Syria regime air strikes and artillery fire pounded areas held by the Islamic State group in the south of Damascus on Thursday, official media and a war monitor said. The jihadists have lost most of the territory they once controlled in Syria, but still retain a presence in the country including in the capital's southern districts. Regime warplanes targeted "the dens of terrorists from Al-Nusra Front and Daesh in Hajar al-Aswad", a southern district of Damascus, state news agency SANA said, referring to Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate and using an Arabic acronym for IS.
HAVANA (AP) — Raul Castro stepped down as president of Cuba on Thursday, handing power to a 57-year-old successor he said would hold power until 2031, a plan that would place the state the Castro brothers founded and ruled for six decades in the hands of a Communist Party official who remains little known to most people on the island.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say that it is too early to say with any certainty what caused a Southwest Airlines jet engine to fatally explode mid-flight, but they are looking into whether it is possible an undetectable crack could have led to the disastrous series of events. The team searching for answers has already amassed a pile of evidence, including the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder, damaged engine parts, and video footage captured by fearful passengers as the plane descended.
NEW YORK (AP) — The alleged East Coast crime boss of the notorious street gang MS-13 was ordered held without bail on Thursday at his first court appearance on Long Island, where prosecutors accuse him of having a hand in a wave of violence.
By Vladimir Soldatkin and Robin Emmott MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The head of Russia's military general staff and NATO's supreme allied commander held a rare face-to-face meeting on Thursday to try to ease the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War. U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti and Valery Gerasimov met in Baku, Azerbaijan, less than a week after the United States, Britain and France staged missile strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad - a close ally of Russia. In separate statements, NATO and the Russian defense ministry said the meeting discussed military exercises and troop movements, as both sides accuse the other of risky deployments in the Baltic states and eastern Europe.
By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge expressed skepticism on Thursday as a lawyer for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought to convince her to dismiss charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson questioned Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing and his reading of Department of Justice guidelines governing Mueller's investigation involving Russia and the 2016 U.S. election.