6 Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Sinai Terrorist Attack

Terrorists attacked a checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where authorities are fighting an insurgency, leaving six Egyptian soldiers dead, a military statement said.

“Armed terrorists attacked one of the security checkpoints in Arish city, using hand bombs and firearms,” the statement said.

Security searched the area and chased the gunmen, the army added.

Two of the gunmen were killed and one was injured during the exchange of fire that lasted about half an hour, security sources said.

Four army personnel were also injured, they added.

Egypt is fighting an insurgency against militants affiliated with ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula where hundreds of security forces have been killed since 2013.

Baghdad Launches Kirkuk Operation amid Kurdish Reinforcement

The Iraqi army on Friday launched an operation to retake Kurdish-held positions around the northern city of Kirkuk as Kurdish authorities sent thousands more troops to the disputed oil region over what they said were “threats” from the central government.

“Iraqi armed force are advancing to retake their military positions that were taken over during the events of June 2014,” a general told AFP by telephone, asking not to be identified.

He said that federal troops had already taken one base west of Kirkuk on Friday morning after Kurdish peshmerga fighters withdrew during the night without a fight.

His comments came despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ruling out the use of military force against the Kurds.

Ethnically divided but historically Kurdish-majority Kirkuk is one of several regions that the Peshmerga fighters took over from the Iraqi army in 2014 when ISIS militants swept through much of northern and western Iraq.

But Baghdad is bitterly opposed to Kurdish ambitions to incorporate the oil-rich province in its autonomous region in the north and has voiced determination to take it back. The dispute on the issue has escalated since the Kurds voted for independence in a non-binding referendum last month.

The vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan region, Kosrat Rasul, said “tens of thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces are already stationed in and around Kirkuk.

“At least 6,000 additional Peshmerga were deployed since Thursday night to face the Iraqi forces’ threat,” he told Kurdish TV channel Rudaw.

The Kurds reiterated on Friday their call for negotiations following the referendum.

But a top aide to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani vowed that Peshmerga forces would defend their positions in case of an Iraqi military move.

“Thousands of heavily armed Peshmerga units are now completely in their positions around Kirkuk,” Hemin Hawrami said.

“Their order is to defend at any cost.”

The orders came after the Kurdish authorities accused the Iraqi government of massing forces in readiness for an offensive to seize Kurdish-held oil fields.

Watchdog: Mercedes-Benz, China JVs to Recall over 350,000 Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz, the global automobile manufacturer, and its Chinese joint ventures will recall 351,218 vehicles because of potential issues with airbags that are made by Japan’s Takata Corp, China’s quality watchdog stated Friday.

The brand is known for luxury vehicles, buses, coaches, and trucks.

The airbags deploy with too much force and spray shrapnel. Official Chinese estimates showed more than 20 million cars in China had airbags made by Takata, which have been related to the cause of at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide.

The defect is now the main cause behind the biggest recall in automotive history.

The Japanese maker could eventually go bankrupt because it had become burdened with tens of billions of dollars worth of liabilities.

The recall by Mercedes-Benz and its Chinese joint ventures will begin from Oct. 15 and will include domestically built and imported cars produced from 2006 through 2012, with models including the SLK-Class and A-Class, the AQSIQ said.

The Chinese watchdog asked the three automakers in July to recall vehicles in China affected by potentially faulty Takata air bags. Up to that time, the automakers had proposed recalling a small number of vehicles for testing and analysis, Reuters reported.

Turkish Forces Say Installing ‘Observation Posts’ in Syria’s Idlib

The Turkish army has begun setting up “observation posts” in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province in its efforts to create a de-escalation zone, the military said on Friday, although the move was seen partly aimed at containing the Kurdish YPG militia.

“On October 12, we began activities to establish observation posts,” the military said in a statement.

Over 100 soldiers, including special forces, and 30 armored vehicles entered Idlib, Turkey’s Hurriyet daily reported on Friday, as it speculated more troops could be sent to the province over the next few days.

Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which has ousted more moderate rebels in recent months.

The Turkish army is backing the pro-Ankara Free Syrian Army that will need to oust HTS members in the area to allow Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces implement the de-escalation zone.

The move comes after the Turkish army launched a reconnaissance mission on Sunday as part of efforts by Ankara along with Moscow and Tehran, to set up the zone in line with accords in Astana peace talks.

They agreed on four such ceasefire zones in Syria as a prelude to negotiations.

Three zones are already in place — in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in central Homs, and in parts of southern Syria — which are being monitored by Russian military police.

However, the Turkish deployment is also intended to rein in the Kurdish YPG militia, which holds the Afrin region next to Idlib, a senior rebel official involved in the operation said.

“(It is) in line with Astana 6 resolutions to ensure the area is protected from Russian and regime bombing and to foil any attempt by the separatist YPG militias to illegally seize any territory,” said Mustafa Sejari, an official in an FSA rebel group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed late Thursday that a military convoy of Turkish forces entered Idlib before heading towards the western part of Aleppo province.

The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib but also parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions.

Trump Takes Concrete Step to Undo Obamacare, Promotes Bare-Bones Insurance

President Donald Trump on Thursday used his presidential powers to undermine Obamacare after fellow Republicans in Congress failed to repeal the 2010 law.

According to Reuters, it was Trump’s most concrete step to undo Obamacare since he took office in January promising to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Trump signed an executive order aimed at letting small businesses band together across state lines to buy cheaper, less regulated health plans for their employees with fewer benefits.

The House of Representatives in May passed Republican legislation to gut Obamacare. But attempts by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in July and September, in part because the proposed legislation would have caused millions of Americans to lose healthcare coverage.

Republicans call Obamacare a government intrusion into Americans’ healthcare, and have been promising for seven years to scrap it.

Trump’s order weakens Obamacare in part by giving people more access to plans that do not cover essential health benefits such as maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and mental health and addiction treatment.

Obamacare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act, requires most small business and individual health plans to cover those benefits.

Hungry, Ukraine Foreign Ministers Clash over Kiev Banning Teaching Minority Languages

Foreign ministers of both Hungary and Ukraine had a political spat Kiev’s new law banning teaching in minority languages.

The language issue has driven relations between Ukraine and Hungary to their lowest point since Kiev won independence with the Soviet Union’s 1991 break-up, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

Hungary had said on Tuesday it would ask the EU to review its ties with Ukraine over Kiev’s decision to stop secondary school instruction in ethnic minority tongues including Hungarian.

According to Reuters Budapest threatened to retaliate by blocking Ukraine’s aspirations to integration in the European Union.

The move triggered protests in neighbouring Russia and Hungary – a region where nationalism is historically deep-seated and language and ethnic identity have been highly sensitive subjects prone to escalating into conflict.

At a joint news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin following talks, Szijjarto said Budapest was also worried about two other bills about citizenship and language now in the Kiev parliament.

“We see the situation in a totally different light. This can lead to a suffocation of minority language public discourse, which should be avoided,” he said.

“We would like for the citizenship law not to curb (local) Hungarians’ rights further. If they ask us to fight, that’s what we will do. We will not back down one inch.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Kiev did not intend to crack down on the Hungarian community in Ukraine, including their right to the use of their mother tongue.

“We will not close a single school, fire a single teacher,” he said. “Our logic is simple: every citizen must speak Ukrainian beside their mother tongue to ensure their future success. The education law replaced the old, post-Soviet laws.”

He added that Hungary’s approach to minority Hungarians living in Ukraine itself undermined European integration. “Giving out Hungarian passports to Hungarian Ukrainians, that is no way to promote integration,” he said.

Saudi-Pakistani Military Drill ‘Kaseh 1’ Wraps up

The drills of “Kaseh 1” exercise between the Saudi Royal Land Forces and its counterpart in the Pakistani army concluded on Thursday, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) .

