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Three dozen people a day are being killed in eastern Ukraine
2014.08.30 02:30:11

Around three dozen people a day are being killed in eastern Ukraine where both sides target civilians in violation of international law and the death toll has risen to at least 2,220, the UN human rights office said on Friday.

The latest findings from the Geneva office, based on reports from a 34-member UN monitoring mission in Ukraine, show both sides committing a range of abuses targeting civilians trapped in urban areas or trying to flee through so-called safe corridors.

The head of the Geneva office, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, raised alarm over the killings in Ukraine.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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UN says Syria refugees top three million mark
2014.08.30 02:29:09

The United Nations refugee agency says the civil war in Syria has forced a record three million people out of the country, an increase of one million from almost exactly a year ago.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement on Friday, that the Syrian crisis has become "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" with almost half of all Syrians forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives since the conflict began in March 2011.

With about one of every eight Syrians fleeing across the border, and 6.5 million others displaced with the country's borders, the Geneva-based agency says over half of all those uprooted are children.

[Associated Press]



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Kurdish pershmerga are striking the town of Sadiyah
2014.08.30 02:28:13

The Kurdish pershmerga are striking the town of Sadiyah, which is located in the Diyala province, north east of Baghdad.

They are trying to wrest back control of the town from Islamic State militants who captured Sadiyah more than a week ago.

They're bombarded the town from the high ground to the north -- while Iraqi government forces attack the town from the south.

[Reuters]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Allegations Russia's military fighting in eastern Ukraine
2014.08.30 02:16:20

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that allegations Russia's military is fighting in eastern Ukraine are "conjecture".

"We're hearing various conjectures, not for the first time, but not once have any facts been presented to us," he said at a news conference. [Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syrian rebels abducted Fijian soldiers
2014.08.30 02:14:54

The UN says Syrian rebels have abducted 43 Fijian soldiers monitoring the demilitarized zone in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The US says fighters from the al-Qaeda affiliate group, the Nusra Front, are among those involved.

You can read the story here.



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights

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Airstrikes against Islamic State targets
2014.08.30 02:11:41

The U.S. military says fighter planes have conducted five airstrikes against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq.

U.S. Central Command says in a brief statement that the fighters destroyed a Humvee, a tank, four armed vehicles and a construction vehicle near the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River. They also damaged an Islamic State checkpoint.

[AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Separatists under the direct control of the Kremlin
2014.08.30 01:58:30

The Ukrainian military said on Friday that a call by Russian President Vladimir Putin for a 'humanitarian corridor' to be set up to allow Ukrainian troops to withdraw showed that the separatists were under the direct control of the Kremlin.

Putin's call, the Kiev military said in a statement, testified to only one thing - "these people (the separatists) are led and controlled directly from the Kremlin." [Reuters]



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Humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine troops
2014.08.30 01:49:32

A leader of pro-Moscow rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Friday he had agreed to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine troops after Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement.

Putin called on the rebels to provide the corridor in east Ukraine for Ukrainian government troops to leave the battlefield earlier on Friday.

"We are ready to give a humanitarian corridor," Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told Rossiya 24 TV, adding that troops would have to leave their heavy armored vehicles and ammunition. [Reuters]

Putin said in a statement issued overnight on Thursday:

I call on the rebel forces to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian troops who are surrounded, so as to avoid unnecessary casualties and to give them the opportunity to withdraw from the zone of operations.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza
2014.08.29 05:23:04

A busload of Palestinians trying to leave the enclave waited at the border of the neighboring Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza to see if they would be given permission to enter.

Egyptian authorities shut the Rafah crossing to all but those with Egyptian and foreign passports, residency permits and the seriously wounded during much of the war.

Rafah, Gaza's only gateway to the world which is not controlled by Israel, is controlled by the Egyptian authorities, and therefore not technically included in the ceasefire agreement. Crossing into Egypt is still an arduous process open to few from inside Gaza.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Egypt

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Russian forces were fighting in Ukraine
2014.08.29 05:21:36

US President Barack Obama said it was plain for the world to see that Russian forces were fighting in Ukraine.

Obama said he planned to host Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House in September to discuss the escalating crisis.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Barack Obama

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Growing crisis in Ukraine
2014.08.29 05:20:32

Some members of the UN Security Council expressed outrage over the growing crisis in Ukraine in an emergency session held Thursday.

UN Undersecretary-General of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told council members, as the meeting began, that the latest developments mark a "dangerous escalation in the conflict," but that the international body had no way of verifying the latest "deeply alarming reports".

Statements from NATO, Poroshenko ,the separatists, the United States and the president of the Security Council left no doubt that Russia had invaded Ukraine.

