Middle East

At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in northwestern Syria on Thursday, Turkish officials said, plunging Turkey deeper into the crisis in its war-ravaged neighboring country amid the Syrian regime’s Russian-backed military offensive to reclaim the last rebel stronghold.

Iran raised the death toll from the coronavirus to at least 19, as officials struggled to contain the spread of the disease from one of the country’s main pilgrimage sites believed to be the source of the outbreak.

The number of people killed by coronavirus in Iran has risen to at least 15, the country’s health ministry said, with nearly 100 cases of the infection confirmed, including the man in charge of containing the spread of the pathogen in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman tapped former Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih to head a newly created investment ministry as part of a cabinet shuffle, calling back a high-profile figure as the government struggles to lure foreign capital to drive an economic transformation.

Iran’s conservatives won a landslide in the country’s parliamentary elections, strengthening hard-liners opposed to diplomacy with the West. But a record-low turnout dealt a public rebuke to the establishment’s call for unity.

Iran’s leadership is pushing for a high turnout at Friday’s parliamentary elections, as conservatives seek to consolidate power in the face of mounting economic challenges at home and worsening tensions with the U.S.

A global terror-finance watchdog agency is set to blacklist Iran, broadening a U.S. effort to isolate Tehran financially and potentially straining the already sanctions-battered Iranian economy.

A Turkish court acquitted a businessman of colluding to overthrow President Erdogan’s government in 2013. But hours later Turkish prosecutors ordered him detained amid a probe into whether he played a role in the failed coup against Mr. Erdogan in July 2016. “This is insane,” said a civil-rights activist.

European Union foreign ministers agreed to revive a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce the internationally backed arms embargo on Libya, a move likely to encounter stiff challenges given the recent arms buildup by regional powers in the North African country.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Trump administration’s peace plan at the United Nations, but failed to garner enough support for a vote Tuesday on a resolution to oppose the U.S. effort.

Five Turkish soldiers were killed during a clash with Syrian government forces, raising the country’s troop losses to 13 over the past week and testing Turkey’s resolve to support rebels in a province that President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to reclaim.

The U.S. plans to renew a waiver allowing Iraq to import natural gas and electricity from Iran without risking sanctions, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, as Washington and Baghdad move to ease tensions after diplomatic ties nearly unraveled last month.

Russian personnel are engaging in tense standoffs with U.S. troops on highways in northeastern Syria in violation of agreements between Washington and Moscow to stay out of one another’s way in the war-ravaged country, the top U.S. envoy to Syria said Wednesday.

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