The US-led coalition carried out air strikes Thursday against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The IS offensive has killed at least 35 jihadists and 25 members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and of an Assyrian defence force, according to the Observatory. The fighting and kidnappings prompted around 5,000 people to flee the countryside, with many seeking refuge in Qamishli, a large city in the province that is controlled by Kurdish and regime forces.
By David Adams WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuban and U.S. officials meet in Washington on Friday for a second round of talks aimed at restoring diplomatic relations, amid friction over Cuba's place on a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington severed diplomatic relations with Cuba 54 years ago. Communist-run Cuba is pressing the United States to remove it from its terrorism list before the official restoration of diplomatic ties. The Obama administration is nearing completion of its review of Cuba's place on the terrorism sponsors list that must be submitted to Congress before Cuba's name can be removed, a senior State Department official told reporters on Wednesday.