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News In Brief

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Syrian troops reach outskirts of key rebel-held air base
Syrian pro-government forces reached the outskirts of a sprawling rebel-held air base today, the target of a wide-ranging offensive in the northwestern Idlib province. Recapturing the Abu Zuhour air base, which the rebels took in 2015, has been one of the main goals of the government offensive launched in late October. The operations also aim to secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops are fighting al-Qaida-linked militants and other insurgents in different areas near Abu Zuhour.

Qatar says Saudi-led boycott amounts to ‘economic warfare’
Qatar said a Saudi-led boycott, now in its eighth month, amounted to "economic warfare" as Doha plans to seek compensation for those hit by the sanctions. "This is economic warfare," foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater said at a press briefing. Khater said the energy-rich emirate would "not leave a stone unturned" in legally pursuing claims for businesses. Tensions have escalated in the Gulf since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar in June.

Trump pushes for merit-based immigration
With the US mulling reforms to end illegal immigration, President Donald Trump today pushed for a merit-based system to allow only people with "great track record" to enter the country. He also called for ending the chain migration, the fastest and easiest way to gain legal entry into America, through sponsorship by a family member who is already a legal resident or citizen of the US. Trump has repeatedly called for the merit-based system to reduce overall immigration to the US.

Firm to receive up to $70 mn if MH370 found in new hunt
Malaysia signed a deal with an American firm today to resume the search for MH370 almost four years after the plane disappeared, with the company to receive up to $70 million if successful. The new hunt, which will last 90 days, is expected to start in mid-January when a high-tech vessel leased by the seabed exploration firm, Ocean Infinity, reaches a new search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.

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