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Turkey says no ransom paid for release of hostages held by ISIL
2014.09.23 03:54:01

Turkey's President says no ransom was paid for the release of Turkish hostages held by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that it was the result of diplomatic and political negotiation.

"A material negotiation is totally out of the question ... This is a diplomatic success," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before leaving for the UN General Assembly.

Turkish intelligence agents brought 46 hostages seized by ISIL in northern Iraq back to Turkey on Saturday after more than three months in captivity, in what Erdogan described as a covert rescue operation.

[Reuters]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Syria | Turkey

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Poroshenko says Ukraine ready to defend itself if peace plan fails
2014.09.23 03:51:49

President Petro Poroshenko has said that Ukraine must be ready to defend itself should a peace deal with pro-Russian rebels fail.

"We must be ready to protect our country if the peace plan does not work," Poroshenko said in a nationally televised interview on Sunday.

"We must strengthen our defensive frontiers, strengthen our army," he said, adding that he had acquired new military equipment from the West during his trip to the United States and Canada last week.

He said 65 percent of Ukraine's military hardware had been destroyed during the five-month conflict.

Poroshenko said it was only through his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the warring sides had been able to reach an accord.

"Without these discussions there would be no (peace) process now," he said, adding that there has been a "deescalation" of the crisis.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Fighting near Ain al-Arab town
2014.09.23 03:40:46

Fighting near Ain al-Arab town has killed at least 27 Kurdish fighters and 39 Islamic State fighters the Syrian Observatory for human rights said.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Special Monitoring Mission
2014.09.22 01:24:49

80 observers from the pan-European security group have been sent to key flashpoints after the signing of a new peace deal Saturday to reinforce the truce.

The members of the so-called Special Monitoring Mission are mostly former military officers or from non-governmental organizations.

Wearing bullet proof vests but unarmed, they patrol in convoys of lightly armored vehicles, reporting back to base on the day's violence, the damage caused.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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19 killed in Saraqeb
2014.09.22 01:23:29

19 people were killed in Saraqeb, a rebel held city in Idlib countryside when government warplanes launched two attacks and hit residential buildings.

At least six people were also killed in Jabal Al Zawiya in Ehsem village after government aerial attacks.



Tags: Syria

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Russians march through Moscow
2014.09.22 01:05:53

Thousands of Russians on Sunday marched through Moscow to protest against the Kremlin's involvement in the Ukraine crisis, in the country's first major anti-war rally since fighting erupted in April.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Kurdish fighters in Turkey
2014.09.22 01:04:38

Kurdish fighters in Turkey have issued a new call to arms to defend a border town in northern Syria from advancing ISIL fighters, and the Turkish authorities and the UN are preparing for a surge in refugees.

About 70,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey since Friday as ISIL fighters seized dozens of villages close to the border and advanced on the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish.

A Kurdish commander on the ground said ISIL had advanced to within 15km of Kobani, whose strategic location has been blocking the group from consolidating their gains across northern Syria.

A Kurdish politician from Turkey who visited Kobani on Saturday said locals had told him that ISIL fighters were beheading people as they went from village to village.

"Rather than a war this is a genocide operation ... They are going into the villages and cutting the heads of one or two people and showing them to the villagers," Ibrahim Binici, a deputy for Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP, told Reuters.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Turkey

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Ukraine military would not pull back its troops from the frontline
2014.09.22 00:48:55

Ukraine's military said on Sunday it would not pull back its troops from the front-line until all sides abide by a ceasefire under the terms of a new peace plan.

National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said:

One of the main points (of the Minsk agreement) is the principle concerning the ceasefire. The other points follow that. But the first point has not yet been fulfilled, so we cannot speak about the other points.

He added: "If (Ukrainian forces) are withdrawn, it will be done simultaneously with the Russian troop withdrawal."

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Turkish security forces fire tear gas
2014.09.22 00:47:04

Turkish security forces have fired tear gas, water and paint pellets on dozens of Kurds in a village on the border with Syria, which tens of thousands of refugees have crossed to escape the ISIL group.

The sound of gunfire could be heard from the Syrian side of the frontier where refugees were piling up after authorities temporarily closed the border.

Police on the ground said they were seeking to prevent Kurdish fighters from entering Syria. However, Private NTV television said the Kurds claimed they wanted to take aid into Syria. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported

Kurdish protesters had hurled stones at the security forces.

Mohammed Osman Hamme, a middle-aged Syrian Kurdish refugee who managed to make his way across, told The Associated Press he fled with his wife and small children from the village of Dariya in Raqqa province 10 days ago after hearing that ISIL was headed their way.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Turkey

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Heavy gunfire erupted around the eastern Ukraine
2014.09.22 00:34:46

Heavy gunfire erupted around the eastern Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday, just hours after NATO's top military commander said there was a ceasefire "in name only" on the ground.

