Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.
About 1,000 of protesters have taken to the streets in Iran’s capital, Tehran, to vent anger at officials, calling them liars for having denied shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane.
Protests took place outside at least two universities, with tear gas reportedly fired.
President Donald Trump tweeted support for the “inspiring” protests.
On January 11, Iran admitted downing the jet “unintentionally”, three days after the crash that killed 176 people.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, en route to Kyiv, was shot down on January 8 near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran shortly after take-off, and only hours after Iran had fired missiles at two air bases housing US forces in Iraq.
Those attacks were Iran’s response to the US killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.
Dozens of Iranians and Canadians, as well as nationals from Ukraine, the UK, Afghanistan and Germany died on the plane.
According to local reports, students gathered outside at least two universities, Sharif and Amir Kabir, initially to pay respect to the victims. Protests turned angry in the evening.
The semi-official Fars news agency carried a rare report of the unrest, saying up to 1,000 people had chanted slogans against leaders and tore up pictures of Qasem Soleimani.
The students called for those responsible for the downing the plane, and those they said had covered up the action, to be prosecuted.
Chants included “commander-in-chief resign”, referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and “death to liars”.
According to Fars, police had “dispersed” the protesters, who were blocking roads. Social media footage appeared to show tear gas being fired.
Social media users also vented anger at the government’s actions.
The protests were, however, far smaller than the mass demonstrations across Iran in support of Qasem Soleimani after he was killed.
President Trump tweeted in both English and Farsi, saying: “To the brave and suffering Iranian people: I have stood with you since the beginning of my presidency and my government will continue to stand with you.
“We are following your protests closely. Your courage is inspiring.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted video of the protests in Iran, saying: “The voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption, ineptitude, and brutality of the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] under Khamenei’s kleptocracy. We stand with the Iranian people who deserve a better future.”
For three days, Iran had denied reports its missiles had brought down the Ukraine jet, with one spokesman accusing Western nations of “lying and engaging in psychological warfare”.
However, on January 11, a statement read on state TV accepted the plane had been shot down.
Brig-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace commander, explained what happened.
The general said a missile operator had acted independently and alone, mistaking the plane for a “cruise missile” as there had been reports that such missiles had been fired at Iran.
In a statement read on state TV on January 11, Iran has admitted it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet.
According to the statement, the flight PS752 had turned towards a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guards, the force set up to defend Iran’s Islamic system, and had a “flying posture and altitude of an enemy target”.
The plane was shot down on January 8, hours after Iran had struck two air bases housing US forces in Iraq.
Those missile strikes were Iran’s response to the US killing of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. He died in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.
Iran had initially denied reports its missiles had brought down the plane, with one spokesman accusing Western nations of “lying and engaging in psychological warfare”.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, en route to Kyiv, came down near Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran shortly after take-off. Victims included dozens of Iranians and Canadians, as well as nationals from Ukraine, the UK, Afghanistan and Germany.
Brig-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace commander, said a missile operator had acted independently and alone, mistaking the plane for a “cruise missile” as there had been reports that such missiles had been fired at Iran.
He said: “He had 10 seconds to decide. He could have decided to strike or not to strike and under such circumstances he took the wrong decision.
“He was obliged to make contact and get verification. But apparently, his communications system had some disruptions.”
General Hajizadeh said the military would upgrade its systems to prevent such “mistakes” in the future.
He said he had “wished he was dead” after being told of the missile strike.
The general also said a request had been made for a no-fly zone in the area before the incident but, for reasons that are unclear, this was rejected.
He said he had informed the authorities about what had happened on January 8, raising questions about why Iran had denied involvement for so long.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky has demanded Iran “bring the guilty to the courts”, repatriate the remains of the victims, pay compensation, give total access to Ukrainian officials and issue an apology through diplomatic channels.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Khamenei said there was “proof of human error” and that he had asked “relevant authorities to take necessary measures to prevent” such an incident happening again.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”
The president vowed to prosecute those responsible.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif apologized to the families of the victims but laid part of the blame on the US. “Human error at a time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to [this] disaster,” he said.
