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Hundreds attend memorial service for slain US journalist
2014.09.07 02:53:33

Murdered American journalist Steven Sotloff urged his friends and family to live life "to the fullest," in a letter penned during his captivity in Iraq and read at a memorial service in his honor.

Hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to the journalist at a somber and emotional ceremony on Friday, held just days after his beheading by Islamic State fighters.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Syria | Steven Sotloff

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Russia's Foreign Ministry vowed to react
2014.09.07 02:52:21

Russia's Foreign Ministry vowed on Saturday to react if the European Union implements new sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

The EU announced the additional measures late on Friday but said they could be suspended if Moscow withdraws its troops from Ukraine and observes a newly agreed ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

The new sanctions include adding a further 24 people to a list of people barred from entry to the 28-nation bloc and whose assets are frozen. They are due to be implemented on Monday.

"If they (new sanctions) are implemented of course there will be a reaction from our side," the ministry said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

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Syrian war planes hit a bakery run by Islamic State
2014.09.07 02:51:19

Syrian war planes hit a bakery run by Islamic State in the city of Raqqa, killing at least 35 civilians and 15 Islamic State fighters, in air raids on Saturday, other targets included a major training camp used by the group for a second day running, a group monitoring the war said.

The air strikes on Raqqa, Islamic State's stronghold some 400km northeast of Damascus, also hit a building used as an Islamic court, and another of the group's offices, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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US, Iran deny military coordination plans over IS
2014.09.07 02:36:41

The United States and Iran have denied plans for any military coordination in the fight against Islamic State group operating in Iraq and Syria.

"We are not going to coordinate military action or share intelligence with Iran and have no plans to do so," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday, reacting to reports that Tehran had approved such an  arrangement.

Harf said that Washington was "open to engaging" with Iran as it had in the past on select issues, notably on Afghanistan in late 2001, when the two sides worked to put Hamid Karzai into power after the fall of the Taliban.

"But we will not be coordinating our action together," she added.

The BBC reported, citing unnamed sources in Tehran, that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had approved cooperation with the US in the fight against the Islamic State.

In a brief statement on Iranian state media, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denied the report. [AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Iran | Syria

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Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo
2014.09.07 02:33:51

In a speech to be delivered tomorrow (Sunday), to Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo, UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Pierre Krahenbuhl, will ask for 47 million dollars for four weeks emergency work in Gaza.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Arab League

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Ukraine and pro-Kremlin insurgents
2014.09.07 02:24:53

Ukraine and pro-Kremlin insurgents appeared to be observing a truce on Saturday that could stem five months of bloodshed, but failed to head off fresh Western sanctions against Russia and is unlikely to quell the separatist drive in the east.

The 12-point pact signed on Friday in the Belarussian capital Minsk is the first to be backed by both the Kremlin and Kiev since bands of Russian-speaking militias seized a string of government buildings across Ukraine's industrial heartland in early April.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Brussels Jewish Museum
2014.09.07 02:23:45

A French journalist held hostage for months by extremists in Syria says one of his abductors was a Frenchman suspected of killing four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum earlier this year.

French magazine Le Point on Saturday quotes its reporter Nicolas Henin as saying he was tortured by Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who had spent time with extremists in Syria.

Henin was held for a time with American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both beheaded by extremists from the Islamic State group in recent weeks. He was released in April with other French journalists.

Nemmouche is in custody. The Brussels killing in May crystallized fears of European governments that citizens who join radical fighters in Syria could return to stage attacks at home.



Tags: Syria | France

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EU agrees new sanctions on Russia
2014.09.07 02:14:20

The European Union has agreed on a new package of economic sanctions against Russia on Friday, despite a ceasefire between government forces and pro-Kremlin rebels in Ukraine, diplomats said.

A EU diplomat said there was "agreement in principle on new sanctions" and that they would be officially implemented in writing on Monday.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

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Russian FM says NATO’s statements threaten peace process in Ukraine
2014.09.06 04:09:44

Statements at the NATO summit in Wales on Ukraine’s crisis will inevitably escalate tensions and will threaten peace process in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“The essence and the tonality of the statements on Ukraine, along with the announced plans to hold joint war games of the NATO member states and Kiev in that country till the end of 2014, will inevitably escalate tensions, threaten the visible progress in Ukraine’s peace process and facilitate a deepening split among Ukrainians,” the ministry said.

“Moreover, they (the statements) witness NATO’s unconditional support of Kiev’s neo-Nazi and extremist forces, including (nationalist) Right Sector,” it said.

[ITAR-TASS]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Status of rebel-held regions in Ukraine not discussed at Minsk talks-rebels
2014.09.06 04:08:53

All sides showed a commitment to securing peace at talks on the conflict in east Ukraine on Friday, Kiev's envoy said on Friday, but a rebel leader said the status of the breakaway regions in the east was not discussed.

Speaking after talks at which the rebels and Ukraine agreed a ceasefire, Kiev's envoy, former President Leonid Kuchma, said the first delivery of humanitarian aid under the deal would be sent to east Ukraine on Saturday.

A representative of the OSCE security and rights watchdog, which was present at the talks, said the deal also provided for prisoner exchanges and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from fighting areas.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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UK PM Cameron says proper peace plan needed for Ukraine
2014.09.06 04:08:05

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the agreement of a ceasefire in Ukraine but said on Friday that EU sanctions would go ahead until a proper peace plan was in place.

