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Middle East

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Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation have given only qualified approval to the Trump administration’s airstrikes on Syrian targets.

Updated at 12:27 p.m. ET

A fact-finding team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is on its way to Syria and will begin working there by Saturday, spokesperson Johan de Wittlaan said Thursday.

As the Trump administration evaluates potential military operations against Syria, the White House has declined to explain why it believes it has the legal authority to conduct them without authorization from Congress.

But the White House does have a secret seven-page memo that may make the case.

Updated at 1:09 p.m. ET

President Trump had a ready retort to a Russian threat to shoot down any U.S. missiles in Syria: "Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' "

Trump tweeted that news early Wednesday and added, "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

Amid international outcry over an alleged poison gas attack in Syria over the weekend, Damascus said one of its air bases had come under attack, first blaming the U.S., but later Israel.

Meanwhile, President Trump says the White House will be making a decision on Syria in the next day or two, saying the reported attack was "atrocious" and "can't be allowed to happen."

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

Save the Children has temporarily suspended all of its operations in Afghanistan, after gunmen carried out a brutal attack on its provincial office in Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing three staff members in an assault that also included explosives.

Vice President Pence says the U.S. will complete the plan to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, announcing a faster timeline for opening the embassy than had been previously reported. Pence announced the new deadline during his visit to Israel.

"In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem — and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year," Pence said.

After a harshly worded New Year's Day tweet by President Trump accusing Pakistan of "deceit" and of harboring terrorists, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed Thursday that the U.S. will suspend most security assistance to Islamabad.

The cutoff is not permanent, Nauert said, and only affects military assistance. Civilian assistance is not affected.

Mansour Omari had been held nearly a year in an underground Syrian prison, tortured and starved, when his name was called by the guards. He was going to be released. The other prisoners hugged him and wept. In the dark, they whispered, "Don't forget us."

Omari would not forget. When he was eventually set free in 2013, he smuggled out the names of all 82 inmates. The lists were written on torn pieces of clothing and penned in blood, then sewn into the collar and cuffs of his shirt. It was his duty, he says, to make sure the names saw the light of day.

U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv / Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s declaration that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, along with his announcement that he plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel-Aviv, raised concerns among critics who say it could disrupt any hope for a long-awaited peace.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," President Trump said in a controversial address from the White House on Wednesday afternoon. He also directed the State Department to "begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET

As President Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, other countries wasted little time in condemning the move on Wednesday. Citing fears that it will inflame tensions and undermine the peace process with Palestinians, who also claim the city as their capital, many in the international community also warned the White House against its stated intention of eventually relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the hotly disputed city.

Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET Tuesday

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former Yemeni president who spent more than three decades in power before he stepped down in 2012, was killed after violence consumed the country's capital over the weekend. A member of Saleh's own party told NPR that Saleh had died, even as graphic video purporting to show his body circulated on social media Monday.

Houthi rebels, Saleh's erstwhile allies, ambushed and killed him during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his vehicle as he tried to leave Sanaa.

Roughly three weeks into a blockade by a Saudi-led coalition, Yemeni ports of entry are beginning to see some desperately needed shipments of food and humanitarian aid.

A container ship stocked with 25,000 tons of wheat docked at the Red Sea port of Saleef on Monday — just one day after a ship carrying 5,500 tons of flour arrived at Hodeidah, another port held by the Houthi rebels whom the Saudis have been seeking to dislodge from Yemen.

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