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Middle East

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Immigrants in Connecticut come from many different backgrounds. They’re white-collar or blue-collar workers; they’re artists and students. We have an occasional series on Where We Live that highlights their stories.

Updated Jan. 1 at 9:56 a.m. ET

At least 39 people were killed and 69 others wounded during New Year's celebrations Saturday after a gunman opened fire at an Istanbul nightclub. At least 16 of those killed were foreign nationals.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that the attacker entered the Reina nightclub and began shooting at random, NPR's Peter Kenyon tells our newscast. The killer then changed clothes and left, says the minister.

Agreement Reached On Syria Cease-Fire

Dec 29, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in Moscow that the Syrian government and Syrian opposition forces have agreed to a nationwide cease-fire to begin at midnight local time.

The Syrian army said the agreement excludes the Islamic State as well as Jabhat Fateh al Sham — the group formerly known as the Nusra Front — and all groups linked to them. Turkey's foreign ministry said the agreement excludes groups the U.N. deems terrorist organizations.

With his tenure as secretary of state rapidly pulling to a close, John Kerry made an impassioned defense for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday.

Kerry said he is concerned that some Israeli politicians are rejecting it.

"If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both, and it won't ever really be at peace," said Kerry.

Evacuations continue from east Aleppo, as remaining rebels and civilians wait in freezing weather for transportation out of the city.

The end of the evacuations may be coming soon: NPR's Alice Fordham reports that regime forces might be entering the tiny enclave that has been held by rebels as early as Thursday evening.

The fall of eastern Aleppo to the forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar Assad has been a foregone conclusion for weeks now. The question was whether civilians and fighters would be allowed to leave.

Next month, a mix of Syrian and Iraqi refugees will begin arriving in Rutland, Vermont. They’ll be the first of 100 that will be resettled there over the next year. Though there's been loud opposition to the plan in the aging, blue-collar city of 16,000, proponents remain optimistic — and many have been volunteering long hours to ensure the plan succeeds.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Immigrants in Connecticut come from many different backgrounds. They’re white-collar or blue-collar workers -- they’re artists and students. We have an occasional series on Where We Live that highlights their stories.

Turkey and Russia have launched a joint investigation into the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey at the opening of a photo exhibit in the capital, Ankara, on Monday.

The ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was gunned down as he gave a speech at an art gallery. Turkey has identified the attacker as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old riot police officer, who shouted to the crowd, "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!" He was killed by Turkish special forces at the scene.

Editor's note: An image below shows Ambassador Andrei Karlov on the ground after he was shot.

Russia's ambassador to Turkey has died after he was shot Monday evening at an art exhibition in the capital, Ankara, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in comments broadcast on Russian state television.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Evacuations of east Aleppo have resumed, after a series of false starts and broken cease-fires.

And United Nations officials said more than 100 U.N. humanitarian staffers are in place and could begin monitoring the evacuation under terms of a U.N. resolution approved unanimously Monday.

At least 25 buses entered besieged neighborhoods to evacuate rebel fighters and civilians from eastern Aleppo Sunday, Syria's official news agency says — but that was before an attack on buses elsewhere put all movement on hold.

The setback comes after the evacuation effort was halted Friday after just one day, with all sides lobbing accusations at each other.

Evacuations of embattled eastern Aleppo, which began Thursday after days of efforts to negotiate a cease-fire, have come to a halt.

Thousands of civilians and fighters have already been evacuated from the rebel-held enclave: Some 3,000 civilians were evacuated in the first few convoys, along with more than 40 wounded people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday.

The aid group anticipated it would take days to fully evacuate east Aleppo.

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday he will nominate bankruptcy attorney David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Friedman, who has no prior diplomatic experience, is an outspoken supporter of Jewish settlement on the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has questioned the need for a Palestinian state.

After years of devastating war, days of increasing desperation and the collapse of one cease-fire, evacuations are underway in besieged eastern Aleppo.

