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'Most dangerous' part of Ukraine
2014.09.27 01:53:29

President Petro Poroshenko has proclaimed an end to the "most dangerous" part of Ukraine's pro-Russian uprising and the start of a post-war recovery that would lead to an EU membership bid in 2020.

The pro-Western leader told the first press conference since his June inauguration that he would never allow a resurgent Kremlin and gunmen entrenched in Ukraine's eastern rust belt to halt Kiev's ambition to break out of Russia's embrace.

The five-month conflict has killed more than 3,200 people and driven 650,000 from their homes across a bomb-scarred region that once served as the country's economic driving engine.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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British parliament to vote on air strikes
2014.09.27 01:52:20

British legislators will vote today on whether to bomb ISIL in Iraq, though not in Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron addressed a UN summit in New York before flying home for the vote:

"We are facing an evil against which the whole world must unite. And, as ever in the cause of freedom, democracy and justice, Britain will play its part."



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Britain

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The masked fighter in the videos
2014.09.27 01:37:52

The masked fighter in the videos depicting the beheading of two Americans has been identified, FBI Director James Comey said, but he did not give the person's name or nationality.

Comey, speaking to a small group of reporters on Thursday, declined to give further details about the suspect. He said roughly one dozen Americans were known to be fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant group in Syria, and that many who fought there had already returned to the US.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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Refugee influx to West surges
2014.09.27 01:36:42

Wars in Syria and Iraq, and instability in other hotspots are driving ever more people to seek asylum in wealthy nations, with requests on track to hit a 20-year high in 2014, the UNHCR says.

About 330,700 people sought refugee status in 44 industrialized countries in the first half of the year, an almost 24 per cent rise on the same period in 2013, it said.

If the trend continues, the number of new asylum claims could reach 700,000 in 2014, "the highest total for industrialized countries in 20 years and a level not seen since the 1990s conflict in former Yugoslavia," it said in a report.

More than two-thirds of all asylum claims in the first six months of this year were lodged in just six countries, in order: Germany, the US, France, Sweden, Turkey and Italy, according to the UNHCR.

More than one in seven claims - 48,400 - were from Syrians, twice as many as in the same period last year.



Tags: Iraq | Syria

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Ukrainian PM accused Russia of attempting to freeze Ukraine
2014.09.27 01:34:15

The Ukrainian prime minister has accused Russia of attempting to freeze Ukraine in the coming winter by using natural gas as a weapon to subjugate the former Soviet Republic.

"They want us to freeze. This is the aim and this is another trump card in Russian hands. So, except military offense, except military operation against Ukraine, they have another trump card, which is energy," Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

"The ultimate goal of Russia is to organize, to orchestrate another frozen conflict in Ukraine."

Russia's state-controlled energy company Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June because of a row over Kiev's unpaid gas bill, raising concerns that the country may not be able to cover the peak-demand winter season.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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France joining airstrikes in Syria
2014.09.27 01:22:43

France has opened the door to possibly joining airstrikes in Syria in the coming days just hours after an Algerian group beheaded a French tourist in retaliation for Paris' action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group in Iraq.

France has repeatedly ruled out taking part in air action in Syria where the ISIL has its power base.

However, the death of French tourist Herve Gourdel, who was beheaded in Algeria just 24 hours after an ultimatum was given to France to halt attacks in Iraq, appeared to toughen Paris' resolve.

"The opportunity is not there today. We already have an important task in Iraq and we will see in the coming days how the situation evolves," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

Pressed further on whether it was a possibility in the future, Le Drian, who is taking part in a war cabinet meeting on Thursday, said: "The question is on the table".

[AP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | France

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UN Human Rights Council vote
2014.09.27 01:08:57

The UN Human Rights Council has voted overwhelmingly to share its evidence of Syrian atrocities in hopes it will be forwarded to the world's war crimes tribunal.

By a vote of 32-5, with 10 abstentions, the 47-nation council adopted the resolution on Thursday strongly condemning lack of cooperation by President Bashar al-Assad's government with a UN commission investigating alleged rights violations since March 2011 in Syria, whether by the government or the opposition or the Islamic State group that controls broad areas along the Syria-Iraq border.

The resolution emphasizes that The Hague-based International Criminal Court can play an "important role" if the United Nations agrees to send it the commission's findings on war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly being committed in Syria.

[AP]



Tags: Syria

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Oil refineries held by the ISIL
2014.09.26 01:49:10

Jets from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates played the leading role in the latest round of air strikes in Syria against fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon said.

Ten warplanes from the two Arab states flew with six US aircraft in Wednesday's raids on oil refineries held by the ISIL group and 80 percent of the bomb tonnage delivered by the Saudi and UAE planes, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Saudi Arabia | UAE

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Civilians killed in US-led air strikes
2014.09.26 01:47:45

The Pentagon said it will investigate reports that civilians were killed in US-led air strikes in Syria this week but insisted the raids were carried out with precision.

