Syria's army said Sunday it had recaptured the strategic town of Kasab and the only border crossing with Turkey in Latakia province, after it fell to rebels almost three months ago. "After crushing many members of the mercenary terrorist gangs... units of our armed troops in collaboration with the (paramilitary) National Defence Force returned safety and security to Kasab this morning," an army statement said. Kasab, an Armenian town, is important because it is at the only border crossing with Turkey in sensitive Latakia province, heartland of the Alawite sect from which President Bashar al-Assad hails. On Sunday, a state television reporter broadcast a stand-up from the recaptured border crossing.
The US Navy on Sunday welcomed four members of China's military aboard one of its aircraft carriers -- and said it hoped to receive a return invite someday. The four People's Liberation Army members were among guests flown by a C-2 Greyhound aircraft to the USS George Washington for a "VIP visit" before it berths Monday off Hong Kong on a routine call. Tensions are high in the South China Sea and East China Sea as Beijing asserts its sovereignty over reefs and islands also claimed by US allies such as Japan and the Philippines. But Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, commander of the task force headed by the carrier, said US-Chinese military relations have "moderately improved" in the past six months.
Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Shelling targeting the largest town not seized by militants in a north Iraq province killed 10 people on Sunday, police and a local official said. The shelling in Tal Afar, a Shiite Turkmen town that is one of the few in Nineveh province not overrun by a major militant offensive, also wounded 40 people, the sources said. Militants unleashed a major offensive, spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but also including supporters of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and other groups, overrunning Nineveh province and seizing major parts of three others. The offensive began in Nineveh's capital Mosul late on Monday, and later swept into Kirkuk, Salaheddin and Diyala provinces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday condemned the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, and said many indications pointed to the involvement of Hamas. "We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement," he said. "As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past." Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly accused Hamas of the kidnapping after Israeli troops arrested 80 Palestinians overnight.
Militants from jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have executed dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members, according to photos posted online. The authenticity of the photos, which were shared on Twitter and elsewhere and said to have been taken in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, could not be independently confirmed. The militants said in one photo caption that they executed hundreds of soldiers. A major offensive spearheaded by ISIL but also involving supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein has overrun all of one province and chunks of three others since it was launched on Monday.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned Sunday that the bloody conflict in Iraq could quickly spin into a regional "proxy war". Steinmeier, speaking to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, called on Turkey, the Gulf Arab states and Iran to do their part to stabilise Iraq. "We have to prevent a proxy war of the regional powers breaking out on Iraqi soil," he said. Steinmeier said these countries "could not have an interest in, beyond Syria, an enormous, ungoverned space developing in their backyards as a hotbed of mercenary groups, Islamists of every stripe, and terrorists".
Yemeni troops were on Sunday surrounding a Sanaa mosque controlled by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh amid concerns he is plotting a coup, a source close to the presidency said. Saleh had ruled Yemen for 33 years before he was forced to resign in February 2012. He was replaced by his longtime deputy President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi under a UN and Gulf-sponsored deal. Presidential guard troops backed by armoured vehicles blocked access to the large Al-Saleh mosque in Sanaa's southern district, an AFP correspondent reported.
A suspected Al-Qaeda gunman opened fire on a minibus carrying staff members from a military hospital in Yemen's main southern city of Aden on Sunday, killing eight people, an army official said, Two women were among the dead while 12 other staff members were wounded. The official accused Al-Qaeda of plotting and executing the attack, which comes as the army presses an all-out offensive it launched against jihadist strongholds in Yemen's southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan in late April. The army says 500 Al-Qaeda militants have been killed in the army's latest operation, while 40 soldiers died and 100 others were wounded.
A roadside bomb killed 11 people including five election workers in northern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday, as a prolonged vote count began after the presidential run-off election. Election officials were sifting through fraud complaints from both candidates, and analysts said the lengthy count could be the trickiest phase in the country's first democratic transfer of power. More than 50 people were killed on polling day Saturday by militant attacks, including the 11 whose bus was hit by a roadside bomb in Samangan province and five members of one family who died when a Taliban rocket hit a house near a polling station. But despite the Taliban attacks, Saturday's election drew a high turnout of about seven million voters in a contest between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani.
Spain's government is crafting a new legal shield for King Juan Carlos after he steps off the throne and loses the absolute royal immunity that has protected him for 39 years. The 76-year-old king, hurt by royal scandals in the twilight of a reign that steered Spain from dictatorship to democracy, is handing the crown to his son Felipe who will be sworn in on Thursday. But when King Felipe VI is crowned, his father Juan Carlos will cease to be covered by Spain's 1978 constitution, which states that the person of the king "is inviolable and shall not be held accountable". In October 2012, that immunity thwarted two legal suits demanding that Juan Carlos undergo paternity tests to show whether he was the father of two extramarital children.
Iran warned on Sunday that "any foreign military intervention in Iraq" would only complicate the crisis, after the US said it was deploying a warship in the Gulf. "Iraq has the capacity and necessary preparations for the fight against terrorism and extremism," foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham was Sunday quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. "Any action that complicates the situation in Iraq is not in the interests of the country nor of the region," Afkham said, adding, "The people and government of Iraq will be able to neutralise this conspiracy." Iraq is battling an offensive by Sunni militants who have advanced to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Baghdad's city limits after seizing a swathe of the country's north.