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American fighting for the Islamic State killed
2014.08.28 01:57:32

An American fighting for the Islamic State was killed over the weekend in Syria, US officials said Tuesday, underlining growing concerns about Westerners signing up for hardline groups in the Middle East.

The United States had been aware that Douglas McCain, 33, a one-time aspiring rapper and basketball fan from California, was in war-torn Syria, the White House said, confirming his death.

McCain, who converted from Christianity to Islam about a decade ago, was killed in fighting against the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked group blacklisted by the United States, US media reports said.

"We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

McCain's affiliation to the Islamic State group- which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria in a brutal offensive -- and his death had left his family "devastated" and "just as surprised as the country," his uncle Ken McCain told CNN.

He was "a good person, loved his family, loved his mother, loved his faith," the uncle said, referring to his nephew's Christian beliefs before his conversion.

The US State Department informed the family of his death on Monday.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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admin
Ukraine came under shellfire by pro-Russian rebels
2014.08.28 01:54:39

A town in east Ukraine came under shellfire by pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday, amid fears that they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region.

In response to outgoing fire early on Wednesday, rebel forces lobbed at least 10 shells at the government-held town of Novoazovsk.

Plumes of black smoke rose above the town, which was hit repeatedly shelled on Tuesday, injuring four residents in a local hospital, according to the town's mayor, Oleg Sidorkin. [AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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UN Secretary-General welcomes the announcement of open-ended ceasefire
2014.08.28 01:41:45

The UN Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of an open-ended ceasefire in the Gaza strip in a statement.

The statement by the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said Gaza "must be brought back under one legitimate Palestinian Government," that the blockade of Gaza must stop and that Israel's security concerns must be addressed.

It adds: "After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, any violations of the cease-fire would be utterly irresponsible."

The UN statement stresses that a political process that leads to two states is the only way to reach lasting peace in Gaza.

[AP]



Tags: Israel | Gaza

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proloybagchi
Modi's victory proves leadership is vital in elections
2014.08.27 18:24:41

The recent statement of the chief of much-maligned Right-wing Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), Mohan Bhagwat on the massive win of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the last General Elections was true but only partially so. Bhagwat is reported to have said that the victory at the hustings for the BJP was not because of one man, as claimed by many, but because the people wanted a change. He went on to say that an individual alone could not have ensured the Party’s victory unless people were keen on a change. He went on to ask why is it that the Party was not voted to power when the same individuals and the party existed earlier, too? The Party won because the people desperately wanted a change.



Tags: india

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Hamas and Islamic Jihad chiefs make rare public appearances
2014.08.27 05:09:15

Several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders appeared in public on Tuesday shortly after a Gaza truce took hold, the first time they had done so since the conflict began  on July 8.

Among them was Mahmud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing, and senior Jihad official Mohammed al-Hindi who gave a rousing victory speech to thousands of people gathered in a square in Gaza City's Rimal neighborhood.

"We're going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again," Zahar said.

He was referring to a two-day suspension of flights into Tel Aviv by major US and European airlines in mid-July after a rocket from Gaza struck near the runway, in a move hailed as a victory by Hamas.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Islamic Jihad

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admin
US 'strongly supports' Gaza ceasefire
2014.08.27 05:07:04

The US says it welcomes a new long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians after 50 days of violence in and around Gaza, and urges both parties to fully to comply with its terms.

"We strongly support the ceasefire announcement," US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said.

Speaking on the its durability, she said "the only sustainable path forward is a two state solution."

Before adding, "We are committed to working with Israel on its security needs."



Tags: Gaza | Israel | United States

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admin
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Statement
2014.08.27 05:05:51

Egypt has called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to engage in a comprehensive ceasefire, coinciding with opening the crossings between Gaza and Israel to achieve the expedited entry of humanitarian aid, materials for reconstruction, fishing into 6 nautical miles, and the continuation of indirect negotiations between the two sides over other issues in one month from the beginning of the ceasefire.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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Israel to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza
2014.08.27 05:04:37

Israel has agreed to open its borders with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into the Palestinian enclave, Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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admin
Celebratory gunfire erupts in Gaza as ceasefire comes into effect
2014.08.27 05:03:42

Celebratory gunfire has erupted in Gaza after a long-term truce agreed between Israel and the Palestinians went into effect, aimed at ending more than seven weeks of bloodshed.

Thousands of Palestinians flooded on to the streets of Gaza City, including gunmen, some from Hamas, who fired in the air in celebration just moments after the truce began.

Mosques used their loudspeakers to broadcast celebratory chants of "God is greatest" as the war-torn enclave hailed the apparent end to some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in a decade.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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admin
The one-on-one meeting ended in Minsk
2014.08.27 05:02:37

The one-on-one meeting between Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko has now ended in Minsk, a Kremlin spokesman said.

The meeting was held after multi-party talks where leaders were seeking a solution for the crisis in Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who hosted the talks, said they were "difficult".

