- - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military intelligence chief on Tuesday warned that global jihadists have moved into Syrian territory bordering the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and could soon use the area to stage attacks on the Jewish state.

Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a parliamentary committee that the Islamic militants have taken advantage of the chaos created by the Syrian civil war to approach the Golan area.

He said Syrian President Bashar Assad has pulled troops out of the Golan to fight rebels in other parts of the country after concluding that the likelihood of war with Israel at this time is low.

The intelligence chief told lawmakers that a power vacuum has created a possible arena for anti-Israel operations, like Egypt’s Sinai desert.

“The Golan area is liable to become an arena of operations against Israel in much the same way the Sinai is today, and that’s a result of the increasing entrenchment of Global Jihad in Syria,” he said.

“Global Jihad” is the term that Israel uses for al Qaeda and other violent groups affiliated or influenced by the global terror network.

KUWAIT

Lawsuit seeks pressure for Gitmo detainees

KUWAIT CITY — A Kuwaiti lawyer has filed a lawsuit against the country’s prime minister and other government officials to apply pressure for the release of two Kuwaitis who have been held at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than a decade.

Adel Abdulhadi said Tuesday the suit seeks to speed talks with U.S. officials on the possible release of Faiz al-Kandari and Fawzi al-Odah. But he also is urging courts to punish government officials over the long detention.

Mr. al-Kandari was charged in 2008 with war crimes for allegedly aiding Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Charges have been dropped.

Mr. al-Odah filed a lawsuit for his release in 2002, but the case was snagged in legal disputes. He claims he was a teacher in Afghanistan.

The official Kuwait News Agency says talks with the U.S. for their release are under way.

IRAQ

Iraqi urges citizens to flee mounting violence in Syria

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s government called Tuesday for all its citizens in Syria to return home immediately to escape the escalating civil war after the recent killing of two Iraqi journalists covering the conflict.

Thousands of Iraqis fled to Syria to escape widespread sectarian fighting during the worst of violence in their homeland from 2005 to 2007. Now, the traffic is heading the other way, with Iraqis and Syrian refugees heading east, and out of the conflict that the International Red Cross just days ago deemed a civil war.

The U.N. estimated there were 1 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and 3,000 more seeking asylum as of January, the latest figures available.

But Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh put the number much lower, at about 200,000.

Mr. al-Dabbagh said Baghdad called on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition forces seeking to overthrow him to resist harming Iraqis who may be caught in the crossfire.

He cited a “rise in killings and assaults on Iraqis residing in Syria” and said 12 Iraqis have been killed so far this month alone.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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