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The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest ballistic missile test which the North Korean government says can hit anywhere on the U.S. mainland. (Dec. 22)
AP

Terrorism, tension with North Korea and political upheaval were the top international stories of 2017, following a pattern that has become tragically familiar in recent years.

Here is a look at USA TODAY’s list of the biggest world events of the year:

Menace North Korea heats up 

The reclusive nation triggered worldwide attention with its numerous missile tests in 2017, including reaching a milestone in November with testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. mainland.

A propaganda poster is displayed during a rally in support of North Korea’s stance against the U.S., on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on Aug. 9, 2017. (Photo: KIM WON-JIN, AFP/Getty Images)

More: How safe is the U.S. from a North Korea nuclear attack?

More: Anthrax antibodies in defector raises fears North Korea is developing chemical weapons

An unprecedented war of words escalated between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump. Trump called Kim “little rocket man” and “a sick puppy,” and threatened that North Korea will “be met with fire, fury, and frankly power” if it continues its nuclear ambitions. Kim called Trump “a mentally deranged American dotard.”

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The latest scare involving North Korea came this month after a reported discovery of anthrax antibodies in a North Korean defector renewed fears that Kim’s regime is developing lethal biological weapons in violation of international law. 

North Korea has denied it is developing chemical weapons, something it has been accused of doing in the past. The heightened concerns about anthrax come weeks before South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

ISIS: the end of Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’

Iraq said in December that its war on the Islamic State is over after more than three years of combat operations drove the extremists from all of the territory they once held.

A boy pauses on his bike as he passes an oil field that was set on fire by retreating ISIS fighters ahead of the Mosul offensive, on Oct. 21, 2016 in Qayyarah, Iraq. (Photo: Carl Court, Getty Images)

ISIS fighters overran nearly a third of Iraqi territory, including Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in the summer of 2014. The United States and Iraq have also intensified talks to keep an ongoing American military presence in the country following the ouster of ISIS.

The Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, fell to U.S.-backed forces in late October, marking one of the most significant defeats for the militant group. 

ISIS fighters have been pushed out of their major strongholds in both Iraq and Syria this year, bringing to a crashing end the group’s ambitious vow to create a powerful “caliphate” it would rule across the Middle East. 

European terror attacks

Shadows of members of the public are seen by floral tributes next to the Houses of Parliament, in the aftermath of the March 22 terror attack in London, Britain. (Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga, EPA)

The United Kingdom was hit by a series of terrorist attacks in 2017: The Ariana Grande concert bombing in Manchester, killing 22 people on May 22, as well as vehicle attacks near Parliament, on the London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park. A homemade explosive set off a small fire on a train at a London subway station during rush hour Sept. 15, injuring 29 people and prompting Britain to raise its terrorism threat level to “critical.”

In Barcelona on Aug. 17, a van driver plowed into dozens of people on a popular thoroughfare, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. A few hours later in nearby Cambrils, Spain, five men thought to belong to the same terrorist cell drove into pedestrians, killing one person and injuring six others. All five attackers were shot and killed by police.

In Stockholm on April 7, a hijacked truck intentionally drove into a department store, killing five people and injuring 15.

U.N. repudiates Trump’s recognition of Israel

The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 21 to repudiate President Trump’s controversial declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump threatened to withhold aid in retaliation for a vote condemning his position. 

The U.N. body voted 128-9 to declare Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void.” Thirty-five nations abstained.

The measure, drafted by U.S. ally Egypt, urges nations to support U.N. resolutions dating to 1967 — when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan — that call for Jerusalem’s status to be decided through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Israel says a united Jerusalem will remain its capital, while Palestinians want it to cede East Jerusalem as the capital of a future, independent Palestinian state. Only a handful of countries recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, while most others maintain embassies in Tel Aviv. 

More: Trump’s Jerusalem plan signals to Palestinians — the less you give up, the more you lose

More: Jerusalem Palestinians still seek Israeli citizenship despite Trump declaration

Trump’s Dec. 6 Jerusalem announcement also said the State Department had been ordered to begin the years-long process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump said the decision, following a law passed by Congress in 1998, does not impact the borders of Jerusalem, but reflected the reality that Israel considers the city its capital.

His announcement was widely condemned in capitals around the world, and provoked deadly protests in the Middle East. 

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