The new ISIS leader has reportedly been identified as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, one of the founding members of the group, the Guardian reported. While Salbi became head of the group hours after the killing of former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group had initially released what turned out to be a nom de guerre in order to protect Salbi's identity.
Turks in Belgium are divided over the Francophone socialist party PS' decision to strip Saint-Josse mayor Emir Kır of the party whip, after he held a meeting with a delegation of mayors from Turkey, including two from the right-wing ultra-nationalist MHP party. While a Turkish-origin resident in Brussels said it was “normal” for Kır to host politicians coming from Turkey, another found Kır's action incompatible with his party's stance.
After becoming the first Turkish-Kurdish origin MP to enter British parliament, Feryal Clark joked about her height in her address to the Commons. "What I lack in height, I will make up for in voice," Clark, who is also the first Alevi MP, said. "As a refugee child who arrived in Britain 30 years ago, I could never have dreamed I'd have the privilege and responsibility to serve my adopted country as a Member of Parliament," she said.
The Assad regime has invited representatives of the country's Syrian Kurdish parties to Damascus. The de facto autonomous region of northern Syria known as Rojava also received an invitation, but their officials were asked to send a delegation that consists of only "Kurdish representatives," excluding Arabs.
The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that it has created three new checkpoints for civilians to leave the embattled Syrian province of Idlib. The ministry said it had received many requests from Syrian civilians in Idlib in areas controlled by armed groups to return to their homes in territory controlled by Syrian government forces.
A footage of Russian President Vladimir Putin joking about inviting U.S. President Donald Trump to Damascus surfaced, a week after his visit to Syria to meet with the country's leader Bashar al-Assad. In a video of the conversation, Assad mentions the Apostle Paul’s conversion to Christianity after a vision at the gate of Damascus. “If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too," Assad said. "Invite him," responded Putin.
A new ceasefire in Syria's Idlib province is set to start just after midnight on Jan. 12, Turkey has said. The announcement came a day after Russia’s Defense Ministry said that a ceasefire in the region was introduced at 2 p.m. Moscow time on Jan. 9.
Iran said on Jan. 11 it had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane killing all 176 aboard and voiced deep regret. "The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter, promising those behind the incident would be prosecuted. "My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families."
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis was welcomed to the White House's Oval Office on Jan. 7 by U.S. President Trump. Greece is "very much interested" in participating in the F-35 program and the country is a reliable U.S. partner in the region, Mitsotakis told Trump during their meeting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Jan. 7, the Russian leader's second trip to Syria, a day before Putin is due to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. During the visit, Putin told Assad that much had been done to restore Syrian statehood, while Assad thanked Putin for his assistance in restoring peaceful life in Syria, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
Killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani through a U.S. strike in Iraq could be the “beginning of new and bigger problems” in the Middle East, said Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Friday. Kılıçdaroğlu urged President Tayyip Erdoğan to follow a moderate policy regarding the Middle East and keep Turkey away from the ring of fire.
High Negotiations Committee (HNC) head Nasr al-Hariri slammed a meeting held in Riyadh for the selection of independents, saying that they are concerned by the fact that figures from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were selected. "None of those invited are from inside Syria, majority are not independent and they belong to political parties or formations," he said.
Russia has been working on building a local force consisting of ethnic Kurds to replace the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is perceived as a terrorist group by Turkey due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in northeastern Syria, Voice of America reported. "The Russians have already opened recruitment centers in two towns in our region, including Amuda and Tal Tamr," said a Kurdish journalist.
Thousands of people have fled to the Turkish border from the last big opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria because of an intensified bombardment by Russian forces and the Syrian army, residents and rescue workers said on Dec. 20. Air strikes killed six people overnight in Maarat al Numan and 11 were killed in villages in the area, rescue teams said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has backed Arsenal star Mesut Özil in his criticism of China over its treatment of Uighurs, saying Beijing can censor the team's football games but cannot hide rights violations. "China's Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor Mesut Özil and Arsenal's game all season long, but the truth will prevail. The CCP can't hide its gross #humanrights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world," Pompeo said.