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UN helps three couples wed in war-torn #Gaza
2014.08.19 03:03:04

The United Nations has helped three couples wed in war-torn Gaza on Sunday.

Amid the destruction in the region, dozens of displaced friends and relatives joined the couples in a colorful ceremony in the southern town of Rafah.

The joint wedding took place at a school operated by the United Nations which has been used as a shelter for people displaced by the fighting.

The ceremony was organized by the UN, which paid for the celebration and gave each couple some gifts, including a mattress and some clothes.

The weddings were welcomed as a message of hope by Khader Mubarak, director of the UN school in Rafah.

[Associated Press]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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White House: Obama authorized US strike on Mosul Dam
2014.08.19 03:01:42

The White House said that President Barack Obama had informed Congress that he authorized US air strikes in Iraq to help retake control of the Mosul Dam, which it said was consistent with his goal of protecting US citizens in the country.

"The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, threaten US personnel and facilities - including the US Embassy in Baghdad - and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace," the White House said in a statement.

"These operations are limited in their nature, duration, and scope and are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the government of Iraq." [Reuters]



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

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Russia says 'certain progress' achieved at talks on Ukraine
2014.08.19 03:00:25

Russia's Foreign Ministry says 'certain progress' was achieved during talks on ways to end the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, despite clashes continuing.

The ministry said in a statement on Monday all parties agreed to continue talks in the same format to prepare 'concrete proposals' for the heads of government in Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany | France

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Syrian jets bombarded positions of IS
2014.08.19 02:59:19

Activists say Syrian jets have bombarded positions of the Islamic State group in the northern province of Raqqa as the self-declared jihadists close in on the last army base in the region.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported intense clashes on Monday between troops and Islamic State fighters on the edge of the villages of Ajil and Khazna. It said there were casualties on both sides.

The Tabqa air base is the last position held by Syrian government troops in Raqqa province - which is mostly under the control of the group.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Fighting is still ongoing for the Mosul dam
2014.08.19 02:45:42

Despite reports on social media stating that the Kurdish forces have retaken the Mosul dam altogether from the Islamic State group, sources say that the fighting is still ongoing.

Iraq's largest dam was captured by the armed Sunni group earlier this month. Sunday's military operation, largely aided by US air strikes, aims to retake control of the government facility in northern Iraq.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Ukraine talks 'difficult' but 'some progress': Steinmeier
2014.08.19 02:41:13

Ukraine crisis talks in Berlin on Sunday were "difficult" but made "some progress", German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after meeting with his Ukrainian, Russian and French counterparts.

"Difficult talks, but I think and I hope that we have made some progress on certain points", the German minister said after a five-hour meeting with Russia's Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin and Laurent Fabius of France.

"Despite the difficult climate, we have registered some progress", a French diplomatic source echoed. The nature of the progress wasn't disclosed by either Steinmeier or the French source.

The meeting's participants will report back to their respective heads of government and "possibly decide on Monday or Tuesday in which form we can resume today's discussion", Steinmeier said. [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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Japanese man may have been detained in Syria
2014.08.19 02:38:34

Japan is looking into reports that a Japanese man may have been detained, possibly by fighters in Syria, the foreign ministry said.

The government was still trying to confirm through the Japanese embassy in Damascus the reports that surfaced over the weekend, such as online posts showing a man being captured, allegedly in Syria, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

His identity, why he was there and other details are not clear.

The Japanese government has warned against travel in Syria, where fighting has been ongoing between Syrian government forces and the Islamic State group and other rebels that control northern Syria and parts of Iraq.

[AP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Japan

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Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinians
2014.08.19 02:22:37

Israeli troops are reported to have raided the homes of three Palestinians suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering clashes with locals in Hebron of the occupied West Bank.

Sources say that the homes of at least two of the suspects were demolished during the raid.

Israeli media reported the home of Marwan Kawasme was surrounded by Israeli security and military personnel, as were neighboring homes. The activity took place in Daerat alser, which is in the Hebron vicinity.

Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aisha from Hebron are believed to have kidnapped and killed Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.   

The orders for the kidnapping were allegedly given by Kawasme’s relative, Hussam Kawasme, who was arrested on July 11, as he was attempting to flee into Jordan.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | West Bank

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Political solution to the standoff in eastern Ukraine
2014.08.18 03:43:07

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said before a meeting with his counterparts from Ukraine, Russia and France that a political solution to the standoff in eastern Ukraine remained far off.

"The situation in Ukraine remains difficult. The news from today shows that we are far from an end to the conflict. People are still dying. We have no ceasefire. We are far away from a political solution," Steinmeier said before the meeting in Berlin.

He also expressed hope that an agreement could be reached on allowing a Russian humanitarian aid convoy into Ukraine, saying "we will see this evening if the final obstacles can be overcome."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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Cameron issued a warning
2014.08.18 03:30:59

British Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a warning about the rise of the Islamic State group, while calling for a "broader political, diplomatic and security response" to the threat.  

In a statement posted on his official Facebook page on Sunday, the British leader said the world is facing "a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology" which he said Britain and its allies  "will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime."



