World News Briefs -- February 19, 2018 (Evening Edition)


AFP: 77 dead as Syria enclave pounded ahead of expected ground assault

Heavy Syrian bombardment killed at least 77 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on Monday, a war monitor said, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault.

The escalation came as pro-government forces were also expected to enter the northern Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, to take a stand against a month-old Turkish assault there.

Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad has dispatched reinforcements there in an apparent concerted effort to retake it.

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MIDDLE EAST

UN draft calls for 'measures' over Iran missiles to Yemen.

Dozens of people were killed in Syrian airstrikes, a human rights group says.

Turkey warns as Syrian government poised to enter Afrin.

Syrian army to help Kurdish forces repel Turkish offensive in Afrin: reports.

No one can stop Turkish forces if Syrian Army enters Afrin to protect Kurds - FM.

Moscow calls on US not to play with fire in Syria. US must immediately leave area it controls in southern Syria — Lavrov.

Militants in army uniforms ambush Iraqi troops near Baghdad, 27 dead.

Israeli warplanes pound Gaza after new rocket attack.

Netanyahu in deeper peril as more Israeli officials are arrested on corruption charges.

Israel ready to act against ‘dangerous’ Iran, Netanyahu warns.

Iran denies 'hegemon' plans, denounces Saudi and Israel.

Swastikas drawn on Polish embassy in Israel.

Iran plane crash: Search continues for missing Aseman Airlines jet.

ASIA

Tillerson pledged to keep up the 'maximum pressure' campaign on North Korea — but offered them a way out.

DPRK media denounces US plans to resume war games with South Korea.

Inter-Korean ties still precarious ahead of military talks, N. Korea blames U.S..

Pentagon watchdog reports little progress in Afghanistan despite Trump administration's new approach.

Afghan political crisis deepens as second governor refuses to resign.

Russian military build-up threatens Japan islands deal.

Maldives court suspends rebel MPs ahead of key vote.

NZ Labour Party support rises to 15-year high after four months at helm: poll.

China launches anti-poverty drive in restive Xinjiang.

Indonesia's Mt. Sinabung spews massive smoke-and-ash column.

AFRICA

UN warns of rising food insecurity across Africa.

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs.

Israeli gas company announces $15B export deal with Egypt.

Two aid workers killed in eastern DR Congo.

Nigeria orders military to capture Boko Haram leader "dead or alive".

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai campaign.

Sudan releases activists arrested over 'bread protests'.

Togo talks offer 'last chance' to resolve crisis.

At least 17 killed in Mozambique capital as pile of garbage collapses.

Somali refugees enslaved in Libya return home.

Drought and conflict shutting down schools in East Africa.

EUROPE

Extent of UK cooperation with Gaddafi revealed.

Kremlin says there's no significant evidence of Russian meddling in US election.

Lavrov dismisses as speculations reports of hundreds of killed Russians in Syria. Kremlin says charges over U.S. election tampering prove nothing.

Ukraine: Thousands demand return of Saakashvili.

France says committed to Iran deal, will keep talking to European, U.S allies.

Italy's Northern League pledges mass migrant deportations.

Merkel taps possible successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as next CDU secretary general.

Latvia in turmoil amid U.S. probe, central bank chief's detention.

Russian team in shock over Games doping scandal.

AMERICAS

Trump revives push for limits on immigrants bringing family.

Russia-Trump inquiry: Ex-aide Rick Gates 'to plead guilty'.

Trump says FBI missed signs on Florida shooting due to Russia probe, draws criticism.

Russia looms large as U.S. election officials prep for 2018.

Mexican opposition candidates slam Trump wall ahead of campaign.

Mexico special agents found dead after cartel kidnapping.

Canada deports North Korean asylum seekers.

Chile seeks extradition of ex-guerrilla arrested in France.

Oxfam Haiti scandal: Suspects 'physically threatened' witnesses.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

Al Qaeda urges Egyptians to topple government as Egypt preps for vote.

ISIS claim responsibility for attack on Orthodox church that left five women dead as video emerges showing one person fleeing for her life.

Kremlin: Intensive struggle against extremism in Dagestan goes on.

12 ISIL widows sentenced to death, life by Iraqi court.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

World stocks break recovery streak with U.S. and China closed.

US Congress sets sights on federal cryptocurrency rules.

Gates says billionaires should pay 'significantly' more taxes.

Australia, US, India, Japan mulling 'infrastructure scheme to rival China'.

South Korean president: Seoul may file complaint against U.S. trade protectionism.

Bitcoin surging higher after mystery trader buys $344mn in cryptocurrency.

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