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Kidnapped Yazidi women taken to Syria
2014.08.31 02:59:17

Several dozen Yazidi women kidnapped by Islamic State fighters in Iraq have been taken to Syria, forced to convert and sold into marriage to fighters, a monitoring group said Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Britain-based NGO, said it had confirmed that at least 27 Yazidi women had been sold for around $1,000 each to IS fighters.

The group said it was aware that some 300 Yazidi women had been kidnapped and transported to Syria by the fighters, but it had so far documented the sale into marriage of 27.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Iraq

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Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters launched a major operation
2014.08.31 02:57:43

Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters launched a major operation Saturday to break the more than two-month jihadist siege of a Shiite Turkmen town, a senior officer and militia commanders said.

Thousands of militiamen are attacking towards Amerli from the north, while Iraqi security forces are advancing from the south, they said.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq

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European Commission President warned Russia
2014.08.31 02:44:54

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned Russia on Saturday that the EU was ready to defend its principles in the confrontation over Ukraine and called for a political solution before the crisis reached a "point of no-return".

"Russia should not underestimate the European Union's will and resolve to stand by its principles and values," Barroso told a joint news conference in Brussels with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

He said it was not too late for a political solution.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, condemning Russian intervention in his country, said on Saturday that there were now thousands of foreign troops and hundreds of foreign tanks in Ukraine.

He was speaking at a news conference in Brussels ahead of a summit meeting with European Union leaders. [Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syrian rebels attacked Filipino troops in the Golan Heights
2014.08.31 02:43:39

Syrian rebels holding dozens of Fijian UN peacekeepers hostage attacked Filipino troops in the Golan Heights on Saturday, Philippine officials said.

Philippine peacekeepers at one UN encampment were attacked, but those at another were "extricated", Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters in a series of text messages, adding that the attack started early Saturday Syrian time.

Philippine military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told reporters, "There is an ongoing firefight, but all Filipinos are safe."

There were 40 Filipino troops in the encampment that came under attack, and 35 in the second, according to the Philippine military.

Source: AP



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights | Philippines

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Gulf Cooperation Council strongly condemned the Islamic State group
2014.08.31 02:41:30

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council strongly condemned the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and their extreme interpretation of Islam as it opened a meeting in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

"We denounce vehemently the practices of those who use Islam as a pretext to kill and displace en masse Iraqis and Syrians," Kuwait Foreign Minister Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said in Jeddah.

He added that the regional body, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman supported a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month aimed at weakening the fighters.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Syria | Islamic State

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Russia's Itar-Tass news agency
2014.08.31 02:29:13

- A group of pro-government Ukrainian fighters has escaped the town encircled by the rebels in Ilovayska region in Eastern Ukraine after the separatists opened a passage

The agency cited Arseniy Avakov, Ukraine's interior minister, who posted the information on his Facebook page:

Our first fighters from Ilovayska group have left encirclement - 28 people from battalions of Mirotvortsy (14), Kherson (3) and Dnepr-1 (11).

- More than 130,000 Ukrainian civilians have requested a temporary asylum in Russia since the start of a conflict in their country five months ago.

Russia's Federal Migration Service told Itar-Tass on Saturday:

Since April 1, 2014 about 820,000 Ukrainian citizens have arrived to stay in Russia. Since the beginning of the conflict, about 130,000 of them have applied to the migration service with requests for granting temporary asylum or the refugee status.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Kerry call for a global coalition
2014.08.31 02:27:02

US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Friday for a global coalition of nations to combat Islamic State fighters' "genocidal agenda" in Syria and Northern Iraq.

One week ahead of a NATO summit in Wales that will gather leaders from across the Western world, Kerry advocated "a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations" in an op-ed in the New York Times.

The top US diplomat said he and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel would "meet with our counterparts from our European allies. The goal is to enlist the broadest possible assistance," on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

US President Barack Obama has said he is still developing a comprehensive plan to defeat IS, which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a "caliphate" and unleashed a spate of atrocities.

Source: AFP



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | John Kerry | Iraq

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US airstrike on an Islamic State target
2014.08.31 02:24:22

The US Defense Department has released video footage on Friday which purports to show a US airstrike on an Islamic State target near Erbil, Iraq.

The video footage, which was originally shot on Tuesday (August 26), shows an airstrike against an Islamic State armed truck, or "technical," the Defense Department said in a statement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Maldives raised nearly two million dollars to help Gaza
2014.08.31 02:22:44

Media outlets in the Maldives have raised nearly two million dollars to help Gaza residents affected by massive destruction caused in the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, a fundraising organizer said Saturday.

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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Ukrainian fighter jet shot down
2014.08.31 02:01:58

A Ukrainian fighter jet has been shot down by a Russian anti-aircraft system in the east of the country, where Kiev is fighting pro-Moscow rebels, Ukraine's military said on Saturday.

A Russian anti-aircraft system shot down an Su-25 fighter. The pilot managed to eject.

