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Germany presses Russia to engage on peace plan with Ukraine
2014.08.24 02:33:07

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has pressed Moscow to engage on a peace plan with Kiev, saying success was not possible if only one side was interested in a diplomatic solution.

On her first visit to Ukraine since the crisis there erupted early this year, Merkel said "there must be two sides to be successful. You cannot achieve peace on your own."

"The plans are on the table... now actions must follow," said Merkel, adding that there also needed to be a ceasefire agreed with both sides.

Merkel said the main obstacle to a ceasefire between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian separatists battling in the east of the country was the lack of controls along the border between the two countries.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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Karada neighborhood of central Baghdad
2014.08.24 02:32:15

A car bomb has exploded at an intersection in the Karada neighborhood of central Baghdad near a police station that also houses an office of military intelligence. Reports said at least 11 people were killed, and 25 others were injured.



Tags: Iraq

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Hamas declares support for Palestinian bid to join ICC
2014.08.24 02:11:56

Hamas has backed a Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court, in a move that could open up both Israel and the group to war crime probes over the fighting in Gaza.

Senior Hamas leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said the group supported the ICC push.

"The Israelis have killed women and children and have destroyed 25 percent of the Gaza Strip," he said.

Palestinian health officials say 2,078 people, most of them civilians, have been killed by Israel since it launched its offensive in early July.

If the Palestinians were to sign the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the court would have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.

An investigation could then examine events as far back as mid-2002, when the ICC opened with a mandate to try individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | ICC

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First trucks from aid convoy to Ukraine cross back into Russia
2014.08.24 02:10:26

The first trucks from a Russian aid convoy has started crossing back into Russia as igniting a storm of anger has been expressed by Western capitals after the convoy entered Ukraine without the permission of the Kiev government.

The return of the trucks may help ease the tension to some extent in time for the arrival of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Ukrainian capital later on Saturday for talks on how to end the crisis over Ukraine.

Western leaders had joined Kiev in calling the Russian convoy - about 220 white-painted trucks loaded with tinned food and bottle water - an illegal incursion onto Ukraine's soil, and demanded that they be withdrawn as soon as possible.

A Reuters journalist at the Donetsk-Izvarino border crossing, where the convoy rolled into Ukraine on Friday, said about 10 trucks had passed back into Russia and more could be seen in the distance arriving at the crossing.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Unlimited use of force
2014.08.24 02:09:38

Washington Post report says US President Barack Obama reportedly considering Congressional authorization for "unlimited use of force" against the Islamic State group.

The new authorization is one of several alternatives under active internal discussion as the administration grapples with whether and how to try to militarily defeat the Islamic State, which controls a wide swath of territory between Damascus and Baghdad.



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

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Two civilians 'killed' in Donetsk
2014.08.24 01:58:49

Two civilians were killed apparently by artillery fire in the city of Donetsk, the main separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine, AFP news agency reported.

Their bodies were seen covered with bloodied sheets in a street of central Donetsk after artillery explosions rocked the city around 6:00 am (0300 GMT), an AFP reporter in the region reported.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Friday's massacre at a Sunni mosque
2014.08.24 01:58:04

Footage has emerged of the aftermath of Friday's massacre at a Sunni mosque in Bani Wais, Diyala province.

The video posted on YouTube shows women wailing and the main hall of the mosque filled with the bodies of men and what appears to be at least one child. The images are too distressing to post but in the captured screen grab, a man is led away by survivors.



Tags: Iraq

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'Heinous and cowardly' murder of journalist James Foley
2014.08.24 01:56:18

The UN Security Council on Friday strongly condemned the "heinous and cowardly" murder of journalist James Foley by the Islamic State group fighters and called for the immediate release of all hostages.

In a unanimous statement, the 15-member council said the murder "demonstrates the brutality of ISIL," the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has renamed itself the Islamic State.

The members of the Security Council stressed that ISIL must be defeated and the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | James Foley

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Obama and Merkel wants Russian convoy out of Ukraine
2014.08.24 01:47:47

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, the build up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border and Russian shelling into Ukraine represent dangerous escalations of tensions by Moscow.

The White House says the two leaders agree that a Russian convoy that entered Ukraine without approval is yet another provocation by Moscow that violates Ukraine's sovereignty.

Obama and Merkel spoke Friday while Obama vacationed in the island resort of Martha's Vineyard.

Russia says the convoy that entered Ukraine on Friday is for humanitarian purposes, but Ukraine and the US say the Russians failed to abide by conditions set by Ukraine and the International Red Cross.

Obama and Merkel agree that Russia must remove the convoy and withdraw from Ukrainian territory.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany | United States | Barack Obama

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Hamas says it will support Palestinian effort to investigate war crimes
2014.08.24 01:42:53

Hamas and Islamic Jihad expressed their willingness to throw their support behind President Mahmoud Abbas' bid to join the International Criminal Court.

This is significant because they haven't vocally given any support. Simply, because to sign up for this you are potentially going to be investigated yourself.

This potential membership of the ICC has aggravated Israel enormously. Technically,the Palestinians could be able to claim or at least ask for a trial-led investigation into war crimes here, and this is especially sensitive since over 2,000 have already been killed here.

