Islamic State militants have provided the largely Yazidi population of Sinjar, Iraq, a stark choice: Convert or face death. Through the years, the Yazidi have relocated extensively throughout the Middle East and Europe because of discrimination. Our graphics team has mapped their movements.

Gaza’s shuttering smuggling tunnels

The border between Gaza and Egypt has long been rife with tunnels guiding smugglers between the two regions, where through the dark pathways have served as a lifeline for many in Gaza. But recently, the Egyptian government has cracked down on them, leaving just a few smugglers left.

So why did the tunnels exist in the first place?

The tunnels have served for years as a lifeline for Gaza, home to some 1.7 million Palestinians.

They became particularly important after Hamas overran the territory in 2007, prompting Israel and Morsi’s Western-backed predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, to impose a stifling border blockade.

Israel has eased the blockade in recent years, but still restricts the imports of some goods, including cement and steel rods. Until recently, the tunnels served as a conduit for such construction materials and for subsidized Egyptian fuel.

Read more on the tunnels over at Framework.

Photos: Hatem Moussa / Associated Press

A glimpse into Syria’s displaced millions

According to U.N. estimates, 2 million people have left Syria since the beginning of its civil war in 2011, with another 4 million being displaced from their homes and still seeking refuge within the country’s borders.

One such displaced family told their story, refusing to use their full names for fear of reprisal as they seek safety within the walls of ancient ruins.

Abu Ahmad’s family is among dozens of people who have found shelter amid a cluster of lichen-covered ruins outside Kafer Rouma, in one of several dozen ancient settlements that dot northwestern Syria. The ancient buildings — usually houses, churches and baths — date from the 1st to the 7th century and were abandoned as trade routes changed.

On a recent day, Abu Ahmad held a bottle filled with a greenish liquid to feed his baby daughter. It was water mixed with herbs because there was no milk, he said. There was also no running water and no electricity. Basic food and medicine were lacking.

“I pray to God to curse this pig [Assad] for making us live in caves like in the ancient times,” said a woman, also named Fatima, who said she fled to the ruins with her seven children. “Look at us,” she said, giving only her first name out of fear.

Read and see more over at Framework.

Photos: Associated Press

Young militants in Afghanistan: Ready to die, eager to kill

Among nearly 250 detainees in the juvenile center in Kabul are 35 young militants, who the government is hoping can be persuaded to abandon their ways and move on - but their attempts to do so have yet to be widely successful.

For a sense of how loyal these young men are to their militant ways, take the example of Abdul Wali Fadaei, 17, who was arrested last year during an attempted car bombing.

The message my father left me when he became a martyr was that I should follow him,” Fadaei said, speaking in a matter-of-fact tone while sitting on a thin mattress in a small, dank room in Kabul’s government-run juvenile rehabilitation center.

"I regret my attack failed, but I gained by trying. I’ll decide about trying again after I’m out."

Or Esmatullah Bilal, also 17, arrested with a 26-pound suicide vest:

"I want to kill foreigners in Afghanistan," he told a Western reporter, intensity emanating from his dark eyes. "If you live here, we’ll come after you and kill you. You’re lucky you’re so close and you’re not dead."

Read more of Mark Magnier’s Column One story here.

Photos: Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press

Scenes from before the civil war in Syria

The unrest in Syria that swiftly turned into an escalating civil war began in 2011, and with no end in sight, the pre-war country fades further and further into the distance. Now, with the possibility of U.S. military intervention, depending on congressional action and President Obama, take a look at what life was once like in the war-torn country.

Photos: Louai Beshara, Anwar Amro / AFP/Getty Images, Bassem Tellawi, Hussein Malla / Associated Press, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad / Getty Images

U.S. to take ‘limited action’ in response to Syrian chemical attack

But what that action will be has yet to be decided by President Obama. Following Secretary of State John Kerry’s call to action and condemnation of the Aug. 21 attack, Obama spoke to reporters about his considerations.

"There is a certain weariness, given Afghanistan. There is a certain suspicion of any military action post-Iraq. And I very much appreciate that," Obama said "…It’s important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal."

Kerry claimed earlier that 1,429 people had died in the attack, with at least 426 of them children. Calling the attack a “crime against humanity,” Kerry echoed Obama’s commitment to limited action, but action nonetheless.

Read more on Kerry’s disclosures over at World Now, and read through the intelligence community’s report on the chemical weapons attack.

Photos: EPA, Saul Loeb / AFP Photo, Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Syria: 100,000 dead with no end in sight

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked a grim landmark in the ongoing Syrian civil war today. As attempts to get peace talks between the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad and the leaders of rebel forces continue to go nowhere, the death toll has hit 100,000.

