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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]



Tags: Syria

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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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Britain raised international terrorism threat level
2014.08.30 04:22:17

Britain has raised its international terrorism threat level to the second highest level of "severe" on Friday in response to possible attacks being planned in Syria and Iraq, Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May said.

"That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," May said in a statement.

"The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West. Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts."



Tags: Syria | Iraq | Islamic State | Britain

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Meshaal says Qassam Brigades chief 'fine' after failed assassination attempt
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]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Qassam Brigades

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Who is Alexander Zakharchenko?
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.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Shelling on al-Nusra Front Sites in Joba
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.



Tags: Syria

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Clashes between the Islamic State and the military in Latifiyah
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]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Second humanitarian convoy into conflict-torn eastern Ukraine
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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Saudi's leading religious warns Muslim youth to avoid 'calls for Jihad'
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]



Tags: Syria | Saudi Arabia

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Who Are The Kurds And What Do They Want In Iraq?
2014.08.30 02:56:19



Tags: Iraq | Kurds

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Video of the execution of a captured Kurdish fighter
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]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States

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Anders von Rasmussen, the NATO chief
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."



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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