Iran says it shot down an Israeli spy drone as it approached an Iranian nuclear site

IRAN
Israeli spy drone reportedly shot down

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said Sunday that its forces shot down an Israeli drone as it approached an Iranian nuclear site. Israeli officials could not be reached for comment.

The incident comes as Iran negotiates with world powers over its nuclear program. Israel has not ruled out military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if its capability to build an atomic weapon progresses.

The Guard issued a statement on its Web site saying its forces fired a missile at the drone as it neared its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. It said it recovered major parts of what it called an advanced aircraft. The statement did not say when the drone was shot down.

Iran’s nuclear program has been the target of previous espionage and sabotage efforts. In 2010, the Stuxnet virus temporarily disrupted the operation of thousands of centrifuges, key components in nuclear fuel production, at the Natanz facility. Iran says such attacks are part of an effort by Israel, the United States and their allies to undermine its nuclear program.

— Associated Press

SYRIA
Militant group seizes key northern air base

Islamic State fighters captured a major military base in northeastern Syria on Sunday, eliminating the last government-held outpost in a province otherwise dominated by the jihadist group, activists and state media said.

Tabqa airfield in Raqqah province is the third base in the area to fall to the extremists since last month. The victories are part of the Islamic State’s aggressive push to consolidate its hold on northern and eastern Syrian provinces, while also expanding the boundaries of its self-styled caliphate straddling the Syria-Iraq border.

Government warplanes unsuccessfully carried out airstrikes to beat back the attack, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The state Syrian Arab News Agency confirmed that the government had lost the base, saying troops “are successfully reassembling after evacuating the airport.”

— Associated Press

CONGO
Authorities confirm two Ebola deaths

Two Ebola-related deaths have been confirmed in Congo, the country’s health minister said Sunday, though local officials believe the cases are unrelated to the ongoing outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 1,400.

Congolese officials estimate that Ebola has killed 13 people in the region, including five health workers, Felix Kabange Numbi said. He said that 11 people were sick and in isolation and that 80 contacts were being traced.

This is the seventh outbreak of Ebola in Congo. The disease was first identified there in 1976.

In the West Africa outbreak, the first British citizen confirmed to be infected with the Ebola virus was being evacuated from Sierra Leone, an official said Sunday.

The World Health Organization also is considering evacuation for a Senegalese health worker who became infected in Sierra Leone, the U.N. health agency said.

— Associated Press

LIBYA
Islamist militias claim control of capital

Libya’s Islamist militias said Sunday that they have consolidated their hold on Tripoli and its international airport, driving out rival militias to the outskirts of the capital after a weeks-long battle.

An umbrella group for the Islamist militias said it also has taken hold of other locations in the capital controlled by the rival militias.

The fight has largely destroyed the airport and scarred the capital, prompting diplomats, foreign nationals and thousands of residents to flee.

The violence is rooted in the empowerment of militias after transitional governments since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Gaddafi depended on them to maintain order in the absence of a strong police force or a unified military.

Expanding the tension to neighboring Egypt, the Islamist militia umbrella group accused Cairo and the United Arab Emirates of being behind mysterious airstrikes on its posts in Tripoli, a claim that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi rebuffed Sunday. He said his armed forces have not carried out any military operations outside Egypt “so far.”

— Associated Press

2 beheaded in Brazil prison riot: Police in Brazil said two inmates were beheaded and others injured in a prison riot in the southern city of Cascavel. Ricardo Pinto, a military police captain, said at least four people were injured and two prison custodians were taken hostage. The riot erupted when inmates captured a guard during breakfast. Dozens of the prisoners climbed onto the building’s roof. Local media showed images of the inmates shouting as they beat men held with ropes around their necks.

More protests expected in Yemen as Houthis reject offer: Talks on forming a new government in Yemen collapsed over demands by Shiite Houthis to immediately restore fuel subsidies cut by the president, officials said, and further protests were expected in the capital. The government offered to resign within a month to pave the way for a technocrat administration that would review the subsidy issue, but officials said the Houthis rejected the offer.

— From news services

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