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September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
5 November 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Refugee and migrant children, living in a field on the Greek island of Lesbos, wait to register with refugee services on 4 November. (photo: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Greek island struggles to provide medical care to refugees (Al Jazeera) Tragedy has struck the island of Lesbos, in the eastern Aegean Sea, repeatedly in the past year, and October was the worst month yet. Lesbos received 125,000 refugees, double the number in August. It saw dozens of shipwrecks, with at least 35 people killed on 28 October alone. Despite the worsening weather, people keep on coming — about 6,000 per day. Overwhelmed, Lesbos now faces serious gaps in emergency medical care…

U.N. calls for access to vulnerable communities in eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) The United Nations humanitarian chief today concluded a three-day visit to Ukraine, calling for sustained and unimpeded access to the vulnerable communities caught in the middle of the crisis and who urgently need humanitarian aid…

Christians demonstrate in Erbil against law on conversion of minors (Fides) On Wednesday, hundreds of people belonging to the non-Islamic components of Iraqi society demonstrated in front of United Nations representatives in Erbil to protest against the law that allows the automatic change of children to the Islamic religion when one of the parents convert to Islam. The demonstration saw the participation of various political and civil society organizations and groups of Christians, Yazidis and Mandaeans…

Children’s photo exhibit brings plight of Syrian refugees to Washington (Al Monitor) UNICEF and a Lebanese nongovernmental organization are putting on an exhibit of photos taken by some 500 children between the ages of 7 and 12 in more than 200 informal settlements throughout Lebanon. For this project, the shots were taken in 2013 and 2014 by disposable cameras made available by UNICEF and ZAKIRA (“memory” in Arabic) in an effort to empower the children and help them overcome the trauma of war…

Moscow calls for agreement on opposition groups in Syria (AINA) “[The] U.S.-led coalition’s intervention in Syria lacks legitimacy since it is an action against democratically elected president and government; United States sought in Syria to lead a war of attrition and destroying Syrian infrastructure,” said a Russian spokesperson. Moscow now states it has arranged “working coordination groups” with “opposition representatives” aimed toward bolstering the fight against ISIS…

Egyptian naval fire kills Gaza fisherman, says official (Daily Star Lebanon) An Egyptian naval patrol shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman and wounded another Thursday off the coast near the border between Gaza and Egypt, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said. The victim was identified as Faris Meqdad, 18, ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qudra said. Egyptian forces have previously opened fire on Gazans they accused of crossing the maritime border between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Greece

4 November 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the U.N. warns that the stakes are getting higher for refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria, because of the weather. CNEWA is partnering with the Vatican to raise funds to help Syria’s refugees survive the cold. Click here to learn how. (video: Rome Reports)

Ukraine prosecutor survives apparent assassination attempt (SkyNews) Ukraine’s top prosecutor has survived what could have been an assassination attempt after a sniper fired shots at his window. Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin’s life was saved by the bulletproof glass at his office in Kiev when the three shots were fired. No injuries have been reported...

Rough seas, falling temperatures fail to halt tide of refugees heading to Europe (The New York Times) The great flood of humanity pouring out of Turkey from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other roiling nations shows little sign of stopping, despite the plummeting temperatures, the increasingly turbulent seas and the rising number of drownings along the coast...

Copts, women make big gains in Egypt election (Ahram.org) On top of the biggest winners of the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, held between 17 and 28 October in 14 governorates, are Copts and women. Official statistics show that out of 110 running as independents and party-based candidates in the first stage, 32 women have succeeded in securing seats in the coming parliament. Statistics also indicate that 16 Egyptian Copts have also won seats...

Holy See: we must see the “human face of migration” (Vatican Radio) The Holy See delegation to the United Nations on Tuesday said “Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are a serious affront to human dignity and are inexcusable impediments to building an international community committed to the promotion of human rights...”

Pope: help persecuted Christians in Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday gave his support to the work of Aid to the Church in Need, which offers help to persecuted Christians around the world. The Church in Poland is marking on Sunday a “Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church,” which is promoted by Aid to the Church in Need in collaboration with the Polish Bishops’ Conference...

UN says climate change a major threat to food security (Vatican Radio) On November 30th a major international conference on climate change will open in Paris in an attempt to agree a legally-binding deal which will keep rises in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius. But less than a month before the summit begins the UN special rapporteur on the right to food has sounded the alarm, saying climate change is a big threat to food security...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Ukraine Copts

3 November 2015
Greg Kandra




Local residents and a search team inspect a collapsed building and try to rescue people after Syrian air forces struck residential areas in the Kellese region of Aleppo, Syria,
on 30 October 2015. (photo: Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Russia pushes for Syria peace talks (Reuters) Syrian government officials and members of the country's splintered opposition could meet in Moscow next week as Russia pushes to broker a political solution to the crisis, a senior official said on Tuesday. “Next week, we will invite opposition representatives to a consultation in Moscow,” Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying...

