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Vice Magazine journalist
2014.04.23 08:11:38

Vice Magazine journalist Simon Ostrovsky has been reportedly "taken" by pro-Kremlin militia in the eastern town of Slavyansk.

Vice Magazine has stated that it is in contact with the US State Department and other government authorities to secure the safety of their colleague.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Military operation against pro-Kremlin separatists
2014.04.23 08:10:45

Update: Ukraine's acting president has ordered a military operation against pro-Kremlin separatists in the east of the country after the body of a local politician from his own party was found showing signs of torture. To read more, click here.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Chemical weapons watchdog
2014.04.23 08:08:51

The chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday that Syria has handed over 86.5 percent of its arsenal as new claims emerged of an attack on a rebel bastion this month using an industrial chemical.

Under the terms of a US- and Russian-brokered deal which averted the threat of US military action last year, Syria faces a June 30 deadline to destroy its chemical stockpiles.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said a new consignment of chemicals was delivered Tuesday to the Syrian port of Latakia.

It raised "the overall portion of chemicals removed from Syria to 86.5 percent of the total", the Hague-based OPCW said in a statement.

The chemicals were immediately removed from the country in the 17th shipment since the operation began in October.

"This latest consignment (is) encouraging," said OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu.

We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get under way in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria

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US deploying troops to Poland
2014.04.23 08:07:06

US is deploying approximately 600 troops to Poland and Baltic countries in a show of commitment to NATO allies amid tensions with Russia over the Ukraine, the Pentagon has said.

A company of 150 soldiers from the US army based in Italy will arrive Poland on Wednesday, and roughly 450 troops are due in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in the coming days. The deployments are part of a new series of exercises "scheduled to take place for the next few months and beyond," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.

-AFP



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Poland

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Aid reaches remote Tfail
2014.04.23 08:05:58

A Lebanese convoy of soldiers, clerics and Red Cross officials have delivered aid to a remote village near the Syrian border. The border hamlet of Tfail was bombed by Syrian government aircraft and blocked by Lebanese fighters.

The village's population has swelled in recent months after more than 7,000 Syrians, fleeing the fighting in the country's civil war, sought refuge in the area and surrounding hills. [AP]



Tags: Syria

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Ukraine's acting president
2014.04.23 08:05:07

Ukraine's acting president has ordered a military "anti-terrorism" operation against pro-Russian activists, after two "brutally tortured" bodies were discovered in the east. One of those killed was a kidnapped local councillor.

"I demand the resumption of effective counter-terrorism measures to protect Ukrainian citizens in the east from terrorism," Oleksandr Turchynov said, according to a statement from his other office as parliamentary speaker.

- Reuters



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Al Jazeera English journalists
2014.04.23 01:07:08

Three Al Jazeera English journalists have appeared in a court in Egypt for a sixth time, accused of spreading news and belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The trial of correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have been in jail for more than three months, resumed on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera strongly rejects all the charges and calls for the immediate release of its staff.

To read the full story, click here.



Tags: Egypt | Al Jazeera

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Red Cross condemns violence in Aleppo
2014.04.23 01:03:48

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it is appalled by the increase of violence in the northern city of Aleppo.

The hundreds of civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas across Aleppo over the last two weeks are unacceptable.

- Boris Michel, head of the ICRC delegation in Syria

We urgently call on all parties to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and spare not only civilians but also essential infrastructure such as water supply lines, power plants and medical facilities.

- Michel

[ICRC]



Tags: Syria

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Syria chlorine-attack
2014.04.23 00:59:59

The US has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, according to the US State Department.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson, said there were indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical in the town of Kfar Zeita, a rebel held area in Hama province in Syria.

To read the full story, click here.



Tags: Syria | United States

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Ukrainian military surveillance plane hit
2014.04.23 00:55:37

A Ukrainian military surveillance plane has been hit and damaged by small arms fire while on a reconnaissance flight over rebel-held town of Slavyansk, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

The attack occurred just hours after US Vice President Biden left Kiev. The plane was landed safely and no crew members were hurt.

-AFP



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Biden warns Russia
2014.04.23 00:54:29

US Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia that "it's time to stop talking and start acting" if tensions are to be reduced.

Speaking at a news conference in Kiev on Tuesday, Biden called on Russia to "stop supporting men hiding behind masks, in unmarked uniforms, sowing unrest in Eastern Ukraine."

"No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation - no nation has that right - and we will never recognize Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea, and neither will the world."

Standing with interim Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden has urged pro-separatists to vacate government buildings and checkpoints. Yatsenyuk also called for Russia to "stick to its international commitments and obligations" but was harsher in his characterization of the country. "They should not behave as gangsters in the modern century," he said.

Moscow rejected charges that it was behind the troubles in eastern Ukraine.

-AP



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Joe Biden

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Here's Biden
2014.04.23 00:38:22

We just celebrated Easter. It is supposed to be a season of peace, family, a time when we come together. But today there are some trying to pull Ukraine apart.

We do not recognize Russia's actions in Crimea.

You are in a struggle for the very future.

There has been a lot of talk of geopolitics. Here in Ukraine people know it is about something more fundamental: Unity, independence. Respect and dignity.

For months, Ukrainians braved cold and stood down snipers in the Maidan. All Ukrainians can agree on the core idea that government exist to serve the people. The people of the Ukraine should have the right to chose their own future.

I came here to Kiev to let everyone know that the US stands with you. The road ahead is difficult and you should know you will not walk this road alone. We will walk it with you.

