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Journalist Peter Theo Curtis returned to US
2014.08.28 02:16:00

Journalist Peter Theo Curtis returned to  the United States on Tuesday, two days after he was released by the Islamic State  group in Syria, US media reports said.

In a statement released by his family to US media after he arrived in Boston, Curtis said:

I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the people who have come up to me today - strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family - to say welcome home.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Peter Theo Curtis

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Kiev expected NATO to act
2014.08.28 02:12:04

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Wednesday that Kiev expected NATO to act to help Ukraine at a summit next week.

Yatsenyuk said at a government meeting:

We expect our Western partners and the alliance to provide practical help and take crucial decisions at the summit in September. We need help.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Shia Turkmen town of Amerli
2014.08.28 02:10:46

Iraqi warplanes have begun targeting rebel fighters besieging the Shia Turkmen town of Amerli amid growing fears for the safety of thousands of residents short of food and water and facing a "massacre".

With some 12,000 Turkmen trapped in the northern town, US President Barack Obama is "nearing a decision" to authorize strikes and aid drops in the area, The New York Times reported.

The report added that Obama is also seeking to piece together an international coalition for potential military action in Syria, where the US has begun reconnaissance flights.

And nine countries have committed to providing arms to Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who are fighting in north and east Iraq against Islamic State group fighters leading a sweeping offensive that has overrun large areas of the country.

Source: AFP



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Israeli troops keep positions near Gaza border
2014.08.28 01:58:43

Israeli troops kept their positions near the border with Gaza on Wednesday as a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at ending their seven-week conflict in the coastal enclave appeared to be holding.

No clear victor emerged from what had become a war of attrition between the Middle East's most powerful armed forces and the dominant Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. [Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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American fighting for the Islamic State killed
2014.08.28 01:57:32

An American fighting for the Islamic State was killed over the weekend in Syria, US officials said Tuesday, underlining growing concerns about Westerners signing up for hardline groups in the Middle East.

The United States had been aware that Douglas McCain, 33, a one-time aspiring rapper and basketball fan from California, was in war-torn Syria, the White House said, confirming his death.

McCain, who converted from Christianity to Islam about a decade ago, was killed in fighting against the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked group blacklisted by the United States, US media reports said.

"We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

McCain's affiliation to the Islamic State group- which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria in a brutal offensive -- and his death had left his family "devastated" and "just as surprised as the country," his uncle Ken McCain told CNN.

He was "a good person, loved his family, loved his mother, loved his faith," the uncle said, referring to his nephew's Christian beliefs before his conversion.

The US State Department informed the family of his death on Monday.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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Ukraine came under shellfire by pro-Russian rebels
2014.08.28 01:54:39

A town in east Ukraine came under shellfire by pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday, amid fears that they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region.

In response to outgoing fire early on Wednesday, rebel forces lobbed at least 10 shells at the government-held town of Novoazovsk.

Plumes of black smoke rose above the town, which was hit repeatedly shelled on Tuesday, injuring four residents in a local hospital, according to the town's mayor, Oleg Sidorkin. [AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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UN Secretary-General welcomes the announcement of open-ended ceasefire
2014.08.28 01:41:45

The UN Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of an open-ended ceasefire in the Gaza strip in a statement.

The statement by the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said Gaza "must be brought back under one legitimate Palestinian Government," that the blockade of Gaza must stop and that Israel's security concerns must be addressed.

It adds: "After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, any violations of the cease-fire would be utterly irresponsible."

The UN statement stresses that a political process that leads to two states is the only way to reach lasting peace in Gaza.

[AP]



Tags: Israel | Gaza

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proloybagchi
Modi's victory proves leadership is vital in elections
2014.08.27 18:24:41

The recent statement of the chief of much-maligned Right-wing Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat on the massive win of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the last General Elections was true but only partially so. Bhagwat is reported to have said that the victory at the hustings for the BJP was not because of one man, as claimed by many, but because the people wanted a change. He went on to say that an individual alone could not have ensured the Party’s victory unless people were keen on a change. He went on to ask why is it that the Party was not voted to power when the same individuals and the party existed earlier, too? The Party won because the people desperately wanted a change.



Tags: india

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Hamas and Islamic Jihad chiefs make rare public appearances
2014.08.27 05:09:15

Several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders appeared in public on Tuesday shortly after a Gaza truce took hold, the first time they had done so since the conflict began  on July 8.

Among them was Mahmud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing, and senior Jihad official Mohammed al-Hindi who gave a rousing victory speech to thousands of people gathered in a square in Gaza City's Rimal neighborhood.

