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2014.08.30 04:13:08

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has described the condition of the group's military commander, Mohammed Deif, as "fine", after a failed Israeli assassination attempt on him earlier this month.

Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades, had said at the time that Israel had missed its target and that Deif's wife and seven-month-old son were killed in the attack.

Deif was widely believed to be masterminding the Islamist group's military campaign from underground bunkers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declined to say whether Israel had tried to kill Deif, but said 'militant leaders' were legitimate targets and that "none are immune" from attack.

[Reuters]


  Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Qassam Brigades
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2014.08.30 04:12:02

The 38-year-old hails from Donetsk where he worked as an electrical engineer, but it was as Head of the Donetsk branch of the rebel group Oplot that he rose to prominence.

In April he joined other rebel leaders to declare independence for Donetsk. By May he held the top spot as the rebel military commandant of Donetsk.

And just over three weeks ago Zakharchenko became the Prime Minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

Coming as a surprise to many, Zakharchenko, in taking the job from Russian Alexander Borodai, reportedly dampened down accusations that the rebellion in the east was being run by Moscow.

Zakharchenko reportedly brought hundreds of fighters and captured military hardware with him. But he and his Donetsk rebels know that they are unlikely to win this on their own.

In the last two days Zakharchenko blew the debate wide open, by confirming up to 4,000 Russians have been fighting alongside the rebels on Ukrainian soil.

And pressure is being heaped onto Russia to explain its actions in Ukraine.

There was a call from the Russian president to provide the encircled units of the Ukrainian army with humanitarian corridors to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. With all due respect to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - the president of the country that gives us a lot of moral help - we are ready to give them these corridors, if they don’t take heavy weapons and ammunition, so that these weapons and ammunition in the future could not be used against us.

-- Alexander Zakharchenko, eastern Ukraine separatist leader.


  Ukraine | Russia
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2014.08.30 04:10:21

Reports claim that heavy shelling on al-Nusra Front Sites in Jobar, located in the suburbs of Damascus, has taken the lives of 150 people and wounded rebel fighters today.

MWC cannot independently verify this report.


  Syria
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2014.08.30 04:08:58

Iraqi officials : four soldiers and 14 fighters were killed during clashes between the Islamic State and the military in Latifiyah south of Baghdad.

[AP]


  Iraq | Islamic State
Comments 0 Hits: 9  

2014.08.30 02:58:38

Ukraine has given its "agreement in principle" to sending a second humanitarian convoy into conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

"The day before yesterday we received a note in response from the Ukrainian foreign ministry expressing agreement in principle with the proposal to send Russian humanitarian aid to the east," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.

He said representatives of Ukrainian authorities, the rebels, Russia and the OSCE should agree on the details of sending in the convoy "in the next few days".

Russia intends to "agree all the procedures with the Ukrainian side, with the involvement of the International Red Cross," he added Russia sent a first convoy of more than 200 trucks, containing according to Moscow 1,800 tonnes of food aid, into Ukraine a week ago without agreeing it with Kiev and without Red Cross monitors.

Kiev condemned the move as a "direct invasion".

[AFP]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 20  

2014.08.30 02:57:36

Saudi Arabia's leading religious leader has warned Muslim youth to steer clear of "calls for jihad" issued on "perverted" grounds, state news agency SPA says.

"Young people should not let themselves be influenced by calls for jihad... on perverted principles," Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said.  

"It is a great misfortune that our youths are being exploited to fuel sedition" and lured into war zones "under the pretext of jihad", he said.

Those "endangering the lives" of young Saudis have "disobeyed God and have sinned."

[AFP]


  Syria | Saudi Arabia
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Comments 0 Hits: 26  

2014.08.30 02:54:37

The self-declared jihadist Islamic State (IS) group has posted video of the execution of a captured Kurdish fighter, in a warning to Iraqi Kurdish leaders to end military cooperation with Washington, a monitoring group has said.

The US has carried out a wave of air strikes against the fighters in northern Iraq, helping Kurdish forces to claw back ground lost to the them earlier this month.

The video, titled "A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance," opens with 15 men in orange jumpsuits standing around the IS flag.

Three of the men ask Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani "and the Kurdish government to end their relationship with the US... military intervention in northern Iraq," the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service said.

[AFP]


  Iraq | Islamic State | United States
Comments 0 Hits: 24  

2014.08.30 02:40:44

Anders von Rasmussen, the NATO chief, says:

"Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and southeastern Ukraine. This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation. Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine. Russia continues to supply the separatists with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and rocket launchers.

Russia has fired on Ukraine from both Russian territory and within Ukraine itself.

Moreover, Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine's borders. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution.

Today we expressed strong solidarity with Ukraine. At the Wales summit next week we will meet President Poroshenko to make clear NATO's unwaivering support for Ukraine.

We condemn in the strongest terms Russia's continuous disregard of its international obligations. We urge Russia  to seize its illegal military actions, stop its support for armed separatists and take immediate and verifiable steps towards de-escalation of this grave crisis. "

We fully respect Ukraine's decisions as regards to Ukraine's security policy and alliance affiliations. This is a fundamental principle that every nation has an inherent right to decide itself on security policies and its alliance affiliations.

I am not going to interfere with political discussions in Ukraine, but let me remind you of NATO's decision taken at the Bucharest summit in 2008 according to which Ukraine will become a member of NATO, provided, of course, that Ukraine so wishes and provided that Ukraine fulfils the necessary criteria.

In the meantime, Ukraine has decided to persue a so-called no-allience policy. We fully respect that. We fully respect if Ukrainian parliament decides to change that policy, because we adhere to the principle that each and every country has a right to decide itself without interference from outside. And we hope that other nations adhere to the same principle."


  Ukraine | Russia | NATO
Comments 0 Hits: 25  

2014.08.30 02:37:51

Talks were underway to release 43 Fijian peacekeepers taken hostage by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, the Pacific nation's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said.

"The latest information we have is that they are safe and I can say now that the negotiations for their release have already begun," he said in a statement.

Bainimarama said the peacekeepers were believed to be safe and his government was working closely with the United Nations to secure their release.

"These men are peacekeepers, not combatants in the Syrian conflict, and there is no need for them to be detained," he said.

The Fijians, who were on duty in a UN-patrolled zone, were taken hostage on Thursday.

About 75 Philippine peacekeepers who refused to surrender were involved in a tense standoff with armed groups in the same area, Philippine officials said.

The UN peacekeeping force has been stationed there since 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

There are currently 1,200 peacekeepers from the Philippines, Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands.

[AFP]


  Syria | Israel | Golan Heights | Fiji
Comments 0 Hits: 20  

2014.08.30 02:36:34

The Islamic state group has released a video apparently showing the beheading of a Kurdish man in Iraq as a warning to Kurds fighting the group in the country.

The video titled "A Message in Blood", was posted on social media sites hours after another video purporting to show the mass execution of up to 250 Syrian soldiers in the desert.

In the video, the Kurdish man is shown in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling on the floor in front of a mosque in Mosul with three fighters behind him.

The victim is then beheaded and the fighters warn others will face the same fate should Kurdish leaders choose to continue an alliance with the US.


  Iraq | Islamic State | United States
Comments 0 Hits: 20  

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.


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 22  

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]


  Syria
Comments 0 Hits: 21  

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]


  Iraq | Islamic State
Comments 0 Hits: 16  

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]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 22  

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.


  Syria | Israel | Golan Heights
Comments 0 Hits: 17  

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]


  Iraq | Islamic State | United States
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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]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 30  

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]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 31  

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]


  Gaza | Israel | Egypt
Comments 0 Hits: 73  

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