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The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) is suspected of using mustard gas in an attack against Kurdish forces near the Iraqi city of Irbil in early August. Mustard gas can cause death due to fluid buildup in the lungs. IS has also been accused of attacking Kurdish forces with chlorine gas.

IS controls land in both Syria and Iraq and may have obtained chemical weapons from stockpiles in either country. The Syrian government is known to have had chemical weapons and has been accused of using them against rebels in its own civil war, though the government claims to have destroyed all of...


The US Department of State urges people to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to ongoing security concerns. Extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, IS, ANF and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, all of which the US government has designated as terrorist organizations. 

Episodic clashes between the Lebanese army and Syrian-based extremists have occurred along the border with Syria since August 2014. In the past two years, two US citizens have died in bombings and two have been kidnapped. In January 2015, two suicide bombers struck a café in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of...


The Department of State warns that there are high threats of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria and advises against traveling to remote areas of southern and eastern Algeria. Terrorist groups and various self-proclaimed Islamic State affiliates remain active in the region. 

The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings and ambushes, occur in the mountainous areas to the east of Algiers and in the expansive Saharan desert regions of the south and southeast.

The US Department of State warns of the risks of travel to Eritrea. The government of Eritrea continues to restrict the travels of all foreign nationals. These restrictions require all visitors to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel beyond 15 miles of the capital, Asmar, which is valid for the approved final destination only and does not allow for stops along the way.

In addition, a serious problem in parts of the country are land mines and unexploded ordnance left over from Eritrea’s war of independence and subsequent border disputes with Ethiopia.

In the Central African Republic (CAR), there was a coup by Seleka rebels in 2013. The US Department of State warns travelers that, despite the eventual creation of a transitional government in January 2014 and the ongoing political transition process, even with the presence of international peacekeepers, the security situation remains highly unstable. 

North and South Korea exchanged fire across the western part of the demilitarized zone on Aug. 20. 

The salvo began after a rocket fired from North Korea toward the South Korean town of Yeoncheon landed in an uninhabited area. The South Korean military responded by firing dozens of artillery shells toward the suspected origin of the rocket. There were no casualties reported by either nation, but at least 80 South Korean civilians were evacuated, with hundreds of others told to take shelter.

On Aug. 20, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared that his country was in a “semi-...


In the Indonesian province of West Papua, a Trigana Air flight heading from Jayapura to Oksibil and carrying 54 people, all Indonesians, crashed in the jungle, near its destination, on Aug. 16. There were no survivors. Inclement weather may have been a factor in the crash.

Since it began operating in 1991, Trigana Air has had 14 serious incidents, including 10 involving the loss of the aircraft, and is on the European Union’s blacklist of banned carriers. In the US, the Federal Aviation Authority does not ban specific airlines, but, according to its International Aviation Assessment...


Tropical Storm Erika made landfall on the Caribbean island of Dominica on Aug. 27, killing at least 20 people and damaging buildings, roads and bridges and the main airport, which became blocked by debris and a wrecked plane. The storm dropped more than 12 inches of rain and caused a landslide in the town of Petite Savanne.



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