Egypt dismisses ISIS claims of credit for Russian jet crash (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s president has dismissed as “propaganda” claims that ISIS fighters could have downed a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai Peninsula, as U.S. defense officials reportedly suspect either a bomb or a fuel tank explosion may have been responsible for the crash...

Rebels reportedly using Syrian soldiers as human shields (CNN) Rebels are caging captured Syrian soldiers and others loyal to the regime and using them as human shields to fend off government attacks, Human Rights Watch and a Syrian opposition group reported. “Nothing can justify caging people and intentionally putting them in harm’s way, even if the purpose is to stop indiscriminate government attacks,” said Nadim Houry with Human Rights Watch...

Properties returned to churches in Turkey (Fides) The Court of Appeal returned 439 acres of land that had been confiscated from the Syriac Orthodox monastery in Mor Hananyo, located in Mardin, in the southeast of Turkey. As Fides has learned, at the end of a legal dispute, the church authorities obtained a favorable verdict. Although the title deed of the land clearly indicates that it belongs to the foundation of the monastery, the land had been confiscated by the state and then was returned to the Church in 2006...

Report on anti-Christian violence in India being prepared (Fides) The Commission of Inquiry on anti-Christian violence that took place in 2008 in the district of Kandhamal, in Orissa, concluded its work and hearings on 30 October and is preparing to publish a detailed report on the investigation, which will be released at the end of December and presented to the government of Orissa...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Russia Turkey

2 November 2015
Greg Kandra




In St. Petersburg, Russia, a woman brings a photo of one of the victims of the crash as people mourn at the Palace Square on 1 November 2015. (photo: Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)

Russia mourns victims of plane crash (AP) In a massive outpouring of grief, thousands of people flocked to St. Petersburg’s airport Sunday, laying flowers, soft toys and paper planes next to the pictures of the victims of the crash of a passenger jet in Egypt that killed all 224 on board in Russia’s deadliest air crash to date. “I can’t remain indifferent, there were so many people from St. Petersburg on the plane,” said Yelena Vikhareva, a 48-year old sales clerk who came to the airport with her son. “The pain is piercing the heart...”

Countries warned of dangers flying over Sinai (AP)The United States, Germany and Britain all had overflight warnings in place for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where a Russian passenger plane went down killing all 224 people on board...

Pope Francis sends condolences to Russian people (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent condolences to the Russian President and to the people following the crash of Russian Airbus A321 in Egypt in which 224 people were killed...

ISIS advances in Homs, Syria (BBC) Islamic State (IS) fighters have reportedly captured the Syrian town of Maheen, in central Homs Province, from government forces. They launched the offensive with two suicide car blasts late on Saturday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. Clashes were also taking place in nearby Sadad, a mostly Christian town...

Indian scientist returns award in protest (Vatican Radio) A leading Indian scientist and writer has decided to return the Padma Bhushan award in protest against the climate of “religious intolerance” that has spread in the country. The decision of Dr. Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, the founder and director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, came after 107 senior scientists signed an online statement on Wednesday to join the chorus of protests by other scientists, artists and writers. About 135 scientists had signed an online petition addressed to the President on Tuesday protesting intolerance and violence unleashed by Hindu fundamentalists in India...

All Souls Day fosters ecumenism in India (UCANews.com) In major cities in South Asia, the commemoration of All Souls’ Day is a tribute to ecumenism when Protestants and Catholics, a religious minority on the subcontinent, come together at centuries-old British-built cemeteries. On 2 November, the day Catholics and Protestants pray for the deceased, thousands of people in major cities in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka flock to common cemeteries...

