Istanbul airport attack: Turkish PM says Isis behind explosions that killed at least 36 latest updates

Series of deadly explosions tear through crowds at Atatrk international airport on Tuesday evening in attack officials blame on Islamic State

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jun/29/istanbul-ataturk-turkey-airport-attack-explosions-rolling-report-updates

Turkish border guards kill eight Syrian refugees reports

Three children, four women and one man shot dead while trying to escape northern Syria, according to monitors

Eight Syrian refugees have been shot dead by Turkish border guards as they tried to escape war-torn northern Syria, a human rights watchdog has claimed.

Three children, four women and one man were killed on Saturday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said a total of 60 Syrian refugees had been shot at the border since the start of the year.

Six of this weekends casualties were from the same family, said the observatorys founder, Rami Abdelrahman. I sent our activists to hospital there, we have video [of the corpses], but we havent published it because there are children [involved], he said.

The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists inside Syria, supported the claim, reporting that one of the children was as young as six.

Syrian refugees have been making illegal crossings of the Turkish border as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon have made it virtually impossible for them to leave Syria legally.

There have been reports of shootings on the border since at least 2013, and rights groups fear that the number of incidents has increased since European countries, including Britain, began pressing Turkey to curb migration flows towards Europe late last year.

Around 1 million refugees, roughly half of them Syrians, reached Europe from Turkey in the past two years. Turkey has promised to take back all those who reached Greece after 18 March. In recent months it has stopped Syrians refugees in Jordan and Lebanon from flying to Turkey without a visa. Some attribute the crackdown on Turkeys Syrian border and the implementation of the new visa regime to the EUs crackdown on arrivals from Turkey.

EU officials should recognise that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go, Human Rights Watch said after a previous round of border shootings in March.

A senior Turkish official said Turkey was investigating the latest allegations of shootings but was unable to independently verify the claims.

The official added: Turkey provides humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in northern Syria and follows an open-door policy, which means we admit refugees whose lives are under threat.

Turkey is building a wall along its southern perimeter, making it harder for Syrians to reach safety. Turkish diplomats say this is due to fears over infiltration by Isis rather than any animosity towards refugees.

Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees 2.7 million than the rest of the world combined, and more refugees around 3 million than any other country.

Critics say Turkey does not make it easy for refugees on its territory. In legal terms, it treats them as temporary guests rather than as refugees with rights under the terms of the 1951 UN refugee convention.

Despite recent legislative changes, the vast majority of Syrians do not in practice have the right to work in Turkey. Syrian children can nominally go to Turkish schools, but in practice Unicef estimates that 325,000 school-age Syrians are not in education, and many of them are forced to participate in child labour.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch allege that Turkey has deported some Syrians back to northern Syria, where Isis, Syrian rebels, the Syrian government, an al-Qaida franchise and Kurdish forces are all fighting for territory. Turkey denies the claims.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/19/turkish-border-guards-kill-eight-syrian-refugees-reports

Dagger in King Tut’s tomb was made with iron from a meteorite

Researchers who analyzed metal composition of dagger within wrapping of mummified teenage king say it strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin

A dagger entombed with King Tutankhamun was made with iron from a meteorite, a new analysis on the metal composition shows.

In 1925, archaeologist Howard Carter found two daggers, one iron and one with a blade of gold, within the wrapping of the teenage king, who was mummified more than 3,300 years ago. The iron blade, which had a gold handle, rock crystal pommel and lily and jackal-decorated sheath, has puzzled researchers in the decades since Carters discovery: ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, and the daggers metal had not rusted.

Italian and Egyptian researchers analyzed the metal with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to determine its chemical composition, and found its high nickel content, along with its levels of cobalt, strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin. They compared the composition to known meteorites within 2,000km around the Red Sea coast of Egypt, and found similar levels in one meteorite.

That meteorite, named Kharga, was found 150 miles west of Alexandria, at the seaport city of Mersa Matruh, which in the age of Alexander the Great the fourth century BC was known as Amunia.

