•  US closes Jerusalem consulate

      US closes Jerusalem consulate

      The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the US Embassy to Israel. For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy.

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    • Syria says Israel fired missiles toward Damascus

      Syria says Israel fired missiles toward Damascus

      The Syrian state news agency said Israeli warplanes fired a number of missiles toward the Damascus area on Friday, triggering Syrian air defense that shot down most of them. “The results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the warehouses at Damascus airport,” the SANA news agency cited a military source as saying. The attack took place at 11:15 p.m.(2115 GMT), it said.

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    • Egypt police kill dozens of militants after tourist bus blast

      Egypt police kill dozens of militants after tourist bus blast

      Police in Egypt killed on Saturday dozens of militants during security raids on their hideouts in Giza and North Sinai. Up to 40 terrorists were killed, according to a statement from the interior ministry. It said the militants were planning a series of attacks on tourist sites, churches and military personnel. The raids followed Friday's roadside bomb attack on a tour bus in Giza.

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    • Israel set for early elections

      Israel set for early elections

      Just a day before Christmas Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early elections for April, nearly eight months earlier than required by law, setting the stage for a three-month campaign clouded by a series of corruption investigations against the long-serving Israeli leader. The announcement was made after the leaders of Israel's coalition government decided "in agreement and unanimously, to disperse the Knesset (parliament) and call for new elections," as Netanyahu himself confirmed at a press conference the same day.

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    • Syrian rebels see Putin-Erdogan deal on Idlib as victory

      Syrian rebels see Putin-Erdogan deal on Idlib as victory

      Syrian opposition officials praised a deal between Russia and Turkey over Idlib province on Tuesday, saying it had spared the rebel-held region a bloody government offensive and would thwart President Bashar al-Assad’s aim of recovering all Syria, news wires reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad’s most powerful ally, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed at a summit on Monday to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib from which “radical” rebels must withdraw by the middle of next month.

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    • Turkey boosts arms to Syrian rebels as Idlib attack looms

      Turkey boosts arms to Syrian rebels as Idlib attack looms

      Turkey has stepped up arms supplies to Syrian rebels to help them stave off an expected offensive by the Syrian army and its Russian and Iran-backed allies in the northwest near the Turkish frontier, rebel sources told Reuters. Senior rebel officials said Turkey had sent more military aid to rebels in and around the Idlib region since a summit meeting with Iran and Russia last week failed to agree a deal to avert a government offensive into the area.

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