1. The foreign policy adviser to the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution says only the Syrian people can decide the future of their country. Ali Akbar Velayati has noted that Bashar al-Assad is Syria’s lawful president and that Iran will never stop backing the government in Damascus.
2. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warns Turkey about its deployment of troops to Iraq. He said any country seeking to help Iraq in its fight against the terrorists, needs to coordinate military measures with Baghdad. He warned that any unilateral move would deepen the chaos and violate regional security.
3. Polls have opened in the first round of regional elections in France. The far-right National Front party and the center-right Les Republicans party led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy are expected to make huge gains. Some 44 million people are eligible to vote.
4. French demonstrators have gathered in the capital Paris to protest against rising unemployment. They say President Francois Hollande must be held accountable for the high jobless rate. The rally was organized by several working unions despite a ban on demonstrations and public gatherings.
5. Pro- and anti-refugee protesters have staged rallies in Germany, which hosts a large number of asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa. The rival rallies were held under tight security in the cities of Shiffershtat and Ohringen. Anti-refugee protesters were outnumbered by supporters of asylum seekers in both cities.
6. US Secretary of State John Kerry denounces Israel's settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, saying they undermine the prospects of a two-state solution. Kerry also warned against the consequences of weakening the Palestinian Authority and called on the two sides to show a genuine commitment to peace.
7. Students in Britain have staged rallies to demand cuts to housing costs and compensation from universities. Students in Durham and the University College London are planning events to demand rent cuts. A recent survey showed that half of Britain's university students are struggling to pay their rent.
8. Storm Desmond has caused severe disruption in Scotland and northern England, forcing people to evacuate their homes. Houses were flooded, bridges collapsed and roads were closed in different areas, while some rivers reached their highest ever recorded levels. The Environment Agency has declared 130 flood warnings across the storm-hit regions.