ISIS KILLS TOP IRANIAN COMMANDER
ISIS killed Iranian Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani outside Aleppo overnight, Iranian military news agency Sepah News reports. Hamedani was providing military advice to Syrian government forces as part of support sent by Tehran. He was reportedly in charge of the Quds Force, a special unit fighting rebels in the war-torn country and one that the U.S. considers a terrorist group. Hamedani was also known for leading brutal crackdowns against Iranian protestors in 2009 and was hit with international sanctions.
- Meanwhile, ISIS fighters have also captured several villages from rival insurgents on the outskirts of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports. This marks the group's biggest advance since late August.
- Russia has denied U.S. reports that four of its cruise missiles aimed at ISIS and "other terrorists" in Syria struck in Iran, possibly hurting civilians and damaging civilians, Al Jazeera reports. "In contrast to CNN, we do not talk with reference to anonymous sources," the Russian defense ministry said. "We show the launch of our rockets and the targets they struck."
- France conducted its second airstrike against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, overnight, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told radio network Europe 1 Friday. "The targets were met," he said.
Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/ZUMA
Sky watchers were able to enjoy the stunning Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, Thursday over Derwentwater, near Keswick in England's Lake District.
VIOLENCE ESCALATES IN ISRAEL
Tension continues to rise in Israel with multiple stabbings early today after a week of violence between Jewish and Arab communities had already left 11 people dead. Four Arabs were stabbed in Dimona, a town in southern Israel, and a Jewish suspect was arrested, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that a Jewish youth was stabbed by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem.
"The options were not infinite and perfection maybe was not a possibility, but I think that it is a quite reasonably good list of names," UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon said last night after announcing plans to form a national unity government in Libya, Euronews reports. The move is intended to end an ongoing conflict between the internationally recognized authorities in the east and "Libya Dawn," the Islamist-backed, self-declared rulers of Tripoli, known as the General National Congress (GNC). The UN is pushing both sides to accept the deal, but the GNC has already expressed reservations about the proposed list of names.
ROME MAYOR PRESSURED TO RESIGN
The resignation of Ignazio Marino, Rome's embattled mayor, dominated headlines in Italy on Friday after months of rising political tensions in the capital and within the center-left Democratic party of both the mayor and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Read more from Le Blog.
CHINA FACES MASS SMOKING DEATHS
One-third of all men currently under age 20 in China could die prematurely if they continue to smoke, a study by The Lancet warns. About two-thirds of Chinese men start smoking as teens, according to the medical journal. The researchers, who conducted two studies 15 years apart across the country, say that if such trends continue, smoking will turn into a "growing epidemic of premature death."
ON THIS DAY
Happy birthday to English indie rocker PJ Harvey, who is 46 today. That and more in today's shot of history.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE ANNOUNCED
The National Dialogue Quartet, a group of Tunisian organizations, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize today "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011."
AUSTRALIA, PHILIPPINES IN ASYLUM TALKS
The Australian government has engaged in talks with the Philippines to transfer asylum seekers being held indefinitely in controversial and impoverished offshore detention centers. Australia struck a similar deal last years with Cambodia, but it has so far been criticized as an expensive failure, the BBC reports.
More than 58,000 people suffered violent deaths in Brazil last year, the Brazilian Public Security Forum says in a report published Thursday, Globo reports. That's 5% more than in 2013 and represents a new peak of violence in the country, which is preparing to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year. These violent deaths include homicides, manslaughter, killings by police and robberies that end in killings.
On the Italian island of Sardinia, asylum seekers are rebuilding their lives on the soccer field, La Stampa's Nicola Pinna writes. "The team's captain is a 23-year-old whose life was at risk before fleeing his homeland of Togo. â€˜I was accused of causing a car accident in which two people died, and their relatives decided to kill me,' he says. Jeffrey Omonigho, the team's Nigerian goalkeeper, had been living on the run for years. â€˜My family is opposed to the government,' he explains. â€˜My father was murdered and my fate there was already sealed.' Pagi's potential star striker is Collins, a 26-year-old with a contagious smile. His daughter, Josephine, was born in Sassari, and he hopes to stay here and build their future together."
Read the full article, Meet Pagi, Italy's First Ever All-Migrant Soccer Team.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
The domain name abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com is now the property of Google, according to The Verge. It's part of the company's strategy to develop its latest parent company Alphabet. Alphabet.com is already owned by BMW, so Google just decided to buy the alphabet itself.