Its conclusion was attended by Major General Thafer bin Ali Al-Shehri, Commander of Corps of Engineers in Pakistan Army, Major General Mohammad Ajmal, Sneed Thaher Al-Muzaini.

The exercise’s commander from the Saudi side, Brigadier General Abdullah Manna Al-Amri, said that the “Kaseh 1” exercise was carried out to enhance the efficiency of engineers in unconventional warfare for both sides and to unify the concepts and fighting operations that come within framework of the friendly relations and military cooperation between the Saudi forces and the Pakistani army.

For his part, Commander of Corps of Engineers in Pakistan Army, Major General Mohammad Ajmal expressed his pride in participating in the exercise and said: “the Kingdom Saudi Arabia is our second home and we consider the Saudis as our brothers,” noting that the Pakistani army has taken successful steps in the fight against terrorism.

Abbas to Visit Gaza as Details of Fatah-Hamas Deal Emerge

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza for the first time in a decade within a month, a top official in his Fatah party said on Thursday after the movement reached a deal with Hamas over political reconciliation.

Abbas “will be in Gaza within less than a month,” Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told Agence France Presse following a breakthrough in talks between the two sides mediated by Egypt in Cairo.

Abbas, who told AFP that the unity deal is the “final agreement” to end Palestinian split, has not visited the enclave since his forces were pushed out in 2007 by Hamas which has controlled it ever since. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas’ Fatah-backed government.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement Thursday that the Cairo agreement was reached under “generous Egyptian auspices,” but provided no details.

An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely.

“We congratulate our Palestinian people on the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo. We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.

Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the deal, a Palestinian official said.

“According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the …. Palestinian Authority will be redeployed,” the official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A party to the negotiations said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based PA, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Both rivals hope the deal’s proposed deployment of security personnel from the PA to Gaza’s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings, a much needed step to help Gaza revive its economy.

UNHCR’s Grandi Says KSRelief is the First to Send Team to Assess Rohingya Needs in Bangladesh

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Center, also known as KSRelief, signed on Wednesday a joint cooperation pact with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, said the Saudi state-owned press agency, SPA.

The agreement was co-signed by Dr. Abdullah bin Abdualziz Al-Rabiah, Consultant at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of KSRelief, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

For his part, Grandi stressed that KSRelief is the first center organization visiting the Rohingya camps to assess the situation there in addition to other examples in Yemen and Syria, pointing out to a cooperation between the two sides to support the Syrian refugees and displaced people in neighboring states.

This agreement aims to enhance strategic cooperation and partnership between the two organizations.

Following the signing ceremony, Dr. Al-Rabiah disclosed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the affected people in 38 countries through providing 232 relief and humanitarian programs in addition to hosting 561,911 Yemeni visitors (refugees), 262,573 Syrian visitors (refugees) and more than 300,000 Barmawis.

Saudi Arabia: Good Quality Education Is Core for Achieving Sustainable Development

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave emphasis to education as a basis to improving the lives of people, said the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to United Nations Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Ghunaim on Wednesday.

In his speech, Ghunaim said that Saudi Arabia pays great attention to education and the provision of good quality of education for all as a basis for improving people’s lives and achieving sustainable development.

Ghunaim relayed the Kingdom’s speech before the Second Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations at the 72nd session on education for sustainable development, said the Saudi state-owned news agency SPA.

On that note, in a statement published on SPA, the kingdom affirmed its keenness to preserve the rights of children, regardless of sex or race even before their birth, in addition to preserving their rights to life, protection, education, health and health.

The statement stressed that this attention and care for the rights of the child is not limited only to Saudi children, but through several projects and donations to children around the world, including Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni children.

This came in the Kingdom’s speech Tuesday yesterday on article 68th of the promotion and protection of the rights of children within the work of Social, Human and Cultural Committee at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, delivered by the Second Secretary of the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom to the United Nations, Taghreed Bint Fahd Al-Dulaim.