By Dominic Evans and Suleiman Al-Khalidi BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad said the success of a military campaign by Russia, Syria and its allies was vital to save the Middle East from destruction, a day after Moscow said it would step up air strikes against Islamic State targets across Syria. A year-long air campaign by Western and Arab air forces in Syria and Iraq had been counterproductive, Assad said, helping terrorism spread and win new recruits, but a coalition of Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq could achieve real results.
By Mirwais Harooni and Andrew MacAskill KABUL (Reuters) - Medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Sunday demanded an independent international inquiry into a suspected U.S. air strike that killed 22 people in an Afghan hospital it runs, branding the attack a "war crime". U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter promised a full investigation into whether the American military was connected to the destruction of the hospital, but cautioned it would take time to gather information. "We do know that American air assets ... were engaged in the Kunduz vicinity, and we do know that the structures that - you see in the news - were destroyed," Carter told reporters traveling with him shortly before landing in Spain on Sunday.
By Michelle Martin BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany needs to limit the number of refugees it takes in or even close its borders, conservative allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, as the country deals with record inflows of people fleeing from war and poverty. Around 800,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Germany, Europe's largest and richest economy, this year and complaints from politicians, the federal states and the municipalities that they cannot cope are growing. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Europe needed to restrict the refugee intake, and members of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to Merkel's conservatives in Bavaria, said Germany should shut its borders.
Islamic State militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph, a major monument in the 2,000-year-old Roman city of Palmyra, Syria's antiquities chief said on Sunday, after they destroyed two ancient temples at the central Syrian site in recent months. Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the Arch of Triumph, a jewel in the exquisite collection of ruins in the oasis city, had been blown up. Islamic State militants blew up temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it has controlled since capturing Palmyra from Syrian government forces in May and mined other monuments and historic buildings.
By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Violence intensified in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday after Israelis were targeted in two stabbing attacks and a Palestinian was killed in a clash with Israeli troops, officials said. A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem, just hours after another knife-wielding attacker killed an off-duty Israeli soldier and a rabbi, nearby in the walled Old City, police said. Officers shot dead both attackers, a police spokesman said, and Israel's government announced it was barring Palestinians from entering the ancient district for two days, apart from people who lived there.
By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday reaffirmed Catholic opposition to gay marriage as he opened a three-week gathering of bishops from around the world but said the Church had to show love and understanding towards all. Francis presided at a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to open the meeting, known as a synod, on the theme of the family in the modern world. On the eve of the gathering, the Vatican dismissed a Polish priest from his Holy See job after he came out as gay and called for changes in Catholic teachings against homosexual activity.
Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said on Sunday he was ready to form a new government after his coalition won the most votes in an election but fell short of a majority. "We will tell the president that the political force that won the most votes is ready to form government," Passos Coelho said in a televised statement.
By William James MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Russia is engaged in "classic asymmetric warfare" in Syria by using its military clout to prop up President Bashar al-Assad while saying it is attacking Islamic State militants, Britain's foreign minister said on Sunday. Russia last week began striking targets in Syria - a dramatic escalation of foreign involvement in the civil war which has been criticized by the West as an attempt to prop up Assad, rather than its purported aim of attacking Islamic State.
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The search for a U.S. cargo ship that was lost during Hurricane Joaquin off the southeastern Bahamas turned up more clues Sunday but no word yet on the fate of the vessel or its 33-member crew.
By Enrique Pretel and Sofia Menchu SANTA CATARINA PINULA, Guatemala (Reuters) - Despair in the search for hundreds of people buried in a landslide that swallowed part of a Guatemalan town is so deep that some relatives feel lucky simply to have found the bodies of their loved ones. Families on Sunday lit candles for relatives engulfed by a mass of earth and rubble that crashed down on a neighborhood in Santa Catarina Pinula. "I feel lucky because other families can't even cry over their dead," said Alejandro Lopez, a 45-year-old taxi driver, who recovered the bodies of two daughters and a grandson.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Brazil's Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca won the FIVB World Tour Finals on Sunday, beating Germany's Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 21-17, 21-18 to extend their international winning streak to 27 matches.
Portugal's ruling centre-right coalition won a general election Sunday seen as a referendum on its austerity policies, although it may not hold onto its absolute majority in parliament, near-complete results showed. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's "Portugal Ahead" coalition was on 39.16 percent of the vote, according to results from more than three-quarters of constituencies, with the opposition Socialists of former Lisbon mayor Antonio Costa trailing by more than seven points. Costa, who campaigned on a promise of easing some of the painful reforms imposed on western Europe's poorest country, was quick to concede defeat but ruled out stepping down as party leader.