Serbian Orthodox iconographer creates icon of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS (Aleteia) The images released of their beheadings on the Mediterranean Coast of North Africa shocked the world. It deeply affected a Serbian Orthodox iconographer living in Germany, and now the icon he has written — that is, painted — is being auctioned off so the proceeds can help the families of the 21 victims. Nikola Sarić also says he hopes that through viewing the icon, titled “Holy Martyrs of Libya,” people will pray for the conversion of the terrorists...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Pope Francis Russia

30 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Jordanian boy looks on during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian demonstrators following Friday prayers in Amman on 30 October. (photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

Pilgrims visit Holy Land, despite the violence (Fides) Pilgrimages continue to take place in Holy Land, despite the violence in recent weeks across the territory, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “A pilgrimage in difficult times is a real pilgrimage,” wrote Bishop William Shomali in a note thanking visitors and inviting groups to pray for peace in Holy Land…

Coptic Christians targeted for kidnappings in Egypt (Christian Today) Police complacency toward the kidnapping of Coptic Christians in Egypt has fostered a climate of impunity, according to a Christian persecution charity. The phenomenon of kidnapping Coptic Christians for ransom has spread in the Minya province, the latest of which occurred last week…

Project for women and vulnerable children in the Somali region (Fides) The Catholic Church in the Somali region of Ethiopia is engaged in a project assisting women and vulnerable children. The idea, says a local source, was born following the meeting of missionary volunteers with underserved local residents. Most of these vulnerable people live with H.I.V. and other serious health problems…

Photos: 150 rescued from sinking boat off Lesbos (Al Jazeera) Photos of the rescue effort: The craft was one of many to encounter trouble making the crossing from Turkey as waters turn treacherous…

Patriarch Kirill believes in improvement of Russian-U.S. relations (Interfax) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes that problems in Russian-U.S. relations will become history. “I think there is a special need for closer contact when problems arise in the relations between our countries,” the patriarch said in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador John Tefft in Moscow on Friday…



Tags: Egypt Refugees Ethiopia Holy Land Patriarch Kirill

29 October 2015
Greg Kandra




A picture taken on 29 October 2015 shows Syrians inspecting damaged buildings following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus. (photo: Sameer Al-DoumyAFP/Getty Images)

Kerry seeks end to Syrian civil war “hell” (BBC) The US is intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the “hell” of Syria’s civil war even as it increases support for moderate rebels, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said. Mr. Kerry is travelling to Vienna for talks with foreign ministers on ending the four-and-a-half year conflict...

Cardinal: Only peace will save the Christians of Mesopotamia (Fides) In Iraq and Syria, “without peace, there is no hope for anyone,” and only the end of sectarian conflicts can ensure the survival of the indigenous Christian communities in Mesopotamia. This is how Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, highlighted the dangers that threaten the present and the future of Christians in vast areas of the Middle East...

Bishop: talks underway about possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril (Tass) The Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican are in talks over the possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Yegoryevsk... “The relations [between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church] have varied over the past 20-30 years, at times they were tense. However, it is a different period now — of benevolent attention to each other. The negotiations over such a meeting [between the Pope and the Patriarch] are underway, and it is quite possible that we will learn something specific in the near future,” he said answering a question from a TASS correspondent...

Istanbul churches issue “Basic Principles of Christianity” book (TodaysZaman.com) For the first time after 1,700 years in the Christian world, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches in Turkey came together at the Fener Greek Patriarchate in the Balat neighborhood of Istanbul to release the book “Basic Principles of Christianity” written by a council consisting of members from the churches...

Rastafarians return to Ethiopia (CNN) Two hundred and fifty kilometers from Addis Ababa, Shashamene’s Rastafarians live in 200 hectares of land bequeathed by former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the country’s leader from 1930 to 1974. A modernizer, he was a strong supporter of pan-Africanism and brought the country into the League of Nations, United Nations and made the capital Addis Ababa the center of the Organization of African Unity — the precursor for the African Union. But for many Rastafarians he was more than just the head of state. In fact the erstwhile duke (“Ras”) Tafari Makonnen gave his name to an entire religion...



28 October 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate during his
weekly audience. (video: Rome Reports)


Iran accepts invitation to Syria peace talks (Reuters) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will attend multilateral talks on Friday in Vienna that seek to resolve the conflict in Syria, the foreign ministry was quoted as saying on Wednesday. It will be the first time that Tehran, the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, attends an international summit on the four-year-long war. Other participants, notably the United States, say Assad can play no part in Syria’s future...

Russians meet with religious leaders in Syria (Fides) A Russian delegation composed of parliamentarians, political and military representatives recently made a visit to Syria for a program of meetings which also includes visits to representatives of churches and local religious communities...

Iraqi parliament rejects law on religious affiliation for children (Fides) Parliament in Iraq rejected the proposal — made by Christian representatives, but supported by parliamentarians belonging to different alliances — to amend the law by which a child is automatically registered as a Muslim, even if only one parent converts to Islam...

