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Israel: Two Rockets Fired into Golan Heights from Syria


iStock/Thinkstock(BEIRUT) -- Two rockets landed in northern Israel Tuesday after being fired from Syria, according to the Israeli military.

Both landed in open areas in the Golan Heights and neither one caused any injuries.

Israel's military says it returned fire with artillery, and ordered the evacuation of a nearby ski resort.

It's unclear who fired the rockets.

Tuesday's incident comes just over a week after an Israeli strike in Syria killed a unit from Hezbollah and a top Iranian general.

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Watch US Soldiers Work in Hot Zone to Build Ebola Treatment Units


John Moore/Getty Images(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The United States military has completed the last of its 17 Ebola treatment units (ETUs) in Liberia.

Rather than contracting out the construction, American soldiers picked up hammers themselves and worked side by side with the Armed Forces of Liberia for the final ETU under Operation United Assistance.

Working 12-hour days in a remote rainforest brought plenty of challenges but also camaraderie rarely seen on a military mission.

Watch the video below as ABC News was there from start to finish to show the building of bonds as well as Ebola treatment blocks:

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, who leads the Joint Command task force on the ground, told ABC News that the Department of Defense will decide this month the future of the operation against Ebola and whether to send troops home. About 450 non-essential service members have already returned to the United States. Unlike neighboring Sierra Leone, the spread of the disease has been steadily decreasing in Liberia.

The U.S. military has not only helped build ETUs in Liberia, but troops have also trained more than 1,500 health workers to go into these hot zones. In a mock ETU in the capital Monrovia and in mobile courses in more remote regions, soldiers drilled doctors and other medical staff on how to tackle and treat the dangers of the deadly disease.

Classes covered everything from confronting uncooperative patients to avoiding contamination from bodily fluids and blood, realistically simulated by red ratatouille sauce from the military's Meals Ready to Eat (better known as MREs).

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Malaysia Airlines Hit by Lizard Squad Hack Attack


Malaysia Airlines(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- The hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for attacking Malaysia Airlines' website on Sunday.

Users who logged onto the Malaysia Airlines website were greeted with the image of a lizard in a top hat and the message: "404 -- plane not found." Below that were the words: "Hacked by Lizard Squad -- official Cyber Caliphate."

The attack came after a difficult year in which the airline lost two flights, including one that has yet to be found.

At issue in the hack attack is whether Lizard Squad obtained any private information belonging to passengers. The group tweeted late Sunday that it planned to dump data found on the airline's servers. Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that "user data remains secured."

The company acknowledged its website was having issues late Sunday. The website was fully operational again mid-afternoon Monday in Malaysia.

"Malaysia Airlines confirms that its Domain Name System (DNS) has been compromised where users are re-directed to a hacker website when www.malaysiaairlines.com URL is keyed in," a statement Monday from the airline said. "At this stage, Malaysia Airlines' web servers are intact. The airline has resolved the issue with its service provider and the system is expected to be fully recovered within 22 hours."

"Making claims of data theft is serious and should be taken seriously," Robert Siciliano, an online safety expert to Intel Security, told ABC News. "Those who have information stored on the site, such as personal information and credit card numbers should take heed and take steps to ensure their accounts are secure. Monitor statements looking for unauthorized activity. Beware of phishy emails and avoid clicking links. Otherwise pay attention to news reports and look for the airline to send out a communication."

Malaysia Airlines said it has also reported the incident to CyberSecurity Malaysia and the country's Ministry of Transport.

Lizard Squad has previously claimed responsibility through tweets for attacking the Sony PlayStation and Xbox networks over Christmas, and earlier this month, the "Cyber Caliphate" briefly took over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command, authorities said.

Known for its trollish and prankster style, Lizard Squad's weapon of choice is most commonly the DDoS (distributed denial of service attacks), which flood a target's servers with fake traffic, knocking it offline.

While authorities have Lizard Squad on their radar, making arrests has proven to be difficult as the tech savvy group is dispersed around the world.

After a joint investigation between the FBI and authorities in the United Kingdom, an 18-year-old man was arrested earlier this month in northwest England as part of an investigation into the Christmas gaming attacks.

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Fidel Castro Expresses Doubts About US Politics, Says He Hasn't Spoken with US Officials in Letter to Communist Newspaper


ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA, Cuba) -- Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro says that he has no confidence in the United States policy and that he has not exchanged a single word with U.S. officials.

