Lebanon and UN

BEIRUT – Lebanon will co-ordinate refugee returns to Syria only with the UN, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said, days after a number of refugees left for Syria under an agreement brokered by Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah. Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Government in the country’s more than six-year-old conflict.

Car bombs

MOSUL – Iraqi police displayed 23 vehicles turned into car bombs and also an anti-aircraft gun, all captured from IS militants during the battle for the city of Mosul. The vehicles shown to the media were mostly civilian cars, covered in thick metal armor, with small glass ports for a driver to see through, and had been equipped with bombs.

Security threat

CAIRO – Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians have been told by church leaders to cancel all events and activities outside churches in July because of a security threat, church and security sources said on Thursday. The warning followed an attack in May by Islamic State on Copts traveling to a monastery in central Egypt that killed 29 people.

Civilians flee

BEIRUT – Scores of civilians are fleeing Syria’s Raqqa traumatised, with families torn apart and conditions worsening as the battle to oust Islamic State intensifies, a senior UN official said . The number of people escaping has risen rapidly in recent weeks, Sajjad Malik, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Syria, told Reuters.

Drilling vessel

ISTANBUL – Turkey has sent two ships and a submarine to monitor a drilling vessel in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the military said on Thursday, in a move likely to increase tension with Cyprus after reunification talks failed last week. The drilling work comes a week after the collapse of talks to reunify the divided island nation.

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