World News in Brief: January 5

Sunday, 2020-01-05 13:21:01
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China will play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East and the Gulf region while remaining objective and fair, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday (January 4). Wang made the remarks during a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

* The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday (January 5) that it had summoned the US ambassador to Iraq over US airstrikes against the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces in western Iraq and near Baghdad airport that killed an Iranian commander and a commander of Hashd Shaabi.

* A Katyusha rocket on Saturday landed on the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, but no reports about casualties, an Interior Ministry official said.

* President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States has targeted 52 Iranian sites that it would strike if Iran attacks Americans or US assets in response to a US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

* The Canadian-commanding NATO mission in Iraq has suspended its training task after a US airstrike killed an Iranian commander, Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail reported Saturday. A senior Canadian government official was quoted as describing the move as a "tactical pause."

* As many as 247 people have been killed across Syria from landmines, and buildings collapse over the past year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

* The Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories increased by 70 percent in 2019, a Palestinian report said Saturday. Israel announced tenders to build around 10,000 new settlement units in 2019, compared to 6,800 in 2018, the Palestine Liberation Organization said in the report.

* The polling stations across Croatia opened at 0600 GMT on Sunday for voters to elect the country's new president in a race pitting the candidates of the two biggest parties. In the first round of voting two weeks ago, former prime minister Zoran Milanovic, who is Social Democrats' candidate, came first among the 11 candidates with 29.6% of votes. He finished ahead of the incumbent president, the conservative Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic with 26.7%.

* Smoke from raging bushfires in Australia blanketed parts of neighbouring New Zealand on Sunday, turning the sky over Auckland a bright orange. The city is more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from southeastern Australia, parts of which have been devastated by bushfires that have raged for months.

Xinhua, Reuters