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By Yousuf Basil, Jomana Karadsheh and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Amman, Jordan (CNN)ISIS militants have attacked Kirkuk in northern Iraq, an effort that might be an earnest attempt to capture the key oil-rich city or perhaps to divert Kurdish troops fighting to capture the Islamist extremist group's stronghold of Mosul.

For months, ISIS has been facing off with the Peshmerga -- armed fighters who protect Iraqi Kurdistan -- to the west of Kirkuk. It hadn't gone into areas on Kirkuk's outskirts, but not the central city.

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By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

 

The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of last year has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, multiple officials tell CNN.

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By STEVE HOPKINS FOR MAILONLINE

Nigerian terror group Boko Haram is training child soldiers how to use semi-automatic weapons.

The group has released pictures showing more than a dozen children posing with, and learning how to aim, AK-47's.

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BY JACK MOORE AND SUADAD AL-SALHY

Kurdish forces launched a barrage of Grad missiles against Islamic State (Isis) positions inside Mosul last week, for the first time since Isis overran Iraq’s second-largest city in June last year, marking a dramatic shift in the Kurds’ battle against the terrorist group.

The bombardment was preceded by a large-scale Kurdish operation against Isis in northern Iraq, which saw 5,000 Kurdish fighters, supported by US-led coalition airstrikes, sweep around Mosul to recapture an area larger than the size of Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino combined.

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By Greg Botelho and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

As the sun set Thursday in the Middle East, did two ISIS captives -- one a Jordanian pilot, the other a Japanese journalist -- fall with it?

That was the question following a new message, purportedly from the terrorist group, that pushed Jordan to bring convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi to the Turkish border by 5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET). If they didn't, according to the message, Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh would be killed, followed soon thereafter by Kenji Goto of Japan.

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By Nick Miroff

HAVANA — President Obama’s opening to Cuba has accelerated a surge in Cuban migration to the United States, the latest U.S. statistics show, as many on the island grow worried that America’s long-standing immigration benefits for Cubans are now in jeopardy.

Last month the Coast Guard intercepted 481 Cubans in rickety boats and rafts, a 117 percent increase from December 2013. But the boaters account for only a fraction of those attempting to reach the United States. At the Miami airport and ports of entry along the Mexican border, the number of Cubans who arrived seeking refuge jumped to 8,624 during the last three months of 2014, a 65 percent increase from the previous year.

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By James Morrison

A form of Islamic law has taken force in Texas, right next door to Louisiana where Gov. Bobby Jindal has warned of Muslim immigrants who refuse to adopt Western culture.

An Islamic Tribunal of four attorneys is operating in Dallas where it issues voluntary rulings on civil disputes, Breitbart Texas reported Tuesday.

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By Athena Jones, CNN

American warplanes are hard at work over Iraq and Syria, helping Iraqi army and Syrian rebel forces battle ISIS. In Iraq, American troops are busy training the military.

All of this is being done -- and will continue to be done -- without being officially sanctioned by Congress, although President Barack Obama now says he needs an Authorization for the Use of Military Force – AUMF.

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Associated Press

Tehran said it sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an Israeli air strike in Syria, the official IRNA news agency reports.

"We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act,'' IRNA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying. Israel has "crossed our red lines'', he added.

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By Josh Levs, CNN

Fighting between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has left two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper dead, officials said Wednesday.

Separately, in Gaza, the United Nations said it was "outraged" when Palestinian protesters climbed the perimeter of a U.N. compound and damaged it. U.N. officials took Hamas to task for not preventing the incident.

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Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Dubai has overtaken London Heathrow as the world's busiest airport for international passengers. The change comes as Dubai's status as a global crossroads soars, but also as Heathrow hits capacity limits with no solution in sight.

The shake-up also follows another shake-up here in the U.S., where Chicago O'Hare overtook Atlanta for "half" of the title of "world's busiest airport." Chicago O'Hare had more flights than Atlanta in 2014 for the first time since 2005, though Atlanta remains the USA's – and worlds – busiest as measured by the total number of passengers.

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BY ALESSANDRA PRENTICE

(Reuters) - The United States signed an agreement on Wednesday to provide $2 billion in loan guarantees to help war-torn Ukraine with "near-term social spending" in 2015 and said it was prepared to step up economic sanctions against Russia if necessary.

After signing the deal with Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew criticized what he called "Russian aggression", a reference to Moscow's support for separatists battling Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine which has triggered the Western sanctions on Moscow.

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BY ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has ordered immigration agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the country illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama's plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press.

Agents also have been told to review government files to identify any jailed immigrants they might be able to release under the program.

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BY : CBS/AP

MOSCOW -- Russia has accused the United States of having no evidence against three Russian citizens charged with spying, and says the Americans are using the charges for political purposes.

U.S. prosecutors said the defendants were directed by Russia to gather sensitive economic intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and U.S. efforts to develop alternative energy resources.

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By: CBS/AP

UNITED NATIONS -- Deadly rocket attacks on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol this weekend that "knowingly targeted civilians" violated international humanitarian law and could amount to war crimes, the U.N. political chief said Monday.

Jeffrey Feltman told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council that monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who examined the craters reported that the rockets originated from territory controlled by pro-Russian rebel separatists.

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By Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak, CNN

Washington (CNN) Top Secret Service officials are out of their jobs following months of scandal at the law enforcement agency, sources said on Wednesday.

Four senior officials -- responsible for investigations, technology, protections and public affairs -- are being asked to leave their posts, though they could still technically stay with the Secret Service, a person at the agency said.

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By Ben Brumfield, Pamela Brown and Dana Ford, CNN

(CNN)For months, 20-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell had been on the FBI's radar. Authorities said he left alarming posts on social media, talking about violent jihad.

Authorities say Cornell, who ostensibly tweeted under the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, hatched a simple scheme. It was similar to the Paris attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, but at a key location -- the U.S. Capitol, said a criminal complaint filed by an FBI agent.

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BBC News

The militant group Boko Haram has seized a town and key multinational military base in north-eastern Nigeria, officials and eyewitnesses say.

A senator in Borno state said troops had abandoned the base in the town of Baga after it was attacked on Saturday.

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Associated Press

SURABAYA, Indonesia – The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta has issued a warning to Americans about a potential threat against U.S. associated banks and hotels in Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya.

An embassy spokesperson said Sunday there was nothing linking the warning with AirAsia Flight 8501.The plane crashed into the Java Sea a week ago after taking off from Surabaya, killing all 162 passengers and crew on board. The U.S. Navy is taking part in an international effort to recover bodies and locate the wreckage.

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By: BBC News

Indian airports are on high alert after local intelligence reports warned security officials of a possible attempt to hijack an Indian airliner.

Security had been tightened at airports on the basis of the intelligence.

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