Middle East Updates Iraq's PM: Islamic State Planning Attacks on Paris, U.S. Subway Systems

NYC subway security boosted due to terror threat; Iran's President Hassan Rohani said the West's failures in the Asia and in the Middle East have turned the region into a terrorist haven.

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Haaretz
An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group's official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube on September 23, 2014, allegedly shows IS recruits at a training ground.
An image grab taken from a video released by Islamic State group's official Al-Raqqa site via YouTube on September 23, 2014, allegedly shows IS recruits at a training ground.Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Haaretz's latest Middle East analyses and opinions: Assad, rebels see opportunity in Syria strikes (Jack Khoury) Large scale, showy terror attacks loom on Israel's horizon (Amos Harel) | An impressive coalition vs. the Islamic State - just get ready for the infighting (Zvi Bar'el) | Islamic State closing in on Kurds in Syria (Carl Drott)

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See Wednesday's Middle East Updates

Latest updates:

11:46 P.M. New York City Police Commission William Bratton said on Thursday that the department boosted police presence on subways and city streets after the Iraqi prime minister's warning of a potential threat to transit systems from Islamist militants.

Even so, Bratton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to reassure New Yorkers that there was no specific, credible threat to the subway system or the city in general.

"We are convinced New Yorkers are safe," de Blasio said at a press conference at a lower Manhattan subway station. (Reuters)

8:30 P.M. The U.S. State Department on Thursday ordered some of its diplomats and other government workers at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to leave the country because of deteriorating security amid unrest and sectarian clashes that have left Shiite rebels in control of the capital.

"Today, the Department of State ordered a temporary reduction in the number of U.S. government personnel in Yemen," the department said in a statement. "We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent political developments and the changing, unpredictable security situation in Yemen." (Reuters)

6:55 P.M. The Pentagon said it is too early to say that the U.S.-led coalition was "winning" against the Islamic State, pointing to the group's continued access to financing, volunteers and weapons even after bombings in Syria and Iraq.

"Your question gets at ... How do you know you're winning? And what I'm telling you is, it's going to take us a while to be able to say that," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

"Even after the hits they've taken and they have been hit  they still have financing at their fingertips. They still have plenty of volunteers. They still have plenty of weapons and vehicles and the ability to move around," he said. (Reuters)

6:35 P.M. Iraq's prime minister says his country's intelligence operation has uncovered a plot for an imminent attack on subway systems in United States and Paris.

A senior U.S. official said the U.S. has no evidence to back up Abadi's claim.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he was told of the plot by Baghdad on Thursday, and that it was the work of foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq. Asked if the attack was imminent, he said, "Yes."

Asked if the attacked had been thwarted, he said, "No." Al-Abadi said the United States had been alerted.

He made the remarks at a meeting with journalists on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Read full story here (Reuters)

5:00 P.M. Iran's President Hassan Rohani said the West's failures in the Asia and in the Middle East have turned the region into a terrorist haven, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Iran's President Hassan Rohani hinted at foreign intelligence services' involvement in the rise of extreme Muslim groups in the Middle East.

According to Rohani, "certain states" have helped to create extremism "and are now failing to withstand it."

"The right solution to this quandary comes from within the region ... and not from outside the region," the remarks added.

The Iranian president said "certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen," and added that all who played a role "in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors" and "apologize." (Reuters) Read full atricle

3:30 P.M. Kurdish forces in northern Syria pushed back an advance by Islamic State fighters towards a strategic town on the Turkish border on Thursday and appealed for U.S.-led air strikes to target the insurgents' tanks and heavy armaments.

Islamic State launched a new offensive to try to capture the border town of Kobani more than a week ago, besieging it from three sides. At least 140,000 Kurds have fled the town and surrounding villages since Friday, crossing into Turkey.

Kurdish and Islamic State fighters exchanged artillery and machinegun fire in a cluster of villages about 15 km (9 miles) west of Kobani, where the frontline appeared not to have moved significantly for several days, a Reuters witness said. (Reuters)

2:26 P.M. Islamic State militants publicly killed rights lawyer Samira Salih al-Nuaimi in the Iraqi city of Mosul after finding her guilty of apostasy in a self-styled Islamic court, the United Nations said Thursday. (AP) For the full story, click here.

1:35 P.M. French gov't spokesman says French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq Thursday (Reuters)

12:30 P.M. Britain announced on Thursday that it too would join air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, after weeks of weighing its options. Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament, which is expected to give its approval on Friday. (Reuters)

10:45 A.M. Britain says arrests nine in operation against Islamist terrorism (Reuters)

10:01 A.M. France's defense minister says Algerian forces are hunting for the Muslim extremists who beheaded a French mountaineer over France's airstrikes on the Islamic State group.

Jean-Yves Le Drian also said France, which has limited airstrikes so far to Iraq, would continue to evaluate whether to extend them to Syria, as the United States has done to thwart the extremists' advances. He said French jets were in flight even as he spoke.

Le Drian told RTL radio on Friday that the goal of the groups is to "spread terror" after he was asked about the 30,000 French citizens living in Algeria.

Herve Goudel was seized Sunday while hiking in the Djura Djura mountains of northern Algeria. His Algerian companions were freed. (AP)

8:30 A.M. At least 14 Islamic State fighters were killed in air strikes by U.S.-led forces overnight in northeast Syria, a group monitoring the war said on Thursday.
The strikes also killed at least five civilians, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. U.S.-led forces started air strikes on Syria on Tuesday. (Reuters)

12:40 A.M. The United States was joined by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in striking modular oil refineries in eastern Syria on Wednesday, in an effort to choke off Islamic State finances, U.S. officials said. For the full story, click here.

Wednesday's strikes marked the second day of a broadened U.S. military operation against the Islamic State group, after a barrage of more than 200 strikes on some two dozen targets in Syria a day earlier. That campaign, which the White House has warned could last years, builds upon the air raids the U.S. has already been conducting for more than a month against the extremists in Iraq. (Reuters, AP)

September 24

10:54 P.M. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Iranian President Hassan Rohani have met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the first such meeting since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

A Cameron spokesman said Wednesday the two leaders agreed to seek to progressively improve their bilateral relationship.

Cameron and Rohani noted the threat posed to the region by the Islamic State militant group and "agreed that all states in the region must do more" to cut support for terrorists groups.

Britain and Iran have recently taken steps to solidify relations.

The spokesman said Cameron and Rohani agreed it is vital to secure a comprehensive agreement in ongoing negotiations about Iran's nuclear program. (AP)

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