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Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

Netanyahu in Washington, assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties ahead of Congress address
Julie Pace And Aron Heller, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials cast their dispute over Iran as a family squabble on Monday, even as the Israeli leader claimed President Barack Obama did not — and could not — fully understand his nation's vital security concerns.

"American leaders worry about the security of their country," Netanyahu said as he opened a controversial trip to Washington. "Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country."

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State

Iraq launches large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit from Islamic State group
Sinan Salaheddin, The Associated Press

BAGHDAD - Backed by Iranian-supported Shiite militias, Iraqi forces launched a large-scale offensive Monday to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State group, the first in a series of campaigns to try to reclaim large parts of northern Iraq from the Sunni extremists.

Saudi diplomat taken by al-Qaida in Yemen free after 3 years

Saudi Arabia says diplomat abducted by al-Qaida freed after being held for 3 years in Yemen
The Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi diplomat abducted by suspected al-Qaida militants in Yemen has been freed after nearly three years in captivity and has returned home to Riyadh, the kingdom said Monday.

A statement from the Saudi Interior Ministry said the diplomat, Abdullah al-Khaldi, was released through efforts made by the kingdom's intelligence agency, but provided no further details.

Ukraine, rebels start pulling back heavy weapons in the east

Ukraine, rebels start pulling back heavy weapons in the east in line with cease-fire agreement
Peter Leonard And Vadim Ghirda, The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine - Warring parties in Ukraine took a major stride toward quelling unrest in the country's east Thursday with the declared start of a supervised withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line.

Ukrainian and separatist officials have noted a sharp decline in violence, although the chances of a long-lasting settlement remain clouded by lingering suspicions.

Turkish soldier killed in attack on embassy vehicle in Kabul

Turkish soldier killed in suicide attack on embassy vehicle in Afghan capital
The Associated Press

KABUL - A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives targeted a Turkish Embassy vehicle in the Afghan capital during the Thursday morning rush hour, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding another.

Ukraine disputes rebel claim that weapons pullback begins

Ukrainian disputes rebel claim they are beginning a heavy weapons pullback
Nicolae Dumitrache And Jim Heintz, The Associated Press

ILOVAYSK, Ukraine - Russian-backed separatists moved some heavy weapons well back from the front line Tuesday in eastern Ukraine, but the Ukrainian government disputed the rebels' claim that a real pullback had begun.

Syria's Assad makes rare appearance at rally

Syria's president makes rare public appearance at rally of his supporters
Albert Aji,Elizabeth A. Kennedy, The Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syrian President Bashar Assad joined thousands of his supporters Wednesday in an extremely rare public appearance, telling a pro-regime rally in the capital that the "conspiracy" against his country will fail.

Dressed more casually than usual in a jacket but no tie, the president told the cheering crowd that he wanted to draw strength from them. Security guards surrounded him as supporters waved his portrait and raised Syrian flags.

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