The Islamic State terror group has captured the Syrian town of Maheen in the central Homs Province, reports have said, and is now advancing toward the nearby town of Sadad, which is home to nearly 15,000 Syriac Orthodox Christians.
BBC News reported that the terror group, which has captured significant territory across Syria and Iraq, has been focusing on expanding from its mainly northern and eastern strongholds toward Homs in central Syria in recent months.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the fall of Maheen started with two suicide blasts on Saturday, with government forces eventually being driven out of the city. The watchdog group said that at least 50 government soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. more >>
A businessman who holds duel citizenship with the United States and Iran was reportedly arrested in mid-October in Tehran.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that a friend of United Arab Emirates based businessman, Siamak Namazi, confirmed the arrest while the Iranian government has not made public any charges.
Namazi, believed to be in his early 40s, is head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates. The New York Times reported Thursday that Namazi has ties to the National Iranian American Council, whose mission is to advance "the interests of the Iranian American community. more >>
President Barack Obama has decided to deploy dozens of U.S. troops to train, advise and assist local rebel forces on the ground in northern Syria to fight the Islamic State terror group, the White House announced Friday.
Fewer than 50 soldiers will be based in Syria and openly work with local ground forces, Josh Earnest, spokesman for the White House, told reporters Friday, marking the expansion of the U.S. fight against IS, which controls a large part of Syria and Iraq.
Thus far, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes in Syria, targeting IS. more >>
China's Communist Party has decided to abolish its decades-long, draconian one-child policy, according to State media, which also said that couples will be allowed to have two children. Women will still be forced to abort all subsequent pregnancies, however.
"The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population," the ruling party said while announcing the plan at a Central Committee meeting Thursday, the State-controlled Xinhua new agency reported.
A final plan will be ratified by the annual session of China's top legislature in March, it added. more >>
The African Union has described cases of extreme suffering and violence in the South Sudan civil war, with some people reportedly being forced to eat human flesh and drink blood.
"The commission believes that war crimes were committed in Juba, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal," the AU said in its report, according to BBC News.
Witnesses in the report claimed that people in Juba were forced to drink the blood and eat the flesh of people who had just been killed. more >>
Forty-seven members of Congress have signed onto a joint letter to the Bremerton School District in Washington explaining that Bremerton High football coach Joe Kennedy has the constitutionally guaranteed right to kneel and pray on the 50-yard line after games.
The school district is currently reviewing Kennedy's job status after the Christian coach defied school district orders and continued his tradition of praying at midfield following the conclusion of games.
Although Kennedy never forces students to join in his prayer, many students choose to join him in prayer. The school district has warned Kennedy that he needs to wait until students leave the stadium until he can pray or else that would violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. more >>