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Middle East

Jared Kushner "is on the ground" in Iraq, visiting the embattled nation along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, White House press secretary Sean Spicer says. Kushner is both a senior adviser to President Trump and his son-in-law.

Spicer confirmed Kushner's visit to NPR's Tamara Keith early Monday. According to Reuters, which has a reporter traveling with Kushner and Dunford, the U.S. group arrived on Monday, not over the weekend as some news outlets reported on Sunday.

Kaari Pitkin / WNYC

In a two-bedroom apartment in a suburb of New Haven, about 20 volunteers are preparing an apartment for a Syrian family set to arrive in a few hours. They’re scrubbing kitchen grease off the stove top, putting up new blinds for privacy, and arranging furniture.

Jason Greenblatt, who went from being President Trump's longtime lawyer to leading his effort to bring a lasting peace to Israel, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Tuesday, one day after Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks that touched on Israeli settlement construction.

The State Department calls this an "orientation trip" that's meant to hear from the two sides about returning to peace negotiations.

From Jerusalem, NPR's Daniel Estrin reports for our Newscast unit:

Violence in Syria took a horrible toll on the country's children last year, the United Nations' children's agency says, with the civil war blamed for killing at least 652 children — 255 of whom were either in or near a school.

In another unsettling trend, 851 children were recruited and used in the conflict in 2016 — double the figure who were recruited in 2015, UNICEF says. The agency says that children's deaths rose 20 percent and injuries rose by 25 percent.

The world is facing its greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945, says the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O'Brien.

O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that more than 20 million people across four countries in Africa and the Middle East are at risk of starvation and famine.

"We stand at a critical point in our history," he said. "Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death."

TiAnna Taylor / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has reiterated his opposition to the Trump administration’s reissued travel ban, which ends refugee resettlement and travel from six majority Muslim countries. 

Jesse Costa / WBUR

Volunteer lawyers in Boston are standing by Monday in anticipation of the impact of President Donald Trump's revised executive order halting travel for immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations. The president's existing order was put on hold by federal courts. The new order was signed on Monday, and goes into effect on March 16.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a new executive order that temporarily blocks visas from being issued to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, revoking and replacing a controversial, now-suspended executive order known as the travel ban.

Lydia Brown / WNPR

Robert Ford, the former U.S. Ambassador to Syria under President Obama, said America missed several key opportunities to intervene in that country's civil war.

Lydia Brown / WNPR

The Syrian conflict -- will it ever end? This hour, we sit down with former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. We get his take on the country’s civil war and refugee crisis, and discuss the future of U.S. intervention under President Trump. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut U.S. Marine Michael Zacchea had a job to do in 2004: train and lead the first Iraqi Army battalion after the U.S. disbanded the country’s military post invasion.

A bomb exploded in Iraq's capital city on Thursday, killing at least 45 people.

It happened on a street filled with car dealerships and garages in southern Baghdad, according to Reuters. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility in a statement released on social media that said the group was targeting Shiites Muslims.

A family of Syrian refugees landed Friday at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire, completing a journey that almost never happened.

When we last heard from Philip, an Iraqi interpreter living in Minnesota, he was trying to bring his family to the U.S.

Philip came to the United States in 2013 and was living with Paul Braun, the sergeant of the company he was assigned to in Iraq. Braun and Philip spoke to StoryCorps in 2014.

"You scared me, dude," Philip says. "Your attitude in the beginning and with your Mohawk — "

UMass Amherst

Over the last several days, a UMass Amherst student from Iran has been denied access to a flight out of Tehran, where he traveled over winter break to get married.

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