In the Middle East this week, an Iraqi offensive to retake the Islamic State-held city of Tikrit drew wide attention as a coalition of soldiers, police officers, Shiite militias and Sunni tribesmen aided by Iranian advisers fought to seize Saddam Hussein's hometown.

The battle for Tikrit could help Iraqi forces prepare for a campaign to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State group, which holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate.

In Egypt, a clearly boisterous crowd of government officials held a major economic summit in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, getting pledges worth billions of dollars to help the country's economy, battered after years of unrest.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for an important parliamentary election Tuesday. The vote faces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the possibility of losing his office.

In Pakistan, two Taliban suicide bombers attacked Christian churches, killing at least 15 people and sparking rioting afterward that saw two people burned to death.

And across the wider Middle East, this week saw the fourth anniversary of the ongoing conflict in Syria, which has killed more than 220,000 people and shows no sign of ending.