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Britain

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Ukraine and Russia foreign ministers meeting in Berlin
2014.08.18 03:29:04

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia are meeting in Berlin to resume diplomatic talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The meeting between Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine and Russia's Sergey Lavrov will also be attended by their German and French counterparts Frank-Walter-Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius.

Steinmeier said in a statement Sunday that the search for a political solution must not be neglected even as efforts are made to provide humanitarian aid to civilians in the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

He says a "new political impulse is needed" or there will be a risk of further escalation.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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US Central Command's statements
2014.08.18 03:27:45

The US Central Command's statements on air strikes on Sunday suggests that it has expanded its role in Iraq to support combat operations.

There is an important shift in the official US language about its involvement in Iraq. The original objective of assisting humanitarian efforts and protecting US personnel and facilities has been explicitly expanded to include protecting critical infrastructure and supporting the forces who are taking on the Islamic State.

LAST NIGHT US Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect U.S. personnel and facilities.

TONIGHT US Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, US personnel and facilities, and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces, who are working together to combat ISIL.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Wreckage of the Ukrainian plane
2014.08.18 03:25:29

This video posted on YouTube by a pro-rebel account has also been shared by various websites in the same line. The amateur footage purportedly shows the wreckage of the Ukrainian plane which Kiev government said shot down by pro-Russia fighters in the east of the country.

MWC cannot confirm authenticity of the video.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Supplying arms
2014.08.18 03:08:22

Laith Kubba, director of the Middle East and North Africa program of the US-based National Endowment for Democracy, said that supplying arms to forces fighting the Islamic State and dropping bombs, do not address "the substance" of the IS threat in Iraq and Syria.

In an interview with, Kubba, adviser of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said that it takes more political will and "real regional strategy" for the US to defeat the IS.

"Short-term containment does not work," he said.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Islamic State fighters killed
2014.08.18 03:06:35

At least 31 Islamic State fighters were killed in Syrian air force raids Sunday in the northern province of Raqa, a stronghold of the armed group, a monitoring group said.

"The regime carried out 13 raids on the city of Raqa and 11 on the town of Tabqa in Raqa province, killing at least 31 jihadists and wounding dozens of them," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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National flag over police station in the city of Luhansk
2014.08.18 03:05:39

Ukrainian forces have raised their national flag over a police station in the city of Luhansk which was for months under rebel control, Kiev government said.

Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said on Sunday that the government forces fought separatists in a neighborhood of Luhansk city on Saturday and took control of the Zhovtneviy neighborhood police station. "They raised the state flag over it," Lysenko told a news briefing.

Ukrainian officials allege though that the rebels are fighting a desperate rearguard action to hold on to Luhansk, which is their supply route into neighboring Russia.

Russia denies helping the rebels and accuses Kiev of triggering a humanitarian crisis through indiscriminate use of force against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine who reject the Ukrainian government's rule.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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US confirms fresh strikes near key Iraq dam
2014.08.18 02:24:14

US warplanes and drones pummeled Islamic State (IS) militants near Iraq's largest dam for a second straight day on Sunday, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement.

US Central Command said fighter jets, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft carried out 14 strikes on Sunday near the Mosul Dam.

The latest action came as Kurdish fighters battled to retake the strategically important dam from Islamist fighters.

Sunday's strikes destroyed 10 IS armed vehicles, seven IS Humvees, two armored personnel carriers and one IS checkpoint.

The latest military action followed nine US strikes near Arbil and Mosul dam on Saturday. [AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Young Iraqi Yazidis seeking revenge
2014.08.18 02:23:18

Young Iraqi Yazidis said on Saturday they were seeking revenge from the Islamic State fighters who forced them out of their homes, killed their relatives and kidnapped their women and girls and have joined a military training camp in a Kurdish town in Syria, close to the border with Iraq.

The Yazidi volunteers are staying at a training camp at the Serimli military base, which is controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who helped the Iraqi Yazidis flee Sinjar and cross into Syria.

Set up in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria on the border with Kurdistan, the YPG is currently training 55 Yazidi recruits with skills to help them fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

"The insurgents of the Islamic State killed our young people and took our women and girls and then displaced us, therefore we came here. I called on Yazidi young men to volunteer to take revenge and they came in large numbers.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Iraq | Yazidis

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Military equipment coming into Ukraine
2014.08.18 02:21:19

Reuters reports that new military equipment coming into Ukraine from Russia includes three grad rocket missile systems, according to a military spokesman.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Iraqi officer who killed journalist jailed for life
2014.08.18 02:11:17

The officer who killed an Iraqi journalist at a Baghdad checkpoint in March was sentenced to life imprisonment, a  spokesman for the judiciary said.

"The central criminal court of Iraq, headed by Judge Beligh Hamdi, handed a sentence of life imprisonment to the defendant, who was accused of murdering journalist Mohammed Bidaiwi," Abdelsattar Bayraqdar said following the verdict on Sunday.

Bidaiwi, the bureau chief of the US-funded Radio Free Iraq, was on his way to work on March 22 near the presidential complex on the edge of the heavily-fortified Green Zone when he was shot dead during a heated argument.

According to witnesses, Bidaiwi was shot at close range by a plainclothes officer in the Kurdish peshmerga force. [AFP]



Tags: Iraq | United States

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