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World News Briefs -- February 20, 2020



Reuters: Flare-up in fighting in northwest Syria pulls in Russian, Turkish forces

AZAZ, Syria/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish forces and Syrian rebels fought government troops in northwest Syria on Thursday and Russian warplanes struck back in a sharp escalation of an intense battle over the last rebel bastions, Russian and Turkish officials said.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said two of its soldiers were killed and five were wounded in Syrian government air strikes in Idlib, bringing Turkish military fatalities to 15 this month in the Idlib region. It said more than 50 Syrian soldiers had been killed in retaliation.

Earlier, talks between Moscow and Ankara, who back different sides in Syria’s nine-year war, had failed to reach a compromise to ease the situation and head off a direct confrontation between them in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

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MIDDLE EAST

Russian warplanes repel attack on Syrian army in Idlib as militants launch offensive aided by Turkish artillery — Moscow.

Ankara accuses Damascus of targeting Turkish army’s positions in Idlib.

'Nowhere is safe': UN warns of urgent danger of Syria escalation.

Moderates sidelined as Iranians head to the polls.

US sanctions Iranian officials involved in vetting election candidates.

Iran confirms three more coronavirus cases.

IMF team in Lebanon to help tackle economic crisis.

Netanyahu vows thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem.

ASIA

Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in discuss coronavirus and Chinese leader’s planned visit to South Korea.

China changes method of counting virus infected... again.

Two Diamond Princess passengers die after coronavirus quarantine, Japanese broadcaster says.

South Korean city on high alert as coronavirus cases soar at 'cult' church.

Coronavirus in N Korea could be 'much more lethal' than in China.

U.S. special envoy discusses Taliban deal with re-elected Afghan president.

Australia bushfires: PM Morrison announces inquiry.

AFRICA

Huge locust swarms raise fears of food shortages in South Sudan.

Lesotho's Thomas Thabane to be charged with murdering his wife.

Algeria's new president promises 'radical changes'.

Tunisia names new coalition government, bringing an end to political crisis.

South Sudan's president, opposition leader agree to form unity government.

South Sudan warring sides 'deliberately starving' citizens: UN.

I don't feel like a dictator, says Togo's longtime leader.

EUROPE

Gunman's killing of nine people at shisha bars in Germany condemned, Turkey demands strong action.

Germany shootings: German president says 'We won't be intimidated'.

UK police rule out terror in London mosque stabbing.

UK says Russia's GRU behind massive Georgia cyber-attack.

Brexit complicates EU budget plans.

Trump, Macron discuss NATO, counterterrorism on phone.

Irish parliament set for stalemate in attempt to form new government.

AMERICAS

Roger Stone sentenced to over three years in prison.

Debate night brawl: Bloomberg, Sanders attacked by rivals.

Poll: Sanders holds 7-point lead in crucial California primary.

Bloomberg campaign spends over $220 million in January.

AP-NORC poll: More Americans worry about flu than new virus.

Mexico investigating ex-president Pena Nieto for fraud: Report.

Massive vehicle pileup in Canada involving 200 cars after whiteout conditions on Quebec highway.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

US takes out 3 Somali terrorists in precision airstrike.

Sudan to pay $30 million to families of victims in USS Cole attack.

Putin vows to help US fight against terrorism.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

Coronavirus: Qantas and Air France-KLM warn of profits hit.

US economy solid, but virus could hit supplies: Fed's Clarida.

Morgan Stanley's Gorman charts ambitious course with $13 bln E*Trade deal.

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