News Watch

The civil war in Syria, ongoing since 2011, is increasingly involving other nations.

On Feb. 7, a US air strike against pro-government Syrian forces in eastern Syria resulted in the deaths of up to 100 Russian mercenaries, with Russian sources saying it was only five. Though the Russian military has conducted air strikes in support of the Syrian government, officially it has no military on the ground. 

On Feb. 11, an Iranian-made drone entered Israeli air space from Syria...


A Saratov Airlines plane carrying 65 passengers and six crew crashed soon after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on Feb. 11, killing everyone on board. It was en route to the city of Orsk, just north of the Kazakhstan border. 

The plane was a Russian-made twin-engine Antonov An-180. Frozen-over speed sensors are suspected to have given incorrect readings, leading to the accident, with investigations ongoing as of press time. 

Worldwide, the crash was the...


An Iran Aseman Airlines flight carrying 60 passengers and six crew crashed into the side of a mountain on Feb. 18, killing everyone on board. The twin-engine turbo-prop airplane was flying from Tehran, in northern Iran, to Yasuj, in the south.

Poor weather conditions and difficulty in reaching the crash site delayed recovery and investigation expeditions, which were ongoing at press time.

Three suicide bombers targeted a market in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, on Feb. 17, killing at least 20 people and injuring at least 20 others. The bombers were identified as young women.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamist militant group Boko Haram is suspected. Boko Haram is known for using women suicide bombers, particularly in Maiduguri.

An attack by militants on a boarding school in the town of Dapchi, northern Nigeria, caused hundreds of...


In southern Russia, a man in the town of Kizlyar, in the republic of Dagestan, opened fire on people exiting a church after an afternoon service on Feb. 18, killing five and injuring five others. The man was killed by police on the scene. Islamist militant group Daesh (ISIL) claimed that the shooter was one of their soldiers, but this was unconfirmed as of press time. 

The US Department of State recommends that people avoid traveling to Dagestan and the rest of Russia’s...


Mt. Sinabung, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, erupted on Feb. 19, spewing ash more than 3 miles into the air and causing a massive pyroclastic flow. No injuries were reported, but nearby towns were evacuated during the eruption. Worldwide, it was the largest volcanic eruption in the last five years.

Mt. Sinabung erupted in 2010, killing two people, after centuries of dormancy. It has erupted two other times since then, in 2014 and 2016, killing a total of 23 people. The area...


At least 17 people were killed in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, on Feb. 19 when a large trash pile collapsed onto their homes. Rescue efforts were ongoing as of press time, and authorities were unsure how many people were still trapped.

The nearly 50-foot-tall pile fell at 3 a.m. during heavy rains, which also caused flooding in other areas of the city. Residents of the area had been told to leave in the past, as the homes are considered “illegal,” but few in the area...


A state of emergency was declared in the island nation of the Maldives on Feb. 5 due to political upheaval. The crisis began when the nation’s Supreme Court ordered the release of nine members of Parliament who had been arrested on the orders of President Abdulla Yameen. The court also declared the trial of the former president, Mohamed Nasheed, to have been unconstitutional.

In response, President Yameen disbanded Parliament and the Supreme Court, gave the army broad powers to...