The situation in Syria remains grim, as the two sides continue to battle through the country’s cities, the humanitarian crisis grows as more and more refugees pour out of the country and an external solution continues to appear to be unlikely.

Read more over at World Now.

Photos: Shaam News Network, Karam Jamal / AFP/Getty, SANA, Abdullah al-Yassin, Manu Brabo / Associated Press

2013 Pulitzer Prize Photos

It’s been a incredibly busy week in news, so in case you missed the announcement a few days ago, the above photos are this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners for photography.

From top to bottom, the photos, and the photographers behind them, are:

  • Javier Manzano’s winning shot for best feature photography, taken Oct. 18, 2012. It shows rebel Syrian soldiers guarding a sniper’s nest, with light streaming through holes made by gunfire and shrapnel.
  • Manu Brabo’s photo for best breaking news photography, showing Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey Dec. 8, 2012 - and this photo is just one of 20 from Associated Press photographers that comprised the prize-winning set.
  • Beside Brabo’s photo is a shot by Narciso Contreras, showing a Syrian rebel fighter gesturing after firing upon troops fighting for President Bashar Assad Nov. 4, 2012.
  • Another entry in AP’s Syria set is a photo by Rodrigo Abd, showing a woman, named Aida, recovering from injuries after her home was shelled by government troops March 10, 2012.

Head over to Framework for more details on the winners, and other finalists.

Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel

Amid the accolades for the "eternal" relationship between the U.S. and Israel, the tours of the Iron Dome defense system and the planting of a tree at the house of Israeli President Shimon Peres, both Palestinians and Israelis continue their protests against Obama’s trip.

Read more on Obama’s continuing travels on Politics Now.

Photos: Abed Al Hashlmoun / EPA, Bernat Armangue, Mohammed Ballas Associated Press Mahmud Hams / AFP/Getty Images

Scenes from the Iraq War

Above is a collection of some of the best work from Los Angeles Times photographers Carolyn Cole, Rick Loomis and Luis Sinco and Don Bartletti during their time documenting the Iraq War, from its opening salvos in 2003 to the subsequent insurgency, surge and draw-down.

For a deeper look, head over to Framework, or look back on the story behind Times photographer Sinco’s Pulitzer-honored “Marlboro Marine.”

Photos: Carolyn Cole, Don Bartletti, Rick Loomis, Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Iraq, a decade after the start of the war

It’s been ten years since the beginning of the Iraq War, which ended up costing the lives of an estimated 4,500 Americans and 127,000 Iraqis. Above are photos of the country, and its citizens, in the wake of the fierce combat, prolonged insurgency and the December 2011 proclamation that the war had ended.

For Iraqis, though life continues, the war’s wounds have yet to heal, as evidenced by the surge of violence this morning that killed at least 56 people.

Photos: Hadi Mizban, Karim Kadim, Khalid Mohammed / Associated Press

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly today to upgrade the Palestinian Authority government to “nonmember observer state.” Applause broke out as the vote was announced. The U.S. and Israel were among those in opposition. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands abstained.
Photo: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, center, celebrates with members of his delegation and other supporters after today’s vote. Credit: Jason DeCrow / Associated Press

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly today to upgrade the Palestinian Authority government to “nonmember observer state.” Applause broke out as the vote was announced. The U.S. and Israel were among those in opposition. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands abstained.

Photo: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, center, celebrates with members of his delegation and other supporters after today’s vote. Credit: Jason DeCrow / Associated Press

After intensive efforts, calls and negotiations with the Israelis and factions of the Palestinian resistance, we have come to an understanding.

Speaking to a group of journalists in New York ahead of this week’s United Nations General Assembly session, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Israel is only a short-lived presence among the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and would eventually be “eliminated.” More of his comments via Reuters:

"Iran has been around for the last seven, 10 thousand years. They (the Israelis) have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history," he said, referring to the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

"We do believe that they have found themselves at a dead end and they are seeking new adventures in order to escape this dead end. Iran will not be damaged with foreign bombs," Ahmadinejad said, speaking though an interpreter at his Manhattan hotel.

"We don’t even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they (the Israelis) represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated."

"President Ahmadinejad’s comments are characteristically disgusting, offensive and outrageous," a White House spokesman responded, Reuters notes in an update.

Video: PBS NewsHour

A new user-generated online community called Ahwaa — which translates to “passion” in English — is a place for members of the LGBT community in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond to vent their feelings and discuss just about any issue on their minds.
Photo: A screenshot of Ahwaa’s website. Credit: Ahwaa.org

A new user-generated online community called Ahwaa — which translates to “passion” in English — is a place for members of the LGBT community in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond to vent their feelings and discuss just about any issue on their minds.

Photo: A screenshot of Ahwaa’s website. Credit: Ahwaa.org