MADRID (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Sunday promised a full and transparent investigation into whether a U.S. aircraft providing support for American and Afghan commandos was responsible for the explosions that destroyed a hospital in northern Afghanistan, killing 22 people. Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Spain, Carter said, "the situation there is confused and complicated, so it may take some time to get the facts, but we will get the facts."
HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Bermuda was lashed Sunday by gusting winds and pelting rains from a weakening Hurricane Joaquin as its spinning center tracked just west of the wealthy financial haven and tourist destination after plowing through the Bahamas as a major storm.
PARIS (AP) — A day after celebrating his 34th birthday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic became Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading scorer as he netted twice in a 2-1 win over bitter rival Marseille in the French league Sunday.
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's center-right coalition government earned another four-year term Sunday, winning a general election behind an improving economy that weathered the austerity measures contested across Europe.
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's opposition Socialist leader Antonio Costa conceded defeat in a general election on Sunday after exit polls and partial tallies put the ruling center-right coalition ahead. "I want to congratulate (Prime Minister Pedro) Passos Coelho and (deputy prime minister) Paulo Portas," he said. "The Socialist Party did not reach its objectives." (Reporting By Axel Bugge; editing by Mark John)
Record rainfall left large areas of the US southeast under water Sunday as roads were closed and residents were warned to stay indoors. The states of North and South Carolina have been particularly hard hit by heavy flooding, but the driving rain in recent days has spared almost none of the US East Coast. The storms are part of a weather system separate from Hurricane Joaquin, which was downgraded to a Category Two storm as it headed toward Bermuda.
Manchester United conceded three goals in the first 20 minutes for the first time in the 23-year history of the Premier League, Liverpool fired its manager and Zlatan Ibrahimovic became Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading scorer in the French league on Sunday.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - An 18-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, medics and Palestinian police sources said, amid a spike in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Around a thousand people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to demonstrate against Russian plans to build an airbase in the former Soviet state. Leave us alone on our land," senior opposition figure Vladimir Neklyaev told the crowd. After the event, protesters adopted a resolution saying the deployment of a Russian base would be "against the Belarus constitution".
Orlando Pirates of South Africa recovered from trailing by two goals to triumph 4-3 at title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt Sunday and reach the CAF Confederation Cup final. Leading 1-0 from the first leg last weekend, the Soweto Buccaneers qualified 5-3 on aggregate and face Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in a two-legged final. The climax of the second-tier African Football Confederation (CAF) club competition is set for successive weekends between November 20 and 29 with the first game in South Africa.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Atletico Madrid substitute Luciano Vietto scored a late goal to snatch a 1-1 draw against crosstown rival Real Madrid on Sunday, denying Rafa Benitez's side the chance to reclaim the Spanish league lead.
Carrying placards reading "End austerity now" and "Cut war not welfare", tens of thousands of protesters marched through Manchester as British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party opened its annual conference on Sunday. Police and the Trades Union Congress said that about 60,000 people took part in the protest in the northwestern city of Manchester. The TUC called the protest with the slogan "No to austerity, yes to workers' rights", citing what it called the government's "damaging programme of austerity and their attacks on the rights of working people and their unions".
Nearly 100 people were killed when massive mudslides buried scores of homes on the outskirts of Guatemala's capital city, officials said Sunday, as the death toll continued to climb. Hundreds of people were still missing, three days after the landslides suddenly hit, raising the prospect that the number of people who perished in the disaster could rise much higher. "Our most recent tally is that there are 96 confirmed dead and recovered, and still about 300 people missing and unaccounted for," said volunteer fire brigade spokesman Julio Sanchez.
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian parliament member said he learned from Islamic State-linked media that his son carried out a suicide attack in Iraq, three months after dropping out of medical school and joining the extremist group.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - Search-and-rescue teams on Sunday located debris appearing to belong to the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin with 33 mostly American crew members aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard and the ship's owner said. There was no sighting of the El Faro or any lifeboats, Tim Nolan, president of ship's owner Tote Maritime Puerto Rico, said in a statement. With no word on the fate of the crew, relatives gathered at a seafarers' union hall in Jacksonville, Florida where they were briefed by the Coast Guard and the ship owners.