Middle East Updates / Iran Extends New Credit Line to Syria

Iraqi forces, local tribesmen stop ISIS attack on Anbar town; Saudi-led air strikes target Yemen capital of Sanaa; one killed, seven wounded in eastern Libya suicide attack; UN says Yemen crisis could open jihadist path via Somalia.

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Oil pump jacks pump oil at the Al-Jbessa oil refinery in Syria.Credit: Reuters
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For Monday's updates, click here

6:19 P.M. Turkish singer shot in head in latest high-profile attack on a woman

Turkish media say a man is in custody after a young female talent show singer was shot in the head in southeast Turkey — the latest high-profile attack upon a woman in Turkey.

Mutlu Kaya, a 19-year-old Kurd, gained national notice in Turkey in a popular song contest and had been mentored by Sibel Can, a well-known Turkish folk singer.

The state-run Anadolu Agency says an assailant shot Kaya through a window of her house early Monday. Kaya, who had reportedly received death threats after performing in the contest, has been hospitalized in critical condition.

Violence against women is a trending topic in Turkey. The murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan after an attempted rape in February led to widespread protests. (AP)

6:09 P.M. Iraqi authorities to allow fleeing Ramadi residents to reach Baghdad

Iraqi authorities Tuesday bowed to pressure from leaders in the western al-Anbar province and agreed to allow thousands of families fleeing Islamic State to enter the capital Baghdad.

A security source told DPA that a bridge across the Euphrates river near Baghdad, where refugees have camped out for days since the jihadists captured al-Anbar's provincial capital Ramadi, would be opened to all civilians.

Security forces had imposed strict security checks at the crossing, limiting the numbers of fleeing residents who have been able to cross, for fear that militants might infiltrate the capital.

The United Nations said late Monday that it was distributing thousands of ration packs and emergency kits among some 25,000 people who had fled the city.

The current exodus is the second from Ramadi in as many months. In April over 130,000 people fled Islamic State attacks on the city, according to the UN. (DPA)

4:07 P.M. Iran extends new credit line to Syria

Syria's official news agency says Iran is extending a credit line to make up for market needs and reports that the two countries have signed several agreements in the fields of electricity, industry, oil and investment.

The new credit was announced Tuesday during a visit to Damascus by Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran is a top ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is believed to have supplied his government with billions of dollars since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Tehran extended a $1 billion credit line to Syria to help support the local currency in June 2013.

The new credit — it was not clear how much — comes as the Syrian pound's depreciation has accelerated. (AP)

3:37 P.M. Yemen government says no peace talks with Houthis yet 

Yemen's exiled government will not agree to peace talks with Houthi rebels until they implement a United Nations Security Council resolution requiring they quit cities and hand over captured arms, Vice President Khaled Bahah said on Tuesday. 

The United Nations had hoped all Yemeni parties, including both the Houthis and the Riyadh-based government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, would join talks in Geneva later this month to try and end months of fighting. (Reuters)

1:01 P.M. Trial of WSJ reporter held in Iran to start next week, report says

The trial of a Washington Post reporter detained in Iran for months will begin next week, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

State TV and other news outlets quoted an unnamed judiciary official as saying the first session of the trial of Jason Rezaian will be held next Tuesday. The official did not say whether the hearing would be open to the public.

Rezaian's defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, confirmed the report. She told The Associated Press that she learned of the hearing from news outlets but confirmed the news with the court. (AP)

11:25 A.M. Iraqi forces, local tribesmen stop ISIS attack on Anbar town

A tribal leader says government forces and allied Sunni tribesmen have repelled an attack by Islamic State militants on a town between two militant-held cities in the western Anbar province.

Sheikh Rafie al-Fahdawi said Tuesday the offensive started shortly before midnight to capture the town of Khaldiya, which is between Fallujah and Ramadi, Anbar's provincial capital, which the IS group seized over the weekend.

Al-Fahdawi says the militants captured a small village outside Khaldiya. He says no troops or tribal fighters were killed in the clashes. (AP)

11:11 A.M. One killed, seven wounded in eastern Libya suicide attack

One person was killed and seven were wounded on Tuesday in a suicide bombing in the eastern Libyan town of Qubbah, a security official said.

Islamic State militants, exploiting a power vacuum amid conflict between two rival governments, have built up a presence in Derna, a city to the east of Qubbah. But there was no immediate claim of responsibility.  A car packed with explosives hit a checkpoint in the east of the small town, the security official said. (Reuters)

8:15 A.M. Saudi-led coalition strikes target Yemen capital of Sanaa, locals say

Saudi-led air raids hit the Yemen capital Sanaa overnight, targeting forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the east and south of the city, residents said on Tuesday.

The strikes are the first to hit the capital after a five-day ceasefire ended late on Sunday, although military operations resumed earlier on Monday in northern Saada province and in the southern city of Aden.

Sources from the Houthi rebels said they had fired mortar rounds at several areas in Saudi Arabia's southern Najran province late on Monday and that they had engaged in clashes with Saudi forces near the border area.  Reuters could not immediately verify that information. (Reuters)

3:02 A.M. UN: Yemen crisis could open jihadist path through Somalia

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in a new report that the crisis in Yemen could open a corridor for jihadist movements through Somalia, which is located just across the Gulf of Aden.

Ban said in a report to the UN Security Council circulated Monday that security in Somalia and the region is threatened by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. He pointed to continuing al-Shabab attacks in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and the country' central and southern regions as well as increased activities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the massacre of 147 students at Garissa University College in neighboring Kenya in April.

"At the same time, the crisis in Yemen has the potential to further destabilize the region and open a corridor for jihadist movements through Somalia," Ban warned.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss the report on Tuesday.

Ban urged donors to fund the $863 million appeal to help 2.8 million Somalis "in dire need of humanitarian assistance."

He expressed concern at the impact of a crackdown on money transfer companies which provided remittances to an estimated 40 percent of the population. He called on member states to come up with new ways to transfer money from abroad, pending the creation of "formal banking arrangements in Somalia."

10:40 P.M. Nearly 25,000 Iraqis have fled ISIS-controlled Ramadi, says UN

Close to 25,000 people fled the Iraqi city of Ramadi after it was attacked by Islamic State militants and most of them headed towards Baghdad, the United Nations said on Monday. 

Funds to help them were running out and aid stocks were almost gone, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq said. (Reuters)

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