The violence flared on the day Ukrainian forces and pro-Kremlin insurgents are required to pull back from the front-line and create a buffer zone under a new peace plan hammered out in the Belarussian capital Minsk on Saturday.

AFP correspondents heard explosions and shelling around Donetsk airport, a key battleground in the five-month separatist uprising against Kiev's rule.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Australia to toughen up anti-terror laws after IS threat
2014.09.22 00:33:12

Australia's government will introduce legislation in parliament next week to tackle a growing terror threat, the attorney general has said, in the aftermath of the country's biggest crackdown in history.

George Brandis announced the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill would go before the Senate on Wednesday.

"These bills will give our national security agencies and the Australian federal police stronger powers, but there will also be stronger protections," he said.

The orders are designed to counter an imminent threat of attack and can be used to hold people for as long as 14 days.

Police will also be given powers to secretly search the homes of suspects.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Syria | Australia

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#Iran has 'role' in fighting IS militants: Kerry
2014.09.22 00:30:48

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Iran has a role to play in tackling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant who have overrun large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Kerry said that in combating the jihadist threat "there is a role for nearly every country to play, including Iran."

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed this week that he had rejected a request from the United States for cooperation on the battlefield.

US officials have not confirmed or denied making an offer in private, but they do not regard Tehran as part of the coalition they are building to fight the IS militant scourge.

Just last week, the top US diplomat had said it would be inappropriate to invite Iran to meetings seeking to building an international coalition because of Tehran's "engagement in Syria and elsewhere."

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Iraq | Iran

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NATO chief: Ukraine has ceasefire 'in name only'
2014.09.22 00:23:13

NATO's top general has called the two-week-old truce between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels fighting in the country's east is a "ceasefire in name only," and said that by enabling a free flow of weapons and fighters across the border Russia has made it nearly impossible to determine how many of its troops are operating inside Ukraine.

US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said violence levels in Ukraine, including the number of artillery rounds fired in the past few days, were as high as prior to the ceasefire.

"So the situation in Ukraine is not good right now," he said.

"Basically we have a cease-fire in name only."

[Associated Press]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Tunisian group has offered backing to the Islamic State
2014.09.21 03:19:20

An Al-Qaeda-linked Tunisian group has offered backing to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, becoming the third armed group to do so this week, SITE Intelligence Group said late Friday.

On Tuesday, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the international insurgents network's North African branch, and the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) urged fighters in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition assembled to fight ISIL.

"The mujahedin brothers in the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade from... (Tunisia) are supporting, endorsing, and strongly sustaining the State of the Islamic Caliphate," the group said, quoted by SITE Intelligence Group late Friday.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Tunisia | Iraq

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Government helicopters continue to target rebel
2014.09.21 03:17:25

Government helicopters continue to target rebel held areas using barrel bombs in Aleppo city.

Activists reported that 8 People have been killed this morning in Arad Hamra, Al Haidarieh And Masakn Hanano districts.



Tags: Syria

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20 rebels and one soldier had been killed in clashes
2014.09.21 02:48:17

Ukrainian national security council spokesman Volodymyr Polyoviy said Saturday that about 20 rebels and one soldier had been killed in clashes.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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45,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed into Turkey
2014.09.21 02:47:28

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Saturday 45,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed into Turkey over the past day, fleeing an advance by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants after Ankara opened a stretch of the border.

"Around 45,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border as of now from eight entrance points along a 30 km distance from Akcakale to Mursitpinar since we opened the border yesterday," Kurtulmus told CNN Turk television.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Turkey

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Russian forces are still operating in Ukraine
2014.09.21 02:46:11

NATO's top military commander on Saturday said Russian forces were still operating in Ukraine and that a ceasefire was not working, but he expressed hope a new peace plan could bring progress.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Fighters from IS group were killed in overnight
2014.09.21 02:45:14

At least 18 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant group were killed in overnight clashes with Kurdish fighters in northern Syria near a strategic border town, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 18 militants, reportedly including one of Chinese nationality, were killed in fighting near the town of Ain al-Arab, known to the Kurds as Kobane.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Pro-Russian separatists prepared to create a buffer zone
2014.09.21 02:26:03

The city of Donetsk was rocked by blasts on Saturday, even as government forces and pro-Russian separatists prepared to create a buffer zone to separate the warring sides.

A Reuters correspondent in Donetsk said several powerful explosions were heard in the morning. A plant producing munitions and industrial explosives had been hit, municipal authorities said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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