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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.


  Gaza | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 31  

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]


  Ukraine | Russia | European Union
Comments 0 Hits: 32  

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]


  Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt
Comments 0 Hits: 34  

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.


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 35  

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.


  Gaza | Israel | Egypt
Comments 0 Hits: 32  

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]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 30  

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]


  Syria | Islamic State | United States | Barack Obama | James Foley
Comments 0 Hits: 179  

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]


  Gaza | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 26  

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]


  Ukraine | Russia | United States | Finland
Comments 0 Hits: 174  

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]


  Syria | Britain
Comments 0 Hits: 29  

2014.08.27 04:48:27

Israel and Palestinian leaders have reached an agreement on Tuesday for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, two Egyptian officials said.

"We will issue a statement by 17:00 GMT to announce that a long ceasefire agreement was reached between the Palestinians and Israel after which talks between the two parties will resume in Cairo," a senior Egyptian official said.

[Reuters]


  Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Egypt
Comments 0 Hits: 31  

2014.08.27 04:46:34

Ukraine's Poroshenko says the goal of his visit to meet Putin in Minsk is to do everything possible to stop bloodshed and begin process of finding a political compromise.

He said he saw the talks as playing a crucial role in the future of Europe.

"In Minsk at this meeting the fate of the world and Europe is being decided. That is how I see it," Poroshenko said after shaking hands with Putin.

[Reuters and AFP]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 30  

2014.08.27 04:45:20

Clan and tribal elders from groups opposed to Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have appeared in a video posted on Sunday appealing the leader to pardon them.

"We ask that you extend forgiveness to the people of Sheitat, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State... and your forgiveness will facilitate a new phase," said one of the leaders, dressed in traditional tribal robes.

Hundreds of members of the Sheitat clan have been executed after their tribe refused to submit to the Islamic State group.

The entire tribe had been deemed "hostile apostates" by the group.

[Reuters]


  Syria | Islamic State
Comments 0 Hits: 27  

2014.08.27 03:54:43

Senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, has said a ceasefire has been reached with Israel.

In a statement published on twitter, Abu Marzouk said "we have reached an agreement that will crown the resilience of our people and the victory of our resistance", adding "a statement will be announced soon for the start of the ceasefire and the end of aggression".


  Gaza | Israel | Hamas
Comments 0 Hits: 33  

2014.08.27 03:53:51

Speaking of Ukraine's EU association deal - a treaty between the EU and Ukraine that established political association between the two parties - Putin says Russia "always respected and respects"  the choice of nations, but it should not be at other nations' expense.

Russia's president said that the Ukraine crisis cannot be resolved through further escalation of use of force, or without launching peace dialogue with Ukraine's eastern regions.

He also said the Russian economy could suffer a loss of some 100 billion roubles ($2.77bn) if European goods reach the Russian market via Ukraine after Kiev signed a trade pact with European Union.

He said that Moscow would retaliate with trade measures if that were to happen, and that Belarus and Kazakhstan, Moscow's partners in a customs union, would also be affected.

[Reuters]


  Ukraine | Russia | European Union
Comments 0 Hits: 33  

2014.08.27 03:52:50

Qatar is working to help free four Americans held hostage in Syria by various armed groups, a day after the Gulf Arab state's diplomacy helped free a journalist held since 2012.

A source told the Reuters news agency, "four other Americans who have gone missing in Syria have now been located, and Qatar is working to free them."

He said the hostages were being held by "various groups" but declined to give details.

A rebel commander in Syria reached by Skype from Beirut told Reuters that Qatar was continuously trying to secure the release of captives of all nationalities.

Its latest foray into hostage diplomacy brought Sunday's release of Peter Theo Curtis, an American held for nearly two years by the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate group.

[Reuters]


  Syria | Islamic State | United States | Qatar
Comments 0 Hits: 33  

2014.08.27 03:43:45

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Spanish coach, Oscar Garcia, has left the club because of the Israel's ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Maccabi general manager Jordi Cruyff said Garcia's decision to leave was personal, and said compatriot Pako Ayestaran will replace him.

Israeli sport has been greatly affected by the conflict in Gaza which Israel launched on July 8 with the declared aim of ending the rocket salvos which Islamist militants have fired into the Jewish state.

[Reuters]


  Gaza | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 36  

2014.08.27 03:42:30

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine have sat down for talks, meeting face-to-face for the first time since June on the fighting that has engulfed eastern Ukraine.

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko were joined by the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan and three senior officials from the European Union.

In opening Tuesday's meeting in Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko urged both sides to "discard political ambitions and not to seek political dividend."

The Ukrainian president was expected to face pressure to find a negotiated settlement - not a military victory - to the fighting that began in April.

That was the option called for by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a visit to Kiev last weekend.

[AP]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 36  

2014.08.27 03:41:29

The Australian government has announced a $60 million dollar package to help prevent youngsters from being radicalized and joining groups fighting in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside the Islamic State group, while a reported 100 others were actively working to support the movement at home.

"Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian citizens amongst the foreign fighters highlights the need for action to counter radicalization," Abbott said, adding that IS was using "medieval barbarism allied to modern technology".

"That's how serious and dangerous this movement is. Because of the Australians who are involved with this movement, what might otherwise be a problem in a far away country is a problem for us."

The funding follows a warning from spy chief David Irvine this month that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of militants.

Abbott said the $60 million would help support community groups and security agencies, with the emphasis on preventing radicalization and reducing the threat of home-grown terrorism.

[AFP]


  Syria | Islamic State | Iraq | Australia
Comments 0 Hits: 41  

2014.08.27 03:39:29

The Associated Press has obtained a video filmed August 13 by an Iraqi cameraman, which shows Turkmen fighters allied with Iraqi police and Iraqi government forces in the town of Amirli, firing toward the position of the Islamic State fighters.

The Islamic State group has been in control of Amirli since June 15. About 15,000 Shia Turkmen in the town have been under a tight siege and are running out of food and medical supplies.

All shots of firing seen in the video are believed to show covering fire or general firing in the direction of the Islamic State forces. The video does not purport to show direct fighting between the two forces.

The only way to get in and out of the besieged town is by air.

The Iraqi military has been trying to fly in reinforcements and humanitarian aid in order to ease the suffering of the people living there.

"Firstly there is no gas, no petrol, we haven't got electricity or water and the communication network is cut. In other words, everything that a citizen needs has been cut off," said Amirli fighter Sami Saleh.

The UN called for a humanitarian corridor to be put in place after Amirli was surrounded and attacked by Islamic State militants.


  Iraq | Islamic State
Comments 0 Hits: 36  

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