Some video footage on social media has shown protests in central Tehran, with people calling for resignations and accusing officials of dishonesty.
Protests were reported at the Sharif and Amir Kabir universities.
Some demonstrators chanted for the resignation of the commander in chief – Ayatollah Khamenei.
The semi-official Fars news agency carried a rare report of the anti-government unrest, saying up to 1,000 people had gathered, chanting slogans against leaders and tearing up pictures of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
A number of social media users asked why Iranian officials had not accepted responsibility earlier, appearing only to do so after international pressure.
In retaliation for the US killing of General Qasem Soleimani, Iran has carried out a ballistic missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq.
More than a dozen missiles launched from Iran struck two air bases in Irbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad.
At this moment, it is unclear if there have been any casualties.
The initial response from Washington has been muted.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops were targeted, one at Al Asad and one in Irbil, at about 02:00 local time on January 8. It came just hours after the burial of Qasem Soleimani, who controlled Iran’s proxy forces across the Middle East.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the attack was “a slap in the face” for the US and called for an end to their presence in the Middle East.
Echoing him, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s “final answer” to Qasem Soleimani’s assassination would be to “kick all US forces out of the region”.
Iraq’s PM Adel Abdul Mahdi said Iran warned him that an attack was imminent and only areas with US troops would be targeted. There were no reports of Iraqi casualties, he said.
Just hours after the missile strikes a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran shortly after take-off. There is no evidence that the two incidents are linked.
Several airlines have announced they are avoiding both Iranian and Iraqi airspace amid the rising tension.
This is the most direct assault by Iran on the US since the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Qasem Soleimani on Friday – killed in a missile strike outside Baghdad airport on the orders of President Trump – and warned US allies that their bases could also be targeted.
Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami said his country’s response to any US retaliation would be proportional to the US action.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was self-defense and denied seeking to escalate the situation into war.
He tweeted: “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.
We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
At least 50 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in a stampede as Iranians gathered for the funeral procession of General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last week.
The deaths in the top military commander’s hometown of Kerman led to the burial ceremony being delayed.
Qasem Soleimani’s burial is the last in a series of funeral events that have brought millions on to the streets in Iran.
His killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.
Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds force, was tasked with defending and projecting Iranian interests abroad, and was hailed as a hero by many in his home country. Immediately after his death, Iran threatened retaliation.
To the US, Qasem Soleimani was a terrorist, and in explaining why he ordered the strike, President Donald Trump said he was acting on an “imminent” threat.
The crush in Kerman happened at the start of a funeral procession that had drawn vast numbers of people on January 7, ahead of the planned burial.
According to officials, quoted on Iran’s Isna news agency, the death toll at 50, with those injured numbering more than 200.
Video online showed people on the ground with their faces covered by clothing.
Iranian media later reported that the burial had resumed. Video footage showed the procession of Qasem Soleimani’s casket. People threw items of clothing which officials touched against the casket before returning them.
Top Iranian officials renewed their threats of revenge. “The martyr Qasem Soleimani is more powerful… now that he is dead,” the Revolutionary Guards’ top general, Maj. Gen, Hossein Salami, told crowds in Kerman.
The Guards were set up to defend Iran’s Islamic system and are a major political and military force. The Quds Force is its overseas operations arm.
According to local reports, mourners in Kerman chanted “death to America” and “death to Trump”.
President Donald Trump has threatened Iraq with severe sanctions after its parliament called on US troops to leave the country.
The president told reporters: “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
Tensions are high after the US assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.
Meanwhile, Iran has vowed “severe revenge”.
The 62-year-old general spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East and was regarded as a terrorist by the US.
Qasem Soleimani’s remains have now returned to Iran, where mourners packed the streets of Tehran on January 6.
