A U.S. soldier was killed in northern Syria on Thursday. The soldier died from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast near Ayn Issa, around 35 miles north of ISIS hotspot Raqqa, U.S. Central Command said. “The entire counter-ISIL Coalition sends our condolences to this hero’s family, friends and teammates,” Lt. Gen. Stephen J Townsend, commander of U.S. operations in Syria, said in a statement. This is not the first time an American has been killer combating ISIS in Syria. In August, three U.S. soldiers fighting alongside Kurdish troops were killed. Fighting remains intense in Syria, as three Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Syria earlier Thursday.
—Colombian government and FARC rebel leaders signed a new peace agreement Thursday, hoping to end a five-decade struggle that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. More here
—A U.S. soldier was killed in northern Syria on Thursday. The soldier died from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast. More here
—Dozens have been killed near Baghdad in a terrorist attack Thursday, carried out by ISIS using a car bomb. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
U.S. Soldier Killed in Syria
Colombian Government and Rebel Leaders Sign New Peace Agreement
Colombian government and FARC rebel leaders signed a new peace agreement Thursday, hoping to end a five-decade struggle that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. This is the second agreement leaders have signed in two months. The last one was narrowly rejected by voters in an October referendum, as critics said it was too lenient for the crimes rebels committed over many years. President Juan Manuel Santos, who earlier this year won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, is committed to seeing the successful conclusion of four years of talks. The new agreement has 50 changes aimed at helping the victims of crimes from rebels, but it not include jail sentences for rebel leaders who committed those crimes. The Colombian congress must now ratify the new agreement, which faces an uphill battle as public opinion of the 8,000 rebel fighters is extremely low. If the agreement moves forward, rebels will soon hang over their weapons to United Nations monitors.
ISIS Car Bomb Kills Dozens Near Baghdad
Dozens have been killed near Baghdad in a terrorist attack Thursday, carried out by ISIS using a car bomb. The bomb targeted Iranian and Bahraini Shia pilgrims at a road stop near al-Hilla, 60 miles from the capital. So far, the attack has claimed 80 lives. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have successfully taken three more neighborhoods from ISIS militants in the northern city of Mosul. Now in its sixth week, the slow, block-by-block operation continues to head toward the center of the city. Iraqi forces are backed by U.S. airstrikes. Most of the fighting in the city is concentrated east of the Tigris River.
Wildfires Threaten Israel
Wildfires are raging across central and northern Israel for the third-straight day Thursday. Government officials suspect arson. Strong winds and dry conditions have only made the situation worse, forcing 50,000 people to evacuate. Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to send two firefighting aircraft to Israel to help combat the fires, while crews from Greece and Cyprus have arrived to assist in the effort. Help from Croatia, Italy, and Turkey are on the way, as well. Injuries thus far have been minor, consisting mostly of smoke inhalation.
European Parliament Freezes E.U. Membership Talks With Turkey
In a sharp rebuke to its crackdown on civil society and free speech, the European Parliament voted Thursday to freeze talks with Turkey on European Union membership. Since the failed coup d’etat attempt in July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has purged dissent in the county, detaining more than 100,000 people in the media, academia, and state institutions, while also shutting down hundreds of organizations, such as news outlets and political groups. While the vote in Strasbourg, France, is not binding, it does put new pressure on Erdogan. Only Austria has advocated for completely suspending talks with Turkey. There is a good deal of risk in this move by the European Parliament, upsetting a country with which Europe depends in the migration crisis. Erdogan said earlier this week a vote to freeze talks would be a vote for Islamist extremism.