The researchers published their findings on Tuesday in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

Although people have worked with copper, bronze and gold since 4,000BC, ironwork came much later, and was rare in ancient Egypt. In 2013, nine blackened iron beads, excavated from a cemetery near the Nile in northern Egypt, were found to have been beaten out of meteorite fragments, and also a nickel-iron alloy. The beads are far older than the young pharaoh, dating to 3,200BC.

As the only two valuable iron artifacts from ancient Egypt so far accurately analyzed are of meteoritic origin, the team that studied the knife wrote, we suggest that ancient Egyptians attributed great value to meteoritic iron for the production of fine ornamental or ceremonial objects.

The researchers also stood with a hypothesis that ancient Egyptians placed great importance on rocks falling from the sky. They suggested that the finding of a meteorite-made dagger adds meaning to the use of the term iron in ancient texts, and noted around the 13th century BC, a term literally translated as iron of the sky came into use to describe all types of iron.

The introduction of the new composite term suggests that the ancient Egyptians were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th [century] BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia, the researchers wrote

Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley, of the University of Manchester, similarly argued that ancient Egyptians would have revered celestial objects that had plunged to earth.

The sky was very important to the ancient Egyptians, she told Nature, apropos of her work on the meteoritic beads. Something that falls from the sky is going to be considered as a gift from the gods.

The high quality of the blade suggests that Tutankhamun, who lived during the latest stage of the Bronze Age, was supported by ironworkers who were skilled despite the relative rarity of the material.

The blade may not be the only item derived from falling rocks in Tuts tomb.

In 2006, an Austrian astrochemist proposed that an unusual yellowish gem, shaped as a scarab in King Tuts burial necklace, is actually glass formed in the heat of a meteorite crashing into sand.

It would be very interesting to analyze more pre-Iron Age artifacts, such as other iron objects found in King Tuts tomb, Daniela Comelli, of the physics department at Milan Polytechnic, told Discovery News. We could gain precious insights into metal working technologies in ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/01/dagger-king-tut-tomb-iron-meteorite-egypt-mummy

Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees

Young boy found lying face-down on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum was one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach Greece Warning: this article contains images that readers may find distressing

The full horror of the human tragedy unfolding on the shores of Europe was brought home on Wednesday as images of the lifeless body of a young boy one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos encapsulated the extraordinary risks refugees are taking to reach the west.

The picture, taken on Wednesday morning, depicted the dark-haired toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on a beach, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkeys fashionable resort town of Bodrum.

A second image portrays a grim-faced policeman carrying the tiny body away. Within hours it had gone viral becoming the top trending picture on Twitter under the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore).

Turkish media identified the boy as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and reported that his five-year-old brother had also met a similar death. Both had reportedly hailed from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, the site of fierce fighting between Islamic state insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year.

Where Aylan Kurdi’s body was found

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said: This tragic image of a little boy whos lost his life fleeing Syria is shocking and is a reminder of the dangers children and families are taking in search of a better life. This childs plight should concentrate minds and force the EU to come together and agree to a plan to tackle the refugee crisis.

Greek authorities, coping with what has become the biggest migration crisis in living memory, said the boy was among a group of refugees escaping Islamic State in Syria.

Turkish officials, corroborating the reports, said 12 people died after two boats carrying a total of 23 people, capsized after setting off separately from the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula. Among the dead were five children and a woman. Seven others were rescued and two reached the shore in lifejackets but hopes were fading of saving the two people still missing.

Young
A Turkish police officer stands next to the body of the young boy. Photograph: Reuters

The casualties were among thousands of people, mostly Syrians, fleeing war and the brutal occupation by Islamic fundamentalists in their homeland.

Video: The funeral of drowned brothers Aylan, Galip and their mother Rehan Kurdi is held near Kobani on Friday

Kos, facing Turkeys Aegean coast, has become a magnet for people determined to reach Europe. An estimated 2,500 refugees, also believed to be from Syria, landed on Lesbos on Wednesday in what local officials described as more than 60 dinghies and other unseaworthy vessels.

