," said Giordino.
French President Francois Hollande conferred with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani Thursday on "conditions for implementing" the Iran nuclear accord, Hollande's office said. Hollande "expressed the wish for Iran to contribute positively to the resolution of crises in the Middle East," it added. The conversation marks the latest step by Western leaders to beef up contacts with Iran since the July 14 deal in Vienna.
British publisher Pearson on Thursday said it had agreed to sell its salmon-pink business newspaper the Financial Times to Japanese media group Nikkei for £844 million ($1.31 billion, 1.2 billion euros). Pearson said it was selling the FT Group, which includes FT.com. In a video interview with the FT, Pearson's chief executive John Fallon said the company wanted to focus on being "the world's best education company".
Iraqi troops trained by the US-led coalition have joined the battlefield for the first time, a US pentagon spokesman said Thursday, and are battling the Islamic State group to retake Ramadi. "As many as 3,000" Iraqi soldiers trained and armed by the coalition are taking part in ongoing operations to reconquer the Anbar provincial capital, Colonel Steven Warren said. "This is a development we are very satisfied to hear," he told reporters in Baghdad during a visit by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
After mortar shells claimed both soldiers and civilian casualties, new radar system will increase warning time from 3-5 seconds to 15 seconds.