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Member of the People's Assembly
2014.04.24 03:08:02

Syrian state media has reported a member of the People's Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.

The Syrian opposition in exile has criticized the planned election of June 3 as a "farce", while the UN and the Arab League have said it poses a major obstacle to efforts for a negotiated peace.

To read the full story, click here.



Tags: Syria

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Town of Mileha
2014.04.24 03:06:07

This video allegedly shows government forces bombing the town of Mileha, east Damascus.

MWC cannot independently confirm the content of this video.



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US troops have arrived in Poland
2014.04.24 03:04:36

The first of 600 US troops have arrived in Poland. Washington insists that they are not there to intervene, but the Kiev government hopes they will take action if Russia further provokes Ukraine.

"We hope that if there is aggression from the Russian Federation that this assistance will be more substantial. At least we have the support of the United States, they will not leave us alone with the aggressor," said Vitaly Yarema, Ukraine's first deputy prime minister. [RTV]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Poland

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Fighting in East Ghoutal
2014.04.24 03:03:33

This video allegedly shows fighting in East Ghouta, where regime forces launched an assault a few days ago.

MWC cannot independently verify the content of this video.



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Russia insist that Kiev pull back troops
2014.04.24 03:01:07

Russia has insisted that Kiev pull back its troops from eastern Ukraine as it accused Washington of distorting an agreement to ease the most serious confrontation between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

To read more, click here.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Foreign diplomats visit Moldova and Georgia
2014.04.24 02:52:35

France and Germany's foreign ministers are making a joint visit to Moldova and Georgia, former Soviet republics, as unrest continues in Ukraine.

Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and France's Laurent Fabius on Wednesday traveled to the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

The trip, which will also include a visit to Tunisia, was planned at the beginning of the year as part of an effort to build stronger foreign-policy ties between Berlin and Paris.

Germany and France "take very seriously the deep anxiety" with which their eastern partners view the situation in Ukraine, Steinmeier said.

The EU is pushing ahead with association agreements with Moldova and Georgia.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Moldova | Georgia | France | Germany

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Challenger to Bashar al-Assad
2014.04.24 02:50:56

Syrian state media has reported a member of the People's Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.

"The speaker of the Syrian People's Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham announced on Wednesday that the Assembly received from the Supreme Constitutional Court a candidacy application from MP Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar to run for president," SANA reported.

Sources in Syria say that  Hajjar, who is Aleppo-born, is member of the internal opposition and a member of Syrian People's Assembly representing Aleppo governorate.



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Rundown of what has happened
2014.04.24 02:49:10

Despite all the talk today, the resumption of hostilities has not actually resumed. Here's a rundown of what has happened:

* The Ukraine government says its Easter truce is over. It says it has the backing of the US to launch "appropriate measures" against Pro-Russian separatists in the east.

* A video has emerged of a pro-Kiev councilor being confronted by a pro-Russian mob, hours before he was allegedly kidnapped, tortured and murdered before being dumped.

* Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that Russia would respond if its interests were threatened. He referenced the action Russia took when Georgia moved to reoccupy its pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia in 2008. Russian tanks were within a few dozen miles of Tblisi within five days).



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
2014.04.24 02:33:08

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has informed his Egyptian counterpart of President Obama's decision to deliver 10 Apache helicopters in support of Egypt’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai.

A statement from the Department of Defense says the US believes these new helicopters will help the Egyptian government "counter extremists who threaten U.S., Egyptian, and Israeli security.

This is one element of the president’s broader efforts to work with partners across the region to build their capacity to counter terrorist threats, and is the United States’ national security interest."



Tags: Egypt | United States | Chuck Hagel

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Upcoming presidential election
2014.04.24 02:31:51

Syrian state media has reported a member of the People's Assembly has registered as a challenger to Bashar al-Assad in the upcoming presidential election.

"The speaker of the Syrian People's Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham announced on Wednesday that the Assembly received from the Supreme Constitutional Court a candidacy application from MP Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar to run for president," SANA reported.

Sources in Syria say that Hajjar, who is Aleppo-born, is member of the internal opposition and a member of Syrian People's Assembly representing Aleppo governorate.



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The 'Polite People' inspire Red Army tribute
2014.04.24 02:30:36

The Russian army choir has released a song glorifying the troops in unmarked uniforms who took control of Crimea ahead of its annexation by Moscow - swiftly nicknamed "the polite people" for their silent demeanor.

The deep-voiced Alexandrov Ensemble, known internationally as the Red Army Choir, released "Polite People" on its official YouTube site accompanied by footage of the choir performing in Crimea this month.

The heavily armed soldiers who appeared in Crimea in late February and surrounded government buildings and army bases gained the nickname "the polite people" because they refused to identify themselves but posed for publicity shots with children and women pushing prams.

Those who opposed Russia's actions in the strategic Black Sea peninsula on the other hand describe them as "little green men".

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, even used the term, saying his allies who came under Western sanctions over actions in Ukraine were "polite people."

The choir's song features lyrics praising the troops who "simply stand politely nearby, they simply carry guns," set to the strumming of balalaikas.

The song reassures listeners with a rousing chorus: "The polite people will preserve the glory and honor of the fatherland."

Putin insisted at the time that the unmarked troops in Crimea were members of local self-defense brigades and suggested they bought their uniforms at army surplus stores.