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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admin
Sirens sound in Israel
2014.08.27 05:00:43

Sirens warning of rocket attacks continued to sound in southern Israel after a Gaza ceasefire was due to take effect.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was checking whether any rockets had landed in Israel.

Alarms were sounding in Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva and communities close to the Gaza border.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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admin
Ashton called for a ceasefire in Ukraine
2014.08.27 04:59:54

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says in Tuesday's talks she called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, proper border control the delivery of aid in compliance with international law, and a political process to resolve Ukraine's internal differences.

"It was cordial but positive. There was a sense in which the onus was on everyone to see if they could do their best to try to resolve this," Ashton told reporters.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

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admin
Israel accepts Egyptian proposal for Gaza ceasefire
2014.08.27 04:58:15

A senior Israeli official says Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for Gaza ceasefire.

"Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time ceasefire.

Israel accepted already the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an unconditional, open-ended ceasefire," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt

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admin
Putin and Poroshenko agree a need for de-escalation in Ukraine
2014.08.27 04:56:49

Belarus president says Putin and Poroshenko agree a need for de-escalation in Ukraine.

A face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, at loggerheads over the crisis in Ukraine, has started in Minsk, the Ukrainian presidential administration said on Tuesday in a Twitter post.

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed the bilateral meeting had started.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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admin
Abbas accepts Egyptian-brokered ceasefire
2014.08.27 04:55:49

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas says the Gaza ceasefire will usher in a new era for the country.

"Together, we will build a new nation & end the occupation", Abbas said in a press conference.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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admin
UN says pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine murder, kidnap and torture
2014.08.27 04:54:46

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are guilty of a wide array of human rights abuses, including murder, abductions and torture, and are receiving a "steady supply" of sophisticated weapons and ammunition, according to a UN report obtained by Reuters.

The report by the 34-member UN monitoring mission, prepared by the UN human rights office in Geneva, also cited reports of human rights violations by Ukraine's military forces and special battalions run by the country's Interior Ministry.

The report said the death toll has risen to at least 2,200 since the fighting began in mid-April, with an average of at least 36 people killed daily.

That is up from at least 2,086 on August 10 and 1,129 on July 26.

"Armed groups continue to commit killings, abductions, physical and psychological torture, ill treatment, executions, murder and other serious human rights abuses," the report said, adding that violations were "disproportionately targeting civilians."

At least 468 people are believed to be held captive by rebels, according to the report, which covers the period from July 16 to August 17.

"The Ukraine military has reported shelling from (Russian) territory ... and of the illegal use of landmines in Ukraine territory," the monitors said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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admin
Obama promises to root out Islamic State 'cancer'
2014.08.27 04:53:43

US President Barack Obama has vowed to go after the killers of American journalist James Foley, and said rooting out the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria will not be easy.

"America does not forget, our reach is long, we are patient, justice will be done," Obama told veterans gathered at a convention of the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won't be easy and it won't be quick," he said, referring to an acronym the United States uses for Islamic State.

[Reuters]



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

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admin
Gaza ceasefire to start at 1600 GMT
2014.08.27 04:52:06

A Gaza ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians will start at 1600 GMT, the state's MENA news agency said.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry is expected to issue a more detailed statement on the new ceasefire deal soon, according to two Egyptian officials.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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admin
Secret US-Russia talks on Ukraine held in Finland
2014.08.27 04:51:12

The Finnish Foreign Ministry says that the United States and Russia held secret talks over Ukraine in Finland in June.

Ministry spokesman Vesa Hakkinen said that the ministry helped organise the meeting on the island of Boisto off the southern Finnish coast but he declined to give more information.

Earlier this month, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto visited President Vladimir Putin - the first EU leader to meet the Russian leader since the Ukraine crisis - and traveled to Ukraine for talks with President Petro Poroshenko.

Niinisto's office said Tuesday that he was not involved in the June US-Russia talks.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Finland

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admin
British police urge public to inform on 'aspiring' terrorists
2014.08.27 04:49:59

British police have urged people to identify "aspiring terrorists" among their family members, friends and neighbors after the killing of US journalist James Foley, apparently by a man with an English accent.

"We are appealing to the public, family members and friends to help identify aspiring terrorists; they may be about to travel abroad, have just returned or be showing signs of becoming radicalized," said Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country's most senior police officer on counter-terrorism, in a statement.

"Every reasonable person in the country has been touched by the pitiless murder of James Foley at the hands of Islamic State terrorists, and the murderer's apparent British nationality has focused attention on extremism in the UK as well as the Middle East."

He said British police had arrested five times more people in the first half of this year compared with 2013 for "Syria-related" offenses.

Intelligence services say 500 Britons have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside jihadists in the last few years.

The government is under increasing pressure to take steps to combat radicalization and Home Secretary Theresa May said Saturday that she was considering introducing new powers.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Britain

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