Ethiopia experiencing worst drought in 30 years (UN Humanitarian Bulletin) Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. The impact of the failed spring belg rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer kiremt rains that feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country. This greatly expanded food insecurity, malnutrition and devastated livelihoods across six affected regions of the country. The level of acute need across virtually all humanitarian sectors has already exceeded levels seen in the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 and is projected to be far more severe throughout an 8-month period in 2016...

Catholic bishops in India ask government to focus on values, inclusiveness (Vatican Radio) The CBCI has proposed the ministry of Human Resource Development to form its new education policy focusing on teaching values and probity in public life without being religion-specific. The Catholic Church which owns the second highest number of education institutions in the country claimed that the present system was deficient in ethical and moral components. Further, the Church said that the new policy should nurture diversity, inclusiveness and secularism as well as divergent and critical thinking among the students...

‘Nostra Aetate’ at 50: the ‘Magna Carta’ of interreligious dialogue (CNS) Representatives of the world’s religions gathered in Rome to commemorate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with other religions. Although it is the shortest of the Second Vatican Council’s documents, its influence continues to be felt in the life of the church today, said speakers at an anniversary conference 26-28 October sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Pope Francis Russia

27 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, signs a document in which leaders of the world’s regional bishops conferences appealed for action on climate change. From left behind the cardinal are Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia; unidentified priest; Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami; and Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Syrian violence spurs civilian flight from country (The New York Times) A tenuous truce in the Syrian countryside north of the city of Homs was shattered this month when Russian warplanes attacked the village of Ter Ma’aleh, killing at least a dozen people and sending most of the residents into hurried exile. The intensity of the fighting, they say, is fueling increased desperation as a growing number of Syrians are fleeing to neighboring countries and, especially, to Europe. More than 9,000 migrants a day crossed into Greece last week, according to the International Organization for Migration, the most since the beginning of the year. The assault on the village was part of a wider escalation of violence across the country that has displaced tens of thousands of people in just weeks and led relief workers to warn that Syria is facing one of its most serious humanitarian crises of the civil war...

Bishops plead for climate change action (CNS) The presidents of the U.S. and Canadian bishops’ conferences joined leaders of the regional bishops’ conferences of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Europe in signing an appeal for government leaders to reach a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” at a summit in Paris. Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, signed the appeal on 26 October at the beginning of a joint news conference at the Vatican...

Father Jacques Murad speaks of his captivity in Syria (Fides) “Even while being deported, with my hands tied behind my back, I surprisingly found myself repeating again and again: I am going towards freedom. My captivity was like being born again.” This was how Syrian monk and priest the Rev. Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian, summarised the spiritual experience during the time he was deprived of his freedom by ISIS jihadists. A period of trial which started on 21 May, when armed men abducted the priest from the Monastery in the outskirts of Qaryatayn together with a co-worker, and ended on 11 October, when Father Jacques regained full freedom...

Chaldean archbishop: Thousands of Christians fleeing Iraq (Christian Today) Thousands of Iraqi Christians are still fleeing their country even though the humanitarian situation for the displaced has improved, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has told Aid to the Church in Need. Growing numbers of Iraqi Christians forced out of their homes by ISIS are leaving the country as hopes fade that they will be able to return home, he said...

Pope Francis congratulates patriarch on honor (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message on the occasion of the conferral of an honorary doctorate to Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople. The Honorary Doctorate in the Culture of Unity was granted the Patriarch by the Sophia University Institute “for his service to the unity of the human family...”

Synod drafts declaration on Middle East, Africa, Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The Synod Fathers launched a new appeal for peace and the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine, asking the international Community to act via diplomatic channels and to engage in dialogue to end the suffering of thousands of people. In the declaration, the Fathers make special reference to families compelled to flee their homes, and give thanks to the countries that have welcomed refugees...

Russian Orthodox official warns eating potato chips is “sinful” (The Moscow Times) Orthodox believers should shun unhealthy foods such as potato chips and products made by corrupt manufacturers because they are sinful, Moscow Patriarchate deputy speaker Roman Bogdasarov was cited as telling the Interfax news agency by the RBC news website on Sunday. “The Church has laid down a strict rule — sin is that which harms human health,” Bogdasarov said. Problematic products include foods containing “various trans fats, alcoholic beverages of poor quality, potato chips, energy [drinks] — everything that negatively affects a person’s health,” he was cited as saying in the report...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Russian Orthodox

26 October 2015
Greg Kandra




A Syrian refugee is seen cooking at Atma, a camp formed by more than 100,000 people under the control of the Free Syrian Army in Idlib, Syria. An outbreak of cholera in the country is raising fears that the disease could spread. (photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Cholera outbreak in Syria sparks fear of “international threat” (The Independent) Cholera has broken out in Syria, with one child having already died after contracting the disease — and the outbreak could constitute an “international threat.” The break-out, which follows one in Iraq, could spread rapidly, according to Dr Ahmad Tarakji, president of the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams), the largest medical NGO still working in Syria. Speaking to The Independent, Dr Tarakji said that Syria’s already crippled medical infrastructure, and the lack of access available to aid agencies, meant the disease could spread quickly, both inside the country and across borders...

