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Russian servicemen
2014.08.27 02:51:39

A group of Russian servicemen who were captured by Ukrainian troops had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine accidentally, a source from Russia's Defense Ministry was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

"The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossed it by accident on an unmarked section, and as far as we understand showed no resistance to the armed forces of Ukraine when they were detained," the source said on Tuesday.

Ukraine said its forces have captured 10 Russian soldiers in an eastern region where the Ukrainian troops are fighting pro-Russia separatists.

The Facebook page for the anti-rebel operation, which includes the military, the national guard and Interior Ministry forces said the soldiers are from a Russian paratrooper division and were captured on Monday in the area of Amvrosiivka, near the Russian border in the Donetsk region on Tuesday.

[Agencies]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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White House says Obama has taken no decision on Syria airstrikes
2014.08.27 02:50:41

The White House says President Barack Obama has so far made no decision on whether to launch air strikes on Islamic State fighters in Syria.

"The president has not made any decision to conduct military action in Syria," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, amid rising expectations of US action following American attacks against the group in Iraq.

Earnest did not directly respond to a comment by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria that it was willing to work with the United States to take on "terrorism" inside Syria, in a reference to IS forces opposed by both Washington and Damascus.

Earnest appeared to hint that if Obama were to decide to launch attacks on Syrian territory, he would not feel the need to inform the Damascus government.

"The president has already demonstrated a willingness, where necessary... to use military force to protect the American people, regardless of borders.

[AFP]



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

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Shia neighborhood of Baghdad
2014.08.27 02:49:33

A least seven people have been reportedly killed and 18 others injured after a car bomb explosion in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of Baghdad.

More details to follow.



Tags: Iraq

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Death and destruction in Gaza
2014.08.27 02:40:52

Palestinians in Gaza woke up to death and destruction on Tuesday, as Israeli air strikes destroyed much of one of Gaza's tallest apartment and office buildings, setting up huge explosions and wounding 20 people, according to Palestinian health officials.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Russia's growing military presence in Ukraine
2014.08.27 02:39:56

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Monday that Russia's growing military presence in Ukraine marked a "significant escalation" of the conflict.

"Repeated Russian incursions into Ukraine unacceptable. Dangerous and inflammatory," Rice said on Twitter. "Russia's military incursions into Ukraine- artillery, air def systems, dozens of tanks & military personnel-represent significant escalation."

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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Video shows supporters of the Islamic state celebrating
2014.08.27 02:38:21

This video uploaded to Youtube purportedly shows supporters of the Islamic state celebrating after they captured the Tabqa military air base in northeastern Syria.

The footage shows dozens of vehicles driving through the city of Tabqa, in Raqqa province, sounding their horns during the day.

MWC cannot independently verify the content of the video.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Abbott: Up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside Islamic State
2014.08.27 02:35:22

The Australian government announced a Aus$64 million (US$60 million) package to help prevent youngsters from being radicalized and joining "extremist groups" in the Middle East.

The funding follows a warning from spy chief David Irvine this month that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of fighters.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) fighters, while another 100 were actively working to support the movement at home.

"Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian citizens amongst the foreign fighters highlights the need for action to counter radicalization," Abbott said, adding that IS was using "medieval barbarism allied to modern technology".

"That's how serious and dangerous this movement is. Because of the Australians who are involved with this movement, what might otherwise be a problem in a far away country is a problem for us."

Abbott said the Aus$64 million would help support community groups and security agencies, with the emphasis on preventing radicalization and reducing the threat of home-grown terrorism.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Australia | Syria

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Israeli airstrikes kill 2 Palestinians, wounds 20
2014.08.27 02:17:26

Israeli air strikes launched before dawn on Tuesday killed two Palestinians and destroyed much of one of Gaza's tallest apartment and office buildings, setting off huge explosions and wounding 20 people, Palestinian health officials said.

Israel had no immediate comment on the attacks that took place as Egyptian mediators stepped up efforts to achieve an elusive ceasefire to end seven weeks of fighting.