The ongoing threat to sovereignty and integrity. Ukraine is and must remain one country. One united Ukraine. The US supports a strong united Ukraine with productive relationships with the east and the west.

No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation. We will never recognize Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea, and neither will the world.

No nation should threaten its neighbor by massing troops on the border. We call on Russia to pull these forces back. We call on Russia to stop supporting men, hiding behind masks, sewing unrest in eastern Ukraine.

More provocation will lead to more cost and isolation.

We have heard a lot of talk from Russia, but it is now time for Russia to stop talking and start acting."

(He's talking about the Geneva deal)

We need to see these concrete steps without delay. We will not allow this to be an open-ended process.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Joe Biden

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Homs could soon fall to government forces
2014.04.23 00:19:26

Syrian opposition fighters are making their last stand in Homs, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launch their harshest assault yet on the city.

Some of the opposition fighters have talked about surrendering, according to opposition activists.

"We expect Homs to fall," said an activist who used the name Thaer Khalidiya in an online interview with the AP news agency. "In the next few days, it could be under the regime's control."

The fight for Homs underscores Assad's determination to weaken the opposition fighters ahead of presidential elections that are set to take place on June 3.

[AP]



Tags: Syria

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German rapper killed in a suicide bombing
2014.04.23 00:18:24

A German former rapper who joined fighting in Syria has been killed in a suicide bombing carried out by rival fighters, rebel sources and a monitor said Tuesday.

Denis Mamadou Cuspert, who rapped under the name Deso Dogg but took on the name Abu Talha al-Almani in Syria, was reported to have been killed in a suicide attack on Sunday in an eastern province.

He was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and was reportedly killed in a double suicide bombing carried out by Al-Nusra Front, a rival group that is Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate.

Messages posted on Internet forums announced his death.

"The Islamic nation is bleeding with the news of the martyrdom of the jihadist fighter, brother Abu Talha al-Almani. May he be accepted by God," one message read.

"His death is the result of a suicide bombing carried out by the traitorous soldiers of (Nusra chief Abu Mohammed al-) Jolani against a house in which a number of ISIL brothers were staying," it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the suicide attack carried out on Sunday.

"Two members of Al-Nusra Front blew themselves up the day before yesterday, killing 16 ISIL fighters," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Abdel Rahman said a fighter known as Abu Talha was among those killed in the attack in Deir Ezzor province near the boundary with Hasakeh province.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Germany

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Toxic chemical
2014.04.23 00:15:48

The United States has indications that a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used in Syria this month and is examining whether the Syrian government was responsible, the US State Department said on Monday.

We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical in the town of Kfar Zeita,

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to a rebel-held area.

We are examining allegations that the government was responsible she told a regular news briefing.

"Obviously there needs to be an investigation of what's happened here."

Syrian opposition activists reported that helicopters dropped chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12.

Psaki said chlorine was not one of the priority one or two chemicals Syria declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under a Russian-US agreement for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

Psaki said the United States was still trying to determine the facts.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | United States

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Biden on Ukraine
2014.04.22 23:55:49

The US vice-president, Joe Biden, is on the second day of his visit to Ukraine. He's now speaking to the new guys in power in Kiev. Here's some snippets from Reuters:

KIEV: U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT BIDEN SAYS MAY 25 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WILL BE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN UKRAINE HISTORY

BIDEN SAYS U.S. READY TO HELP UKRAINE'S LEADERS TO SEIZE OPPORTUNITY OF
GENERATING A UNITED UKRAINE

BIDEN SAYS UKRAINE LEADERS MUST FIGHT ENDEMIC "CANCER OF CORRUPTION"

Reuters continues: Saying Ukraine faced humiliating threats and daunting problems, Biden said  the United States was ready to assist its leaders in seizing a chance to create national unity.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | Joe Biden

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State Department has released images of soldiers
2014.04.22 04:11:20

The State Department has released images of soldiers in eastern Ukraine that it says are Russian forces, showing militants wearing similar uniforms and brandishing Russian weapons.

The pictures mark the latest effort by the West to prove that Moscow is using its military to stir unrest in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, John Kerry urged Russia to help implement the Ukraine agreement.

"The secretary urged Russia to take concrete steps to help implement the Geneva agreement, including publicly calling on separatists to vacate illegal buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and address their grievances politically."

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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Foreign journalists detained in Ukraine
2014.04.22 04:09:23

Three foreign journalists were temporarily detained by pro-Russia insurgents in city in eastern Ukraine.

One Belarusian and two Italian journalists were stopped Monday by gunmen as they reported in the city of Slovyansk, which has been occupied by pro-Russia forces for more than a week. Slovyansk is one of many cities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern region where insurgents are demanding greater ties with Russia.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Putin signs decree to rehabilitate Crimea Tatars
2014.04.22 04:08:26

The decree, published on the Kremlin website, said it aimed "to restore historical justice and remove the consequences of the illegal deportation (of the groups) and the violations of their rights."

It said Russia would "foster the creation and development of national-cultural autonomous" for the groups - implying little change for the Crimean Tatars, who have their own assembly - and allow for basic education in their native languages.

Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have discussed the Crimean Tatars, who are Sunni Muslims of Turkic origin, at least twice since March. Crimea faces Turkey across the Black Sea.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Crimea | Tatars

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US Vice President Biden arrives in Ukraine
2014.04.22 04:07:13

US Vice President Joe Biden touched down at Kiev airport Monday for a two-day visit seen as a show of support for crisis-hit Ukraine's pro-Western leaders, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Biden's arrival came as Moscow accused Kiev of violating an international accord aimed at defusing a separatist uprising in the county's pro-Russian east.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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