World News Briefs -- February 19, 2018

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), Director of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov (2nd R), and Director of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin at the Kremlin in Moscow on Dec. 19, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin | Alexei Druzhinin | Reuters

VOA/Reuters: After US Indictments, Russia Denies Election Meddling

MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Monday denied Russian government involvement in interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the allegations are baseless.

The comments come days after the U.S. special counsel charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with conducting an illegal "information warfare" campaign to disrupt the election to the benefit of President Donald Trump.

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MIDDLE EAST

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

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..

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

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

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 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

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

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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