2016-12-30 11:01




December 30, 2016

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.

The Syrian government and several rebel groups have agreed to a nationwide cease-fire beginning Friday.

As with previous halts in fighting, the agreement applies to the Syrian military and rebels but not to certain Islamist groups.

Hadi al-Bahra [has] is an official with the Syrian National Coalition: "It includes all the Syrian territories, including the suburb of Damascus, Damascus, Idlib area, the suburb of Aleppo, so all the main areas, the exclusive areas are the one in the eastern side of Syria where ISIL is present."

Russia and Turkey say they will guarantee the truce.

If the cease-fire holds, it will be [allowed] by, followed, rather, by renewed peace talks next month in Kazakhstan.

U.S. officials say a key leader of the Islamic State group in its capital Raqqa, Syria, was killed by a coalition airstrike this week.

A statement by the U.S.-led coalition Thursday said Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti was killed in a strike near Tabqa Dam on Monday. It said he was a previous member of the group's War Committee.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered sanctions against Russian officials and Russian intelligence services.

The sanctions are in response to alleged hacking and interference by Russia during the recent U.S. presidential election and what Mr. Obama calls unacceptable degree of harassment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow by Russian security services over the last year.

The head of the Russian military investigation panel said Thursday there was no explosion on board the plane that crashed Sunday in the Black Sea. That crash killed all 92 people on board.

This is VOA news.

Israeli media report Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be questioned by police in a corruption probe against him.

An Israeli television station said Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of receiving favors from two businessmen, one of them a foreigner.

The prime minister's office denied the reports. The Justice Ministry and police have declined to comment.

Iraqi troops ended a two-week pause in fighting and pushed further into the Iraqi city of Mosul Thursday.

The multi-pronged attack targeted two neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city still under control of the Islamic State group.

An American law enforcement memorial organization says the number of U.S. police killed in the line of duty rose sharply in 2016.

One hundred thirty-five officers were killed this year - a 56 percent increase over the year before.

Four people have been killed in what state-run media in China describe as a terrorist attack on a Communist party office in the country's Xinjiang region.

The Xinhua news agency quotes local officials as saying four Islamic militants detonated homemade explosives Wednesday that killed one person and injured three.

The government has blamed recent unrest on radicals in the Uighur community.

Japan is being roundly criticized by neighboring countries after its top military official Thursday visited a shrine that honors Japanese war dead, including convicted war criminals.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine drew sharp rebukes from China and South Korea.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video denying Nigerian government claims that the insurgent group has been chased out of its Sambisa forest stronghold.

Shekau said his video was recorded on Christmas Day, December 25.

A prominent Bahraini human rights activist was to have been freed Wednesday on bail, but authorities ordered that he be kept in jail on other charges.

Nabeel Rajab had been in prison for seven months pending a trial on charges of circulating inaccurate information and insulting public institutions on Twitter.

Philippine officials say at least 32 people were wounded Wednesday when two bombs exploded during an amateur boxing match in the central province of Leyte.

Police are trying to identify the attackers. No one has claimed responsibility.

German authorities have released a Tunisian man who had been detained for alleged links to Anis Amri, the suspect who carried out the recent attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Prosecutors said they had determined that the person detained on Wednesday is not the suspected in contact [of] with Anis Amri.

Amri used a truck to plow through a crowd, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others.

In Washington, I'm David DeForest.

That's the latest world news from VOA.

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