Palestinian health officials say 2,125 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in Gaza since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.

Palestinian officials said 70 families lived in the 13-storey building, which was listing to one side after the blasts. The structure also housed offices and a shopping complex. [Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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US works with Jordan, Europeans at UN on Gaza ceasefire draft
2014.08.26 06:16:34

The United States has prepared its own draft outline for a UN resolution demanding a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and is now working with European powers and Jordan on a joint text, diplomats say.

News of accelerated diplomacy on the sidelines of the UN Security Council came as Israeli air strikes killed at least nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

US officials and diplomats from other UN member states said that Washington had presented a small group of countries with its own draft elements for a Security Council resolution after Jordan offered one last month and Britain, France and Germany wrote another ceasefire proposal last week.

"The US has come up with its own draft," said one UN diplomat, who declined to be named. "

It's quite different from the two others. Now they're working to combine the drafts and come up with a common text."

The US officials and other diplomats declined to speak about details in the U.S. draft, though several said it was not acceptable on its own.

"We'll work on coming up with a single draft," another U.N. diplomat said. "What's important is that the Americans are engaging and there's a new momentum in pushing for a ceasefire resolution in the Security Council that would be better than previous ones."

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Jordan | United States

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Ukraine dissolves parliament ahead of election
2014.08.26 04:52:57

Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, has signed a decree to dissolve parliament, paving the way for a new election.

"I have decided to prematurely end the authority of parliament," he wrote in a Twitter post on Monday.

A presidential spokesman told the Reuters news agency, parliamentary elections would be held on October 26.

Under the law, the election must be held within 60 days of the decree being published, which could mean an election being held at the end of October.

[Reuters]



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UN rights chief: Crimes against humanity in Iraq
2014.08.26 03:17:04

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says Islamic State fighters reportedly killed up to 670 prisoners in Mosul and committed other horrific abuses in Iraq that amount to crimes against humanity.

The UN's top human rights official says the grave human rights violations carried out by the Islamic State group and other fighters allied with it include ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious purges in areas under its control in an aggressive push to gain a firm grip on the northern and eastern provinces.

Pillay said a statement on Monday the violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and besieging entire communities for ethnic, religious or sectarian reasons.

[AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Iraq's Abadi optimistic on formation of new government
2014.08.26 03:15:04

Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi said that talks on forming a new government were constructive and predicted a "clear vision" on a unified administration would emerge within the next two days, state television reported.

Abadi is tasked with forming a power-sharing government that can ease sectarian tensions and counter Islamic State militants who pose the biggest security threat to Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. [Reuters]



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Suicide bombing of Shia mosque in Baghdad kills at least nine
2014.08.26 03:00:17

A suicide bomb attack in a Shia mosque in Baghdad has killed at least nine people and wounded 21, police and medical sources said.

The attacker detonated his suicide bomb vest inside the mosque in the New Baghdad district of the capital at prayer time on Monday, police said. [Reuters]



Tags: Iraq

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UN says 'terrorist groups' are continuing to prevent aid delivery in Syria
2014.08.26 02:59:09

The UN has said humanitarian access in Syria has improved since the Security Council authorized the delivery of emergency aid last month across the Syrian border without the government's consent.

However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that designated terrorist groups continued to prevent aid workers from accessing some of the estimated 10.8 million people in Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

"All parties to the conflict continue to deny access to humanitarian assistance in an unjustifiable manner," Ban said in a new report. "Hundreds of thousands of people live under siege."

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2165 last month, which authorized aid access at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Syria had warned it deemed such deliveries incursions into its territory.

Ban said it was the first time he was able to report improvements since he began submitting monthly updates on aid access earlier this year.

"Access across borders following the adoption of resolution 2165 has resulted in broader reach to areas in Aleppo, Deraa, Rural Damascus, Idlib and Latakia."

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria

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Kurdish forces make more gains against Islamic State
2014.08.26 02:51:08

Kurdish forces have advanced overnight to the outskirts of Zumar, about 15 km west of the Mosul Dam as part of a push to retake the Syrian border crossing of Rabia, Kurdish officials say.

