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Concept: Iraq


Previous estimates of mortality in Iraq attributable to the 2003 invasion have been heterogeneous and controversial, and none were produced after 2006. The purpose of this research was to estimate direct and indirect deaths attributable to the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Concepts: Sample, Gulf War, Cluster sampling, Iraq War, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Invasion, Iraq, Saddam Hussein


Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record. For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest. We show that the recent decrease in Syrian precipitation is a combination of natural variability and a long-term drying trend, and the unusual severity of the observed drought is here shown to be highly unlikely without this trend. Precipitation changes in Syria are linked to rising mean sea-level pressure in the Eastern Mediterranean, which also shows a long-term trend. There has been also a long-term warming trend in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding to the drawdown of soil moisture. No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to increases in greenhouse gases. Furthermore, model studies show an increasingly drier and hotter future mean climate for the Eastern Mediterranean. Analyses of observations and model simulations indicate that a drought of the severity and duration of the recent Syrian drought, which is implicated in the current conflict, has become more than twice as likely as a consequence of human interference in the climate system.

Concepts: Climate change, Atmospheric pressure, Jordan, Fertile Crescent, Lebanon, Iraq, Levant, Syria



Fifty random genetically unstudied families (limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD)/myopathy) were screened with a gene panel incorporating 759 OMIM genes associated with neurological disorders. Average coverage of the CDS and 10 bp flanking regions of genes was 99 %. All families were referred to the Neurosciences Clinic of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Saudi Arabia. Patients presented with muscle weakness affecting the pelvic and shoulder girdle. Muscle biopsy in all cases showed dystrophic or myopathic changes. Our main objective was to evaluate a neurological gene panel as a first-line diagnostic test for LGMD/myopathies.

Concepts: Biology, Neurology, Riyadh, Muscular system, Muscular dystrophy, Iraq, Jeddah, King Faisal Specialist Hospital


In August 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the Yazidi religious minority living in the area of Mount Sinjar in Nineveh governorate, Iraq. We conducted a retrospective household survey to estimate the number and demographic profile of Yazidis killed and kidnapped.

Concepts: Demography, Islam, Iraq War, Arabic language, Iraq, Kurdish language, Mosul, Yazidi


Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the rich archaeological heritage of Syria and northern Iraq has faced severe threats, including looting, combat-related damage, and intentional demolition of monuments. However, the inaccessibility of the conflict zone to archaeologists or cultural heritage specialists has made it difficult to produce accurate damage assessments, impeding efforts to develop mitigation strategies and policies. This paper presents results of a project, undertaken in collaboration with the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the US Department of State, to monitor damage to archaeological sites in Syria, northern Iraq, and southern Turkey using recent, high-resolution satellite imagery. Leveraging a large database of archaeological and heritage sites throughout the region, as well as access to continually updated satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe, this project has developed a flexible and efficient methodology to log observations of damage in a manner that facilitates spatial and temporal queries. With nearly 5000 sites carefully evaluated, analysis reveals unexpected patterns in the timing, severity, and location of damage, helping us to better understand the evolving cultural heritage crisis in Syria and Iraq. Results also offer a model for future remote sensing-based archaeological and heritage monitoring efforts in the Middle East and beyond.

Concepts: Middle East, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Archaeology, Arabic language, Iraq, Kurdish people


Dinosaur remains from the Arabian subcontinent are exceedingly rare, and those that have been documented manifest indeterminate affinities. Consequently the discovery of a small, but diagnostic, accumulation of elements from Campanian-Maastrichtian (∼75 Ma) deposits in northwestern Saudi Arabia is significant because it constitutes the first taxonomically identifiable dinosaur material described from the Arabian Peninsula. The fossils include a series of possible lithostrotian titanosaur caudal vertebrae, and some isolated theropod marginal teeth that share unique character states and metric parameters (analyzed using multivariate statistical methods) with derived abelisaurids - this is the first justifiable example of a non-avian carnivorous dinosaur clade from Arabia. The recognition of titanosaurians and abelisaurids from Saudi Arabia extends the palaeogeographical range of these groups along the entire northern Gondwanan margin during the latest Cretaceous. Moreover, given the extreme paucity of coeval occurrences elsewhere, the Saudi Arabian fossils provide a tantalizing glimpse into dinosaurian assemblage diversity within the region.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Mecca, Qatar, Yemen, Dinosaur, Iraq


