Middle East Updates / Islamic State Magazine Says Group Enslaved Yazidis

Turkey FM: Kobani corridor for arms, fighters is 'unrealistic'; Iran warns U.S.: Toppling Assad would put Israel at risk; Triple suicide attack kills 26 Kurdish officers;

A Turkish Kurd, on the Turkey-Syria border, watches smoke over Kobani, Syria,  Oct. 12, 2014.
A Turkish Kurd, on the Turkey-Syria border, watches smoke over Kobani, Syria, Oct. 12, 2014. AP

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Kobani, October 8, 2014.
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Latest updates:

10:46 P.M. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday the United States was deeply concerned about what he called the "tragedy" in the Syrian town of Kobani, where Islamic State fighters have been tightening their grip.

Speaking at a conference in Cairo on the rebuilding of Gaza, Kerry said it would take time to bring a coalition fully together to confront the militants and said the focus must first be on Iraq while degrading Islamic State in Syria. (Reuters)

9:50 P.M. Egyptian police backed by armored vehicles stormed the campuses of at least two prominent Egyptian universities to quell anti-government protests by students, officials and a student spokesman said Sunday.

Sunday's largest rallies took place at Cairo and the Islamist al-Azhar universities, where students smashed a number of newly installed metal detectors at campus gates.

Ahead of the academic year which began Saturday, authorities intensified security measures at universities nationwide to prevent the resurgence of student protests organized largely by supporters of toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown last year by the military after massive protests against him. (AP)

9:00 P.M. A new issue of a magazine purportedly published by the Islamic State group says its militants captured, enslaved and sold Yazidi women and children, the group's first public confirmation of the allegations.

An article in the English-language magazine released Sunday, called Dabiq, states that "the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers." It said fighters divided the women and children among themselves after seizing the town of Sinjar in August.

Human Rights Watch said Sunday that hundreds of Yazidi men, women and children from Iraq are being held captive in makeshift detention facilities in Iraq and Syria by the group. The report noted that the group "separated young women and teenage girls from their families and has forced some of them to marry its fighters." (AP)

5:38 P.M. Three German freelance photo-journalists were arrested in Turkey while covering unrest in the country's south-east, acquaintances of the reporters said Sunday.

Two other foreign journalists, their nationalities still unclear, also appear to have been taken into custody, according to the friends, who are working for their release.

The three Germans - identified as Ruben Martin Neugebauer, Bjoern Kietzmann and Christian Grodotzki - were detained by police in Diyarbakir, a large city in the mostly Kurdish south-east.

The photojournalists, who have lawyers representing them, are accused of being spies, sources said. (DPA)

5:14 P.M. Turkey's foreign minister said on Sunday that a corridor allowing weapons and volunteer fighters from Turkey to reach Kobani, the Syrian border town under attack from Islamic State fighters, was unrealistic.

Speaking to France 24, Mevlut Cavusoglu said a more comprehensive approach was needed to defeat Islamic State, which now control large parts of Iraq and Syria and have been targeted by air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition.

Kurdish leaders have been calling for Turkey to establish a corridor to Kobani to allow aid and military supplies to reach the town which lies within sight of Turkish territory.

On Friday, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' envoy to Syria, appealed to Ankara to let "volunteers" cross the border to Kobani and reinforce Kurdish militias there.

But Turkey has so far refused to take part in the military coalition against Islamic State. (Reuters)

4:14 P.M. The Gulf Arab state of Qatar said it would provide $1 billion in reconstruction assistance for Gaza following a war there between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

"The state of Qatar announces its participation with an amount of $1 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza," Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya said at the Cairo meeting. (Reuters)

3:52 P.M. Algerian troops killed eight suspected militants in the eastern Bouira region where they have been tracking an al Qaeda splinter group that killed a French tourist, state news agency APS reported.

Three suspected militants were killed on Friday and another five were killed on Saturday in Bouira, east of the capital Algiers, APS said, citing an unnamed security source.

The mountains in Bouira are home to elements from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and also to splinter group Caliphate Soldiers which has declared its loyalty to Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria.

A separate security source told Reuters that one of the militants killed in the weekend operation was a commander of the Farouk brigade, one of strongest remaining elements of AQIM in Algeria. (Reuters)

3:23 P.M. A triple suicide bombing killed 26 Kurdish security forces northeast of Baghdad on Sunday. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.

