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Lebanese policemen and a soldier captured
2014.08.25 02:19:47

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate released a video on Saturday showing Lebanese policemen and a soldier captured by the group earlier this month, during the most serious cross-border attack since Syria's conflict began more than three years ago.

The captives said they will be killed if Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which backs Syrian President Assad, does not withdraw its fighters from Syria.

The video showed nine bearded men, eight of them in police uniforms and one wearing military fatigues.

Lebanese army commander Jean Kahwaji told An-Nahar newspaper that 20 soldiers remain missing. He defended his command decisions from criticism by local media, saying the soldiers' posts in border areas had been reinforced before the attack.

Other soldiers and policemen are believed to be held by other rebel groups who took part in the August 2 attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, which is home to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

[AP]



Tags: Syria | Lebanon

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Joint news conference
2014.08.25 02:02:09

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a joint news conference after meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine on Saturday.

Merkel, who has advocated a measured EU response to Russia's aggressive policies in Ukraine, urged a political solution to the crisis.

Poroshenko will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Tuesday in their first encounter since June.

Merkel said she was looking forward to the outcome of those talks and said Europe was "willing to negotiate on this so that there won't be any unnecessary frictions with Russia".

Poroshenko said Ukraine is anxious to bring peace as soon as possible and solve the conflict by talks, but is prevented from doing so by "foreign mercenaries", referring to pro-Russia rebels.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Germany

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Shops in Rafah hit
2014.08.25 01:52:35

A building containing shops in Rafah in Gaza was hit on Saturday by an Israeli airstrike, causing a fire.

Six Palestinians were injured in the incident, according to Gaza health officials at Najjar hospital in Rafah.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Shakhtar Donetsk's stadium damaged by shelling
2014.08.24 03:24:34

Ukrainian football team, Shakhtar Donetsk, has reported damage to its Donbass stadium by shelling as the conflict between government troops and pro-Russian separatists continues.

The Ukrainian football champions' chief executive, Sergei Palkin, said two shells struck the stadium complex early on Saturday morning, one damaging the arena itself and another striking its electricity substation.

Shakhtar published photos showing debris strewn around an entrance to the stadium, but said there were "no casualties among the stadium staff."

The 52,667-capacity Donbass Arena was a venue for the 2012 European championship in Poland and Ukraine and has hosted teams including Manchester United and Barcelona for Champions League games.

Shakhtar is playing its home games this season in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv due to the conflict.

That will include Champions League games when the group stage begins next month.

[Associated Press]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Russian aid trucks leave Ukraine
2014.08.24 03:14:05

Hundreds of trucks from a Russian aid convoy to rebel-held eastern Ukraine have rolled back across the border on Saturday.

Paul Picard, head of the border observation mission for the OSCE, said all the vehicles that had crossed into Ukraine had returned to Russia by mid-afternoon, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Deputy Emergencies Minister Eduard Chizhkov was quoted as saying 227 vehicles had taken part.

An AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border was able to look inside about 40 of the white-tarpaulined tractor-trailers and confirmed they were empty.

Russia said the trucks carried only food, water, generators and sleeping bags to the hard-hit rebel stronghold of Luhansk.

Russia had unilaterally sent the trucks into Ukraine through a rebel-held border point on Friday, saying it had lost patience with Ukraine's delaying tactics.

Ukraine promptly called the act an invasion.

Western Nations denounced the Russian move as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, and suggested the convoy could be used to smuggle supplies and reinforcements to pro-Russian separatists fighting the government.

[Associated Press]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Iraq's Kurdistan region
2014.08.24 03:13:07

A bomb has exploded in the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Erbil, on Saturday, local television network Rudaw reported.

TV footage showed firefighters dousing the charred remains of a car. A Reuters journalist earlier saw a cloud of smoke in Erbil, but it was not clear whether it was from a blast.



Tags: Iraq

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Israeli air strike destroys residential tower block in Gaza City
2014.08.24 02:55:37

An Israeli air strike destroyed a 13-storey residential tower block in the center of Gaza City on Saturday and initial reports said 17 people were wounded, the Israeli army and Gaza health officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the building, which collapsed completely, had been used as a command center by Hamas.

Local residents said the building housed 44 families.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Removal of Russia's 'mercenaries' is key to peace
2014.08.24 02:54:23

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he is ready to work with Europe to bring peace to his embattled country, but has called on Russia to remove is fighters first..

Speaking on Saturday after talks with Germany's Angela Merkel, Posroshenko said peace could hinged on armed separatist fighters and "foreign mercenaries" leaving.

He also said he would never sacrifice territory or give up his country's independence.

"The Ukrainian side and our European partners will do everything possible to bring about peace - but not at the price of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the independence of Ukraine."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Car bombs exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk
2014.08.24 02:51:33

Three near-simultaneous car bombs exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday, killing 18 people and wounding 103.

Two of the bombs exploded near under-construction buildings used as observation positions by security forces, while the third struck the entrance to a market.



Tags: Iraq

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Israel intensifies airstrikes on Gaza
2014.08.24 02:34:14

Israel has carried out scores of airstrikes in Gaza killing nine Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Israel said it carried out 55 airstrikes over the Gaza Strip on Saturday and that around 45 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel, with another 10 intercepted.

The deadliest airstrike leveled a home in Al-Zawayda in central Gaza, killing a couple, their sons aged three and four, and a 45-year-old aunt,  medics said.

A 64-year-old man was killed in an air strike south of Gaza City, and in the town of Deir al-Balah a 12-year-old boy and his 38-year-old mother, as well as another 43-year-old woman, were killed.

Witnesses and Palestinian officials said two mosques were destroyed in the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza, while a third, in the Shati refugee camp which had already been damaged, was bombed again.

The intensified airstrikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution for the killing of a four-year-old boy at his home in kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday.

At least 2,102 Palestinians and 68 people on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers, have been killed since July 8.

The UN says 70 percent of the Palestinians who have died were civilians.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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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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