Some 15,000 refugees are in Lesbos awaiting passage by cruise ship to Athens port of Piraeus before continuing their journey northwards to Macedonia and up through Serbia to Hungary and Germany.

The situation on the islands is dramatic in terms of the sheer numbers flowing in, lack of shelter and ever worsening hygiene conditions, Ketty Kehayioy, the UNHCRs spokeswoman in Athens told the Guardian. The absence of staff to conduct registrations is creating enormous bottlenecks on Lesvos and Kos which is further exacerbating substandard conditions, conditions themselves worsened by very limited facilities.

Local NGOs and volunteers, working around-the-clock to support insufficient state services now stretched to breaking point, described the situation as utterly overwhelming.

Wednesdays dead were part of a grim toll of some 2,500 people who have died this summer attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Athens caretaker government, in power until elections are held on 20 September, announced emergency measures to facilitate the flow after meeting in urgent session under the prime minister, Vassiliki Thanou.

The migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, said the measures would aim to improve conditions both for refugees and residents on islands such as Kos and Lesbos.

Conditions on islands have become increasingly chaotic with local officials voicing fears over the outbreak of disease amid rising levels of squalor.

The problem is very big, said Mouzalas, a doctor who is also a member of the Doctors of the World aid organisation. If the European Union doesnt intervene quickly to absorb the populations if the issue isnt internationalised on a UN level, every so often we will be discussing how to avoid the crisis, he told reporters, insisting that the thousands risking their lives to flee conflict were refugees. There is no migration issue, remove that it is a refugee issue, he said.

The UNHCR calculates that some 205,000 Europe-bound refugees have entered Greece, mostly via its outlying Aegean isles, this year alone. The vast majority (69%) are Syrians, Afghans (18 %), Iraqis and Somalis fleeing conflict in their countries.

Video: Thousands of refugees, including hundreds of children, are still waiting in limbo at Budapest Keleti train station; the majority seem to want to move on to Germany

In Hungarys capital, meanwhile, where the authorities reversed their position and moved to stop migrants travelling to Germany and other western EU countries, hundreds continued to protest at Keleti station. Tensions rose throughout the day as the number of mainly young men swelled to over 2,000.

With police blocking their path into Budapests main international train station, the crowds chanted, No police! No police! and Germany! Germany!

Passions also flared on Hungarys border with Serbia as rightwing nationalist protesters marched to the location where migrants use a train track to walk into the country. Police formed protective circles around frightened migrants as the demonstrators screamed abuse at them.

We have to reinstate law and order at the borders of the European Union, including the border with Serbia, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said. Without re-establishing law and order, it will be impossible to handle the influx of migrants.

He said Hungarys prime minister, Viktor Orban, would take a clear and obvious message to a meeting in Brussels on Thursday with EU chiefs about the migration crisis.

 

 

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees

Hundreds of civilians killed in US-led air strikes on Isis targets report

Airwars project details credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes

The air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 450 civilians, according to a new report, even though the US-led coalition has so far acknowledged just two non-combatant deaths.

More than 5,700 air strikes have been launched in the campaign, which nears its first anniversary this Saturday, with its impact on civilians largely unknown.

Now Airwars, a project by a team of independent journalists, is publishing details of 52 strikes with what it believes are credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of more than 100 children.

It says there is a worrying gulf between public and coalition positions on the campaigns toll on civilians.

Air strikes graphic

To date the US Central Command (Centcom), the lead force in the campaign, has published one official investigation a report in May that found two children were killed in a November 2014 strike in Syria.

The coalitions lead commander, Lt Gen John Hesterman, has called the campaign the most precise and disciplined in the history of aerial warfare.

But Airwars project leader Chris Woods told the Guardian: The emphasis on precision in our view hasnt been borne out by facts on the ground.

Since May, Centcom has conducted investigations into three further strikes, which found claims of civilian deaths were unfounded.

