The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right to self-defence as Russia warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets. Tensions escalated on Sunday as the U.S. military brought down a Syrian military jet near Raqqa for bombing near U.S.-allied forces on the ground. It was the first time the U.S. Air Force had shot down a manned aircraft since May 1999. In a move that will fan tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Qatar has said that it will not negotiate with its neighbours to resolve the Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed two weeks ago. The UAE, which along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain imposed the measures to isolate Qatar, said the sanctions could last for years unless Doha accepted demands that the Arab powers plan to reveal in coming days. Qatar has denied accusations by its neighbours that it funds terrorism, foments regional instability to their enemy Iran. The dispute has opened a rift among some of the main U.S. allies in the Middle East.
A new alliance of Islamist militant groups linked to al Qaeda on Monday claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least five people at a Mali luxury resort popular with Western expatriates just outside the capital Bamako. The alliance that claimed the attack, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, was created earlier this year from a merger of local groups and is led by a notorious Tuareg commander. Although the attackers succeeded in mounting a lethal assault, security forces backed by French and United Nations troops managed to rescue around 60 residents in two batches.
The last Islamic State militants in Mosul are reportedly putting up fierce resistance as Iraqi forces try to seize their final stronghold in the city. Overnight, aircraft dropped leaflets urging civilians to avoid open spaces and to take any opportunity to escape. The UN says IS may be holding more than 100,000 people there as human shields. Pro-government forces launched an offensive to retake Mosul in October with air and ground support from a US-led coalition. The army believes that there are no more than 300 militants left in Mosul.
The U.S. government on Monday issued a rare alert squarely blaming the North Korean government for a raft of cyber attacks stretching back to 2009 and warning that more were likely. The joint warning from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said that “cyber actors of the North Korean government,” referred to in the report as “Hidden Cobra,” had targeted the media, aerospace and financial sectors, as well as critical infrastructure, in the United States and globally.