Esmail Qaani, the new head of Iran’s Quds force – which Qasem Soleimani led – has vowed to expel the US from the Middle East.
Iran’s state radio quoted Esmail Qaani as saying: “We promise to continue martyr Soleimani’s path with the same force… and the only compensation for us would be to remove America from the region.”
The air strike that killed Qasem Soleimani also claimed the life of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top Iraqi military figure who commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group.
Speaking from the presidential plane, President Trump said that if Iraq asked US forces to depart on an unfriendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame”.
Some 5,000 US soldiers are in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the ISIS group.
On January 5, the coalition paused its operations against ISIS in Iraq, and Iraqi lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution calling for foreign troops to leave.
The resolution was pushed through by the parliament’s Shia Muslim bloc – which is close to Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran has announced it will no longer abide by restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, under which it agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
President Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, saying he wanted to force Iran to negotiate a new deal that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear program and also halt its development of ballistic missiles.
However, Iran refused and had since been gradually rolling back its commitments under the deal.
In a statement, Iran said it would no longer observe limitations on its capacity for enrichment, the level of enrichment, the stock of enriched material, or research and development.
European leaders, from Germany, France and the UK – which were all signatories to the 2015 deal, alongside China and Russia – responded with a joint statement urging Iran to refrain from “further violent action or proliferation”.
Thousands of Iranians have gathered in the city of Ahvaz, southwest of Iran, on January 5 to receive the remains of General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad.
The mourners beat their chests and chanted “death to America”.
Qasem Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s sphere of influence across the Middle East and he was considered to be the country’s second most powerful man.
The assassination of the top military commander marked a significant escalation between Iran and the US.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who had a close personal relationship with Qasem Soleimani, warned of “severe revenge” for the attack.
President Donald Trump, who authorized the attack on Qasem Soleimani on January 3 – an option refused by both Presidents Bush and Obama as too risky – said in a tweet that the US was ready to strike 52 sites “important to Iran & the Iranian culture”.
In a series of tweets likely to raise concerns about a path to war between the two countries, President Trump said the US would strike Iran “VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” if Iran targeted American bases or troops.
He said the 52 targets identified by the US represented 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for more than a year from late 1979 after they were taken from the US embassy in Tehran.
President Trump warned: “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter, saying that the killing of Qasem Soleimani was a breach of international law and that any targeting of cultural sites would be constitute a war crime.
Thousands of black-clad mourners gathered early on Sunday morning in the streets in Ahvaz, where Qasem Soleimani’s body had arrived before dawn.
The Irib state news agency showed footage of Qasem Soleimani’s casket, wrapped in an Iranian flag, being unloaded from a plane as a military band played, before it was flown on to Ahvaz.
The channel showed crowds gathered in the city’s Mollavi Square, waving flags and holding aloft portraits of Qasem Soleimani, who is seen by many in Iran as a hero because of his role as a soldier in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and his closeness to the supreme leader.
In the capital Tehran, members of parliament chanted “death to America” for a few minutes during a session of the house, the ISNA news agency reported.
Iran’s military commander Qasem Soleimani was killed by an air strike at Baghdad airport on January 3 ordered by President Donald Trump, the Pentagon has confirmed.
The 62-year-old general spearheaded Iran’s Middle East operations as head of the elite Quds Force.
President Trump said the US took its action to stop, not start, a war. However, the killing marks a major escalation in tensions.
According to US officials, 3,000 additional troops will be sent to the Middle East as a precaution.
Qasem Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported directly to the ayatollah and Qasem Soleimani was hailed as a heroic national figure.
Under his 21-year leadership of the Quds Force, Iran bolstered Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militant groups in Lebanon; expanded its military presence in Iraq and Syria; and orchestrated Syria’s offensive against rebel groups in that country’s long civil war.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US wanted to de-escalate the situation, but that the strike was “lawful” and “saved lives”.
