Saturday, August 30, 2014
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Challenge presented by the Islamic State group
2014.08.29 02:54:28

US President Barack Obama will meet his top national security advisers on Thursday to discuss the challenge presented by the Islamic State group and the situation in Iraq and Syria, the White House announced.

"Today the President is meeting with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our efforts to counter the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State). You should not expect that we'll have new decisions to announce on these issues today," a White House official said.

Obama's meeting, with Vice President Joe Biden and members of his National Security Council, will take place at 4pm EDT in the White House Situation Room, Reuters reported.

Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Syria | United States | Barack Obama

Hits: 63 |

Palestinians receive medical aid in Turkey
2014.08.29 02:42:28

Dozens of Palestinians in need of medical treatment will be flown to Turkeys's central Afyon province today.

At least 33 injured Palestinians will fly in bring the total number of injured in Turkey to more than 70.

Tags: Gaza | Israel | Turkey

Hits: 46 |

Reports of funerals of Russian paratroopers need to be checked
2014.08.29 02:41:23

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said late on Wednesday as media speculation mounted over whether the men were killed in action in Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying:

It goes without saying, no doubt this information is being checked by the necessary bodies. This needs to be checked in detail before drawing any conclusions.

Asked whether checks were ongoing, he said: "I don't know for sure, so I won't say."

Russian independent media has reported widely on the funerals of two paratroopers in northwestern Russia, held in secret, citing mourners as saying they were killed in Ukraine, where Russia says it does not have troops deployed.

Russia's acknowledgement this week that its troops were in Ukraine - albeit accidentally - has prompted a storm of questioning about what Russia is doing in war-torn eastern Ukraine.


Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 44 |

Syrian rebels back US strikes against Islamic State group
2014.08.29 02:39:10

Syrian rebels are calling for the United States to carry out strikes against the Islamic State group in the country, as the Washington mulls over a decision to expand its mission into the country.

"We support US strikes against Daesh," said Abu Al-Muqdad, a fighter in Aleppo with the Islamic Front, a rebel coalition, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS).

"I'm in favor of American air strikes on the areas controlled by Daesh because they and the regime, they're one and the same," said Jaber, who heads the Islamic Front's military police unit in eastern Aleppo city.

Calls for US action in Syria have been mounting in the wake of IS advances in Iraq and Syria, as well as the brutal killing of US journalist James Foley, who was held hostage.


Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 50 |

Iraqi security forces
2014.08.29 02:37:58

Iraqi security forces backed by volunteer militiamen have retaken several villages located on the way to the town of Amerli, which fighters have besieged for months, officers said on Thursday.

Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi told AFP that villages north of al-Adhaim were retaken as part of a major operation aimed at advancing toward Amerli.

Brigadier General Khalaf Jassem confirmed that the villages had been retaken, and said that more than two dozen fighters were killed.

Note that senior Iraqi officials and officers frequently report large fighters death tolls, but they are usually impossible to independently confirm.

Tags: Iraq

Hits: 39 |

Fierce fighting in east Ukraine
2014.08.29 02:22:41

Fierce fighting in east Ukraine over the past month has sent the death toll soaring, with at least 36 people killed every day, according to a UN rights report.

In four weeks alone, from mid-July to mid-August, at least 1,200 people were killed - more than double the total casualties in the conflict since it began in April, said the report by UN rights monitors to be released on Friday.

The one-month death toll of 1,200 did not include the 298 dead from the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

Since April, a total of 2,220 people have been killed, including 23 children. [AFP]

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 57 |

Video of destroying a marijuana field
2014.08.29 02:20:09

Fighters from the Islamic State group are cracking down on behavior that contravenes their interpretation of Islam. In this video taken in the southern Aleppo countryside they're seen destroying a marijuana field.

MWC cannot independently verify the content of the video.

Tags: Syria | Islamic State

Hits: 258 |

Islamic State blew up oil installations
2014.08.29 02:17:45

Islamic State militants blew up three oil installations in northern Iraq on early Thursday, according to Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

The explosion came as the Peshmerga continued to advance in their effort to recapture land under IS control.

They battled Islamist positions west of the Mosul Lake early on Thursday morning. As the Peshmergas advanced towards the Zumar area, the fighters blew the three installations in Ain Zalah.

A Peshmerga commander who spoke to AP under condition of anonymity, said the Kurdish troops started to attack at 4 a.m. local time on Thursday, both from north and south of Zumar.

They recaptured Ain Zalah from IS, the officer said, but IS had put explosives in the oil installations and they blew them up while retreating.


Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

Hits: 53 |

EU welcomes Gaza ceasefire agreement
2014.08.29 02:04:49

The European Union has welcomed a long-term ceasefire in Gaza after the worst fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in a decade, calling for more talks to bring a lasting end to the conflict.

"Simply returning to the situation before the latest conflict is not an option," said a statement from the bloc's diplomatic arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS).

"A sustainable agreement should address all the root causes of the conflict and bring fundamental change to the situation in Gaza."

The EU said that "a durable peace can only be achieved through the resumption of the Middle East peace process, leading to a two-state solution".

It also called for an end to the Gaza blockade, a Palestinian government of national consensus and the cessation of rocket-fire from the Gaza strip.