"Their helmets are polite, their faces are polite, even their steel vehicles are polite," the lyrics run, against a picture of a soldier in helmet and black mask, carrying a machine gun.

The choir's website says the song was first performed in Crimea on a tour from April 10-14.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki
2014.04.24 02:15:38

The email from US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has, according to a congressional aide, cleared the way for the release of US Apache helicopters to Egypt and some of its annual $1.3bn military assistance package to the country so it can deal with security and counter-terrorism.

The unnamed congressional aide is cited in a report from the news agency Associated Press.



Tags: Egypt | United States

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Humanitarian aid to Syria
2014.04.24 02:13:57

The directors of five United Nations agencies that provide humanitarian aid to Syria have said their appeal for $6.5 bn in emergency funding for 2014 has been mostly ignored.

With only $1.2 bn pledged, the agency heads are renewing their December appeal and emphasizing that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating by the day as the 3-year-old civil war escalates in many areas.

The December appeal "has gone largely unanswered" for a crisis affecting 9.3 million people, said a joint statement Wednesday by U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, UNICEF director Anthony Lake, UN refugee commissioner

António Guterres, World Food Program director Ertharin Cousin and World Health Organization director Dr. Margaret Chan.

They say "the worst days seem yet to come" for civilians remaining in Aleppo, Homs, and other areas with heavy fighting.

[AP]



Tags: Syria

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Sergey Lavrov- Russian foreign minister
2014.04.24 02:12:52

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister has said some pretty powerful stuff on Ukraine in an interview with Russia Today. The video is to be broadcast tonight but excerpts of the transcript have been released early. He says:

Russia sees the US hand in a new Ukraine offensive against pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine.

There is no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show.

Russia will respond if its interests are attacked.

If our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians, have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law.

South Ossetia is a reference to the Georgian war of 2008, when Russian troops invaded Georgia after Tblisi attempted to end separatist rebellions in two of its regions: Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This last one is fairly significant. Raising the specter of the Georgian war in reference to Ukraine is particularly pointed.

Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation.

Is Lavrov saying there are Russian citizens among the separatists in east Ukraine? Or that he considers those in the groups to be defacto Russian citizens? That statement's meaning is not entirely clear, even in the context of his other quotes. But it certainly sounds high-level dangerous.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Sergey Lavrov

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Kerry spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy
2014.04.24 01:48:18

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy on Tuesday.

In a statement from US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, Kerry noted that "he is not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition" and urged Egypt to conduct "free, fair and transparent elections".

The elections are due to take place on May 26 and 27. Retired army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is widely expected to win the vote.



Tags: Egypt | United States | John Kerry

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Syrian Revolution General Commission
2014.04.24 01:46:34

According to Syrian Revolution General Commission, several fighter of Hezbollah has died and others injured as result of an attack by Free Syrian Army in Daraya , Damascus countryside.

The SRGC added that a 70m tunnel, was discovered by members of FSA on the north side of the city of Darya, it was used by the fighters of Hezbollah and regime forces soldiers to infiltrate the city and to bring weapons.

The regime forces shelled the northern area of the city with toxic substances, according to the SRGC, which resulted the poisoning of a number of people.



Tags: Syria | Hezbollah

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Ukrainian town councilor mobbed
2014.04.24 01:43:40

A Ukrainian town councilor was mobbed by a hostile, pro-Russian crowd hours before he was kidnapped, tortured and apparently murdered, a video shows.

The footage from Thursday on gorlovka.ua, posted to Youtube, shows angry scenes outside the town hall of Horlivka, between the separatist flashpoint cities of Donetsk and Slovyansk, as Volodymyr Rybak is manhandled by several men, among them a masked man in camouflage, while other people hurl abuse.

Rybak had tried to remove the flag of the separatist Donetsk Republic, the website said. "Over my dead body will you take down that flag," one man in plain clothes yells at Rybak as the politician tries to gain entry to the town hall.

After several minutes, Rybak appears able to walk away. Ukraine's Interior Ministry said he was seen being bundled into a car by masked men in camouflage later that day. His body was found on Saturday near Slovyansk.

He and another, unidentified, man appeared to have been tortured and dumped alive in a river to drown, police concluded.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Russian Foreign Minister
2014.04.23 08:12:49

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a telephone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that Ukraine must take urgent steps to implement a deal aimed at defusing the Ukraine crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov said orders for the army to be deployed in the crisis should be reversed, the Right Sector Ukrainian nationalist group should be disarmed, arrested activists in southeast Ukraine freed and constitutional reforms started, the ministry said.

The call was a US initiative and the two men agreed to maintain contact, it said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | John Kerry | Sergey Lavrov

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Vice Magazine journalist
2014.04.23 08:11:38

Vice Magazine journalist Simon Ostrovsky has been reportedly "taken" by pro-Kremlin militia in the eastern town of Slavyansk.

Vice Magazine has stated that it is in contact with the US State Department and other government authorities to secure the safety of their colleague.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Military operation against pro-Kremlin separatists
2014.04.23 08:10:45

Update: Ukraine's acting president has ordered a military operation against pro-Kremlin separatists in the east of the country after the body of a local politician from his own party was found showing signs of torture. To read more, click here.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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