Ukrainian government representatives and pro-Russian rebels agreed to declare a ceasefire on Friday at talks in Minsk, the first such breakthrough in the five-month conflict.

"The ceasefire is good news. I think we need to look carefully about whether it is a ceasefire or whether it also includes a commitment ... to make real progress on a proper peace plan," Cameron told reporters at the end of a two-day NATO summit, adding that a partition of Ukraine would not be accepted as part of that plan.

He added: "We should be clear that the sanctions ... will go ahead, they will be put in place but of course if a ceasefire and a proper peace plan is put in place, then of course it will be right to look and see how those sanctions could be removed if proper milestones are reached."

Asked whether Britain and others, who met on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the Islamic State threat, would join the United States in air strikes, Cameron said: "We're not at that stage yet."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Britain

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Practical steps to establish peace in the Donbass
2014.09.06 04:07:11

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told reporters on Friday that he prepared 12 practical steps to establish peace in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

Poroshenko said it was important that we continue with negotiations with Russia and expected prisoners held by rebels to be released on Saturday.

He said the ceasefire was based on conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He added that Ukrainians will do everything possible to maintain peace in the country's east, and what happened before was truly unacceptable.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Russia says it welcomes the ceasefire deal with Ukraine
2014.09.06 03:40:45

Russia say it has welcomed the ceasefire reached by Kiev and pro-Russian rebels and urged all sides to observe it closely.

"The Russian presidential office welcomes the signing of the protocol in Minsk," Interfax news agency quoted President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying.

He noted the agreement followed initiatives by Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and added: "Moscow hopes all the provisions of the document and the agreements reached will be thoroughly observed by the parties and that the negotiating process will continue until the crisis in Ukraine is fully resolved."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Iraq refiles case in US court over disputed Kurdish oil
2014.09.06 03:39:50

Iraq has refiled a suit in a US court in a bid to gain control of some 1 million barrels of disputed Kurdish crude oil on a tanker near Texas, days after the court said it lacked jurisdiction to have the cargo seized but that it could hear arguments about who is the oil's rightful owner.

The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying about $100m worth of Kurdish crude, has been stationed near Texas since late July, as the central government of Iraq wages a legal battle against Iraqi Kurdistan over who has the sole right to export crude.

[Reuters]



Tags: Iraq

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Armed forces to remain in current positions in Ukraine
2014.09.06 03:16:29

The ceasefire deal in Ukraine includes a prisoner exchange, while armed forces on both sides will remain in their current positions, a source close to talks said on Friday.

The source also said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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#Canada to send military advisers to #Iraq
2014.09.06 03:15:28

Canada is sending dozens of military advisers to Iraq as part of an effort to bolster Iraqi forces against Islamic State group, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday they will join the US in advising Iraq on how to enable security forces in the northern part of the country to be more effective against the threat posed by the group.

Left unchecked, ISIL (or Islamic State) is also a direct threat to Canada and its Allies.

"Left unchecked, ISIL (or Islamic State) is also a direct threat to Canada and its Allies," Harper said, using one of the acronyms for the group.

"The deployment of members of the Canadian Armed Forces is a concrete measure to deter the murderous rampage of ISIL and respond to the humanitarian crisis it has caused.''

[AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Canada

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Rebel leader says he still seeks to break away from Kiev despite ceasefire
2014.09.06 02:49:05

A senior rebel leader said a ceasefire deal reached with Kiev on Friday did not change the desire of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine to break away from Kiev.

"The ceasefire does not mean the end of (our) policy to split (from Ukraine)," Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, told reporters.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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US calls for international coalition to 'destroy' IS
2014.09.06 02:48:13

The United States has called for the creation of a broad international coalition against the Islamic State group by the time of the UN General Assembly meets later this month.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, pressed a core coalition of 10 nations to go after the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria militarily and financially a NATO summit in Wales.

In a private meeting with the foreign and defense ministers from the UK, France and seven other nations, John Kerry said leaders need a clear strategy and a solid idea about what each country will contribute to the fight.

"We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, Kerry said.

"We have the technology, we have the know-how,

"What we need is obviously the willpower to make sure that we are steady and stay at this," he added.

Chuck Hagel, sitting alongside Kerry, said the group of 10 nations represents a core coalition that will be needed to face the insurgent challenge. He said the group can then be expanded.

"There is no time to waste in building a broad international coalition to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by ISIL," Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a joint statement.

[Agencies]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Syria

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Palestinian officials: Rebuilding #Gaza to cost 6bn euros
2014.09.06 02:35:00

The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, devastated during 50 days of war with Israel, will cost 6bn euros ($7.7bn), Palestinian experts said.

The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a Palestinian Authority body that oversees the implementation of donor-financed projects, said the process would take "five years if Israel removed its  blockade over Gaza entirely."

Since 2006, Gaza has been subject to a blockade that, among other things, prevents the entry of construction materials, which can be used by fighters to build tunnels and fortifications.

[Source: AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Syrian helicopters dropped barrel bombs on a taxi stand
2014.09.06 02:33:45

Syrian helicopters dropped barrel bombs on a taxi stand in the city of Aleppo Friday, killing at least 12 civilians, including a child,and injuring five others, a monitoring group said.

"Twelve civilians, among them a child, were killed, and five others seriously wounded after helicopters launched two explosive-laden barrels against the Haidariyeh district," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria

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