Live images on Syrian state TV showed ambulances entering the rebel-held enclave on Thursday morning to evacuate the wounded. Aid groups confirm that evacuations have begun — despite reports of a brief burst of gunfire targeting ambulances.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET

A cease-fire in besieged eastern Aleppo appears to be going forward, paving the way for people trapped there to evacuate.

It's difficult to confirm exactly how many civilians remain in the small slice of Aleppo still controlled by rebel groups, but estimates put the number in the tens of thousands.

NPR's Alison Meuse reports an opposition activist in the city says the bombing has stopped.

In central Damascus, it's perfectly clear that President Bashar Assad is firmly in control. In the souks of the Old City, his face looks out of almost every shop window, pinned up next to gold jewelry or intricate rugs. No one has a bad word to say about him, at least not to a Western journalist.

In rebel enclaves nearby, forces loyal to Assad are creeping back into control. After years of siege tactics, opposition forces in the suburbs of Damascus are increasingly making deals that see their fighters heading into rebel-held areas.

When the last remaining hospital in besieged eastern Aleppo crumbled under a wave of artillery strikes on Nov. 18, one of the casualties was 25-year-old nurse Kefah.

"The last time he called me was one night before he was killed," says Dr. A.M. — an intensive care specialist based in Detroit who, for the past four years, has been providing training and support via Skype and WhatsApp to medical staff in Aleppo. He asked that we only use his initials because the Syrian government has persecuted doctors — and their families — for treating rebels.

Foreign journalists' access to Syria is severely restricted, but this week, the regime of Bashar Assad extended an unusual invitation to a group of Western reporters to visit Damascus, the capital. NPR's Peter Kenyon and Alison Meuse are among the foreign journalists who've been granted visas to Damascus this week. For Kenyon, it's the first time back since 2008, before the 2011 uprising that led to Syria's war. He spoke with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne about the visit.

Fadi al-Asmi has learned to adjust his Syrian pastries to American tastes at the City Steam Brewery café in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. "America, chocolate!" he says, as he adjusts his baseball cap and serves his latest chocolate-encrusted confection.

It's not the only thing he's learned since he and his family were catapulted into a new life after arriving as refugees in May.

Phil Roeder / Creative Commons

It’s almost election day and voting demographics have changed dramatically since our last presidential election. The number of eligible Hispanic voters has jumped 17 percent since 2012 according to the Pew Research Center.

This hour, we talk about the Latino vote here in Connecticut and nationwide.

Refugees from around the world continue to find homes in Massachusetts.

The number of Syrian refugees, in particular, has more than doubled here over the last year, despite heated national rhetoric around immigration.

Increased Interest Greets New Refugees

In the basement of the First United Baptist Church in Lowell, newly arrived refugees from Syria and Afghanistan stand shoulder to shoulder with new arrivals from Somalia.

ISIS fighters launched attacks on police Friday in the city of Kirkuk, as Iraqi security forces continued a massive military offensive to try to pry Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, from the militant group.

"The fighters struck [Kirkuk] before dawn, with suicide bombers hitting four police stations and gunmen killing police," NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Irbil, Iraq, though the number of casualties wasn't immediately clear. "A curfew is imposed in Kirkuk, but eyewitnesses say fighting continues."

The battle for the ISIS-held city of Mosul, now in its second day, is expected to drag on for weeks or months. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces approach the city, aid groups in the region are preparing for a humanitarian crisis.

Fighting has lulled in some areas, but is continuing in others, and airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition continue, NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Kalak, Iraq.

"The Iraqi army is fighting its way toward the city from the south: a spokesman said they are facing resistance but moving," Alice says.

An attack on a funeral hall killed 90 people and wounded more than 560 in Sanaa Saturday, Yemen's rebel government says. The Saudi-led coalition has promised to conduct an immediate investigation into the airstrikes.

"We're mobilizing to support health facilities deal with the influx of dead and wounded," the Red Cross delegation in Yemen says, adding that it's sending 300 body bags and medical supplies to help cope with the violence's effects.

The last surviving leader of Israel's founding generation, Shimon Peres was a three-time prime minister, the architect of the country's secretive nuclear program and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.

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