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Here’s today’s news.
IRAQ and SYRIA
The first group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered the Syrian town of Kobani through the Turkish border this morning, with others expected to join “within hours.” [Reuters] The Islamic State carried out heavy shelling in the area ahead of the arrival of the Iraqi Kurds, who are bringing heavy weaponry to assist the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kobani. [Wall Street Journal’s Ayla Albayrak and Emre Peker]
Iraqi troops are advancing toward Fallujah in Anbar province as part of an effort to recapture the town from ISIS, following their success against the militants in Jurf al-Sakhar. [Asharq al-Awsat’s Hamza Mustafa]
ISIS fighters publicly executed at least 46 men from a Sunni opposition tribe in the western city of Hit, which the group seized earlier this month. [Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim]
A Syrian regime helicopter dropped two barrel bombs on a displaced persons camp in the northern province of Idlib, reportedly killing at least 60 people. [Al Jazeera]
American forces continued to target the Islamic State over Tuesday and Wednesday, carrying out eight airstrikes in Syria and a further six airstrikes in Iraq. [DoD News]
The U.S. is collaborating with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to halt oil smuggling by the Islamic State in an effort to cut off a primary source of funding for the terrorist group. [Reuters’ Florence Tan]
The Pentagon could be targeted by the Islamic State group or other terrorists, according to an internal memo released last week and distributed among the agency’s staff. [Military Times’ Jeff Schogol]
The Pentagon will provide medical examinations to military personnel who were exposed to chemical weapons while serving in Iraq. The move comes as part of a review ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in response to a Times investigation detailing troops’ exposure to chemical agents while in Iraq. [New York Times’ C. J. Chivers]
The “increasingly hostile divergence of views” between Turkey and the U.S. over the situation in Syria may signify the crumbling of a long-standing alliance between the two states, reports Liz Sly. [Washington Post]
Syria’s neighbors are suffering a “devastating human and humanitarian toll” as they struggle to cope with the rising influx of millions of Syrian refugees and the dwindling international support, said the director of the UN’s humanitarian operations. [UN News Centre]
Australia passed a controversial counterterrorism bill on foreign fighters today that gives the police far reaching powers to detain suspected terrorists, legislation described as “counterproductive” by Clarke Jones writing for CNN.
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
Right-wing Israeli activist, Yehunda Glick, was shot and severely wounded in Jerusalem yesterday. Israeli police forces shot dead the Palestinian man suspected of being behind the assassination attempt today, after he resisted arrest and fired at authorities. [Reuters]
Israel has closed the al-Aqsa mosque compound to all visitors following the shooting, an act described by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as tantamount to a “declaration of war.” [AFP]
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss mounting tensions between Israel and Palestine over the construction of further Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The meeting had been called by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians. [AP] Continued settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory is “doing significant damage to any possibility of a lasting peace between the two sides,” said the UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs during the meeting. [UN News Centre]
Sweden will officially recognize the state of Palestine today, the first major European state to do so, in a move aimed at making the status of Palestinians more equal with that of Israel in peace negotiations. [Reuters]
The publication of an anonymous slur directed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a senior U.S. official yesterday may worsen already tense relations between the Obama administration and Netanyahu’s government, Jodi Rudoren reports. [New York Times]
RUSSIA and UKRAINE
NATO has intercepted an unusually high number of Russian military aircrafts flying over Europe since Tuesday, although the alliance said the warplanes remained in international airspace. [Agencies]
France said that the controversial delivery of a warship to Russia is on hold, as the conditions related to the Ukraine crisis have not been met, despite contradictory reports from Russia. [France 24]
The Swedish Ministry of Defense has released a new report, calling on Sweden to conduct an official study on NATO membership in light of the breakdown in relations with Russia.
Ukraine and Russia will continue talks on the natural gas dispute today after last night’s negotiations failed to result in a breakthrough. [Wall Street Journal’s Vanessa Mock]
Russia has dismissed new proposals from the UN aviation agency on reducing risks over war zones as “superficial,” according to a document obtained by Reuters.
The Egyptian military began demolishing hundreds of properties along the border with Gaza, as the country prepares to establish a buffer zone intended to prevent the influx of militants and weapons from the Palestinian territory. [New York Times’ Kareem Fahim and Merna Thomas]
The armed forces are also preparing a military operation against Islamist extremists in the Sinai province, in response to last Friday’s attack in the border area that killed 33 security personnel. [Al Arabiya News]
A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region killed at least four alleged militants today, including an Arab national fighter according to sources. [Dawn’s Zahir Shah Sherazi]
Fox News is set to disclose the identity of the Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden, in an interview to be aired next month. [Orlando Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker]
A Navy intelligence official and another were found guilty on conspiracy charges related to the manufacture of hundreds of untraceable rifle silencers as part of a secretive military project. [Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock]
Houthi rebels captured the strategic central city of Radmah in Yemen’s Ibb province on Wednesday which links the capital, Sana’a, with the main southern city of Aden. [Al Jazeera]
Fierce clashes in northern Mali, close to the Algerian border, killed a French soldier and about 20 Islamist militants yesterday. [Reuters]
Fighting over the oil hub of Bentiu in South Sudan entered a third day yesterday, with both rebels and government forces claiming control of the town. [Reuters]
A 14-year old boy has been arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Vienna, and may be charged with belonging to a terrorist organization, according to the state prosecutor’s office. [AP]
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