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April. When the Guardian investigated this strike in May, witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

Centcom told Airwars it would only publish investigations with a preponderance of evidence of civilian deaths. It is understood to be examining six further incidents.

Sahr Muhamadally, from the Center for Civilians in Conflict, said: All allegations of civilian harm, including from open sources, should be investigated by the coalition and processes should be in place to acknowledge and assist those harmed.

International NGOs point out that coalition air strikes are significantly safer for civilians than those carried out by either the Assad regime or the Iraqi military.

However, over six months, Airwars examined 118 air strikes and identified 52 that Woods said warrant urgent investigation. Airwars believes there are strong indications of civilian deaths, according to multiple, reliable sources, from these attacks.

Airwars used international and local news reports in Arabic and English, social media postings including photos and videos, and the findings of monitoring groups on the ground. They cross-referenced these with coalition military reports.

The ongoing violence means that on-the-ground verification is all but impossible. But the conflict does not take place in an information vacuum: local people are often quick to post videos and photos on Twitter and YouTube, and to create martyrdom pages on Facebook.

In Syria, the long civil war has seen groups spring up to record atrocities of all kinds, who often funnel news to colleagues outside the country.

Making things more complicated, emotive footage or reports of civilian deaths are used for propaganda by all sides of the chaotic war. In three cases, Airwars found evidence that it believes disproves claims of civilian deaths, for example by unearthing online videos that show that supposed non-combatants were active Isis members.

But in many cases civilian deaths are well-documented. In some attacks, multiple sources suggest that scores of civilians may have been killed.

The bloodiest was a 3 June air strike on a suspected IED [improvised explosive device] factory and storage facility in Hawija, Iraq. Videos and photos posted online after the bombing show a landscape of destroyed buildings and mangled metal. Local people told al-Jazeera and Reuters that over 70 civilians were killed.

In a press briefing shortly after the strike, Hesterman said the coalition used a fairly small weapon on a known IED building in an industrial area, but that this had hit a massive amount of Daesh [Isis] high explosives.

He added: If there are unintended injuries, that responsibility rests squarely on Daesh.

Centcom has since announced a formal investigation after receiving credible evidence of civilian deaths.

In Syria, the worst incidents include a 28 December air strike on an Isis facility in Al Bab that was being used as a temporary prison. Reports gathered by Airwars found that at least 58 prisoners many of whom were being held for petty infractions of Isis rules, such as buying cigarettes were killed. Local activists claimed that the use of the building as a prison was well known.

The coalition did not acknowledge the attack for nearly two weeks, after which it conceded, following repeated questions by news agency McClatchy, that it had conducted the strike.

Civilian casualties graphic

Centcom spokesman Lt Co Kyle Raines said the coalition takes great care to avoid civilian deaths. We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and we apply very rigorous standards in our targeting process to avoid or to minimise civilian casualties in the first place, he said.

The UK is the second-most active participant in the coalition, having launched almost 250 strikes in Iraq.

As Britains MPs prepare to vote this autumn on expanding UK air strikes from Iraq to Syria, Labour MP Tom Watson called for thorough official investigations into claims of civilian deaths to allow an informed debate about the campaign. He added: The UK should be leading in the tracking, reporting of and response to allegations of civilian casualties.

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell told the Guardian he was in favour of expanding British strikes into Syria. But if its our common objective to win hearts and minds and split off the terrorist thugs from the related population, then we have to acknowledge that killing innocent civilians acts as a significant recruiting sergeant for the terrorists, he said.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said that the UK takes every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties. We are not aware of any incidents of civilian casualties as a result of UK strike activity over Iraq, she added.

Woods, from Airwars, said the US-led campaigns focus on urban areas made civilian deaths unavoidable, despite significant efforts to avoid them. What we are seeing in Iraq and Syria is the coalition is bombing where Isis is, and thats in the cities Unsurprisingly, thats where we are tracking the highest number of civilian casualties. The Isis stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, alone accounts for 40% of all civilian casualty reports in Airwars data.

