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IMF: Ukraine may need another bailout due to war
2014.09.03 03:35:07

The International Monetary Fund says Ukraine will need billions of dollars in additional support if the fighting between the military and Russian-backed separatists in the country's east persists.

In its first in-depth assessment since granting the country a $17bn bailout program in March, the IMF said on Tuesday "risks loom large" for the country's economy.

It says the bailout program already faces a $3.5bn funding shortfall through 2015, with the economy forecast to shrink by 6.5 percent this year.

Analysts say Ukraine's gross domestic product might tumble even more.

It says if the fighting in the eastern region - representing about 16 percent of Ukraine's GDP - were to persist through next year, Kiev would likely need additional support worth $19bn only to shore up its central bank reserves.

[AP]



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US journalist Steven Sotloff
2014.09.03 03:33:52

The Islamic State has murdered the US journalist Steven Sotloff, reports say, days after his mother pleaded with the group's leader to spare his life.

The Site monitoring group said on Tuesday that the armed group released the video of his death. Other internet monitors said they had seen the video and confirmed its content.

In the new video the group also threatened to kill another captive David Cawthorne Haines, a Briton.

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Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Iraq | Steven Sotloff

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Russian forces strengthening positions in Ukraine
2014.09.03 03:17:48

Russian troops are strengthening their positions in eastern Ukraine and using aid shipments to smuggle in arms and other supplies to separatist forces, Kiev's military said on Tuesday.

Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said units of Russian troops had been identified in the big regional center of Donetsk, towns and villages to its east and in south-east areas near the Sea of Azov.

Fifteen more Ukrainian servicemen were killed in fighting in the past 24 hours, Lysenko said.

President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and undisguised aggression" in Kiev's five-month war against pro-Russian separatists.

He acknowledged the Russian troops had tipped the battlefield balance in favour of the rebels.

Despite the accusations from Kiev and its Western allies, Moscow denies its troops are directly involved.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Protesters have broken into the parliament building
2014.09.03 03:16:57

Protesters have broken into the parliament building inside Baghdad's protected green zone.

According to reports, the demonstrators are relatives of Iraqi army recruits killed by the Islamic State group in the battle for Tikrit in June.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Washington should use its influence in Kiev
2014.09.03 02:35:13

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Washington should use its influence in Kiev to push for peace in eastern Ukraine.

"The most important thing is the need to talk sense into the party of war in Kiev, and in large part only the United States can do this," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow in Tuesday.

"It is very important for it to use its influence as far as possible to send the necessary signals in favor of switching from trying to resolve the situation by military means, in favor of a political process."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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Australia PM says 'extreme force' justified against IS
2014.09.03 02:34:14

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said "extreme force" was justified in battling Islamic State militants, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the extremists' reign of terror "totally unacceptable".

While Abbott has insisted Canberra will not be sending combat troops to the conflict, he has stepped up his rhetoric against the Sunni armed group, calling it a "death cult" that is carrying out ethnic cleansing.

On Tuesday he compared them to the Nazis and communists.

Australia will "in coming days" join ally the United States in an international effort to transport weapons to Kurdish forces fighting IS extremists in northern Iraq.

Several Australian citizens are reportedly fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. [AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | Australia

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Austria arrests suspected Syria-bound fighters
2014.09.03 02:32:56

A Chechen asylum seeker suspected of preparing to join Islamist fighters in Syria has been arrested in Austria, police said on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after they detained nine others.

European countries have tightened controls over potential fighters traveling to and from Syria and Iraq ever since Islamic State (IS) group fighters overran large swaths of Iraq in June.

Alarm soared after the group released a video last month showing an IS fighter with a British accent beheading kidnapped US journalist James Foley.

Austrian police said in a statement that the 29-year-old man from Russia's troubled Chechnya province was arrested on Sunday in the northern town of Heidenreichstein and accused of belonging to a "terrorist organization".

