Syrian rebel group downs Russian fighter jet; Turkey reports dead in clashes with Kurdish group: A Russian-piloted Su-25 fighter jet was shot down over Saraqib, Syria, Saturday. Reports conflict over whether the pilot was killed of captured. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has stated the pilot safely ejected over hostile territory, but was killed by militants after reaching the ground.
According to the Russian MOD, the pilot was conducting a sortie over Idlib Governorate in northern Syria when a man-portable air-defense system struck and downed the aircraft. Idlib is recognized as a deescalation zone, but the region is known to be occupied by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. A group with loose links to the al-Nusra Front, the group is opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As Russia was responding with cruise missiles against terrorists in the area of the crash, Turkey reported eight of its soldiers were killed in clashes with Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) near Afrin in northern Syria.
Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurdish group on Saturday, Jan. 20, and has reported 14 of its troops killed fighting against YPG units in the area.
U.S., Mexico weigh armed sky marshals on commercial airliners: U.S. and Mexican officials are considering seating armed security agents on commercial flights between the two countries to deter terror attacks.
According to an official Mexican government document obtained by Reuters, authorities from both countries are actively engaged in discussions which could potentially see with Mexico allowing U.S. air marshals to be placed on commercial flights.
Conversation over the issue dates back to 2003 following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and against the Pentagon. Despite Mexico placing agents on its commercial aircraft, Mexico is disallowed armed U.S. agents on Mexican commercial flights.
Iranian women arrested over discarding hijab: A crackdown on Iran’s compulsory headscarf decree has led the Islamic Republic to arrest 29 females who discarded the wearing of a hijab in public as a protest against the law.
All 29 women were charged with “disturbing public security.” Although it is known at lease six of those arrested were in Tehran alone, it remains unclear in which city police arrested the others.
Anti-government protests erupted in Iran over spiraling consumer prices in December 2017 and have led to wider protests since.
The movement to protest Iran’s headdress laws is inspired by Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad. Alinejad, who lives in New York, operates the website My Stealthy Freedom.
North Korea dodges trade sanctions: According to a recently-released United Nations’ report, North Korean violations to UN sanctions have earned Pyongyang in excess of $200 million from banned commodity exports.
The UN Security Council paper outlines North Korea how has used forged documents to declare the origin of coal destined for Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam came from Russia or China.
The report concludes North Korea has armed regimes in Syria and Myanmar with ballistic missile technology, and both conventional and chemical weapons.
Sports tribunal overturns lifetime ban on 28 Russian athletes: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned the lifetime Olympic bans on 28 Russian athletes previously barring them from competition for violations to anti-doping rules at the 2014 Sochi Olympic games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The CAS declared there was “insufficient evidence” to support the IOC ruling.
CAS partially upheld 11 other appeals filed by Russian athletes. In partially endorsing the judgement of the IOC, the 11 athletes are only barred from participating in the upcoming Olympic Winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Prohibited from competition by the IOC in 2017, the IOC vowed to review the CAS ruling and stated the CAS’ ruling does not signal the exonerated athletes will be invited to Pyeongchang.
[Moscow Times] [AP] [Mexico News Daily] [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] [Kyodo News] [BBC] [RT/YouTube]