Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in Sanaa for a second day Friday in battles that have killed at least 120 people and have shaken the Yemeni capital with thousands fleeing their homes. The violence raises fears that this chronically unstable country could be dragged into the sort of sectarian conflicts that have plagued other nations in the region.
The increasingly fractured country was plunged into turmoil after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. His ouster gave rise to a patchwork of increasingly unruly militias.
The U.S. bombed an Islamic State position southwest of Baghdad on Monday in what the U.S. Central Command said was the first airstrike undertaken under expanded rules of engagement President Barack Obama announced last week.
The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal - destroying a marauding organization of extremists - is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture. Here's a look at the landscape:
A series of vehicle bombings in Iraq killed at least 31 people Friday, officials said, in the second straight day of attacks in Baghdad blamed on Islamic militants who have seized large parts of the country.