ISIS destroys shrines and mosques, may be targeting Mecca
ISIS is leaving a path of destroyed churches, shrines and mosques in its wake as it storms across Syria and Iraq, and has even set its sights on Mecca -- Islam's holiest site.
The nihilistic jihadis, led by self-proclaimed descendant of Prophet Muhammad Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have already bulldozed or blown up some of the most sacred places in Iraq, and seem bent on killing and destroying anyone or anything that does not measure up to their vision of Islam. Experts say the group, which originally stood for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but now simply calls itself "Islamic State," has appointed itself the leading proponent of the Muslim faith.
Israeli military steps up Gaza Strip airstrikes on second day of offensive
Israel’s military said Wednesday that it had struck dozens of sites linked to the Islamic militant group Hamas on the second day of an offensive aimed at stopping rocket attacks directed at key cities across Israel.
The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rocket-launching sites, six Hamas compounds -- including naval police and national security compounds -- 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.
Israel prepared to expand operation against Hamas in Gaza
An Israeli security operation against the militant group Hamas "will probably not end within several days," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday.
The development appeared to confirm fears that the conflict would continue to escalate.
"We will not tolerate rocket fire and we are prepared to expand the operation and to exact a heavy toll on Hamas," he said.
Hamas claims nine militants killed by Israeli airstrikes hours after arrests in Palestinian teen's killing
The group said its men were killed in a strike on a tunnel used by the militants. The Israeli military has claimed that men were involved in rocket attacks on southern Israeli communities.
Israel said it carried out airstrikes on at least "14 terror sites" including "concealed rocket launchers" in Gaza overnight in retaliation to a recent spike in attacks from Gaza.
About a dozen rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza overnight the military said. One injured a soldier.
Israel moving troops near Gaza Strip border, officials say
Israel has begun sending troop reinforcements to its border with the Gaza Strip amid intensifying rocket barrages, defense officials said Thursday.
The movement of tanks and artillery forces came after another night of heavy rocket fire, including barrages that struck two homes in the southern border town of Sderot. Israel's last major operation in Gaza, a territory controlled by the Hamas militant group, took place in late 2012.
The rocket strikes sparked Israeli reprisals and added to mounting tensions surrounding the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in Jerusalem.
Iraqi parliament delays first session as ISIS continues deadly march
After much anticipation over how it would address the country's turmoil, Iraq's new parliament postponed its first session until next week, citing a lack of a quorum.
The move came after 90 members of parliament failed to return after a 30-minute morning break during the scheduled session Tuesday.
"We are going to postpone because of an urgent matter," the speaker of the parliament said. He did not say what the urgent matter was, and it was not immediately clear what happened.
As Israel mourns, prepares to bury three teens, leader warns 'Hamas will pay'
Many of Israel's 8 million citizens were in mourning Tuesday as three teens, whose bodies were found Monday, were to be buried.
At a large funeral, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver the eulogy, his office announced. President Shimon Peres will attend as well.
Processions for each of the three boys -- Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Frankel, a 16-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen -- will meet up at Modi'in cemetery, Israeli media reported.
"I'm holding his picture and I see his smile," said Leehy Shaar, Gilad Shaar's aunt. "He's so young and innocent. ... It's just too sad to even imagine."
Sunni militants declare Islamic state in Iraq and Syria
The leaders of an Al Qaeda splinter group that has seized vast portions of northern and western Iraq have declared the establishment of an Islamic state and demanded allegiance from other Muslim groups.
In an audio statement posted online that coincided with the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), announced that the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was the "caliph," or leader, of a state whose territory extended from the city of Aleppo in northwestern Syria, to Diyala province in northeastern Iraq.
South Sudan named most fragile country; U.S. joins list of worsening nations
South Sudan tops the list of the world's most fragile nations, while the United States is among the countries that have worsened the most over the past year, a new report says.
Fractious leadership, mass killings and ethnic violence contributed to South Sudan's No. 1 position, said Fund For Peace, a Washington-based nonprofit that compiles the annual list.
Until this year, it referred to it as the list of failed states. Somalia had led the list for six years.
Somalia's fall to second place is due to its "trajectory of improvement," despite lawlessness, terrorism and ineffective government, the group said.
Iraq's parliament called to meet amid worsening crisis
As Sunni extremist militants and the Iraqi military battle for control, the nation's vice president has issued a decree calling for parliament to meet Tuesday to start the process of creating a new government.
Thursday's directive from Vice President Khader al Khuzaei, acting on behalf of the President, came amid calls for political action to tackle sectarian tensions that have fueled the crisis.
In a televised speech, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to stick to the timeline to create a new government while accusing Sunnis of "coordinating" the crisis.
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