The US military said its bombing raids this week were carefully calibrated to avoid civilian casualties and touted the role of coalition partners from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the latest strikes carried out on Wednesday.

"We don't have credible operational reports" that civilians were killed in three days of air strikes, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters. But "we are taking a look at that," Kirby said, describing the media reports and video as "allegations."

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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Bombings in Syria and Iraq
2014.09.26 01:39:55

The Pentagon says it is too early to say that the US-led coalition was "winning" against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, pointing to the group's continued access to financing, volunteers and weapons even after bombings in Syria and Iraq.

"Your question gets at ... How do you know you're winning? And what I'm telling you is, it's going to take us a while to be able to say that," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

"Even after the hits they've taken and they have been hit they still have financing at their fingertips. They still have plenty of volunteers. They still have plenty of weapons and vehicles and the ability to move around," he said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Iraq

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Air strike by the US-led coalition
2014.09.26 01:38:22

This video purports to show an air strike by the US-led coalition on the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Iraq

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Regime drops barrel bombs
2014.09.26 01:36:43

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Syria's air force has dropped barrel bombs in the countryside north of Homs city. Further north Syrian helicopters used barrel bombs on a village outside Hama and warplanes bombed areas in the northern countryside of Latakia province, the Observatory said.



Tags: Syria

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Threat from Dutch fighter in #Syria
2014.09.26 01:26:58

Dutch soldiers have been told not to wear uniforms on public transport, a defense ministry spokeswoman said, after a Dutch man fighting in Syria called for attacks in the Netherlands.

"Last night we advised military personnel not to travel in uniform on public transport," Marloes Visser told AFP. "There have been several statements made earlier this week which we are monitoring," she said.

On Tuesday, a Dutch fighter calling himself Muhajiri Shaam called for action against the Netherlands following US air strikes. Shaam called in an online video for others to "stand up and carry out a strong, firm act against the Dutch state" for "supporting the United States". Speaking in Dutch, Shaam said he made the video in Aleppo, where he has joined the Nusra Front, state broadcaster NOS said.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Netherlands

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Video from Houla
2014.09.26 01:25:25

This video from Houla, Homs province, shows another protest against the US-led air strikes.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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Raids in Arsal confirmed
2014.09.26 01:07:35

According to the head of military intelligence in Lebanon's Bekaa, the army has carried out several raids inside Arsal. He confirms the raid on an informal refugee settlement reported further down on this blog and the detention of less than 100 Syrian men suspected of involvement in attacks against the Lebanese army.

He says skirmishes broke out among Syrians after the raid - related to some men's involvement in attacks and the consequences for other Syrians now feeling persecuted.



Tags: Syria | Lebanon

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French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq
2014.09.26 01:06:34

French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq this morning, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll says. The strikes were the first by French jets since September 19 when Paris joined the US military action against ISIL.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France

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Update from the Turkish-Syrian border
2014.09.26 01:00:41

About 150,000 Kurds have fled to Turkey since fighting around Kobane (Ain al-Arab in Arabic) began last week. Some of the men have returned to fight against ISIL and around 400 people. mostly men, are now waiting on the Turkish side to cross back to Kobani. About 300 others are waiting on the Syrian side to cross into Turkey.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Turkey

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Sanctions against Russia
2014.09.26 00:59:22

Ukraine's prime minister has urged countries not to lift sanctions against Russia until his country regains control over its entire territory, including Crimea.

Ending a day of intense discussions over the growing global threat of extremist groups, Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the annual UN General Assembly of world leaders that "we know what terrorism means".

He demanded that Russia pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine, "stop the supply of Russian-led terrorists'' and start "real talks, peace talks."'

The months-long fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces has been another major theme of speeches at the global assembly this week.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Crimea

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Car bombs in Mahmoudiyah
2014.09.26 00:58:02

A police source says that 13 people were killed after two consecutive car bombs blew up this morning in the mixed city of Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad.

The first bomb targeted the city council building, killing seven and injuring other 13. The second one blew up near Mahmoudiyah hospital, killing six and injuring nine.



Tags: Iraq

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Clashes continue around Kobane
2014.09.26 00:38:48

Activists from the Kurdish PYD party in Kobane say the town is in danger as ISIL fighters are around 2km away and clashes are ongoing.

ISIL now controls 75 percent of the Kobane region and PYD only controls Kobane town, the smaller town of Shera and around 15 villages.

The activists say Kurdish YPG fighters, collaborating with some Free Syrian Army groups, are pushing ISIL back on the eastern side of the town while other groups of YPG in Hasakah province are attacking the ISIL-held border town of Tal Abyad in an attempt to link Kobane to the Kurdish-majority region.

However, the lack of heavy weaponry prevents the YPG and allied forces from advancing or repelling ISIL.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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