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Cameron is not ruling out military action against IS in Syria
2014.09.12 02:38:52

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron is not ruling out military action against Islamic State militants in Syria, a spokesman said on Thursday, after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would not join any US air strikes in Syria.

"The prime minister has not ruled anything out," the spokesman said, adding that Hammond's comments were in reference to a parliamentary vote last year against air strikes in Syria.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Lebanon to open first Syria refugee camps
2014.09.12 02:37:07

Lebanon has decided to set up two camps for Syrian refugees for the first time along its border with Syria, Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told AFP.

Derbas said the decision to establish the two camps had already been approved and that government representatives were meeting on Thursday to discuss implementing the plan.

"The Council of the Ministers has taken a decision to set up camps for Syrian refugees, one in the Bekaa valley in the Masnaa area and one in the Abda area in northern Lebanon," Derbas said.

"Estimates are that each camp could accommodate 10,000 people."

There are already more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has a population of just four million people.



Tags: Syria | Lebanon

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UK, Germany won't take part in IS air strikes in Syria
2014.09.12 02:35:14

The foreign ministers of Germany and Britain said they would not be taking part in air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Berlin on Thursday that Germany has not been asked to take part in the air strikes and would not be participating.

"To quite clear, we have not been asked to do so and neither will we do so," Steinmeier said.

His British counterpart Philip Hammond said Britain "supports entirely the US approach of developing an international coalition" against IS.

But, asked by Reuters news agency about President Barrack Obama's proposal for air strikes against IS in Syria, Hammond replied: "Let me be clear: Britain will not be taking part in any air strikes in Syria. We have already had that discussion in our parliament last year and we won't be revisiting that position."

He said the legal environment and "military permissiveness" in Syria and Iraq were very different.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | UK | Germany | Iraq

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Foreign intervention in Syria
2014.09.12 02:32:49

Any foreign intervention in Syria would be an act of aggression unless it is approved by Damascus, Ali Haidar, minister of national reconciliation affairs, said in a reaction to Obama's announcement the US is prepared to strike against Islamic State targets in the country.

"There must be cooperation with Syria and coordination with Syria and there must be a Syrian approval of any action whether it is military or not," Haidar said.



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

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Kerry in Saudi to press case against Islamic State
2014.09.12 02:26:54

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Saudi Arabia to pressed Arab leaders to support President Barack Obama's plans for a new military campaign against Islamic State group.

US officials have cast the campaign against Islamic State group as a global fight against armed rebels and the threat they pose beyond Syria and Iraq, particularly through foreign fighters drawn from nearly all points of the planet.

In a strong measure of support, Saudi Arabia has agreed to host training camps for moderate Syrian rebels who are part of Obama's broad strategy to combat the militants, who have taken over a third of both Syria and Iraq, US officials said.

The agreement, outlined by Obama's aides on the night of his speech laying out his expanded campaign against the Islamist group, appeared to reflect the depth of Saudi concern about Islamic State's threat to the region. [Reuters]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | John Kerry | Syria | Saudi Arabia

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US will join the EU in imposing tougher sanctions on Russia
2014.09.12 02:25:43

President Barack Obama said on Thursday the United States will join the European Union in imposing tougher sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and defense sectors after Moscow sent troops into eastern Ukraine last month, and will provide details on the new steps on Friday.

"These measures will increase Russia's political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President (Vladimir) Putin and those close to him," Obama said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union | United States

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Nusra Front released UN peacekeepers
2014.09.12 02:24:09

Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-backed Syrian armed group, has released UN peacekeepers it seized two weeks ago in the Golan Heights, sources say.

On Wednesday, the group posted a video on its Twitter and YouTube accounts in which the hostages, from Fiji, say they expect to be freed soon.



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights | Fiji

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Paris would host an international conference on Iraq
2014.09.12 02:06:10

The French Presidential Office has announced that Paris would host an international conference on Iraq to be held next Monday.

The statement released on Thursday said that prior to conference, French President Francois Hollande will be visiting Baghdad on Friday.



Tags: Iraq | France

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Putin has ordered snap checks of troops' combat readiness
2014.09.12 02:04:55

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered snap checks of troops' combat readiness in Russia's far east, the latest in a series of military drills this year as tensions have mounted over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russian news agencies quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as telling the armed forces' leadership on Thursday that troops in the eastern military district, which includes Russia's maritime border with Japan and its land frontier with China, had been ordered to be on full combat readiness at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time (0600 GMT).

A number of military checks and snap war drills, which Putin has implemented to test and display the armed forces' capabilities, have raised tensions as ties between Moscow and the West fray over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Vladimir Putin

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Syria opposition backs US anti-IS plan
2014.09.12 02:03:48

Syria's opposition National Coalition welcomed a US plan to tackle the Islamic State group on Wednesday, but also urged action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In a statement, the group said it backed a US plan for air strikes in Syria and training of rebel forces, but that a "stable and extremist-free region" required "degrading and ultimately removing the Assad repressive regime."

Earlier, US President Barack Obama pledged a "relentless" war against the Islamic State, a group that has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq.