In a letter penned for communist newspaper Granma, Castro said that he was not flatly rejecting a peaceful solution to the conflict between the two nations. He urged that any peaceful and negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and any and all Latin American nations that do not involve or employ force should be treated in accordance of international principles and norms.

Instead, Castro defended his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, who announced last month, at the same time U.S. President Barack Obama did, that the two nations would work to repair their relationship. Fidel said his brother had taken steps that fall under his authority. Castro said that he would always defend the cooperation and friendship with all countries of the world, including political adversaries.

The first round of high-level talks in decades between the two nations began last week, with Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson calling them "cordial and respectful."

 

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More than 20,000 Foreign Fighters May Be in Iraq and Syria, More than Afghanistan in 1980s


Hope Milam/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The International Center for the Study of Radicalization, at London's Kings College, a leading think tank, released a report on Monday placing the number of foreign fghters in the Syrian/Iraq conflict at over 20,000 -- more than there were in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The report includes about 4,000 Europeans and 100 Americans believed to be among the ranks of the jihadists. Relative to population size, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden were the most heavily affected countries, though in sheer numbers, there are more foreign fighters from France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Still, the Middle East remains the dominating source of foreign fighters, with 11,000 individuals from other Middle Eastern nations believed to be joining the fight in Iraq and Syria. Another 3,000 come from countries that formely belonged to the Soviet Union.

The ICSR says that the current mobilization is the largest number of foreign fighters in Muslim-majority countries since 1945.

 

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US Embassy in Yemen Closed Until Further Notice


iStock/Thinkstock(SANA'A, Yemen) -- The U.S. Embassy in Yemen will be closed until further notice, days after fighting and the resignation of a significant portion of the country's government leadership put its stability in question.

The U.S. State Department says that the personnel working at the embassy have not been evacuated from the country. Instead, the statement means only that the embassy is not open for normal business.

A statement from the embassy attributes the decision to the resignation of the Yemeni president, prime minister and cabinet, as well as "ongoing security concerns." As such, the embassy says it will be "unable to provide routine consular services" and will be limited in its ability to "assist with emergency cases involving U.S. citizens."

The State Department warned Americans in Yemen of the "high security threat level" due to "terrorist activities and civil unrest." Americans are being urged to exercise caution, be vigilant, and take extra security measures at all times in all areas.

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US Races to Aid Japan After ISIS 'Kills' One Hostage


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. intelligence is focusing its efforts Monday on helping to find and potentially rescue the surviving Japanese ISIS hostage, who in a new video released over the weekend was forced to hold what appeared to be a photograph of his fellow hostage beheaded.

In the new video, journalist Kenji Goto reads a plea for his own life, passing along ISIS's demand for a prisoner swap rather than the $200 million originally demanded by ISIS.

"They are being fair. They no longer want money, so you don't have to worry about funding terrorists," Goto says.

Goto says ISIS wants Japan to pressure the country of Jordan into releasing Sajida al-Rishawi, a female attempted suicide bomber who confessed to her role in a deadly string of al Qaeda bombings in Jordan in 2005. The attacks killed dozens and al-Rishawi was placed on death row.

The new video is substantially different than previous such videos from ISIS -- missing some of the group's trademark high production qualities and the masked man who appears to have a British accent featured in other execution videos.

U.S. officials Monday are pouring over the video to exploit any potential clues.

"We are sparing no expense and sparing no effort, both in trying to make sure that we're prepared to do anything we must to try and get them home," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told ABC News' This Week Sunday.

Top U.S. and Japanese treated the new video and the apparent murder of the first Japanese hostage as authentic, with President Obama saying Saturday the U.S. "strongly condemns the brutal murder of Japanese citizen [and ISIS hostage] Haruna Yukawa by the terrorist group ISIL [ISIS]."

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Japan and applaud its commitment to peace and development in a region far from its shores," Obama said.

Obama called for a release of all remaining hostages, which U.S. officials previously said includes a 26-year-old American woman.

Jordanian King Adbullah has repeatedly refused to free al-Rishawi -- whose release has been a demand from other extremists in the past -- although he has put her execution on hold. When ISIS first demanded the $200 million ransom for the two Japanese hostages, the Japanese government said it would not give in.

