– While Syria and the U.N. signed an agreement yesterday to allow U.N. observers to monitor the fragile ceasefire in Syria, the U.S., France and 13 other nations suggested that the use of force will be considered if Damascus fails to comply.
– After international calls to step up pressure on Syria, the authorities there shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the restive city of Homs in violation of a delicate and rapidly deteriorating cease-fire brokered by the U.N.
– Australia said it will keep its troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2014 and not withdraw early as the government announced last week.
– Four U.S. troops aboard a helicopter that crashed in southern Afghanistan were not expected to survive. An Afghan official said bad weather caused the crash when the helicopter, which also reportedly carried two defense officials, was on its way to a suicide bombing scene.
– “A string of deadly explosions and other attacks shook Iraq on Thursday,” the New York Times reports, “with bombings in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk resulting in the most fatalities. Over all, nearly three dozen people were killed and more than 100 were wounded, according to security officials.”
– The South Korean Foreign Ministry put in an inquiry to their counterparts in China about the mobile missile carrier of apparent Chinese design seen in a North Korean military parade this week. China denies violating sanctions by providing weapons equipment to the North.
– U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said South Sudan’s military incursion into the disputed oil-rich Heglig region was an “illegal act.” Separately, South Sudan said it planned to withdraw from the region within three days to avert a wider war.
– The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers.