Monday Briefing


Three U.S. service members were killed in Jordan yesterday and at least 34 others were injured in what the U.S. said was a drone strike from an Iran-backed militia. The deaths were the first U.S. military fatalities from hostile fire in the turmoil spilling over from Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.

The attack happened at a base near the Syrian border. The deaths of U.S. service members will almost certainly put more pressure on President Biden to respond more forcefully as turmoil grows in the Middle East.

“While we are still gathering the facts of this attack, we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” Biden said in a statement.

This month, at least four U.S. service members stationed in western Iraq were injured when their base came under fire from what the U.S. said were Iran-backed militias. A week ago, the U.S. declared two Navy SEALs dead after their disappearance during an operation at sea to intercept weapons headed to Houthi fighters, who have fired on commercial ships off Yemen since November.

The U.N. said on Friday that it had fired several employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, after Israel claimed 12 employees played a role in the Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct. 7 or in their aftermath. Israel provided a dossier to the U.S. detailing its claims, but little was known about the accusations until the documents were reviewed yesterday by The Times.

One person was accused of kidnapping a woman. Another is said to have handed out ammunition. A third was described as taking part in the massacre at a kibbutz where 97 people died.

The Israelis described 10 of the employees as members of Hamas, with seven of the accused also said to be teachers at UNRWA schools, instructing students in subjects like math and Arabic. The dossier said Israel tracked and monitored many of the accused employees through their phones.

Fallout: The U.S. and several other countries said yesterday that they were suspending some funding for UNRWA. António Guterres, the head of the U.N., implored the major donor countries to continue their support. He said that, without it, UNRWA would run out of money next month. Fears of famine are growing in the enclave, and two million Gazans depend on the agency for food, water and essential services.


Military juntas who seized power in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso said that they were withdrawing from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, because of sanctions the group imposed after the coups were carried out.

The three juntas said that the sanctions were “inhumane,” and that the bloc had “become a threat to its member states and their people.” West African commentators said that the countries’ departures could affect trade relations and regional stability, and cause pain for the bloc’s remaining 12 member states.

Background: In recent years, coups have erupted across an area south of the Sahara, forming an unbroken strip of military-run countries stretching coast to coast across the continent. ECOWAS failed to reverse some of these coups and later imposed sanctions, causing intense hardship for millions of people.

London is hoping to repeat the success of the High Line park in Manhattan by transforming an unused rail line in Camden into its own elevated green space.

The backers of the Camden Highline project, which carries an estimated price tag of 35 million pounds, or about $44.5 million, hope it will one day become a vibrant draw for both tourists and local residents.

African Cup jersey ratings: The good, the mad and the ugly.

Doubles champion at last: Rohan Bopanna wins a Grand Slam title for the first time, at 43.

Achieving his goal: Matthieu Pavon triumphs at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

Reporting from Park City, Utah, our chief film critic, Manohla Dargis, wrote that she was transported into the Sundance Film Festival she always hopes for, “the one in which a movie surprises and moves and maybe delights me.”

The film in question, which brought down the house, is “Will & Harper,” a documentary in which the actor Will Ferrell and his longtime friend Harper Steele, a trans woman, set off on a momentous cross-country journey of discovery.



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