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Syrian President Says Possibility for Cooperation with US "Definitely Always There," Criticizes Obama Administration


ABC NEWS/Rob Wallace(NEW YORK) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Monday that the possibility of increased cooperation with the U.S. is "definitely always there" after the two nations have worked together in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Speaking with Foreign Affairs magazine, Assad said that the two nations had been "talking about or asking for international cooperation against terrorism for 30 years." Assad said that in order to turn the "potential" into actual cooperation, questions need to be answered -- such as "how much will does the United States have to really fight terrorism on the ground?"

The Syrian president called U.S. efforts thus far "window-dressing" and "nothing real." Since U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria began, Assad added, ISIS has gained more land in the two countries.

Assad also questioned the intent of U.S. airstrikes on the Syrian border city of Kobani. Calling Kobani a small city, Assad told Foreign Affairs "it's been more than three months since the beginning of attacks, and [the U.S. hasn't] finished. Same areas, same al Qaeda factions occupying them -- the Syrian army liberated in less than three weeks. It means they're not serious about fighting terrorism."

Assad said, in the long run, he thinks the U.S. must put pressure on countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar "to stop supporting the rebels."

"This is our land; this is our country. We are responsible," Assad said. "We don't ask for American troops at all." Further, the American airstrikes in Syria, which Assad says the U.S. did not request permission for from the Syrian government, are "illegal."

Also in the interview, Assad criticized the Obama administration, saying that it "[builds] its evaluation and later decisions on social media."

"We call it a social media administration," Assad said, "which is not politics."

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Multiple Fatalities in NATO Fighter Jet Crash in Spain


File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(ALBACETE, Spain) -- A Greek fighter jet crashed shortly after takeoff on Monday, killing multiple people at a NATO airbase in Spain.

According to a statement from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the crash "caused many casualties." Stoltenberg went on to call the accident "a tragedy which affects the whole NATO family."

The plane involved was taking part in an exercise related to NATO's Tactical Leadership Program, which Stoltenberg says "aims to improve multinational cooperation in air operations."

BBC News reports 10 people were killed in the crash after an F-16 lost power shortly after takeoff. Thirteen more were injured. The nationality of those killed or injured were not immediately made public.

A Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News that while there was a U.S. contingent participating in the exercise, no U.S personnel were killed in the crash. An unknown number of Americans were, however, treated for minor injuries.

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Kurdish Fighters Retake Control of Part of City of Kobani


Juan Bernal/iStock/Thinkstock(KOBANI, Syria) -- Kurdish fighters have retaken control of part of the city of Kobani.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Monday that the Kurds were in control of about 70 percent of the city. A U.S. official told ABC News that while they couldn't confirm a percentage of the city, Kurdish forces were in control of "incrementally more" of the city than they were on Friday.

Kobani, a town near the border between Syria and Turkey, has been the site of intense fighting between Kurdish fighters and ISIS. Additionally, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have focused their attention on the city for months.

A Kurdish source told ABC News Monday that ISIS remained in control of many villages surrounding Kobani.

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Obama Feted in India at Soggy Parade of Camels, Missiles and Tanks


SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW DELHI) — It was a symbolic and soggy affair for the first American president given high honors at India's Republic Day parade.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama took in the elaborate pageant of military power and cultural pride from a viewing platform under steady drizzle in the capital New Delhi.

They spent much of the day beneath umbrellas as a colorful display passed before them, including bejeweled camels ridden as cavalry, brigades of arm-swinging troops, cultural dancers, marching bands, and motorcycle stunt men.

The Obamas were flanked by the Indian president and prime minister and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of parade watchers out in the streets to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the world’s biggest democracy.

Prime Minister Narenda Modi, a man who many say is India’s Barack Obama, was sporting a distinctive hat and chatted frequently with his "chief guest."

The military portion of the massive parade featured Russian tanks, American helicopters, mobile rockets and missiles.

One of the tanks turned its presumably unarmed gun turret toward the reviewing stand, likely sending shock waves up the spines of the 50,000 security forces -- U.S. Secret Service, Indian police and para-military forces -- guarding Obama. The president overruled security concerns and elected to sit outside in the open for more than two hours -- an unprecedented stretch on foreign soil.

Obama is the first American President to receive an invitation to be chief guest at the parade, an honor granted to Russia's Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, high-level Pakistani officials, even the Queen of England. That an American was finally invited is considered a symbol of the growing closeness of the Indian and American people.

The budding personal friendship between Obama and Modi has also set a new tone for two countries, each looking for dependable allies in an unsettled region. At a summit Sunday, they announced closer defense ties, expanded trade and an effort to fight climate change.