Later he thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Saudi Arabia’s “steadfast support” and “for recognizing aggressive threats posed by Iran’s Quds force”, the state department said.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Iranians have been holding rallies in Tehran and other cities, denouncing what they call US crimes.
Meanwhile, global oil price rose sharply in the wake of the attack.
Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the attack. Qasem Soleimani’s death would double “resistance” against the US and Israel, he added.
The ayatollah also announced three days of national mourning. He would lead prayers at a funeral ceremony for the general in Tehran on January 5, Iranian media quoted Qasem Soleimani’s family as saying.
Later, the Supreme National Security Council, Iran’s top security body, said the US would be held responsible for its “criminal adventurism”.
It said in a statement: “This was the biggest US strategic blunder in the West Asia region, and America will not easily escape its consequences.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the attack an “act of international terrorism”.
The US embassy compound in Baghdad has been attacked by protesters angered by recent deadly US air strikes targeting an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.
US troops fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that breached the outer wall of the embassy, which is in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
A guard post on the street nearby was also set alight.
President Donald Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating” the attack and said it would be “held fully responsible”.
At least 25 fighters died when the US bombed bases associated with the Kataib Hezbollah militia in western Iraq and eastern Syria on December 29.
The US said it was retaliating for a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk on December 20 that killed an American civilian contractor.
Iraq’s PM Adel Abdul Mahdi said on December 30 that the strikes had violated his country’s sovereignty and would force it to review its relations with the US.
Kataib Hezbollah’s commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, warned that the militia’s response “would be very tough on the American forces in Iraq”.
Iran described the attacks as a “clear example of terrorism”.
The protest took place on December 31 after funerals were held in Baghdad for the militia fighters who were killed in the US strikes.
Thousands of mourners – including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several other senior militia and paramilitary leaders – marched towards the Green Zone, where many Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies are located.
They were allowed by Iraqi security forces to enter the zone and gather on a street outside the US embassy compound.
Waving Kataib Hezbollah and other militia flags, and chanting anti-American slogans, the protesters threw stones at the compound’s main gate, pulled down security cameras, attacked empty guard posts, and started several fires.
The situation later escalated when the embassy’s wall was breached.
The Associated Press reported that a gate used by cars was smashed open and that dozens of people pushed about 16ft into a corridor leading to the main embassy building before being forced to retreat by tear gas fired by US troops.
Iraqi soldiers and riot police were reportedly later deployed in the area, and PM Adel Abdul Mahdi told the protesters to leave the compound immediately.
He added: “Any aggression or harassment of foreign embassies will be firmly prohibited by the security forces.”
The Popular Mobilization, a paramilitary force dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias, reported that 20 protesters were wounded by live rounds and tear-gas canisters.
According to Al-Sumaria website, Kataib Hezbollah meanwhile called for protest in front of the embassy until it was closed and the ambassador was expelled from Iraq.
President Trump tweeted: “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”
There was no immediate response from the Iranian government.
It was not clear whether civilian staff were inside the compound during the attack.
There were reports that the US ambassador, Matthew Tueller, had been evacuated.
Ahmad Al-Khair’s case drew widespread attention in the country, and his killing fuelled the protests against the 75-year-old Omar al-Bashir. A huge crowd rallied outside the court in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital, Khartoum, to hear the verdict.
At least 170 people were killed during the months-long crackdown against the protest movement. Omar al-Bashir was eventually overthrown by the military, 30 years after he took power in a coup.
Earlier this month, the former leader was sentenced to two years for corruption. The court ruled that Omar al-Bashir should serve the sentence in a correctional facility, as he was too old to be in prison.
The corruption case was linked to a $25 million cash payment he received from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Omar al-Bashir also faces other charges – including some related to the 1989 coup that brought him to power, along with genocide and the killing of protesters.
Omar al-Bashir claimed the payments were made as part of Sudan’s strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia, and were “not used for private interests but as donations”.
