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Media Summary

US forces clash with pro-government militias in Syria

BBC News, The Guardian, The Associated Press, The Independent and The Telegraph report that a man has reportedly been killed in a rare confrontation in north-eastern Syria between US-led coalition forces and pro-government militia fighters. Syria’s state news agency, Sana, said a civilian died when US troops fired at a crowd stopping them pass through a checkpoint east of Qamishli city.

BBC News, The Independent, The Associated Press, The Guardian and Reuters report that The UN human rights office has issued a long-awaited report on companies linked to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The report names 112 business entities the office says it has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in activities related to settlements.

The Times, The Telegraph and Reuters report that President Trump has given tentative approval for a deal with the Taliban under which they would have to demonstrate their commitment to peace by stopping all violence for a week, US officials have said.

The Times and Reuters reports that President Erdogan of Turkey has vowed to strike Syrian regime forces “everywhere” and do “whatever necessary on land and air” to repel their advance on the last pocket of rebel forces.

The Independent, reports on the intelligence process used by the Israeli Air Force to identify potential sites for airstrikes in Gaza. The article claims Israel is ‘bombing Gaza blind’ with poor intelligence, and quotes Israeli servicemen saying ‘serious structural problems’ mean ‘masses of targets’ are attacked without thorough intelligence evaluations leading to civilian casualties.

The Associated Press reports that the US has granted Iraq a 45-day sanctions waiver enabling the country to continue importing vital Iranian gas and electricity supplies, as the State Department said the waiver “ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while reducing its dependence on Iranian energy imports”.

The Independent reports that a British law firm filed requests on Wednesday with the authorities in the UK, the United States and Turkey to arrest senior officials from the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of carrying out war crimes and torture in Yemen.

The Guardian reports that the UN security council has passed a resolution mandating a multinational operation to oversee a ceasefire in Libya, despite serious doubts that any of the conflict’s key players will abide by its terms.

The Guardian reports that the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has commenced court martial proceedings against air crew in relation to breaches of international humanitarian law, in the first such case of its kind.

The Associated Press reports that Human Rights Watch warned that Italy is endangering migrants by renewing support for the Libyan coast guard, which blocks their flight and sends them back to squalid detention centres.

Reuters reports that Eastern Libya forces will not allow the UN to use the only functioning airport in the capital Tripoli, a spokesman for the group that has been trying to capture the city from the internationally recognised government said on Wednesday.

Reuters reports that NATO defence ministers agreed to expand the Western alliance’s training mission in Iraq on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, responding to a demand by U.S. President Donald Trump for NATO to do more in the Middle East.

In The Guardian, campaigners and MPs have called for ‘urgent action to end crisis in Idlib’, signing a letter urging world leaders to step up their response to the humanitarian disaster in the Syrian city.

Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to urge Facebook to uphold “fairness and equality” in relation to right-wing and Likud voters using the online platform. Facebook suspended Likud accounts twice in the lead-up to the September election, due to infringements of electoral law and allegations of racism. Facebook said in a statement: “We always talk with leaders from around the world. Mark emphasised during the conversation that Facebook is a platform that is open for any idea.”

The Israeli media report on the selection of the three judges that will preside over Benjamin Netanyahu’s criminal trial in the Jerusalem District Court – Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-am and Oded Shaham. Judge Friedman-Feldman was involved in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; in 2014 she was part of a similar three-judge panel that overturned a prior acquittal and found Olmert guilty of bribery, sentencing him to eight months in prison. The Netanyahu trial is not likely to begin until after the 2 March election.

Israel’s domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, criticised Defence Minister Naftali Bennett yesterday for cancelling the administrative detention order against a suspected Jewish extremist, Channel 12 reported last night. Eliah Ben David, a teenager, was suspected of throwing rocks at Palestinian cars on Monday, and Bennett initially signed the order allowing him to be detained under a temporary administrative detention procedure. But Bennett yesterday cancelled the order, likely after intense pressure from his right-wing base of support – which prompted the rare Shin Bet rebuke. Administrative detentions are often used in cases where Israeli authorities perceive a clear danger to public security.