Boeing inked a deal with Iran Air, the country’s national airline, to sell 80 passenger airliners for $16.6 billion on Sunday. The sale is Iran’s first major airline purchase since the 1979 revolution. It is also the first deal of its kind since the U.S. and other world powers lifted some sanctions earlier this year as part of the Iranian nuclear deal. U.S. government regulators approved the deal in September, paving the way for Iran to replace its aging and dilapidated fleet of passenger jets for the first time in almost four decades. The Iranian government is also reportedly in the “very final stages” of an agreement with European airliner giant Airbus. Looming over Boeing’s deal is the imminent inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who opposed the nuclear deal and whose Republican allies in Congress have threatened to block the sale of airliners to Iran. Boeing estimated the deal would support 100,000 jobs for U.S. workers.
—The death toll from Saturday’s twin suicide bombings outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul rose to 38. More here
—A bomb struck Egypt’s main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Sunday, killing at least 25 congregants. More here
—At least 160 people are dead after a church roof collapsed in the Nigerian city of Uyo. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Boeing, Iran Complete $16 Billion Airliner Deal
ISIS Retakes Palmyra From Syrian Government
ISIS militants recaptured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra on Sunday, reversing a major victory for the Syrian government ten months earlier. Talal al-Barzani, the governor of Homs province, told the Wall Street Journal that Syrian forces had fallen back and repositioned themselves outside the city’s limits in preparation for a counteroffensive. Palmyra holds limited strategic importance in the conflict, but carries immense cultural significance and symbolic potency for both sides. After ISIS forces first captured the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, militants demolished its millennia-old ruins and used an ancient Roman amphitheater to stage filmed executions. Syrian government forces, aided by Russian airpower, retook the historic city in May. Local experts told the Associated Press that a second push to dislodge the militant group would likely be delayed until after the battle for Aleppo.
Scores Killed in Nigerian Church Collapse
A church collapsed in the southern Nigerian city of Uyo during Sunday worship services, killing at least 160 people and injuring scores. Local officials told the Associated Press that the corrugated metal roof of the Reigners Bible Church International crumpled onto congregants during the consecration ceremony of Akan Weeks, the church’s founder. Rescuers were still pulling people and bodies from the rubble on Sunday afternoon, according to Akwa Ibom state governor Udom Emmanuel, who was at the church when it caved in. Witnesses told multiple media outlets that church’s recent construction had been hasty and haphazard, and Emmanuel told the BBC that he would order an investigation. A significant number of victims were taken from the rubble to private mortuaries throughout the city, meaning the death toll could rise even higher.
Dozens Killed in Bombing at Cairo Coptic Cathedral
At least 25 people were killed and 49 people were injured after a bomb ripped through Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral during Sunday Mass, Egyptian officials said. The bomb struck an adjacent chapel of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the spiritual center of Egypt’s Christian minority. According to the New York Times, Egyptian security officials said the attackers had placed 26 pounds of TNT in the chapel for the bombing. No groups have yet claimed responsibility, but security forces have been battling an ISIS-affiliated insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, which has also carried out bombings in larger Egyptian cities. The blast did not endanger Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who was in Greece for a meeting of Orthodox leaders.
Death Toll Rises to 38 in Istanbul Bombings
The death toll from Saturday’s twin bombings outside Istanbul’s Vodafone Stadium to 38, Turkish officials announced Sunday. Another 155 people were injured. CNN is reporting that the Kurdish Freedom Hawks, a splinter faction of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, claimed responsibility for the blasts. According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Solyu, most of the fatalities were police officers who provided security at the stadium after a match between two of Turkey’s top soccer teams. According to the Wall Street Journal, the first explosion came after a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a group of riot police outside the stadium; the second blast occurred moments later when another suicide bomber detonated himself on the other side of the stadium. The Turkish prime minister’s office declared a national day of mourning in response to the bombings, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed the perpetrators would pay a “heavy price.”