President Putin and President Trump have spoken on the phone and in person various times since the latter took office.
Records from the conversations show they have often talked about Syria, as well as nuclear agreements, North Korea and trade.
In December 2017, Vladimir Putin thanked President Trump for another warning from US intelligence agencies, which again apparently prevented a terrorist plot in St Petersburg, according to a White House account.
During that call, the Kremlin said President Putin had promised to reciprocate with information about terrorist threats to the US.
The US and Russian relations plummeted after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from neighboring Ukraine in 2014.
They were also strained when US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Despite this, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have appeared to be on good terms personally – and they have vowed to co-operate on terrorism.
President Trump has indicated he is considering attending the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow next May, after an invitation from President Putin.
A senior aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, was sacked and investigated over the killing but not charged “due to insufficient evidence”, the public prosecution said. Former Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad Asiri was put on trial but acquitted on the same grounds.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the decision of the Saudi court “falls short of the expectations of Turkey and the international community for the clarification of all aspects of this murder and the serving of justice”.
Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, called the Saudi announcement “not acceptable”.
The publisher of the Washington Post, for whom Jamal Khashoggi wrote columns, said: “The complete lack of transparency and the Saudi government’s refusal to co-operate with independent investigators suggests that this was merely a sham trial.”
However, Jamal Khashoggi’s son Salah, who lives in Saudi Arabia, tweeted: “We affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary at all levels, that it has been fair to us and that justice has been achieved.”
Jamal Khashoggi, who went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, to obtain papers he needed to marry Hatice Cengiz.
The man who opened fire at the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters in Moscow has been identified as a 39-year-old loner and gun enthusiast, Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported.
According to Russian police, Yevgeny Manyurov is from Podolsk, about 25 miles south of Moscow. On December 19, the gunman killed an FSB officer and wounded five others with an automatic weapon, before a sniper shot him dead.
One of the wounded is a civilian.
At the moment of the attack, President Vladimir Putin was at a gala evening honoring the FSB at the Kremlin, a couple of miles away.
The shooting happened at the entrance of the Lubyanka, the FSB headquarters which used to house the Soviet KGB.
On December 19, police searched Yevgeny Manyurov’s flat, which he had shared with his mother, and they detained her for questioning.
Yevgeny Manyurov had worked as a security guard but lost his job recently and never had any visits from friends, Russian media quote his mother as saying. Police found five guns at the flat – legally registered and kept in a safe – along with a large quantity of ammunition.
He once trained as a lawyer and did some legal consulting work, reports say.
Yevgeny Manyurov practiced shooting regularly at a gun club, which was a passion for him, his mother is quoted as saying.
She also said she had heard him speaking English on the phone with some “Arabs”, who had started calling him since he had lost his security job.
According to Kommersant newspaper, when he opened fire, Yevgeny Manyurov “was shouting slogans typical of Islamic State”. The publication says the information came from a security source, who quoted witnesses questioned by police.
The US and Iran have had an increasingly strained relationship in recent years and share no diplomatic links.
Both countries have thanked the Swiss government for its assistance as an intermediary facilitator.
Xiyue Wang was flown in a Swiss government plane from Tehran to Zurich, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he will undergo medical check-ups before heading home.
Massoud Soleimani was also flown to Zurich and then on to Iran.
Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted photos of himself with Massoud Soleimani after his release.
He was the first to announce the news, via Twitter: “Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly.”
In a formal statement, President Donald Trump said Xiyue Wang had been “held under the pretence of espionage”.
The statement said: “Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas.”
Hua Qu, Mr
Xiyue Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, wrote in statement: “Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue.
“We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”
Princeton University, where Xiyue Wang was studying as a postgraduate, said in a statement it was “overjoyed” with the news of his release and was looking forward to “welcoming him back to campus”.
Xiyue Wang was arrested in Iran in August 2016 as he was leaving the country.
He had been doing research in Iran for a university dissertation and was accused of seeking to gather “highly confidential articles” for US and British academic institutions.
Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 years in jail for spying.
Massoud Soleimani was detained in October 2018 on accusations of attempting to export biological materials to Iran in violation of trade sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.
US-Iran tensions have risen significantly in the last two years.
After President Donald Trump took power, the US pulled out of a 2015 treaty that aimed to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran has always insisted its nuclear program is peaceful, but the US voiced concerns about potential weapon building.
President Donald Trump also reinstated sanctions on Iran, which have led to its currency plummeting and inflation soaring.
North Korea has accused Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe of mislabeling its latest weapons test, branding him an “imbecile” and “political dwarf”.
The Japanese prime minister condemned North Korea for “repeated launches of ballistic missiles” after two projectiles were fired on November 28.
However, North Korea insisted it was testing a “super-large multiple-rocket launcher”.
On November 30, state media said Japan “may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future”.
North Korea is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.
It is under various sets of sanctions over its missile and nuclear programs. Lifting the sanctions has been a key aim of North Korea in talks with the US – Japan’s ally – but these have stalled since a summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump broke down in February.
North Korea fired what observers in South Korea called two “unidentified projectiles” from its South Hamgyong province into the Sea of Japan on November 28.North Korea Launches New Ballistic Missile over JapanNorth Korea fired what observers in South Korea called two “unidentified projectiles” from its South Hamgyong province into the Sea of Japan on November 28.
Condemning the launch, PM Shinzo Abe said: “North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles are a serious defiance to not only our country but also the international community.”
North Korea issued images said to be of Kim Jong-un inspecting the launch.
The KCNA state media said on November 30: “It can be said that Abe is the only one idiot in the world and the most stupid man ever known in history as he fails to distinguish a missile from a multiple launch rocket system while seeing the photo-accompanied report.”
It added: “Abe may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose. Abe is none other than a perfect imbecile and a political dwarf.”
Negotiations between North Korea and the US remain stalled since the collapse of February’s summit in Hanoi.
President Trump and Kim Jong-un did meet again in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Koreas in June and agreed to restart working-level talks.
These began in October, but failed to make any progress.
North Korea has demanded the US change its approach by the end of the year, and was lukewarm in response to a tweet by President Trump hinting at another meeting with Kim Jong-un.
In May, Shinzo Abe said he was ready to meet Kim Jong-un “without conditions”, raising hopes of renewed negotiations on the nuclear issue as well as on the lingering historical issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens.
The Japanese were kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s to help train its spies. Japan believes 17 citizens were abducted, only five of whom have since been repatriated.
However, PM Abe’s offer has not come to fruition. North Korea said this month that the Japanese leader would never set foot in Pyongyang after he condemned an earlier weapons test.
President Trump has drawn criticism from parts of the military after pardoning army officers convicted of war crimes.
Edward Gallagher was accused of stabbing an unarmed 17-year-old Islamic State prisoner to death and randomly shooting civilians while serving in Iraq in 2017.
He was acquitted of those charges and convicted only of the lesser charge of posing with the ISIS prisoner’s corpse.
For that, he was demoted, but President Trump later reinstated his rank.
Edward Gallagher was formally notified by navy leaders last week that he would face a disciplinary review which could result in his being stripped of his membership of the Seals.
On November 21, President Trump tweeted his disapproval, saying the navy would “NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin”.
On November 24, the defense department said Mark Esper had asked Richard Spencer to resign due to “his lack of candor”.
Richard Spencer had made private proposals to the White House, which he did not share with Mark Esper, and had contradicted his public position, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffmann said in a statement.
On November 20, Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the opportunity to try after Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.
On November 21, President Reuven Rivlin asked lawmakers to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.
After the charges were announced, Benny Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.
In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that he intended to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending final hearings that eventually took place in October.
It is unclear what this means for the prime minister’s future.
Benjamin Netanyahu is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Benjamin Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.