He is believed to have fought in Syria last year and came to Austria in December for medical treatment and to apply for asylum.

He "had concrete plans to travel back to Syria," police spokesman Markus Haindl told AFP.

The Austrian government believes some 130 people, 40 of them Austrian nationals, have joined the Islamist forces, are heading to join, or have returned. Nine people were arrested last month. [AFP]



Tags: Syria | Austria

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Syrian rebels clashed with government troops
2014.09.03 02:22:19

Syrian rebels clashed with government troops on Monday in the Golan Heights, where al-Qaeda-linked fighters abducted UN peacekeepers last week, activists said.

The fighting was focused around the town of Hamidiyeh in Quneitra province near the disputed frontier with Israel, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said there were casualties on both sides but did not have exact figures.

Syria's state news agency said the military killed "many terrorists" and destroyed a heavy machine gun in the fighting. The government refers to those trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad as terrorists.

Heavy clashes have raged in the area since Syrian rebels captured a border crossing near the abandoned town of Quneitra on Wednesday.

One day later, fighters from al-Qaeda's Syria branch, the Nusra Front, abducted 45 Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded two Filipino contingents serving in the U.N. mission that monitors the buffer zone between Israel and Syria.

[AP]



Tags: Syria | Israel | Golan Heights

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Businesswomen donate essential goods for Gazan mothers
2014.09.03 02:20:39

A group of Palestinian business women in the West Bank city of Ramallah have launched a campaign to raise money for essential household goods and toiletries for Gazan mothers.

'Mother-to-Mother' have put together 1,500 bags of necessities which will be taken to Gaza on Wednesday in co-ordination with the United Nations.

Each bag carries a letter from the mothers from the West Bank to mothers in Gaza expressing their support.

"Today we are preparing the bags for the 'Mother-to-Mother' campaign for mothers in Gaza. It was launched by the forum of the business women and started last Thursday when we had the first packing day and today is the second step for the campaign by the business women, which we called 'Mother-to-Mother' because it contains necessities especially for the mothers," said Dua'a Wadi, director of the campaign. [Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | West Bank

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Breaking a weeks-long siege of a Shia town
2014.09.03 02:18:53

Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militiamen backed by US air strikes pressed a fightback against Islamic State, buoyed by breaking a weeks-long siege of a Shia town.

The military gains came as a senior UN rights official said the Islamic State (IS) group has carried out "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale" in Iraq, and caretaker premier Nuri al-Maliki vowed the country would be the group's "graveyard".

[Source: AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Ban Ki-moon warns Western powers
2014.09.03 02:06:19

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Western powers that "there is no military solution" to the Ukraine crisis as NATO prepares to upgrade its combat readiness in Eastern Europe.

Ban said he was greatly concerned at developments in Ukraine and wanted to avoid further deterioration in a crisis "that has been developing into a very chaotic and dangerous situation".

"It has regional and even global implications," he told reporters during a visit to New Zealand.

"That is why I have been reaching out to Ukrainian and Russian authorities, the highest authorities, to address this issue and sit down together and resolve it peacefully through dialogue."

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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West Bank women donate essential goods for Gazan mothers
2014.09.02 03:21:49

A group of Palestinian business women in the West Bank city of Ramallah have launched a campaign to raise money for essential household goods and toiletries for Gazan mothers.

'Mother-to-Mother' have put together 1,500 bags of necessities which will be taken to Gaza on Wednesday in co-ordination with the United Nations, the Reuters news agency has reported.

Each bag carries a letter from the mothers from the West Bank to mothers in Gaza expressing their support.

Around 100 volunteers worked for a week to put 12 different items used by women at home into each bag. The items included household goods such as washing-up liquid, toiletries such as shower gel and first aid goods including antiseptics.

This campaign is a campaign (to) support the mothers in Gaza. To support and thank our mothers in Gaza for their patience and giving birth to the resistance.

"This campaign is a campaign for support the mothers in Gaza. To support and thank our mothers in Gaza for their patience and giving birth to the resistance. This small move does not show how grateful we are toward them," said Maram Shamasneh, organizer of the campaign.

Thousands of homes in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory of 1.8 million Palestinians.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | West Bank

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Presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil
2014.09.02 03:13:36

The presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil is "unjustified and unacceptable", British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

"Russia appears to be trying to force Ukraine to abandon its democratic choices at the barrel of a gun," Cameron told parliament, warning Moscow its relationship with the rest of the world would be "radically different" in future if it continued with its current policy on Ukraine.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Britain

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A 'great war' has broken out with Russia
2014.09.02 03:12:20

Ukraine's defense minister warned on Monday that a "great war" has broken out with Russia over his country's future that could claim tens of thousands of lives.

"A great war has arrived at our doorstep - the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II.

"Unfortunately, the losses in such a war will be measured not in the hundreds but thousands and tens of thousands," Valeriy Geletey wrote in a Facebook post.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Poroshenko accused Moscow of 'direct and open aggression'
2014.09.02 03:02:20

Ukraine's military said on Monday its forces were battling a Russian tank battalion for control of a vital airport in the east of the country as President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of "direct and open aggression" against his country.

Poroshenko, speaking at a military academy in Kiev, said Russia's direct involvement in the war against the separatists in eastern Ukraine had tipped the balance on the battlefield and was the main reason for recent reversals.

"Direct and open aggression has been launched against Ukraine from a neighboring state. This has changed the situation in the zone of conflict in a radical way," he said.

Fighting continued to rage near Luhansk, the region's other main city, for control of the main civilian airport just to its south, the military said in a statement.

"Ukrainian paratroopers are fighting a tank battalion of the Russian armed forces to hold the airport," it said.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Australia toughen sanctions against Russia
2014.09.02 03:00:25

Australia will toughen its sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine so they match those of the EU, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Australia already has some sanctions against Russia, but Abbott said on Monday that these would be tightened as a result of Moscow's persistent and deliberate violation of its neighbor's sovereignty.

"Australia will lift its sanctions against Russia to the level of the EU," Abbott told parliament in the capital, Canberra.

"There will be no new arms exports, there will be no new access by Russian state-owned banks to the Australian capital market, there will be no new exports for use in the oil and gas industry, there will be no new trade or investment in the Crimea."

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Australia

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Israeli children return to schools after Gaza fighting
2014.09.02 02:55:02

More than 2 million Israeli children have joined schools after a summer spent by many in bomb shelters or far away from homes near the Gaza border, Israel's education ministry has said.

The ministry said that the decision to open schools and kindergartens on Monday was taken in coordination with the army department which deals with civil defense.

"It was made possible after the home front command ruled that classes could be held in every part of the country," it said on its website.

In the wake of Israel's 50-day war with Hamas in Gaza, which began on July 8 and ended last Tuesday, Israel said that the first two weeks of the new school year would be spent helping children "return to routine".

[AFP]



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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Islamic State group has been pushed out of another town in Iraq
2014.09.02 02:53:47

Sulaiman Bek, 100 kilometers south of Kirkuk, is now under the control of an alliance of Iraqi army forces, Kurdish troops and local fighters.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Russian and Ukrainian representatives meet in Minsk
2014.09.02 02:52:31

Russian and Ukrainian representatives will meet in Minsk on Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for "statehood" to be discussed for the restive east of the former Soviet state.

Putin's remarks on Sunday came just hours after the EU gave Moscow a week to change course or face new sanctions.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Britain to seize passports from citizens fighting overseas
2014.09.02 02:43:23

Britain will make it easier for police to seize passports from citizens fighting overseas, increase air travel checks and tighten controls on the movement of suspected fighters under plans announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday.

Cameron was addressing the House of Commons after Britain on Friday raised its terrorism threat level to "severe" because of concern about possible plots by fighters returning from Iraq and Syria with battlefield experience.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Britain | Iraq

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