The three-day Obama visit has set India abuzz with popular fixation with the American first lady, who stepped off the plane in a colorful dress made by a popular Indian designer.

Obama has seemed enthralled with Indian culture, too, from the high-stepping military review he received, to tea in a picturesque presidential garden, and his solemn visit to the memorial honoring Mahatma Gandhi, a man who famously inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.


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Turkey Court Bans Facebook Pages Insulting Prophet Muhammad


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Facebook has been ordered by a Turkish court to censor pages insulting the Prophet Muhammad or risk being blocked entirely in the country.

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported the ruling was handed down late Sunday by a court in Ankara. The order comes days after another court in the country banned sites showing the latest cover of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the news comes during the same month that its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has spoken out against censorship.

Following the recent massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, Zuckerberg re-affirmed his commitment that "Facebook has always been a place where people across the world share their views and ideas."

"We follow the laws in each country, but we never let one country or group of people dictate what people can share across the world," he wrote in a Jan. 9 post.

At a town hall in Colombia on Jan. 14, Zuckerberg expanded on why Facebook continues to operate in countries that put restrictions on speech, bringing the focus back to the reason why he founded the social network.

"This gets to the heart of our mission. We want to help connect everyone and give people a voice," Zuckerberg said.

A government passing a law restricting speech should not get in the way of people in the country still being able to connect with friends and family, he said.

"I really deeply believe we are best serving the world...by continuing to push for as much expression as possible," he said, adding that Facebook does push back when it is asked by governments to filter something.

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Massive Asteroid 2004 BL86 to Pass Within 745,000 Miles of Earth


NASA(NEW YORK) -- A massive asteroid is set to safely pass Earth on Monday.

According to NASA scientists, the asteroid 2004 BL86 is approximately 1,500 feet across and will come closest to Earth at 11:19 a.m. ET.  At that time, it will be approximately 745,000 miles away.

"Monday, January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years," said Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more."

NASA says observers should be able to see the asteroid using small telescopes and strong binoculars.

The asteroid was first discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope in White Sands, New Mexico.

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Snowboarder 'Happy to Be Alive' After Three Days Missing


Oleg_Ermak/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A snowboarder is "happy to be alive" after she spent three days missing in the Whistler, British Columbia, backcountry, a Canadian news outlet reported.

Julie Abrahamsen told Global News in Canada that the "hardest part was the nights" because it was so cold.

"I didn't have too much clothes," she said. "Some were wet, so I tried to make the best solution and get some sleep, but it was hard."

Abrahamsen was spotted Saturday "in the backcountry" by searchers in a helicopter, the Whistler Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a written statement.

Abrahamsen told Global News that when she saw the helicopter searchers, she thought, "'Are they coming for me?' I was really excited, and tried to run as fast as I could to the river."

She was "in cold, but good, condition," police said, and she was taken for medical treatment.

Abrahamsen told Global News she thinks she was "lucky with the weather."

"It wasn't as cold as it normally is," she said, according to Global News. "It was pretty mild."

Abrahamsen had last been seen Wednesday morning on Blackcomb Mountain, according to police, and then was reported missing on Friday, igniting a police and ski patrol search.

"Searchers followed the trail and, at approximately 1:30 p.m. located the missing snowboarder in cold, but good, condition," Whistler RCMP Sgt. Rob Knapton said in a statement Saturday.

Global News reported that Abrahamsen lives in Norway and was in British Columbia on vacation. ABC News' efforts to locate Abrahamsen for comment were not immediately successful.

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Pilots Attempt Record-Breaking Balloon Trip Across Pacific


Tsuyoshi Ogushi/Two Eagles Balloon Team(NEW YORK) -- Two pilots are trying to break world ballooning records as they begin a trip across the Pacific Ocean.

American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev hope to land in North America after about five and a half days in the air, breaking more-than-30-year-old records for distance and time in flight for a gas balloon.

"This is a very coveted record and, hopefully, one that's going to stand for a long, long time," Mission Control Director Steven Shope said.

The explorers took off from Japan Sunday morning in a helium-filled balloon named "Two Eagles," and are now traveling at 15,000 feet in the air.

They will make the dangerous, 5,208-mile trip across the ocean with limited sleep and access to oxygen in a small capsule. Temperatures are expected to be in the 50s.

At such high altitudes come high stakes. Four years ago, ballooners Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis died after hitting bad weather.

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