"We're going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again," Zahar said.

He was referring to a two-day suspension of flights into Tel Aviv by major US and European airlines in mid-July after a rocket from Gaza struck near the runway, in a move hailed as a victory by Hamas.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Islamic Jihad

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US 'strongly supports' Gaza ceasefire
2014.08.27 05:07:04

The US says it welcomes a new long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians after 50 days of violence in and around Gaza, and urges both parties to fully to comply with its terms.

"We strongly support the ceasefire announcement," US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said.

Speaking on the its durability, she said "the only sustainable path forward is a two state solution."

Before adding, "We are committed to working with Israel on its security needs."



Tags: Gaza | Israel | United States

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Egyptian Foreign Ministry Statement
2014.08.27 05:05:51

Egypt has called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to engage in a comprehensive ceasefire, coinciding with opening the crossings between Gaza and Israel to achieve the expedited entry of humanitarian aid, materials for reconstruction, fishing into 6 nautical miles, and the continuation of indirect negotiations between the two sides over other issues in one month from the beginning of the ceasefire.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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Israel to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza
2014.08.27 05:04:37

Israel has agreed to open its borders with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into the Palestinian enclave, Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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Celebratory gunfire erupts in Gaza as ceasefire comes into effect
2014.08.27 05:03:42

Celebratory gunfire has erupted in Gaza after a long-term truce agreed between Israel and the Palestinians went into effect, aimed at ending more than seven weeks of bloodshed.

Thousands of Palestinians flooded on to the streets of Gaza City, including gunmen, some from Hamas, who fired in the air in celebration just moments after the truce began.

Mosques used their loudspeakers to broadcast celebratory chants of "God is greatest" as the war-torn enclave hailed the apparent end to some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in a decade.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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admin
The one-on-one meeting ended in Minsk
2014.08.27 05:02:37

The one-on-one meeting between Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko has now ended in Minsk, a Kremlin spokesman said.

The meeting was held after multi-party talks where leaders were seeking a solution for the crisis in Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who hosted the talks, said they were "difficult".

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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admin
Sirens sound in Israel
2014.08.27 05:00:43

Sirens warning of rocket attacks continued to sound in southern Israel after a Gaza ceasefire was due to take effect.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was checking whether any rockets had landed in Israel.

Alarms were sounding in Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva and communities close to the Gaza border.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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admin
Ashton called for a ceasefire in Ukraine
2014.08.27 04:59:54

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says in Tuesday's talks she called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, proper border control the delivery of aid in compliance with international law, and a political process to resolve Ukraine's internal differences.

"It was cordial but positive. There was a sense in which the onus was on everyone to see if they could do their best to try to resolve this," Ashton told reporters.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

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admin
Israel accepts Egyptian proposal for Gaza ceasefire
2014.08.27 04:58:15

A senior Israeli official says Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for Gaza ceasefire.

"Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time ceasefire.

Israel accepted already the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an unconditional, open-ended ceasefire," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt

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admin
Putin and Poroshenko agree a need for de-escalation in Ukraine
2014.08.27 04:56:49

Belarus president says Putin and Poroshenko agree a need for de-escalation in Ukraine.

A face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, at loggerheads over the crisis in Ukraine, has started in Minsk, the Ukrainian presidential administration said on Tuesday in a Twitter post.

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed the bilateral meeting had started.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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admin
Abbas accepts Egyptian-brokered ceasefire
2014.08.27 04:55:49

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas says the Gaza ceasefire will usher in a new era for the country.

"Together, we will build a new nation & end the occupation", Abbas said in a press conference.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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UN says pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine murder, kidnap and torture
2014.08.27 04:54:46

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are guilty of a wide array of human rights abuses, including murder, abductions and torture, and are receiving a "steady supply" of sophisticated weapons and ammunition, according to a UN report obtained by Reuters.

The report by the 34-member UN monitoring mission, prepared by the UN human rights office in Geneva, also cited reports of human rights violations by Ukraine's military forces and special battalions run by the country's Interior Ministry.

The report said the death toll has risen to at least 2,200 since the fighting began in mid-April, with an average of at least 36 people killed daily.

That is up from at least 2,086 on August 10 and 1,129 on July 26.

"Armed groups continue to commit killings, abductions, physical and psychological torture, ill treatment, executions, murder and other serious human rights abuses," the report said, adding that violations were "disproportionately targeting civilians."

At least 468 people are believed to be held captive by rebels, according to the report, which covers the period from July 16 to August 17.

"The Ukraine military has reported shelling from (Russian) territory ... and of the illegal use of landmines in Ukraine territory," the monitors said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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