GENEVA (AP) – A deadly terrorist attack in central Syria threatened to thwart efforts to wrest a political solution at peace talks in Geneva, with the U.N. mediator decrying “spoilers” who try to derail the efforts to end the country’s disastrous six-year war.
The government’s envoy demanded a firm condemnation from all opposition groups of the synchronized attacks by insurgents on security offices in Homs that left dozens dead, while the opposition retorted that it has long denounced terrorism – even suggesting it may have been an inside job. “Any party that refuses to condemn these attacks today, we will consider that party to be an accomplice of terrorism,” a spokesperson for Syria stated.
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) – The Iraqi advance into Mosul’s western half slowed as combat turned to urban warfare and Iraqi forces met stiff resistance from the Islamic State group. Hundreds of civilians poured out of Mosul on foot following the advances, but the vast majority of 750,000 estimated to still be in the city’s west remain trapped and describe deteriorating humanitarian and security conditions.
Special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said that his troops are “moving very slowly” and that IS fighters are responding with car bombs, snipers and dozens of armed drones. The drones have caused relatively few deaths but have inflicted dozens of light injuries that have disrupted the pace of ground operations.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Malaysia’s health minister stated autopsy results suggested a nerve agent caused “very serious paralysis” that killed the exiled half brother of North Korea’s leader, as police completed a sweep of the budget terminal where he was poisoned and declared it safe of any toxin.
The investigation has unleashed a serious diplomatic fight between Malaysia and North Korea, a prime suspect in the Feb. 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur’s airport. The revelation by Malaysian police that the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim raised the stakes significantly in a case that has broad geopolitical implications.