- the military said in a statement, which did not give the location of the incident that it said occurred on Friday morning.

The statement denied rebel claims that four planes had been taken down by the separatists. [AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syrian government soldiers advance
2014.08.31 02:00:27

Syrian government soldiers advance in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, where they were engaged in heavy fighting against anti-government forces, Syrian state television says.

[Reuters]



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Russia's intervention in Ukraine
2014.08.31 01:50:06

Seven NATO allies plan to create a new rapid reaction force of at least 10,000 soldiers as part of plans to boost NATO defenses in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Friday.

The aim is to create a division-sized joint expeditionary force for rapid deployment and regular exercises. The British-led force would include air and naval units as well as ground troops, the newspaper said.

Countries involved include Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands. Canada has also expressed an interest in taking part, it said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce the creation of the force next week, coinciding with the September 4-5 NATO summit in Wales.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Operations in Iraq cost about $7.5 million a day
2014.08.30 04:41:23

The US military's bombing raids and other operations in Iraq cost about $7.5 million a day, the Pentagon said Friday.

Since the Islamic State (IS) fighters seized territory in northern and western Iraq in June, President Barack Obama has deployed about 865 US troops to Iraq to bolster security for American diplomats and advise Baghdad government forces fighting the extremists.

[AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Dutch government wants to strip people who go to fight in Syria or Iraq of their passports
2014.08.30 04:40:05

AFP news agency is reporting that the Dutch government says it wants to strip people who go to fight in Syria or Iraq of their passports, even if they have not been convicted of a crime.

The move comes amid growing fears that Western fighters who joined the Islamic State group and other armed groups in the Middle East will return home to carry out attacks.

"The law will be toughened with the aim of withdrawing Dutch nationality from jihadists who have joined an armed terrorist group, even without a criminal conviction," the government said in a summary of a letter to parliament from Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

The action could however only be taken against Dutch citizens with dual nationality, as "no one should be left stateless", the government said.

Many Dutch Muslims from immigrant families have dual nationality, particularly Moroccan.

"Taking away Dutch nationality means these people are no longer welcome in this country, that they cannot return," Opstelten told journalists in The Hague. He said he will submit the draft law on Friday afternoon.

An estimated 130 Dutch citizens have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, Dutch authorities say. Around 30 have returned while 14 were killed in the fighting, according to the Dutch intelligence service AIVD.



Tags: Syria | Iraq

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Iraqi military claims it was able to liberate six villages
2014.08.30 04:37:40

The Iraqi military claims it was able to liberate six villages near Al Adeim, about 70 kilometers from Amerli, where thousands of Turkman Shiites have been under siege by the Islamic State group.

[AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Syrian warplanes targeted several IS positions
2014.08.30 04:36:30

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights , Syrian warplanes targeted several IS positions in Raqqa and its outskirts. No casualties have been acknowledged so far.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Cameron plans to introduce new legislation
2014.08.30 04:35:46

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that he planned to introduce new legislation to make it harder for Britons to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside armed groups such as the Islamic State.

Cameron said he would detail his plans in parliament on Monday to confiscate passports.

"I will be making a statement in the House of Commons on Monday. This will include further steps to stop people traveling, with new legislation that will make it easier to take people's passports away," Cameron said.



Tags: Iraq | Britain | Syria

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Gaza's border crossings
2014.08.30 04:26:55

With the truce in Gaza , the issue of border crossings has still not been resolved. There a total of six entry points to Gaza , only three of which are presently operational.

The Rafah crossing lies on the border between Gaza and Egypt. Negotiations for reopening it appear to have been put off by at least a month.

Aid supplies for hundreds of thousands of bereft people in Gaza are getting through, but border control remains difficult.

UN World Food Program country director Pablo Recalde speaks on the matter :

"In order to feed half a million people both in shelters and in their homes we need to develop new ways and means to do it. We need access. We need security. We need the capacity to receive these goods."



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Evidence of 'unacceptable intervention' by Russian troops
2014.08.30 04:24:56

In an interview with a French broadcaster, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that he has seen evidence of "unacceptable intervention" by Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine.

He also said that EU sanctions will probably be reinforced if Russia does not quickly change it's behavior.

via Reuters.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | France

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Syrian refugees
2014.08.30 04:23:41

The number of refugees who have fled the Syrian civil war has reached three million; which is around 5,000 people a day.

The United Nations says this is the biggest humanitarian emergency of our time, and that not enough is being done to help.

By December 2012, the UN Refugee Agency said the number of Syrians who had left the country had crossed the 500,000 mark.

But that figure doubled just three months later, when the one millionth Syrian was registered as a refugee. It then took only six months, September 2013, for that number to swell to two million.

Now, a year later, three million Syrians have crossed the border in search of safety. The bulk of them are in Lebanon and Turkey.

The rest have settled in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.



Tags: Syria | Jordan | Iraq | Egypt

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