World News Briefs -- February 20, 2018



VOA: Monitor: Syrian Military Bombardment of Damascus Suburb Kills 100, 500 Wounded

Heavy Syrian military airstrikes and rocket attacks on a Damascus suburb have killed nearly 100 people and wounded close to 500 since Sunday, a Syrian monitoring group says.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a large number of civilians, including children, are among the victims in eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian military has launched an all-out operation to retake eastern Ghouta. It is one of the last areas near Damascus still in the hands of rebels and Islamic militants looking to topple the Assad government.

The observatory says the air operation is aimed at paving the way for a ground offensive.

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MIDDLE EAST

Ghouta: Death toll soars as Syrian government bombards rebel-held city.

Turkey denies reports Syria will help YPG in Afrin.

Erdogan: Turkish army will besiege Afrin within days.

Israel’s Netanyahu and former state secretary Kerry go toe-to-toe on Iran nuclear deal.

Iran plane crash wreckage found on top of mountain, no survivors expected.

Abbas seeks alternative to US as peace mediator.

New woes for Netanyahu as associates probed in fresh graft cases.

ASIA

Another Marawi possible, Philippine rebel chief warns.

Duterte plays down China military facilities in disputed seas.

North Korea ‘fully ready for both dialogue and war,’ state media says

Fewer countries welcoming North Korean passport holders.

Hopes fading for reunion of Korean families.

Study reveals North Korean cyber-espionage has reached new heights.

Myanmar government 'bulldozing Rohingya mass grave to hide evidence'.

Terracotta theft: Chinese anger over stolen warrior thumb.

Cyclone Gita packs 150 kph winds for New Zealand. Gita blasts New Zealand; several districts declare emergency.

AFRICA

Mozambique president presses peace deal with opposition.

Anti-jihadist Sahel force to push for more funding.

Over 5 million seek to vote in controversial Burundi poll: election chief.

2 aid workers killed, 1 kidnapped in DRC, U.N. says.

West African pirates taking hostages for ransom as oil prices tank.

Zimbabwe opposition prepares for election.

Mogadishu's Bakara market on strike over new government tax.

Kenya allows opposition figures to fly to Zimbabwe.

EUROPE

Dozens of Russian casualties in Syria battle, Russian ministry says.

UK Prime Minister May warns EU against freezing Britain out of defense developments.

Post-Brexit UK won't be like Mad Max, says David Davis.

Germany's far-right AfD overtakes Social Democrats in poll.

Serbia arrests eight foreigners on suspicion of spying on military facilities.

Netherlands becoming a narco-state, warn Dutch police.

Catalan politician Anna Gabriel defies court summons.

WHO warns of soaring rates of measles in Europe.

AMERICAS

Top Democrat suggests proof of Trump-Russia collusion still to come.

Mexico kicks off presidential election with 3 candidates.

Mexico arrests 'the Accountant' of notorious Gulf cartel.

Venezuela starts pre-sale of Petro cryptocurrency.

Oxfam apologises to Haiti over sex abuse allegations.

Mexico investigates disappearance of three Italians.

Peru's ex-President Fujimori ordered to stand trial again.

Trudeau in India: Did Modi government snub Canadian PM?

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

After ISIS, the US faces its next battle: Syria’s erupting fault lines.

ISIS, routed in Iraq and Syria, is quietly gaining strength in Africa.

Guantanamo: Beautiful, weird and frustrating.

Islamic State 'Beatles': US and UK talk about fate of duo.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

EU prepares response to possible US tariffs.

Apple rushes out fix to Telugu letter text bomb bug.

HSBC profits jump to $17.2bn on Asia growth.

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