SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

July 3, 2014

Militants try to tighten their grip in Iraq, Syria

BAGHDAD — Fresh from success in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group tried to tighten its hold Wednesday on territory in Syria and crush pockets of resistance on land straddling the border where it has declared the foundation of an Islamic state.

Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned that the entire region is endangered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, whose gunmen have rampaged across his country in recent weeks. Facing pressure to step aside, al-Maliki said the focus must be on countering the threat — not wholesale leadership changes.

The militant group has fed off the chaos and supercharged sectarian atmosphere of Syria’s civil war to seize control of a large chunk of territory there. With its recent blitz across Iraq, it has expanded its gains while also effectively erasing the border between the two countries and laying the groundwork of its proto-state.

Led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group this week unilaterally declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land it has seized. It also proclaimed al-Baghdadi the head of its new self-styled state governed by Shariah law and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.

Its assault in Iraq appears to have slowed after sweeping across the predominantly Sunni Arab areas and encountering stiff resistance in Shiite-majority regions. But in Syria, al-Baghdadi’s group has forged ahead with an offensive against towns and villages held by rival rebels along the Euphrates River in the eastern province bordering Iraq.

Militants stormed houses in the frontier town of Boukamal, rounding up people suspected of opposing them, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The extremist group captured Boukamal on Tuesday, after fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front defected.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • 140724_SN_DLE_PEM1-1 Peabody Essex Museum severs ties with Gordon College

    SALEM -- The Peabody Essex Museum announced Thursday that it had ended its longstanding collaboration with Gordon College and its museum studies program, saying the school's attitude toward gay and lesbian individuals conflicts with its fundamental values.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 7 Stories

  • Cop wants pension credit for lifeguard work BOXFORD -- A veteran Boxford police officer is trying to boost his retirement pension by getting credit for his summer job as a lifeguard nearly four decades ago. In a letter to a state appeals board, John Iannazzo said working as a lifeguard for the

    July 25, 2014

  • 140724_SN_DLE_BRIMBAL3 Residents skeptical of Brimbal Avenue plans

    BEVERLY -- Neighborhood residents turned out in healthy numbers Thursday for an open meeting to see and discuss new design plans for the Brimbal Avenue/Route 128 interchange. Concerns ranged from biking and pedestrian safety to tax dollars spending a

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 9 Stories

  • 140724_SN_DLE_GRIFFIN6 Peabody's new police chief receives upbeat welcome

    PEABODY -- More than 100 family, friends, well-wishers, city officials and police officers lined Wiggin Auditorium in City Hall yesterday afternoon to applaud the swearing in of former Salem Capt. Thomas Griffin as the city's new police chief. "Today

    July 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • 140721_GT_MSP_MARKETBASKET_04 [Duplicate] Ousted CEO bids for Market Basket Arthur T. Demoulas' offer to buy the rest of the supermarket chain embroiled in a widespread protest and boycott was met with elation, and then a reality check, protest organizers said Thursday. Demoulas announced his offer Wednesday night, though he

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo