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2014.08.28 04:22:53

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Russia is and will be a reliable supplier of natural gas to Europe, in response to warnings from Kiev that Moscow could cut off fuel to the continent this winter.

"Russia was, is and will be a reliable supplier of energy resources to Europe," Peskov told journalists.

"We hope that Ukraine in turn will guarantee unhindered transit."

[Reuters]


  Ukraine | Russia | European Union
Comments 0 Hits: 136  

2014.08.28 04:21:55

The mother of an American journalist held captive by militant group Islamic State released a video on Wednesday appealing directly to the group's leader for his release.

"I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. My son Steven is in your hands. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, who protected people of The Book (Christians and Jews). "

Sotloff, 31, went missing in Syria last year while covering the conflict there. Islamic State released a video last week in which he could be seen kneeling following the filmed decapitation of fellow journalist James Foley.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that "we certainly would call on those who are holding (Sotloff) to release him." He reiterated that the United States does not pay ransom to release hostages, however, saying it puts other innocent Americans at risk.

[Reuters]


  Syria | Islamic State | United States
Comments 0 Hits: 144  

2014.08.28 04:19:47

An English transcript is available of PM Yatsenyuk's opening address to Ukraine's cabinet ministers:

“Ukraine now faces three key challenges. The most basic is war. The second is an issue connected with war: foreign exchange rate and energy.”

“The only country that isn’t aware that the war was unleashed directly by the Russian Federation, is Russia itself.”


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 127  

2014.08.28 04:08:23

A group of Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces said on Wednesday they had embarked on what they believed was a routine training patrol and had not realized they were on Ukrainian territory until their detention.

Kiev has accused the servicemen of conducting a "special mission" in support of a separatist pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern regions.

Moscow denies the charge, saying the troops had strayed across the border by mistake.

[Reuters]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 93  

2014.08.28 04:07:08

Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree to form a new government on Wednesday, keeping most key ministers in place, Reuters news agency reported.

Assad was sworn in for a new seven-year term on July 16 after a presidential election that confirmed his grip on power, a process that required him to name a new government.

He re-appointed Wael al-Halaqi as prime minister, having first given him the job 2012 after his predecessor, Riad Hijab, fled Syria to join the opposition. Halaqi, who wields little power in a system dominated by the president, survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus last year.

Critics consider the cabinet, made up of Baathist loyalists, to be largely symbolic as power in Syria lies in the hands of Assad and his inner circle of family and elite members of the security forces.


  Syria | Bashar al-Assad
Comments 0 Hits: 93  

2014.08.28 04:05:09

A statement published by the military on Wednesday said a convoy of "up to 100" tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers was seen traveling on a road toward Telmanove, a town about 80km south of rebel stronghold Donetsk and 20 km from the Russian border.

For the full story click here.


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 47  

2014.08.28 04:02:36

Syrian rebels seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights after heavy clashes with Assad's forces, activists and rebels have said.

Wednesday's capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan Heights held more of a symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an array of rebel fighters took the crossing after heavy fighting that left at least 20 Syrian soldiers and an unknown number of rebels dead.

It said clashes also raged in the towns of Jaba, Tal Kroum and Rawadi in Quneitra province.

The fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan frontier spilled over into Israel, with errant fire wounding an army officer, Israel's military said. It did not immediately comment on the crossing takeover.

From the Israeli side of the de facto border, large clouds of smoke could be seen, as gunfire and explosions sounded in the distance, AP news agency reported.

Israel has avoided taking sides in the war, but has responded when the violence has spilled across the border. In its response, the military said it targeted two Syrian army positions and "hits were confirmed". It gave no further details.

Israel says it holds the Syrian government responsible for any violence that emanates from its territory.


  Syria | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 263  

2014.08.28 04:01:12

Lavrov - Russia not interested in breaking up Ukraine:

"We expressed full respect for the results [of the May referendums] and said the political implementation of what the citizens of southeast Ukraine voted for must be realized through negotiations. We are not interested in breaking up [Ukraine]."

[AFP]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 73  

2014.08.28 03:49:13

An independent UN commission has said that the Syrian government has likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians and that the Islamic State group committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two cities in the country's north and west.

The report from the commission, which has been tasked to investigate potential war crimes in the country, marks the first time the United Nations has assigned blame for the use of the chemical agent.

Specifically, the commission said government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad likely unleashed chlorine on civilians in northern Syrian villages eight times in April.

Source: AP


  Syria | Islamic State
Comments 0 Hits: 64  

2014.08.28 03:46:23

The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday that more Russian soldiers had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, entering the small town of Amvrosiyivka in five armored infantry carriers and a truck.