The sheer pace of the strikes adds to the risk to civilians. Raines said that pre-planned missions made up approximately 10% of strikes.

The vast majority are on emerging targets. In these strikes the targeting process takes anywhere from minutes to hours depending on collateral damage concerns, while maintaining careful consideration for each target to ensure we do our best to minimise civilian casualties and collateral damage, Raines said.

Even the highest estimates of civilian deaths in international air strikes are dwarfed by numbers believed killed by Syrian regime barrel bombings and Iraqi government air strikes, and by armed groups including Isis and al Nusra Front.

But Woods said Airwars findings suggest that the coalitions narrative of virtually no civilian casualties may not be true. You cant have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured, but they need to be more transparent, he said.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/03/us-led-air-strikes-on-isis-targets-killed-more-than-450-civilians-report

Senior Islamic State leader in Iraq, Abu Wahib, ‘killed’ by US airstrike

Former Al-Qaida fighter was killed with three other militants when his vehicle was struck in Rutba, western Iraq

A senior Islamic State leader in Iraqs Anbar province has been killed by a coalition airstrike, according to the Pentagon.

Abu Wahib and three other Isis militants were killed when their vehicle was struck on 6 May in Rutba, according to Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman.

He said Wahibs death was a blow to the groups leadership.

A senior US official said it was an American airstrike.

Cook said Wahib was a former member of al-Qaida in Iraq and has appeared in Islamic State execution videos.

ISIL leadership has been hit hard by coalition efforts and this is another example of that, he said, using another acronym for Isis.

It is dangerous to be an Isil leader in Iraq and Syria nowadays.

There have been unconfirmed reports in the past suggesting Wahib was targeted by strikes, but this is the first time the Pentagon has said he was killed.

Wahib started working with al-Qaida in Iraq before being detained by US forces in 2009. He was transferred to an Iraqi prison following the US withdrawal in 2011 and broke out in 2012.

Barack Obama will meet with his National Security Council on Tuesday morning to discuss US efforts to fight Islamic State militants, the White House said.

The session is the latest in a series of NSC meetings in recent months convened at the White House and at key departments and agencies, including the CIA, the Department of State and the Department of Defense, on our campaign against the terrorist group, it said in a statement.

 

Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/10/senior-islamic-state-leader-in-iraq-abu-wahib-killed-by-us-airstrike

Israel brings fresh charges against nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu

Former nuclear technician who revealed details of Israels nuclear programme is accused of breaching restraining orders

Israeli prosecutors charged nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu on Sunday with violating the terms of his release, more than a decade after he completed an 18-year jail term.

Upon his release in 2004, Vanunu was slapped with a series of restraining orders, some of which he has violated in recent years, the justice ministry said.

According to the charge sheet, Vanunu in 2013 met two US nationals in Jerusalem without having permission to do so.

He is also accused of moving to a different flat in his apartment building in 2014 and failing to inform police.

And in 2015, he granted an interview to Channel 2 television, in which he relayed to the interviewer classified information that was by cut out by censors, according to the indictment served at Jerusalem magistrates court.

The former nuclear technician was jailed in 1986 for disclosing the inner workings of Israels Dimona nuclear plant to Britains Sunday Times newspaper.

He spent more than 10 years of his sentence in solitary confinement.

In the 2015 interview, Vanunu said he no longer had any secrets to spill and just wanted to join his new bride in Norway, theology professor Kristin Joachimsen whom he married at a Lutheran church in Jerusalem in May that year.

He has been barred from emigrating on the grounds that he still poses a threat to national security.

Vanunu, 61, converted to Christianity shortly before being snatched by Mossad agents in Rome and smuggled to Israel.

In 2010 he was jailed for 11 weeks after breaking the terms of his release by meeting a foreigner, a prison official said.

Israel is the Middle Easts sole if undeclared nuclear power, refusing to confirm or deny that it has such weapons.

It has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or to allow international surveillance of the Dimona plant in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/09/israel-fresh-charges-nuclear-whistleblower-mordechai-vanunu