The group has carried out abuses including beheading and crucifixions, and faced a backlash from Syrian rebel groups opposed to its violations and harsh interpretation of Islam.

Obama said he would "not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria," using a different acronym for the group, and pledged to strengthen Syria's opposition. [AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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PA leadership: Speaking with two voices?
2014.09.12 02:01:55

There has been no international investigation into war crimes in Gaza so far. Leaked document may hold clues as to why.

The Palestinian Authority has so far prevented the launch of a formal investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian factions during the 50-day Gaza war last July and August, according to officials at the International Criminal Court.

Read the full report here.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Yulia Tymoshenko calls for a referendum
2014.09.12 01:43:21

Former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko has called for a referendum in the country on joining the NATO.

Batkivshchyna Party leader presented documents to the Central Electoral Commission in Kiev asking for a nationwide referendum on NATO membership.

Tymoshenko said that despite some obstacles, her team managed to fulfill all the legal requirements for starting the referendum process.

She called for the referendum on NATO to be held at the same time as Ukraine's upcoming parliamentary elections in October.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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American troops in combat roles
2014.09.12 01:19:26

The US president has adamantly ruled out the prospect of putting American troops in combat roles on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

"President Obama is trying to send a message to the public that this is not another full-blown war. US officials are making a concerted effort to say 'this is like Yemen and Somalia'.

"Whether in fact it will be like Yemen and Somalia remains to be seen. In those countries, there have been mostly unpublicized, targeted, very occasional drone strikes,” she said. "What the President is talking about now is a constant series of air strikes and a much deeper involvement with Iraq and Syria.

It is expected that the air strikes in Iraq will expand dramatically against Islamic State group targets.

When it comes to Syria, officials said that launching strikes there may take place sometime the future. They did not expect them to be immediate.

The Islamic State group has taken control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. The group's brutal campaign has included beheading of rivals and killings of hundreds of members of Iraq's minorities.



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

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Total number of strikes
2014.09.11 04:28:21

The Pentagon has release figures of the total number of strikes it carried out against Islamic State targets in Iraq.

Below is a breakdown of the total number of US strikes by location:

Irbil: 29

Sinjar: 13

Amirli: 4

Haditha: 17



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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At least 12 people were killed and 23 others injured
2014.09.11 04:27:21

BREAKING: At least 12 people were killed and 23 others injured when two car bombs went off in the busy Maisaloun square near the predominantly Shia neighborhood of Ghadeer in eastern Baghdad.



Tags: Iraq

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France is prepared to take part in air strikes on Islamic State
2014.09.11 04:26:13

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says France is prepared to take part in air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq "if necessary", but that Syria is a different case.

"In Syria, the situation is different: Bashar al-Assad cannot be a partner, because he has an established link" with IS. "That is why we will continue to help the moderate Syrian opposition, which is fighting both" the Islamic State and the Assad regime.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France | Syria

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Obama's plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
2014.09.11 04:25:10

Tonight US President Barack Obama will announce his plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a speech to Americans that the White House said will discuss direct US military action as well as support for forces fighting the group in both countries.

The White House, in a statement ahead of the speech, said the US "will pursue a comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy" the armed group.

The speech will be carefully watched for indications of how much Obama is prepared to intervene directly into Syria, riven by civil war and whose leader Washington has sought to dislodge. Obama is scheduled to speak at 01:00 GMT Thursday.

[Reuters]



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

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Weapons watchdog: Chlorine likely used in Syria
2014.09.11 04:23:38

A toxic chemical, almost certainly chlorine, was used "systematically and repeatedly" as a weapon in attacks on villages in northern Syria earlier this year, the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that a report by a fact-finding mission it sent to Syria based its conclusion on dozens of interviews with victims, physicians, eye-witnesses and others.

The report, which was not immediately published in full, does not apportion blame for the chlorine attacks on three villages in northern Syria, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said.

The OPCW put out only a short statement summarizing the findings.

An earlier report by the mission also said chlorine likely was used as a weapon in Syria.

Human Rights Watch said in May that it had strong evidence that in April this year Syrian army helicopters dropped bombs containing chlorine on the same rebel-held villages mentioned by the OPCW report.

Chlorine is a toxic industrial gas that is not specifically classified as a chemical weapon.

[AP]



Tags: Syria

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Three car bombs kill nine, wounds 29 in Baghdad
2014.09.11 04:22:36

Three car bombs exploded in a Shia neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 29 others, a police officer said.

Wednesday's explosions, which happened minutes apart in the neighborhood of New Baghdad, came as Secretary of State John Kerry visited the capital to support new Prime Minister Haider al-Abaddi's government in fighting Islamic State and encouraging political reforms. [Reuters]



Tags: Iraq

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Kerry heads to northern Iraq to meet the Kurdish leadership
2014.09.11 04:03:34

Reports reaching MWC said that US Secretary of State John Kerry will head to northern Iraq to meet the Kurdish leadership, after his meeting with Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi in Baghdad.

Military sources also say that Kerry is expected to discuss "broad outlines" of the plan against the Islamic State, including training of Iraqi forces backed by a Sunni tribal component focusing on holding territory once it is recaptured.



Tags: Iraq | United States | John Kerry

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