MOSCOW -- The U.S. ambassador to Russia announced Tuesday that he would resign after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics, set to begin in Sochi on Friday, ending a stormy two-year tenure during which relations between the two countries were at their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War.
Ambassador Michael McFaul, who spearheaded a "reset" in relations between Russia and the United States as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama during the president's first term, often served as a lightning rod for criticism from Russian officials who accused the State Department of funding opposition politicians and interfering in the country's internal affairs.
Prior to his Moscow post, Mr. McFaul helped design the New START nuclear arms control treaty, a foreign-policy success for the Obama administration that was widely viewed as the first significant overhaul of nuclear disarmament policy since the late-Cold War era.
Syria's chemical weapons
MOSCOW -- Seeking to mollify international officials impatient with Syria for missing deadlines to destroy its chemical weapons, Russia said Tuesday that the Syrian government planned to send a large shipment out of the country this month and to export its entire stockpile by March 1.
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, who conveyed the new pledges, also defended the Syrian government's explanations for the missed deadlines.
Mosque in Aleppo bombed
BEIRUT -- Syrian forces dropped a crude bomb on a mosque that was being used as a school in a rebel-held neighborhood of a key northern city on Tuesday, killing at least five people, including children, activists said.
The bombing -- one of at least seven around Aleppo on Tuesday -- came amid an intensified campaign by President Bashar Assad's government to take back parts of the city that were seized by rebels in mid-2012.
Bombings hit Baghdad
BAGHDAD -- Two rockets slammed into the zone in Baghdad where diplomatic and government offices are located, and a wave of bombings struck across the rest of the city on Tuesday, killing more than a dozen people, according to security sources.
The rockets, identified as Katyushas, killed a soldier in the international zone. Fifteen people were killed in car bombs and suicide bombings at markets in three Baghdad neighborhoods and at an army checkpoint in Taji, north of the capital.
8 dead in Tunisian attack
TUNIS, Tunisia -- Tunisia's National Guard stormed a suspected militant hideout in a seaside suburb of Tunis after a daylong standoff Tuesday. Seven radicals were killed, including suspect in a political assassination last year, a minister said.
One National Guard member also died in the clash, which comes almost a year after the assassination of left-wing politician Chokri Belaid by Islamist extremists set off a political crisis in this North African nation.
S. Korea to shame firms
SEOUL -- South Korea will adopt a "name-and-shame" policy, publicly identifying companies with few female employees, as President Park Geun Hye targets 1.65 million extra jobs for women, officials said.
With an aging population threatening to undermine South Korea's economic growth, Ms. Park, the nation's first woman president, has pledged to lift the female employment rate to 61.9 percent, from 53.5 percent, before her term ends in 2018.