US Approves $15bn THAAD Missile System Sale to Saudi Arabia

The government of US President Donald Trump has approved a $15 billion sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems to Saudi Arabia, a move that the State Department says is aimed at addressing the kingdom's regional concerns.

"This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the [Persian] Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats," the department said in a statement on Friday, according to Press TV.

The US had already supplied the advanced missile system to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, both Saudi Arabia's neighbors.

Next Round of Astana Talks on Syria to Yield Good Results: Lavrov

ASTANA- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expects the next round of consultations on Syria in Astana to yield good results, just like the previous ones, Itar Tass reported.

"As for the question whether or not we expect a breakthrough at the next Astana round, that depends on what should be considered a breakthrough. The latest meeting was very specific," Lavrov said on Friday following talks with his Kazakhstani counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov. "It specified the parameters of the de-escalation zones, primarily in Idlib, which is, perhaps, the most difficult. Five documents, purely practical ones aimed at specific steps on the ground, were signed by the guarantor countries with the participation of representatives of the government and the opposition. They regulate the operation of the de-escalation zones and the issues related to humanitarian aid and dialogue in light of the emerging national reconciliation."

Trump Plans to Decertify Iran Nuclear Agreement

US President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to announce next week that he will “decertify” the international nuclear agreement with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump plans to declare that the nuclear deal is not in the national interest of the United States and kick the issue to a reluctant Congress, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the White House strategy.

The report comes just days before Trump has to report to Congress whether or not Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he argues that Iran is not in compliance that could cause an American withdrawal from the international pact.

Trump has desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the JCPOA and get rid of the limits it imposes on the US ability to pursue more hostile policies against Iran.

Turkey to Close Borders with Iraqi Kurdistan 'Soon', Says Erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will “soon” shut its border and airspace to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in response to a controversial referendum on possible secession of the semi-autonomous region from the rest of the country, Press T.V reported.

"Flights to northern Iraq have already been suspended, the airspace and borders will also close soon," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara on Thursday.

"How will you (the Iraqi Kurds) have imports and exports then? The clock is ticking against them," he added.

Moscow Wants US to Coordinate Actions with Syrian Army, Russian Air Group

MOSCOW- Russia would like the United States and the so-called "anti-terrorist coalition" it leads to coordinate its actions in Syria with the government army and Russia’s aerospace group, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at an international conference of heads of secret and security services and law enforcement agencies, Itar Tass reported.

The text of his statement was published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

"We would like the United States and the coalition it leads to feel free to coordinate its operations with the Syrian army and the Russian aerospace group," he said. "Also, it is necessary to ensure the coalition should fight not only against the Islamic State, but also against Jabhat al-Nusra, which for some reason remained untouchable back under the Obama administration."

US Staging ‘Fatal Provocations’ against Russian Forces in Syria – Lavrov

Washington is playing a dangerous game of encouraging terrorists in Syria to attack government forces and the Russian military, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. Moscow won’t leave aggressive US steps unanswered, but wants to overcome the political deadlock, he added.

In an interview with the London-based, Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, taken ahead of the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Moscow, Lavrov noted that the US-led coalition and the Syrian "rebel" forces they support consistently act in a way that helps Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist groups, according to RT.

“In some cases, these forces mount allegedly accidental strikes against the Syrian Army Forces, after which Islamic State [banned in Russia] counterattacks. In other cases, they inspire other terrorists to attack strategic locations over which official Damascus has restored its legitimate authority, or to stage fatal provocations against our military personnel,” Lavrov said.

Putin Names World's 'Most Urgent' Tasks in Syria

MOSCOW- Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the international community to facilitate the resolution of the crisis in Syria under the leadership of the UN, saying that Moscow will continue its efforts to stabilize the situation in the region.

Speaking at a ceremony of the presentation of credentials of new ambassadors on Tuesday, the Russian leader said Moscow "will continue making a contribution within its powers, including in the Syrian direction."

According to Sputnik, Putin went on by stating that the expansion of humanitarian aid deliveries and de-mining of the liberated territories in Syria are "today's most urgent tasks."

Russian Airstrikes Wipe Out 300 ISIS Terrorists on Euphrates Eastern Bank

MOSCOW-Russia’s Aerospace Forces destroyed 304 terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State” terrorist group on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River over the past two days, Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday, according to Itar Tass.

"Over the past two days, the aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces continued destroying ISIS group on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. The confirmed terrorists casualties in this area were 304 killed and more than 170 wounded. Seven field commanders of different levels were killed, including a native of Kazakhstan, Abu Islyam al-Kazaki, who coordinated the operation of the Islamic State’s storming forces in the Euphrates valley," Konashenkov said.