Peshmerga special forces who retook the Mosul dam last week have been fighting Islamic State group fighters in the vicinity of the dam, and have pushed through two other towns held by the fighters to reach Zumar, our correspondent said.

"If the Kurds manage to take Zumar they will disrupt a main IS supply line and route from the group's base in Mosul," she reported.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Russia urges West to engage with Assad
2014.08.26 02:48:17

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday urged Western and Arab governments to overcome their distaste for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and engage with him to fight the Islamic State group.

"I think Western politicians are already realizing the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism," Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.

"And they will soon have to choose what is more important, a [Syrian] regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat."

In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the US had made the same mistake with Islamic State as it had with al-Qaeda, which emerged in the 1980s when US-backed Islamist insurgents were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

"At the start the Americans and some Europeans rather welcomed [Islamic State] on the basis it was fighting against Bashar al-Assad. They welcomed it as they welcomed the mujaheddin who later created al-Qaeda, and then al-Qaeda struck like a boomerang on September 11, 2001," Lavrov said.

"The same thing is happening now," he said, adding that the US had only started fighting the group after it began rampaging across Iraq and approaching the capital Baghdad.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Russia

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Iran's PM meets top Shia leader
2014.08.26 02:27:03

Iran's PM meets top Shia leader of Iraq as Tehran tries to grapple with the increasing threat of the Sunni armed group Islamic State.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Iran

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Germany rules out reengaging with Assad due to IS threat
2014.08.26 02:25:18

Germany says it has no plans to rekindle ties with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has has no diplomatic contacts with the country because of the threat posed by the Islamic State group.

"The regime of President Assad has committed unbelievable injustice in every form during the civil war that has been raging for 3-1/2 years. Nearly 200,000 people have died," spokesman for the German foreign ministry, Martin Schaefer, told a government news conference on Monday.

"To be honest it is very difficult to imagine that all this can be ignored in the name of Realpolitik, that one says, now we have ISIS, which is worse than Assad, so now we have to get into bed with the one that isn't quite so bad," he added.

"This is too simple. I am not aware of any thoughts or deliberations, whether in the fight against [the Islamic State group] or otherwise, about working with the regime of President Assad," Schaefer said. "I am not aware of any political or diplomatic contacts between Germany and the Syrian government."

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Germany

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Abbas to appeal to UN to end Israeli occupation
2014.08.26 02:04:21

The Palestinian leadership is to make an appeal to the international community to set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of its territories, a senior official told has told the AFP on Monday.

The Palestinian leadership is preparing "to go to the UN Security Council to enforce an end to the [Israeli] occupation," senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Yusef told AFP.

Labor minister Ahmad al-Majdalani also said the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas was "working towards... holding an international conference to set a timetable for an end to the occupation," he told AFP on Sunday.

Neither official gave any details on when the Palestinian demand would be presented.

In the event of a likely veto by the United States at the Security Council, the Palestinians would consider fast-tracking an application to become party to the International Criminal Court, Abu Yussef said.

"If the US uses a veto, then we still have the ICC card," he told AFP.

The move comes as Palestinian and world leaders continue to push for a halt to seven weeks of bloodshed in Gaza, and seek a more permanent end to violence between Israel and Hamas.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Dempsey: We will act if Islamic group threatens US
2014.08.26 02:03:05

Gen. Martin Dempsey has said that once he determines that the Islamic State group in Iraq has become a direct threat to the US homeland or Europe, he will recommend the US military move directly against the group in Syria.

But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that right now, he still believes that the group is still more a regional threat and is not plotting or planning attacks against either the US or Europe.

So far, the Obama administration has restricted its military action

Speaking on a military plane en route to Afghanistan, Dempsey said: "I think [the Islamic State] has been so brutal, and has wrapped itself in a radical religious legitimacy that clearly threatens everybody I just mentioned, that I think they will be willing partners." [AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Syria

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