.The fact that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have thrown their support shows that they are prepared, they too, could be investigated for war crimes- such as indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Russia defended its decision to send a humanitarian aid
2014.08.23 11:51:07

Russia on Friday defended its decision to send a humanitarian aid convoy into Ukraine without official permission, saying there was sometimes "no chain of command" in Kiev and that Moscow was fed up playing games with the Ukrainian authorities.

Speaking to reporters at UN headquarters in New York, Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, also had sharp words about Lithuania, a temporary member of the UN Security Council, accusing it of systematically cutting down Russian UN initiatives with the aid of the United States and Britain.

Lithuania requested an emergency meeting of the 15-nation council on Friday to discuss the latest development in Ukraine as the NATO military alliance said that Russian troops were firing artillery across the border and within Ukraine in a major escalation of military support for pro-Moscow rebels.

"At times it seems there is no clear chain of command in Kiev, because some assurances are given (to Russia) at a very high level and then others do not give the orders which are required ... by the border police to let the (aid) trucks in," Churkin said. "That game could not continue indefinitely."

We waited long enough and it was time to move. And this is what we did.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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White House called on Russia to remove its convoy
2014.08.23 04:57:35

The White House has called on Russia to remove its convoy from Ukraine or face consequences.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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Russian humanitarian aid convoy
2014.08.23 04:56:25

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in two separate phone calls on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko that she was concerned that a Russian humanitarian aid convoy crossed into Ukraine without permission, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

Seibert also said in a statement that Merkel had praised Ukraine's prudent reaction after she said Russia risked exacerbating an already tense situation there.

She also appealed for quick agreements on a ceasefire and territorial integrity.

"Chancellor Merkel expressed her great concern about the fact that the convoy had crossed the border without the approval of Ukraine, without accompanying by the Red Cross and in part without any previous inspection," Seibert said in a statement.

"Russia thus knowingly risked escalating an already tense situation," he added. "She praised the prudent Ukrainian reaction."



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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Lithuanian honorary consul 'brutally killed' in east Ukraine
2014.08.23 04:39:41

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Friday that the country's honorary consul in eastern Ukraine's Lugansk has been kidnapped and killed by the pro-Russian rebels there.

"With deep sorrow just learned about Lithuania's honorary consul in Lugansk Mr. Mykola Zelenec kidnapped and brutally killed by terrorists there,"

Linkevicius, who is on a visit to Kiev, wrote on his Twitter blog.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Lithuania

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173 MH17 crash victims identified: The Hague
2014.08.23 04:38:17

Forensic experts have identified 46 additional victims of the downed MH17 flight, bringing to 173 the total number of passengers killed whose identity has been verified, the Dutch justice ministry said on Friday.

"Among the 46 victims, 26 were of Dutch nationality," the ministry said in a statement.

"The relatives of victims have been informed," it said, adding that the nationalities of non-Dutch fatalities would remain private "at the request of these countries' embassies".

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 exploded over rebel-held east Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 on board, with the West accusing Russia-backed separatists of shooting it down and Moscow blaming Kiev.

The identities of some passengers may never be known as the search for human remains has been repeatedly disrupted by fierce clashes between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops around the crash site.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | MH17

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An Israeli civilian has been severely injured
2014.08.23 04:37:17

The Israeli army has said that an Israeli civilian has been severely injured by a rocket that hit Ashdod.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Rebels say Russian convoy arrives in Lugansk
2014.08.23 04:36:25

Pro-Moscow rebels claimed the first lorries of a mammoth Russian aid convoy had arrived Friday in east Ukraine's rebel bastion of Lugansk after crossing over the border without Kiev's permission.

"Really, the first vehicles have reached Lugansk," Konstantin Knyrik, the head of a separatist news agency told Russia's Interfax wire service.

The claim could not be immediately verified as the besieged city has been without phone connection for weeks.
Russian state media also claimed the convoy entered the besieged city.

A British freelance journalist, posted pictures on Twitter that he had purportedly taken of the convoy in the heart of the ravaged industrial hub.

"The first traffic jam in 'war' Lugansk. And the Russian humanitarian aid is now here!" Graham Philips, who has worked occasionally for Russian state-owned media, wrote.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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40 were injured in the latest Israeli airstrike
2014.08.23 04:22:04

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed at least 40 were injured in the latest Israeli airstrike on a residence in Al-Sabra District in Gaza city.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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NATO sees alarming build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine
2014.08.23 04:21:21

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday the alliance had observed an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.

"We have also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine," Rasmussen said in a statement.

Rasmussen said Russia continued to escalate the crisis in eastern Ukraine and that this could lead to further isolation of Moscow.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Friday's attack on a Sunni mosque
2014.08.23 04:20:19

The UN Secretary General has condemned in the "strongest terms" Friday's attack on a Sunni mosque in Bani Wais, near Baquba.

Ban Ki-Moon called on the Iraqi government to ensure the attack was properly investigated and those responsible were held to account.

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the impact such acts of sectarian violence will have on the already grave security situation and on the political process," a statement by the UN said.

More than 70 people are believed to have died in the attack.



Tags: Iraq

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