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 60  

2014.08.28 03:25:02

Fifteen Australians, including two young suicide bombers, are believed to have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, intelligence chief David Irvine said on Wednesday.

Canberra has expressed alarm that around 60 Australians have joined violent armed groups such as Islamic State (IS) overseas.

One Islamic State fighter, Australian man Khaled Sharrouf, sparked outrage when an image of his Sydney-raised son posing with the rotting head of a Syrian soldier was reportedly posted on Twitter.

"The draw of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq is significant and includes more Australians than any other previous extremist conflicts put together,"
Irvine said.

He said the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) believed the number of citizens posing a potential security threat had increased substantially as a result.

Source: AFP


  Syria | Islamic State | Iraq | Australia
Comments 0 Hits: 70  

2014.08.28 03:22:58

Arseny Yatseniuk says Ukraine knows of Russian plans to halt gas flows this winter to Europe:

"The situation in [Ukraine's] energy sector is difficult. We know of Russia's plans to block [gas] transit even to European Union countries this winter, and that's why their [EU's] companies were given an order to pump gas into storage in Europe as fully as possible."


  Ukraine | Russia | European Union
Comments 0 Hits: 56  

2014.08.28 03:08:35

Dr. Husam Zomlot, a senior Foreign Policy adviser for Fatah, says that the truce has unified Palestinian political parties.

Our cause is universal, our cause is righteous, we have the law, we have the morality, we have the support of the millions of people and we have a hell of a nation here, stead-fasting, resisting, resilient and staying on their land.


  Gaza | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 66  

2014.08.28 03:06:09

The United States has begun reconnaissance flights over Syria to track Islamic State fighters but insisted it has "no plans" to coordinate with Syria on targeting the armed rebels.

Numerous sources said foreign drones had been seen, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that "non-Syrian spy planes" had on Monday carried out surveillance of IS positions in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The surveillance is seen as a precursor to possible US airstrikes on positions held by Islamic State group, similar to those being carried out in neighboring Iraq.

It comes after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime said on Monday it was willing to work with the international community, including Washington, to tackle armed fighters.

Source: AFP


  Syria | Islamic State | United States
Comments 0 Hits: 72  

2014.08.28 03:04:51

Russia: Next aid convoy will be followed by others despite Kiev's fears

"And I am sure that it will not be the last because assistance there is needed in huge amounts."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 52  

2014.08.28 02:28:39

A United Nations humanitarian aid convoy crossed into Gaza from Egypt on Wednesday for the first time since a blockade was introduced on the territory in 2007.

The World Food Program (WFP) said the convoy, which entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing, carried enough food to last 150,000 people for five days.

"It is extremely important that we have access to the Gaza Strip to ensure a constant flow of humanitarian supplies to meet the growing needs of the people affected by the recent violence."

Mohamed Diab, WFP Regional Director


  Gaza | Israel
Comments 0 Hits: 58  

2014.08.28 02:25:58

In the past 24 hours, Russian soldiers have crossed Ukriane border in armored infantry carriers and entered Ukrainian town of Amvrosiyivka, Ukrainian military spokesman has said. [Reuters]


  Ukraine | Russia
Comments 0 Hits: 68  

2014.08.28 02:25:04

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has condemned Islamic State group fighters for the mass executions and killings of civilians.

“Muslims around the world have watched in horror as a new conflict tears into Syria and Iraq. As reports of mass executions and killing of civilians surface, and graphic evidence of brutality emerges, we have been appalled,"

he said in statement.


  Iraq | Islamic State | Malaysia | Syria
Comments 0 Hits: 70  

2014.08.28 02:17:12

Qatar has hailed the Gaza ceasefire accord and offered to help rebuild the occupied territory that was battered by seven weeks of Israeli bombardment.

The accord for a long-term ceasefire,  which came into effect on Tuesday, was thanks "firstly to the resistance and the sacrifices" of the Palestinians, Qatar said in a statement, according to the AFP news agency.

It said Qatar was "ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible".[AFP]


  Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Qatar
Comments 0 Hits: 258  

2014.08.28 02:16:00

Journalist Peter Theo Curtis returned to  the United States on Tuesday, two days after he was released by the Islamic State  group in Syria, US media reports said.

In a statement released by his family to US media after he arrived in Boston, Curtis said:

I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the people who have come up to me today - strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family - to say welcome home.


  Syria | Islamic State | United States | Peter Theo Curtis
Comments 0 Hits: 60  

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