Understanding the timing and character of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa is critical for inferring the colonization and admixture processes that underpin global population history. It has been argued that dispersal out of Africa had an early phase, particularly ~130-90 thousand years ago (ka), that reached only the East Mediterranean Levant, and a later phase, ~60-50 ka, that extended across the diverse environments of Eurasia to Sahul. However, recent findings from East Asia and Sahul challenge this model. Here we show that H. sapiens was in the Arabian Peninsula before 85 ka. We describe the Al Wusta-1 (AW-1) intermediate phalanx from the site of Al Wusta in the Nefud desert, Saudi Arabia. AW-1 is the oldest directly dated fossil of our species outside Africa and the Levant. The palaeoenvironmental context of Al Wusta demonstrates that H. sapiens using Middle Palaeolithic stone tools dispersed into Arabia during a phase of increased precipitation driven by orbital forcing, in association with a primarily African fauna. A Bayesian model incorporating independent chronometric age estimates indicates a chronology for Al Wusta of ~95-86 ka, which we correlate with a humid episode in the later part of Marine Isotope Stage 5 known from various regional records. Al Wusta shows that early dispersals were more spatially and temporally extensive than previously thought. Early H. sapiens dispersals out of Africa were not limited to winter rainfall-fed Levantine Mediterranean woodlands immediately adjacent to Africa, but extended deep into the semi-arid grasslands of Arabia, facilitated by periods of enhanced monsoonal rainfall.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Jordan, Iraq, Levant


An open question in the history of human migration is the identity of the earliest Eurasian populations that have left contemporary descendants. The Arabian Peninsula was the initial site of the out of Africa migrations that occurred between 125,000 - 60,000 years ago, leading to the hypothesis that the first Eurasian populations were established on the Peninsula and that contemporary indigenous Arabs are direct descendants of these ancient peoples. To assess this hypothesis, we sequenced the entire genomes of 104 unrelated natives of the Arabian Peninsula at high coverage, including 56 of indigenous Arab ancestry. The indigenous Arab genomes defined a cluster distinct from other ancestral groups and these genomes showed clear hallmarks of an ancient out of Africa bottleneck. Similar to other Middle Eastern populations, the indigenous Arabs had higher levels of Neanderthal admixture compared to Africans but had lower levels than Europeans and Asians. These levels of Neanderthal admixture are consistent with an early divergence of Arab ancestors after the out of Africa bottleneck but before the major Neanderthal ad-mixture events in Europe and other regions of Eurasia. When compared to worldwide populations sampled in the 1000 Genomes Project, while the indigenous Arabs had a signal of admixture with Europeans, they clustered in a basal, outgroup position to all 1000 Genomes non-Africans when considering pairwise similarity across the entire genome. These results place indigenous Arabs as the most distant relatives of all other contemporary non-Africans and identify these people as direct descendants of the first Eurasian populations established by the out of Africa migrations.

Concepts: Africa, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Human migration, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq


Introduction The number of civilians killed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion has proven difficult to measure and contentious in recent years. The release of the Wikileaks War Logs (WL) has created the potential to conduct a sensitivity analysis of the commonly-cited Iraq Body Count’s (IBC’s) tally, which is based on press, government, and other public sources. Hypothesis The 66,000 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs are mostly the same events as those previously reported in the press and elsewhere as tallied by METHODS: A systematic random sample of 2500 violent fatal War Log incidents was selected and evaluated to determine whether these incidents were also found in IBC’s press-based listing. Each selected event was ranked on a scale of 0 (no match present) to 3 (almost certainly matched) with regard to the likelihood it was listed in the IBC database. RESULTS: Of the two thousand four hundred and nine War Log records, 488 (23.8%) were found to have likely matches in IBC records. Events that killed more people were far more likely to appear in both datasets, with 94.1% of events in which ≥20 people were killed being likely matches, as compared with 17.4% of singleton killings. Because of this skew towards the recording of large events in both datasets, it is estimated that 2035 (46.3%) of the 4394 deaths reported in the Wikileaks War Logs had been previously reported in IBC. CONCLUSIONS: Passive surveillance systems, widely seen as incomplete, may also be selective in the types of events detected in times of armed conflict. Bombings and other events during which many people are killed, and events in less violent areas, appear to be detected far more often, creating a skewed image of the mortality profile in Iraq. Members of the press and researchers should be hesitant to draw conclusions about the nature or extent of violence from passive surveillance systems of low or unknown sensitivity. Carpenter D , Fuller T , Roberts L . WikiLeaks and Iraq Body Count: the sum of parts may not add up to the whole-a comparison of two tallies of Iraqi civilian deaths. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(3):1-7 .

Concepts: Violence, Iraq War, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iraq, War, Laws of war, Iraq Body Count project, International humanitarian law