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Friday, Oct 31st

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How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

US buys antiquities from ISIS“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.

And smuggling is booming in Iraq and Syria right now. In Iraq, 4,500 archaeological sites, some of them UNESCO World Heritage sites, are reportedly controlled by Islamic State and are exposed to looting. Iraqi intelligence claim that Islamic State alone has collected as much as $36 million from the sales of artifacts, some of them thousands of years old.

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Britain ends combat role in Afghanistan, last US Marines hand over base

Afghan war endingBritish troops ended their combat operations in Afghanistan on Sunday as they and U.S. Marines handed over two huge adjacent bases to the Afghan military, 13 years after a U.S.-led invasion launched the long and costly war against the Taliban.

Their departure leaves Afghanistan and its newly installed president, Ashraf Ghani, to deal almost unaided with an emboldened Taliban insurgency after the last foreign combat troops withdraw by year-end.

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US launches 22 air strikes on Isis strongholds in Iraq

US airstrikes on ISISA day after the Department of Defense announced the first US death in the campaign against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq, Central Command said 22 air strikes had been carried out in the country on Friday and Saturday.

Marine lance corporal Sean P Neal, one of 1,600 troops supporting Iraqi forces against Isis, died in Baghdad of a “non-combat” injury, the US said late on Friday. The Marines said Neal’s death was under investigation.

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T.V. trucks sign of waste in Afghanistan

Waste in afghanistanIn yet another sign of wasted U.S. money in Afghanistan, $3.6 million T.V trucks sit unused in Kabul after a delay of two years.

The State Department contract is only the latest example of a project that has come under fire by the U.S. special inspector general who watchdogs the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

The three trucks were supposed to be used for covering live sporting events, such as soccer, cricket and Buzkashi, which according to Wikipedia is a sport in which “horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat carcass toward a goal.”

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In Iraq, Blackwater verdict provides no relief from bitterness

Blackwater murdersLike most Iraqis, Ali Abbas Mahmoud didn’t know when he awoke Thursday that a jury in Washington had found four former Blackwater security guards guilty the previous day in one of the most infamous episodes of the U.S.-led occupation. That’s because the verdicts weren’t widely reported by the Iraqi media.

“They killed my elder brother and his son, but can this conviction bring them back?” asked Mahmoud, who learned about the outcome of the 10-week trial from an American journalist only hours before speaking to McClatchy.

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4 Blackwater guards convicted in Iraq killings

Balckwater guards guiltyFour former employees of the US security company Blackwater have been convicted of almost every charge related to the shootings of more than 30 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad seven years ago.

The jury in Washington found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, and the three other ex-security guards - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard - were convicted on Wednesday of committing multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007.

The trial focused on the killings of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others.

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IS fighters seize weapons airdrop meant for Kurds

Isis seize weapons meant for KurdsISIS fighters seized at least one cache of weapons airdropped by U.S.-led coalition forces that were meant to suppy Kurdish militiamen battling the extremist group in a border town, activists said Tuesday.

The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to ISIS. The video appeared authentic and corresponded to The Associated Press' reporting of the event. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants had seized at least once cache, but may have seized more.

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