Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Turkey says aiding Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross into Kobane <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Turkey on Monday said it was assisting Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross its borders to join Syrian Kurdish forces battling jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobane.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are assisting peshmerga forces to cross into Kobane,&quot; Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara, adding that talks on the issue were ongoing but without giving further details.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have no wish at all to see Kobane fall&quot; to the jihadists, he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The announcement represented a major switch by Turkey, which until now has refused to allow Kurdish fighters to cross its border to join the fight for Kobane just a few kilometres to the south.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Turkish security forces have waged a 30-year conflict with the Kurdish fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose battle for self rule has left 40,000 dead.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However Turkey in the last years has built up strong relations with the Kurdish authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq who control the peshmerga forces.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It appears that despite the agreement over the peshmerga, Turkey will still block any PKK fighters from entering Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkey has come under increasing pressure over the last month to step up its support for the international coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) jihadists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Ankara has so far refused to use its own troops or even let US forces launch their bombing raids on IS from the Incirlik air base in the nearby Adana province.</div> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:40:00 +0000 AFP 2439021 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/21/484151/download_5.jpg Half-mumbled prayers and friction at Jerusalem's holiest site <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>&nbsp;Israeli and Palestinian police kept a tight watch over the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday amid high tension between Muslims and Jewish visitors to the holy site and calls from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to defend it by &quot;all means&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Clashes have flared repeatedly in the past few weeks as increasing numbers of Jews have visited the sacred area during the Jewish holidays, angering Palestinians who see this as part of an Israeli agenda to alter a long-preserved status quo.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The ornate marble and stone compound, known as Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews, is the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest in Judaism. It contains the 8th century al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, where the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the site is ultimately administered by Jordanian religious authorities, Israeli and Palestinian police secure it. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit under close monitoring but are not allowed to pray, a prohibition at the heart of the tensions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shortly after dawn on Sunday, a group of 10 Orthodox Jews gathered among dozens of foreign tourists to visit the site situated on a plateau above the Western Wall, where the second Jewish temple stood before it was destroyed in 70 AD.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Under the wary gaze of police, the group was escorted around the compound, sometimes appearing to mumble prayers under their breath as they walked. Any overt praying or efforts to lower themselves to the ground were quickly stopped by police.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As they passed in front of al-Aqsa mosque, where clashes erupted between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters last week, a crowd of Muslim women, their heads and faces covered, chanted &quot;Allahu Akbar&quot; (&quot;God is Greater&quot;) and the Palestinian police urged the Orthodox Jews to keep moving along.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is a provocation,&quot; said Samy Hashlamon, a Palestinian man sitting nearby under the shade of some cypress trees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;They are trying to confuse us and make us nervous, but this whole area belongs to Muslims.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On a flight of steps leading up to the octagonal Dome of the Rock, which sits in the middle of the 37-acre (15-hectare) tree-lined compound, someone had spray-painted an equals sign between the Jewish Star of David and a Nazi swastika.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was removed by police within minutes, but not before the Jewish visitors had seen and photographed it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Changing the status quo</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In recent months, Moshe Feiglin, a far-right member of the Israeli parliament from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu&#39;s Likud party, has led a drive to encourage Jews to visit and pray at the Temple Mount, despite it being forbidden by the Torah.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His aim is to overturn agreements dating back to the 1967 Middle East War, when Israel seized control of the Old City of Jerusalem, including Temple Mount, before handing responsibility for administering the site to the Islamic authorities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Because the area is so sacred to both Jews and Muslims, it is frequently the source of friction between the communities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 1990, Israeli forces blocked Muslim worshippers from accessing the compound, leading to clashes that ultimately left 20 Palestinians dead and more than 100 wounded.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A visit to al-Aqsa in 2000 by then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon was seen as a serious provocation by Palestinians and a spark that helped ignite a five-year uprising or Intifada.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last week, as tensions boiled again, Israeli forces restricted access to the area to Muslim men over the age of 50.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Among the Jewish visitors on Sunday was Meyer Beck, 59, who prayed fervently before going up to the plateau, where he walked barefoot in a show of humility under the watchful eyes of police. Asked if he had prayed at the site, he smiled and said he &quot;did what I can&quot;, including reciting prayers in his head.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s about showing who has ownership of the Temple Mount,&quot; he said, adding that he had visited nearly 40 times.