Middle East

A dramatically scaled-down hajj pilgrimage got under way in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with Muslim worshipers confined to small groups to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government’s new powers give it more leverage to press social media companies to remove content it doesn’t like, sending a chill through the country’s human-rights activists and dissidents

Israel’s military said Monday its forces and Hezbollah exchanged fire on Israel’s border with Lebanon, ratcheting up tensions as Israel presses a campaign to rout the influence of Iran and its proxies on its frontiers.

The number of civilian casualties from fighting in Afghanistan fell in the first half of the year after a pact between the U.S. and the Taliban meant to end America’s longest war, as the United Nations pressed Kabul and the militants for peace talks.

Military contractors linked to the Kremlin have seized control of two of Libya’s largest oil facilities, heightening tensions between Russia and the U.S. over Moscow’s growing footprint in the African nation.

As Saudi Arabia prepares to host the hajj pilgrimage next week, authorities face the unprecedented challenge of balancing their responsibility as stewards of the Muslim world’s most important religious event with the need to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia’s octogenarian King Salman underwent laparoscopic surgery Thursday to remove an inflamed gallbladder, prompting a call from President Trump to the kingdom’s crown prince to check on the ruler’s health.

A federation of 10 million residents, the U.A.E. has already conducted over 4.5 million tests and aims to reach six million within two months. That is the world’s highest testing rate among countries with more than a million inhabitants and more than three times the current rate in the U.S.

Syrians went to the polls Sunday to elect a new parliament in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak and a deepening economic crisis, as President Bashar al-Assad attempts to strengthen his political grip on the country after nearly a decade of war.

The U.S. has joined six other nations in sanctioning a financial network linked to the Islamic State terrorist group and its affiliates, blocking any of their assets in the U.S., the Treasury Department said.

Some Israeli public-health officials are blaming the country’s decision to reopen schools in May for helping fuel a large new wave of coronavirus infections that has prompted authorities to shut down sections of the economy once again.

Turkey’s decision to turn historic Hagia Sophia into a mosque has caused dismay among Orthodox Christians and the country’s neighbors, as well as curators and historians worried about the fate of unique medieval mosaics.

The novel coronavirus has crept into the last opposition-held territory in Syria, as Russia and China move to restrict an aid corridor that humanitarian groups warn could hamper attempts to contain an outbreak in the besieged area.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iraq to hold to account those responsible for the assassination of a prominent Iraqi security analyst who had been threatened by Iran-backed militias, raising pressure on the new government to rein in the powerful paramilitary groups.

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