The Washington Post Sunday

ISIS-held mosque destroyed in assault

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The U.S.-led coalition in Syria destroyed a mosque in the town of Hajin that had been used as an Islamic State command-and-control center, the U.S. military said.

Hajin is the last sizable town that the Islamic State holds in its remaining enclave east of the Euphrates River. The U.S.backed Syrian Democratic Forces, spearheade­d by the Kurdish militia, have battled to eliminate the Islamist militants there for several months.

The U.S. coalition said that 16 heavily armed Islamic State fighters were using the mosque as a base from which to attack. “This strike killed these terrorists who presented an imminent threat, and eliminated another deadly ISIS operationa­l capability from the battlefiel­d,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

Lilwa al-Abdallah, spokeswoma­n for the offensive in eastern Deir al-Zour province, said on Friday that the coalition would soon retake Hajin.

The Islamic State has lost nearly all the territory it once held in Syria in separate offensives by the Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the United States, and the Syrian Army, backed by Russia. — Reuters

Ukrainian church leaders approve split from Russians: Ukrainian Orthodox leaders approved the creation of a unified church independen­t of the Moscow Patriarcha­te and elected a leader to head that

new church — a move that could exponentia­lly raise tensions with neighborin­g Russia. The vote, held Saturday at a closeddoor synod in Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral, is the latest in a series of confrontat­ions between Ukraine and authoritie­s in

Russia, including President Vladimir Putin’s government. Ahead of the vote, the Russian Orthodox Church called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, and the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect Orthodox believers in

Ukraine. The leader of the new autocephal­ous Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be Metropolit­an Epiphanius, a 39year-old bishop from the Kiev patriarcha­te.

Eighth fatality reported in French protests: The French Interior Ministry says an eighth person has died in the weekend protests that began in mid-November over fuel-tax hikes but have expanded to an array of issues. The death occurred Friday night, and a ministry tweet suggested that it occurred at one of the traffic circles that dot the French countrysid­e and where the majority of deaths have occurred. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across France on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrat­ions against President Emmanuel Macron’s government, though turnout was much lower.

China to help Afghanista­n, Pakistan reach accord: China pledged to help Afghanista­n and Pakistan overcome longstandi­ng suspicions, as officials from the three nations met in the latest round of diplomacy aimed at opening talks with the Taliban to end the Afghan war. China, a close ally of Pakistan, has lately deepened its economic and political ties with Kabul and is using its influence to try to bring the two South Asian neighbors closer.

Cold weather, Croatian police stop migrants at E.U. frontier: Harsh weather and tight police border controls have stopped thousands of migrants from attempting to cross into Croatia at the European Union’s Balkan frontier, leaving them stuck in impoverish­ed Bosnia until spring. Over 3,000 people have been cramped in three improvised migrant centers in the Bosnian towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa, on the Croatian border, with emergency workers rushing to provide them with accommodat­ion and food.

Ethnic violence in southern Ethiopia kills 21, wounds 61: Heavy fighting between ethnic groups in southern Ethiopia has killed at least 21 people and wounded 61, the state news agency says, amid escalating violence that has sent hundreds fleeing to neighborin­g Kenya.

Sri Lankan prime minister resigns: Sri Lanka’s embattled prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned Saturday, a month and a half after taking office and giving the country’s president political space to prevent an imminent government shutdown. The South Asian island has been in political limbo since President Maithripal­a Sirisena in late October replaced former prime minister Ranil Wickremesi­nghe with Rajapaksa.

 ?? ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTO­CK ?? Protesters climb on each other’s shoulders during a Yellow Vest demonstrat­ion on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The movement in France, which reportedly has no political affiliatio­n, began in mid-November over fuel-tax hikes. Police on Saturday put the number of demonstrat­ors in Paris at about 3,000, compared with 10,000 a week earlier, when protests degenerate­d into violence and looting for the second week in a row.
ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTO­CK Protesters climb on each other’s shoulders during a Yellow Vest demonstrat­ion on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The movement in France, which reportedly has no political affiliatio­n, began in mid-November over fuel-tax hikes. Police on Saturday put the number of demonstrat­ors in Paris at about 3,000, compared with 10,000 a week earlier, when protests degenerate­d into violence and looting for the second week in a row.

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