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Asked what the ultimate goal was, he replied: &quot;It&#39;s about making the point to the world that this is ours. If we show that we care about this then it becomes an issue, and then the government will have to listen and take a stand.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That is exactly what Palestinians fear, especially any creeping changes to the status quo, something Netanyahu promised last week would not happen. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not convinced and urged his people not to give ground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The (Jewish) settlers must be barred from entering the compound by any means,&quot; he declared on Friday. &quot;This is our Aqsa ... and they have no right to enter it and desecrate it.&quot;</div> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:59:00 +0000 Reuters 2439005 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/07/30/228/2012-07-25t223915z_1723732366_gm1e87q0i5h01_rtrmadp_3_palestinians.jpg North, South Korean troops exchange border fire <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>North and South Korean troops briefly exchanged fire Sunday in the latest in a series of minor border skirmishes that have raised military tensions on the divided peninsula.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The South&#39;s defence ministry said the exchange inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the two rivals lasted only 10 minutes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There were no reported casualties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite its name, the DMZ is probably the world&#39;s most heavily militarised border, bristling with watchtowers and landmines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Four kilometres wide, it straddles the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) which marks the actual frontier.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A defence ministry official said a South Korean border patrol had spotted North Korean troops approaching close to the MDL.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Verbal warnings were issued by loudspeaker and then warning shots were fired,&quot; the official said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The North Koreans then opened fire on our troops, who returned fire,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to an official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, South Korean troops had issued verbal warnings or fired warning shots on two other occasions along the MDL in the past 24 hours.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There have been a series of border exchanges in recent weeks that have raised temperatures along the perennially volatile border.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On 10 October the two sides traded heavy machine-gun fire after the North&#39;s military tried to shoot down some leaflet-laden balloons launched by South Korean anti-Pyongyang activists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A few days before that, North and South Korean naval patrol boats had briefly exchanged warning fire near their disputed Yellow Sea border, which has been the site of numerous clashes in the past.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There were no casualties reported in either incident.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last Wednesday, at the North&#39;s instigation, the two Koreas held high-level military talks to address the tensions but they ended without agreement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The North later accused the South of arrogance and of seeking to undermine its peace overtures.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The border incidents have jeopardised an agreement -- reached during a surprise visit to the South by a top-ranking North delegation earlier this month -- to resume high-level talks suspended since February.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although the incidents have been relatively minor, Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at Seoul&#39;s University of North Korean Studies, warned that even the smallest skirmish carried the risk of escalation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The nerves of the soldiers on both sides get frayed at moments like this, and that increases the likelihood of an accidental clash that could spiral out of control,&quot; Yang said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>North Korea is particularly irritated by the anti-Pyongyang leaflets which South Korean activists regularly float over the border -- suspended under gas-filled balloons.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It has repeatedly called on the South to ban the balloon launches, but Seoul insists it has no legal grounds for doing so.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.</div> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:42:00 +0000 AFP 2439003 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/12/06/484151/b51b58d363e9a509b0316cc00b85560a6cc12c8e.jpg US, four European countries call for end to violence in Libya <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The United States and four European countries jointly called on Saturday for an end to violence in Libya.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The governments of France, Italy, Germany, Britain and the United States said in a statement that they &quot;agree that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis&quot; and expressed dismay that calls for a ceasefire had not been respected.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dozens of people have been killed in Benghazi in days of fighting between Islamic militant groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, and pro-government forces led by former General Khalifa Haftar, who began an offensive on Wednesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The joint statement voiced concern over Haftar&#39;s offensive and said Libya&#39;s &quot;fight against terrorist organizations can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Libya has failed to build up state security forces and disarm former rebels who helped remove Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country for 42 years until his downfall in 2011.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States and its four European allies also condemned Ansar al-Sharia and said &quot;Libya&#39;s hard fought freedom is at risk if Libyan and international terrorist groups are allowed to use Libya as a safe haven.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The statement threatened sanctions against individuals who &quot;threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstruct or undermine the political process.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Libya also is struggling with two competing governments vying for control after armed groups from the western city of Misrata seized the capital of Tripoli in August, forcing the government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to withdraw to the east.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:26:00 +0000 Reuters 2438996 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/20/484151/download.jpg