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Middle East

A humanitarian crisis is rapidly deepening in Yemen, where millions of aid-reliant people have been cut off from assistance since Saudi Arabia closed the country’s ports on Nov. 5.

Riyadh eased the blockade slightly following international outrage, but humanitarian officials say it’s not enough.

Three UN agencies warned Thursday that “the lives of millions” were at risk if aid is not immediately let in.

According to Save the Children, 130 children are dying every day.

“Together, we issue another urgent appeal for the coalition to permit entry of lifesaving supplies to Yemen in response to what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” reads a joint statement from the heads of the World Food Program, Unicef and the World Health Organization. time.com
No one will ever know what went through the mind of Afghan Police Lt. Sayed Basam Pacha in those moments when he came face to face with a man he suspected of being a suicide bomber on Thursday afternoon, but whatever it was, he did not hesitate to act.

At his back was a crowd of civilians, many of them dignitaries, leaving the hall he was guarding.

Around him were officers from the police company he commanded.

The suspect had just approached their heavily guarded gate, the only way in or out of the compound around the hall.

Broad-shouldered and heavily muscled, Lieutenant Pacha shouted at the suspect to halt, but instead the man started running.

The officer stopped him, throwing his arms around him in a bear hug. nytimes.com
n 2014, ISIS controlled around 34,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria. As of Friday, ISIS lost its last stronghold in Iraq.

That’s because on Friday morning Iraqi troops and US-led coalition forces retook Rawa — a small town in northwestern Iraq — after about five hours of fighting.

ISIS has now effectively lost all of its territory in Iraq, even though some of the group’s militants still operate in the country’s western rural areas near the border with Syria.

Now that Iraq’s flag hangs over Rawa once more, Brett McGurk, President Donald Trump’s diplomatic envoy for the US-led coalition, congratulated the Iraqi fighters on Twitter and announced that the “days of [ISIS’s] phony ‘caliphate’ are coming to an end.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also praised his forces, noting how quickly they retook the town. vox.com
An Iranian weightlifter has put his Rio 2016 gold medal up for auction to raise money for the victims of last week's deadly 7.3-magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border.

Kianoush Rostami, 26, announced the news on his Instagram page.

More than 400 people were killed and close to 10,000 injured in the quake.

The western Kermanshah province is the worst-affected area, with hundreds of homes destroyed and some residents sleeping outdoors in the cold.

Mr Rostami, himself from Kermanshah, said he was "taking a step, however small" to help those devastated by the tremor.

"I am returning my Rio 2016 Olympics gold medal - which actually belongs to them - to my people," he wrote in a widely-shared Instagram post yesterday, adding that he had not slept since the incident. bbc.com
The Pentagon claims that its air war against ISIS is one of the most accurate in history and that it is so careful in who it targets that the 14,000 US airstrikes in Iraq have killed just 89 civilians.

It turns out that the military’s assertion is a stunning underestimation of the true human cost of Washington’s three-year-old war against ISIS.

An 18-month-long investigation by the New York Times has found that the US-led military coalition is killing civilians in Iraq at a rate 31 times higher than it’s admitting.

“It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history,” Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal report.

The US-led coalition claims that one civilian has been killed in every 157 airstrikes, but Khan and Gopal report that, actually, the rate is one civilian death for every five airstrikes – a rate 31 times as high as what the military claims.

Despite the advanced military techniques the coalition uses, however, it still cannot stop killing noncombatants because the US and its allies choose to fight ISIS primarily from the skies – it was inevitable that civilians would become collateral damage. vox.com
Long-haul carrier Emirates purchased 40 American-made Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners on Sunday at the start of the biennial Dubai Air Show, a $15.1 billion deal certain to please U.S. President Donald Trump who has touted the plane’s sales as a job creator in America.

The deal appeared to surprise Boeing’s archrival Airbus, whose staff had attended a long-delayed news conference and left the room just moments before the announcement.

Airbus has pinned hopes of continuing production of its double-decker jumbo jet on Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the aircraft which took delivery of its 100th A380 earlier this month.

But instead, Emirates CEO and Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum explained how the airline considered the Airbus A350 and decided to pick the Boeing 787-10.

It’s the second time Airbus has lost out on selling the A350 to Emirates – in June 2014, the state-owned Emirates cancelled an order for 70 A350s after a “fleet requirement” review.

The Boeing 787-10 typically lists for $312.8 million; delivery will begin in 2022. fortune.com
The military unit did not say what had happened to Baghdadi, give further details or identify its sources.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said on Friday it had no “releasable information” on Baghdadi’s whereabouts.

Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their three-year rule in the region.

But the army and its allies are still fighting Islamic State in desert areas close to Albu Kamal near the border with Iraq, the Syrian army said on Thursday.

On Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State has taken back control of half of Albu Kamal.

The capture of the border town had sealed “the fall of the terrorist Daesh organization’s project in the region”, an army statement said on Thursday, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. reuters.com
Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their three-year, hardline reign in the in the region.

The army and its allies are still fighting Islamic State in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria, near the border with Iraq, the army said.

But the capture of the town ends Islamic State’s era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across Iraq and Syria and in which millions suffered under its hardline, repressive strictures.

Yet after ferocious defensive battles in its most important cities this year, where its fighters bled for every house and street, its final collapse has come with lightning speed.

Instead of a battle to the death as they mounted a last stand in the Euphrates valley towns and villages near the border between Iraq and Syria, many fighters surrendered or fled. reuters.com
Yemeni rebels on Saturday targeted an airport in Saudi Arabia's capital with a ballistic missile, according to Yemen's Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry.

But the missile was intercepted over northeast Riyadh, the Saudi Ministry of Defense said in a statement carried on government-backed Al-Arabiya television.

The attack was conducted using a Yemeni-made, long-range missile called the Burqan 2H, it said.

Airstrikes later in the day targeted Yemen's capital Sanaa, shaking homes and breaking windows.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of states against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled Yemen's internationally recognized government in 2015.

The missile launch on King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh was the first time the heart of the Saudi capital has been attacked and represents a major escalation of the ongoing war in the region. cnn.com
Osama Bin Laden's personal diary, video of his son Hamza's wedding and documentaries about himself were among files found on the al-Qaeda leader's computer, the CIA has revealed.

Bin Laden's computer was taken during the 2011 US raid in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in which he died.

CIA director Mike Pompeo said the release included 18,000 documents, 79,000 audio files and images and more than 10,000 videos which shed light on the "plans and workings of this terrorist organisation".

The videos include a clip from the wedding of his son Hamza - Hamza has been mooted as a future al-Qaeda leader.

Previously only childhood videos of Hamza had been publicly seen.

In recent years al-Qaeda has released audio messages from Hamza Bin Laden threatening the US, calling for the Saudi government to be overthrown and encouraging jihadist action in Syria. bbc.com