According to a monitoring group, North Korea’s harvest will be worse than usual, exacerbating already severe food shortages in the country.
Swiss-based Geoglam said, after using satellite images, that drought had affected crops in an area known as the “cereal bowl”.
According to the UN data, 4 in 10 North Koreans need food aid and crop production is at its lowest level in five years.
Food shortages in North Korea are made worse by international sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.
In May food rations – which feed about 70% of the North Korean population – were cut from 550g (19.5 oz) to just 300g per person following poor results in this year’s early harvest.
According to Geoglam, North Korea’s main harvest in the southern provinces of South and North Hwanghae and South Pyongyan was complete but was estimated to have produced a below-average quantity of crops.
The organization also said that North Korea’s overall food situation was not expected to improve.
The country experienced severe droughts in spring and summer, and in September it was hit by Typhoon Lingling, which flooded farmland.
In September, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said poor rice and maize harvests had left more than 10 million people in urgent need of assistance.
North Korea has also had to cope with a regional outbreak of swine fever in its pig herd, leading to reduced pork production.
Earlier this year a UN team found families surviving “on a monotonous diet of rice and kimchi most of the year, eating very little protein”, according to a report by the World Food Program. The report said some families were eating protein only a few times a year.
China and other countries have already provided North Korea with food aid so far this year.
Despite its situation, North Korea has refused to accept 50,000 tonnes of rice from South Korea. This is reportedly because of tensions with the South linked to stalled talks between Pyongyang and the US over the North’s nuclear program.
Food shortages are regular in North Korea. In the 1990s a severe nationwide famine is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.
On November 5, Turkish officials said the arrest of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s sister Rasmiya Awad would yield valuable intelligence about ISIS.
The arrest was reportedly made on November 4 in an area of Aleppo province now under Turkey’s control.
Rasmiya Awad was found in a trailer, where she was living with her husband, daughter-in-law and five children, a Turkish official told AP news agency, adding she was being interrogated on suspicion of involvement with an extremist group.
Experts say the town where Rasmiya Awad was captured is a known smuggling route for ISIS families.
President Trump announced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death at a press conference at the White House on October 27.
The president said DNA tests had been carried out to verify Baghdadi’s identity, confirming his death.
After the raid, the compound was destroyed in an air strike.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi has since been named as ISIS’ new leader and “caliph”.
The local councilor, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, reportedly was attempting to prevent the attacker leaving the scene when the man bit off a section of his ear. Witnesses said the attacker was badly beaten by passersby who intervened, before police arrested the man.
The injured woman told the South China Morning Post that the attacker drew a knife after arguing with her sister and her husband, who were also injured.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the attacker was a Mandarin-speaking pro-Beijing supporter.
Hong Kong has experienced five months of sometimes violent demonstrations by pro-democracy activists, who first took to the streets to protest against a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, but evolved into a broader revolt against the way Hong Kong is administered by Beijing.
The pro-democracy protests continued this weekend, days after a high-profile activist, Joshua Wong, was banned from standing in local elections.
Police fired tear gas into crowds of demonstrators in the eastern suburb of Taikoo Shing, home to the Cityplaza where the knife attack occurred.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie also could not confirm President Donald Trump’s graphic description of Baghdadi whimpering and crying as he died.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity,” he told a news conference at the Pentagon.
“That would be my empirical observation of what he did. I’m not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can’t confirm that one way or another.”
He said four women – who were wearing suicide vests – and one man were killed at the compound.
Gen McKenzie said an unknown number of fighters also died after opening fire on US helicopters.
He added: “I want to make it clear that despite the high-pressure and high-profile nature of this assault that every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties and to protect children we suspected would be in the compound.”
He confirmed that Baghdadi had been identified through his DNA – adding that samples had been on file since the ISIS leader’s detention in an Iraqi prison in 2004.
Gen McKenzie said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains were flown back to a staging base for identification and were then buried at sea within 24 hours of his death “in accordance with the laws of armed conflict”.