Kerry: Israel and Jordan agree on steps to ease tensions in Jerusalem (The New York Times) Seeking to end the latest round of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Israel and Jordan had agreed to take steps toward defusing tensions at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, whose fate has been at the center of recent bloodshed...

Ukraine holds local elections (The Wall Street Journal) Ukrainians voted Sunday in local elections that will test support for the country’s pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko, who is under pressure over a deep economic contraction and perceived lack of progress fighting corruption...

Pope addresses Chaldean Synod (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday (26 October) addressed the members of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, reminding them that “the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the Cross”...

A Muslim perspective on Nostra Aetate (Vatican Radio) Wednesday 28 October marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate, which profoundly reshaped the Catholic Church’s relationship with people of other faiths. Issued in the closing weeks of the Council in 1965, the document for the first time urged Catholics to recognize the truth present in other religions and to work together with other believers for the benefit of all of humanity. During a recent conference at Georgetown University In Washington DC, organised by the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, experts and scholars from other faiths discussed the impact that document has had on their own communities...

Catholic Church condemns dalit burning in India (Vatican Radio) A Catholic Church official in India said the recent burning to death of two dalit children was the latest in a series of atrocities against the former lower-caste group. The church “sternly condemns the sad incident,” Father Z. Devasagayaraj, secretary of the Office for Dalit Development of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said in a statement on 23 October. “It is an inhuman act of which our nation should be ashamed. There have been repeated atrocities against the dalits in different parts of India,” the priest said...

Notre Dame begins regular Byzantine liturgy (Aleteia) The first Byzantine liturgy on Notre Dame’s campus has begun, and once a month, at least in the beginning, those who are from Eastern Christian traditions and those who are just curious will have a chance to participate. Father Anatolios is a newly ordained priest of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, one of twenty-two Eastern churches in communion with Rome. When his bishop knew that he was going to be moving to South Bend, Indiana, to teach theology, he asked if there could be “a Byzantine Catholic presence on the campus of the most prominent Catholic university in America,” Father Anatolios told the Notre Dame Observer. It’s not that the Byzantine liturgy is unknown on college campuses. There are Orthodox campus ministies, and there’s a Byzantine Catholic Mission at Penn State, with a liturgy offered every Sunday. And near the campus of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, there is a Ukrainian shrine, with divine liturgy offered on Sundays. But Notre Dame seems to be the first Catholic university in the United States where an Eastern liturgy will be celebrated on campus on a regular basis...



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Muslim Chaldeans

23 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Tents housing displaced Syrians are seen in camp on the southern outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on 22 October 22 2015. (photo: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. debating ways to shield Syrian civilians (The New York Times) The Obama administration is locked in a sharp new debate over whether to deploy American military forces to establish no-fly zones and safe havens in Syria to protect civilians caught in its grinding civil war...

Lebanon says ranking ISIS official captured (The Daily Star) General Security Thursday announced the arrest of what it said was a prominent ISIS leader and other suspected militants who were based in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh. It said via its Twitter account that the main suspect, who was not identified, was a “legitimate leader” of an ISIS cell plotting to carry out attacks in Lebanon. It did not specify his nationality...

Turkey says new wave of Syrian refugees will head for Europe (Reuters) Turkey is preparing for tens of thousands more refugees from Syria as government forces and Russian warplanes pound opposition-held areas, and officials said many would try illegally to get to Europe. Syrian government troops and their allies, backed by Russian jets, launched an offensive against rebels battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad south of Aleppo, still home to two million people, a week ago...

Meet the founder of Russia’s Orthodox TV channel (Financial Times) On a sunny afternoon in Moscow, the Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeev is holding court in the studios of his newly launched television channel Tsargrad TV, dressed in a designer suit, a blue silk handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket. Above him is a makeshift cathedral cupola weighing in at half a tonne. Behind him are 24ft-high windows through which the Kremlin’s red towers are visible, their glass communist stars glistening...







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