A top NATO official said at least 1,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine with sophisticated equipment and have been in direct "contact" with Ukrainian soldiers, resulting in casualties.

The new southeastern front raised fears that the separatists are seeking to create a land link between Russia and Crimea, which Russia annexed in March.

US Ambassador Samantha Power told the council: "Every single one has sent a straightforward, unified message: 'Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening.'"

"Russia has come before the council to say everything but the truth," Power said.

"We will continue working with G-7 partners to rachet up consequences on Russia," Power said, and France also threatened that sanctions will be increased if the escalation continues.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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'Pattern of escalating aggression' by Russia in Ukraine
2014.08.29 05:19:18

US state department says that it is seeing a "pattern of escalating aggression" by Russia in Ukraine, Reuters is reporting.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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Shelling in Ukraine's Donetsk
2014.08.29 05:18:21

Fifteen civilians have been killed in shelling in Ukraine's Donetsk - Reuters through city administration.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Imminent US military action in Syria
2014.08.29 05:16:42

US President Barack Obama played down the prospect of imminent US military action in Syria saying "we don't have a strategy yet'' for degrading the violent armed group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama said confronting the Islamic State group requires a regional strategy with support from other states in the region. He said it's time for states in the region to "stop being ambivalent" about the aims of rebel groups like the Islamic State.

"They have no ideology beyond violence and chaos," Obama said.



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

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UN Secretary General is alarmed by reports that the Ukraine fighting
2014.08.29 05:14:12

Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson has said that the UN Secretary General is alarmed by reports that the Ukraine fighting has spread southward. "If true," he says "it's a dangerous escalation".



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Security Council's statement
2014.08.29 05:13:17

The UN Security Council just released this statement on the UN Disengagement Observer Force

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the detention of 43 United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers from within the Area of Separation in the vicinity of position 27, as well as the surrounding of positions 68 and 69, which are manned by 81 UNDOF peacekeepers, earlier today by a Security Council-designated terrorist groups and by members of non-state armed groups.

The members of the Security Council demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers and called upon all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel. They called up countries with influence to strongly convey to the armed members of the opposition in the UNDOF area of operation to immediately release the peacekeepers.  They stressed that there should be no military forces in the area of separation other than those of UNDOF, and further reiterated their condemnation for the increased use by elements of the Syrian opposition and other groups of improvised explosive devices in the UNDOF area of operation which which threaten the safety and security of United Nations personnel.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their unconditional support for UNDOF.



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights

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Russian troops entering Ukraine is 'an intolerable escalation'
2014.08.29 04:55:34

Russian troops entering Ukraine is "an intolerable escalation" of the crisis there, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi told Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone on Thursday.

"Referring to the very serious news of Russian troops entering Ukraine today, Prime Minister Renzi reiterated that this is an intolerable escalation and would have very grave consequences," Renzi's office said in a statement.

Renzi, who is also the current president of the EU, called on Putin to "rapidly return to the negotiating table".



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Italy

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Security Council 'strongly condemned' the detention of peacekeepers
2014.08.29 04:54:22

The UN Security Council "strongly condemned" the detention of the 43 peacekeepers and the "surrounding of positions" manned by the 81 other peacekeepers, by "terrorist groups and by members of non-state armed groups."

The council demanded the "unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers" and urged countries with influence to help win their release.

The 81 Filipino troops were locked in a standoff near Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah, while the Fijian soldiers were taken to the southern part of the buffer zone, UN officials said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was unclear which group had staged the attacks.

"Some groups are self-identified as affiliated to Al-Nusra but we are not able to confirm," he said.



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights

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More than 100 Russian soldiers killed
2014.08.29 04:52:22

More than 100 Russian soldiers were killed in eastern Ukraine in a battle this month while helping pro-Russian separatists fight Ukrainian troops, two members of the Russian presidential human rights council said on Thursday, citing accounts of eye-witness and relatives of the dead.

Ella Polyakova and Sergei Krivenko, both members of the council, said around 300 people were also injured in the violence on August 13 near the town of Snizhnye in Donetsk Province, when a column of trucks full of ammunition they were driving was hit by a sustained volley of Grad missiles.

"A column of Russian soldiers was attacked by Grad rockets and more 100 people died. It all happened in the city of Snizhnye in Donetsk Province," said Krivenko speaking by telephone.

Polyakova said she had also been given the same figure, of more than 100, for the number of Russian soldiers killed in the attack.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
2014.08.29 04:51:20

A group of 43 UN peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have been detained by gunmen fighting the Syrian army and the world body is working to secure their release, the United Nations said on Thursday.

"During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, 43 peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah," the UN press office said in a statement.



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights

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