A Jan. 22 gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma that led to 21 cases of suffocation was one of many gas attacks during 2018 in war-torn Syria. The Syrian government has faced multiple accusations from Western nations of staging chemical attacks during the country’s seven-year civil war. Syria and its ally Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations and blamed rebel groups instead. Declassified U.S. intelligence documents, however, charge that the Syrian government was responsible even for a November gas attack on the government-held city of Aleppo, in what the documents called a false flag operation to throw suspicion on the opposition.
Although Alabama lost its No. 1 ranking following a loss to Auburn and could not play for the Southeastern Conference championship, the Crimson Tide still made it into the College Football Playoff as a No. 4 seed. Alabama beat No. 1 Clemson 24-6 in the semifinals and then outlasted No. 3 Georgia in the Jan. 8 national championship game with a thrilling 26-23 overtime win. It was Alabama’s fifth title in the last nine years.
Flight from Venezuela
Venezuelan travelers lined up on the Simón Bolívar International Bridge in February, hoping to cross into Colombia as tens of thousands of Venezuelans continued a mass flight from the once-richest nation in Latin America. By November, the United Nations estimated 3 million people had fled Venezuela since 2015 in an exodus on par with the refugee crisis in Syria. For those remaining in Venezuela, misery deepened: Decades of socialist rule left the economy collapsing, and President Nicolás Maduro defiantly refused outside aid, despite extreme shortages of food, medicine, and other basic supplies. Refugees along the border sold crafts woven from Venezuela’s worthless currency, and economists predicted the nation’s inflation rate could hit 1 million percent by year-end.