Tags: Gaza | Israel | European Union

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The full video of Shirley Sotloff pleading
2014.08.28 08:06:47

This is the full video of Shirley Sotloff pleading with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of territories controlled by the Islamic State group, to release her son, Steven.

The US journalist appeared at the end of a video which showed the killing of another reporter, James Foley.

You can read our full report here.

Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Shirley Sotloff

Hits: 342 |

Russia will remain reliable energy supplier to Europe
2014.08.28 04:22:53

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Russia is and will be a reliable supplier of natural gas to Europe, in response to warnings from Kiev that Moscow could cut off fuel to the continent this winter.

"Russia was, is and will be a reliable supplier of energy resources to Europe," Peskov told journalists.

"We hope that Ukraine in turn will guarantee unhindered transit."


Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

Hits: 181 |

Mother of captive American journalist released a video
2014.08.28 04:21:55

The mother of an American journalist held captive by militant group Islamic State released a video on Wednesday appealing directly to the group's leader for his release.

"I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. My son Steven is in your hands. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, who protected people of The Book (Christians and Jews). "

Sotloff, 31, went missing in Syria last year while covering the conflict there. Islamic State released a video last week in which he could be seen kneeling following the filmed decapitation of fellow journalist James Foley.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that "we certainly would call on those who are holding (Sotloff) to release him." He reiterated that the United States does not pay ransom to release hostages, however, saying it puts other innocent Americans at risk.


Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

Hits: 181 |

Yatsenyuk's opening address to Ukraine's cabinet ministers
2014.08.28 04:19:47

An English transcript is available of PM Yatsenyuk's opening address to Ukraine's cabinet ministers:

“Ukraine now faces three key challenges. The most basic is war. The second is an issue connected with war: foreign exchange rate and energy.”

“The only country that isn’t aware that the war was unleashed directly by the Russian Federation, is Russia itself.”

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 155 |

Russian paratroopers 'didn't realize they were in Ukraine'
2014.08.28 04:08:23

A group of Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces said on Wednesday they had embarked on what they believed was a routine training patrol and had not realized they were on Ukrainian territory until their detention.

Kiev has accused the servicemen of conducting a "special mission" in support of a separatist pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern regions.

Moscow denies the charge, saying the troops had strayed across the border by mistake.


Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 122 |

Assad has issued a decree to form a new government
2014.08.28 04:07:08

Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree to form a new government on Wednesday, keeping most key ministers in place, Reuters news agency reported.

Assad was sworn in for a new seven-year term on July 16 after a presidential election that confirmed his grip on power, a process that required him to name a new government.

He re-appointed Wael al-Halaqi as prime minister, having first given him the job 2012 after his predecessor, Riad Hijab, fled Syria to join the opposition. Halaqi, who wields little power in a system dominated by the president, survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus last year.

Critics consider the cabinet, made up of Baathist loyalists, to be largely symbolic as power in Syria lies in the hands of Assad and his inner circle of family and elite members of the security forces.

Tags: Syria | Bashar al-Assad

Hits: 119 |

Kiev says Russia army convoy in east Ukraine
2014.08.28 04:05:09

A statement published by the military on Wednesday said a convoy of "up to 100" tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers was seen traveling on a road toward Telmanove, a town about 80km south of rebel stronghold Donetsk and 20 km from the Russian border.

For the full story click here.

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 88 |

Syrian rebels seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel
2014.08.28 04:02:36

Syrian rebels seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights after heavy clashes with Assad's forces, activists and rebels have said.

Wednesday's capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan Heights held more of a symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an array of rebel fighters took the crossing after heavy fighting that left at least 20 Syrian soldiers and an unknown number of rebels dead.

It said clashes also raged in the towns of Jaba, Tal Kroum and Rawadi in Quneitra province.

The fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan frontier spilled over into Israel, with errant fire wounding an army officer, Israel's military said. It did not immediately comment on the crossing takeover.

From the Israeli side of the de facto border, large clouds of smoke could be seen, as gunfire and explosions sounded in the distance, AP news agency reported.

Israel has avoided taking sides in the war, but has responded when the violence has spilled across the border. In its response, the military said it targeted two Syrian army positions and "hits were confirmed". It gave no further details.

Israel says it holds the Syrian government responsible for any violence that emanates from its territory.

Tags: Syria | Israel

Hits: 328 |

Russia not interested in breaking up Ukraine
2014.08.28 04:01:12

Lavrov - Russia not interested in breaking up Ukraine:

"We expressed full respect for the results [of the May referendums] and said the political implementation of what the citizens of southeast Ukraine voted for must be realized through negotiations. We are not interested in breaking up [Ukraine]."


Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 118 |

Syrian government has likely used chlorine gas
2014.08.28 03:49:13

An independent UN commission has said that the Syrian government has likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians and that the Islamic State group committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two cities in the country's north and west.

The report from the commission, which has been tasked to investigate potential war crimes in the country, marks the first time the United Nations has assigned blame for the use of the chemical agent.

Specifically, the commission said government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad likely unleashed chlorine on civilians in northern Syrian villages eight times in April.

Source: AP

Tags: Syria | Islamic State

Hits: 90 |

Russian soldiers had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine
2014.08.28 03:46:23

The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday that more Russian soldiers had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, entering the small town of Amvrosiyivka in five armored infantry carriers and a truck.

Tags: Ukraine | Russia

Hits: 77 |

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