The triple attack took place in Qara Tappah, in the ethnically and communally mixed Diyala province, according to an official from the Kurdish Asayish security forces. He said the first bomber detonated an explosives vest at the gateway to a security compound that also houses the office of a main Kurdish political party. Minutes later, two suicide bombers plowed cars filled with explosives into the compound, causing heavy damage. At least 60 people were wounded in the attack.

Hours later, the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility, saying it was carried out by three non-Iraqi jihadists. The authenticity of the online statement could not be independently verified, but it was posted on a Twitter account frequently used by the militant group.

The group has seized some towns in the volatile Diyala province and has clashed with Kurdish forces there. (AP)

2:42 P.M. Activists say Kurdish fighters have been able to halt the advance of the Islamic State extremist group in the Syrian border town of Kobani, where the U.S.-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes for more than two weeks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the militants have not been able to advance since Friday but are sending in reinforcements. (AP) Read full story here

2:30 P.M. A senior Iranian official warned the U.S. that Israel’s security would be at risk should the U.S. and its allies seek to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian confirmed that his country and the U.S. exchanged messages over the fight against the militant Islamic State group. (AP) Read full story here

2:20 P.M. Britain said on Sunday it had deployed a team of army trainers to Iraq to help Kurdish peshmerga fighters maintain and use heavy machineguns against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Britain announced the move as Kurdish fighters battling IS militants in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani called on Turkey to open up corridors to allow volunteer fighters and weapons to enter to reinforce their out-gunned forces.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said the team, which local media reports said was 12-strong, had deployed to Erbil for around a week to help Kurdish fighters operate the guns which Britain gifted to them last month.

"We are continuing to scope assistance to the Iraqi security forces, further training teams addressing soldiering skills, medical and counter-explosive device knowledge will follow," the ministry said in a statement.

A spokeswoman stressed the army trainers were fulfilling a non-combat role. Although Britain's parliament has sanctioned the Royal Air Force taking part in air strikes on IS militants inside Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly said there was no question for now of deploying ground forces. (Reuters)  

12:27 P.M. Three car bombs exploded at a government compound north of Iraq's Baquba city on Sunday, killing 25 people including military personnel and civilians, hospital sources said.

Sixty people were wounded in the blasts 80 km (50 miles) north of Baquba, the sources added. In a separate incident, two improvised explosive devices detonated at a local market in the Dur al-Dhubat district in southern Baquba, killing six civilians and wounding 10, a police source said. (Reuters)

11:20 A.M. A provincial official says a bomb explosion has killed the police chief of Iraq's restive Anbar province.

Councilman Faleh al-Issawi says the bomb went off Sunday morning near a convoy including Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Dulaimi in the vast province west of Baghdad. The convoy had been traveling through an area to the north of the provincial capital, Ramadi.

It was not immediately clear if others were killed. The councilman said Iraqi security forces had recaptured the area from the militants a day earlier.

Anbar has seen a growing Sunni-led insurgency since early this year. Sunni armed groups led by an al-Qaida breakaway group, known as Islamic State, have fully controlled the city of Fallujah, parts of Ramadi and rural areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. (AP)

1:50 A.M. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday Iraqi security forces were in full control of Baghdad but that the embattled Syrian city of Kobani was a very difficult problem.

Hagel told a news conference in the Chilean capital that the U.S. is making "considerable progress" in its negotiations with Turkey over plans to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants. (AP and Reuters) Read full article

Saturday:

9:28 P.M. At least 45 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad and its rural outskirts on Saturday as the government continued to defend the capital against jihadists who four months ago seized major cities in northern Iraq.

Islamic State (fighters, who took control of large sections of Iraq this year, regularly target Shi'ite districts in Baghdad and are penetrating surrounding farmland where Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militias try to push them back.
In west Baghdad, 34 people were killed by three car bombs in Shi'ite neighbourhoods on Saturday evening, police and medical officials said.

A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle up at a traffic roundabout in Kadhimiya, killing 11 people, three of them police officers, officials said. Another 27 were wounded.

In the Shaoula neighborhood, two bombs were detonated on the same street just 30 minutes apart. In the first attack, a bomb in a parked car exploded outside an ice cream shop, killing eight and wounding 18 people. In the second blast, 600 meters down the same shop-lined street, a militant detonated his car, killing 15 people and wounding 44 others, police and medical officials said. (Reuters)