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British hostage being threatened by Islamic State fighter
2014.09.16 02:45:18

The British hostage being threatened by Islamic State fighters is a taxi driver from northern England who volunteered to drive a humanitarian aid convoy to Syria for a Muslim charity.

The 47-year-old father of two teenage children, was shown in the same video released on Saturday that documented the murder of Briton David Haines.

He was kidnapped in December as he was driving with an unofficial aid convoy to a camp for internally displaced people in Syria.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United Kingdom | David Haines

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Khamenei: Iran rejects US request for cooperation against IS group
2014.09.16 02:35:59

Iran has rejected a US request for cooperation against the IS group early in its advance in Iraq and Syria, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday.

Khamenei said in a statement on his official website:

"Right from the start, the United States asked through its ambassador in Iraq whether we could cooperate against Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS)."

"I said no, because they have dirty hands."

"Secretary of State (John Kerry) personally asked (Iranian counterpart) Mohammad Javad Zarif and he rejected the request."



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Iran | Syria

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Limited self-rule
2014.09.16 02:33:37

President Petro Poroshenko has offered parts of the ex-Soviet country's separatist east limited self-rule for three years under the terms of a peace plan reached with Russia.

Poroshenko's official website said the pro-Western leader told top lawmakers the proposal would be part of a broader deal with pro-Russian rebels signed on September 5. He intended to formally submit it to parliament on Tuesday.

The bill also extends the right of people in the rebel-held Lugansk and Donetsk regions to use Russian in state institutions and conduct local elections on November 9, according to media reports.

The bill further permits the regions to "strengthen good neighborly relations" between local authorities and their counterparts in Russia.

It protects from criminal prosecution "participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions" -- appearing to apply to both the insurgents and Ukrainian government troops -- and allows regional councils to appoint local judges and prosecutors.

The bill also promises to help restore damaged infrastructure and to provide social an economic assistance to particularly hard-hit areas.Poroshenko had promised to offer parts of the war-torn industrial east broader autonomy under the terms of the truce agreed earlier this month with the Kremlin and two separatist leaders.

He urged parliamentary faction leaders Monday to quickly back his efforts to end five months of fighting that have killed more than 2,700 people and forced more than half a million from their homes.

Poroshenko said his proposals guaranteed "the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of our state".

The presidential website said the three years of limited self-rule would give his government a chance to implement "deep-rooted decentralization, which will be the subject of corresponding constitutional changes".

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syrian special forces
2014.09.16 02:32:15

Syrian special forces on Monday destroyed a bridge over the Euphrates River used by Islamic State to move supplies in eastern Syria, media run by Hezbollah said, a blow to the group in the swathe of Syrian territory it controls near Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an explosion had destroyed the bridge in Deir Ezzor city that is of vital importance to Islamic State as the only way for it to move into parts of the city it controls.

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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More quotes from French president
2014.09.16 02:16:11

More quotes from French president Francois Hollande's statement in Paris

We must do everything to fight against indoctrination of our young people to prevent them from joining this jihadi movement and we should punish those who have been associated with it, closely or distantly.

In holding this conference, the countries meeting today are showing their solidarity...they show the will to protect themselves against terrorism.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France

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Strategy against Islamic State
2014.09.16 02:14:37

Top officials from around the world, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, met in Paris Monday to fine-tune their strategy against Islamic State fighters.

France announced it was joining Britain in carrying out reconnaissance flights in support of the US air campaign against the IS.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States | Iraq | France

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Arab countries crucial in fight against IS
2014.09.16 02:13:07

Bringing in other Arab countries in terms of action against the IS group in Iraq is crucial to provide legitimacy, according to Ibrahim Sharqieh of the Brookings Institute.

Gulf countries are key in this intervention. They have announced their support... the other major country is Jordan. No surprise that Francois Hollande mentioned Jordan in his speech because they bring with them many aspects...one is legitimacy, then intelligence, and finally the strength of security forces and their ability to deal with situation.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State

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Austria launches crackdown against IS sympathisers
2014.09.16 02:11:58

Austria says it plans to revoke the citizenship of people who travel abroad to fight with jihadists, amid calls to ban symbols of the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), in a crackdown announced by conservative government ministers.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner stressed a need for a zero-tolerance policy against jihadist sympathizers.

Her ministry was working on legislation to revoke citizenship from "foreign fighters" and to prevent minors traveling outside the European Union without the consent of their guardians.

"There is no place in our society for IS symbols on T-shirts and flags, so we want to ban IS symbols," she added.

Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter said the government would tighten hate crimes law so that people who urge violence against certain groups could be charged if their message reaches just 10 people instead of the current guideline of around 150.

Police should also be able to get telephone and Internet usage data on suspects in serious cases as long as a judge approves, he said, adding, "Whoever sows hate and violence in Austria will reap prison."

[Reuters]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Iraq | Austria

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Fouad Massoum statement from Paris conference on IS
2014.09.16 02:01:21

Iraqi president Fouad Massoum statement from Paris conference on IS

We would like to thank the US, countries in the European Union, especially Iran, Turkey, for all the humanitarian aid, all those who have been detained...all the security forces...This solidarity and humanitarian work. We should also spend more efforts, and therefore we ask to continue the air strikes against the terrorist positions...we will not give them any safe haven.

We have to hurry up and take decisive actions against all sorts of terrorist action and any ideology.

Victims of IS are from all faiths.

We came here after the success of performing a national government, which is represented by all different factions, which support the unity of Iraq, which is facing the biggest enemy which is trying to destroy Iraq.

These criminals are expert in brainwashing young people.

They have target the Kurdish army. They have targeted the Shia and Sunni. The only ideology is to get people to change the religion. With this criminal nature, they end up killing and beheading and imprisoning children.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France

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Kurdish forces advance against Islamic State fighters in Syria
2014.09.16 01:57:49

An activist group and a Kurdish official say heavy clashes are taking place in northeastern Syria, with Kurdish fighters capturing about a dozen villages from the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS).

Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria's powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (YPK), told The Associated Press news agency on Monday that YPK forces have captured at least 10 villages in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.

Kurdish fighters have been battling IS each other for more than a year in northern Syria.

The latest round of violence between the two sides began Saturday, when members of the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units, captured about 14 villages, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

[Associated Press]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Francois Hollande statement from Paris conference on IS
2014.09.16 01:21:21

French president Francois Hollande statement from Paris conference on IS

We cannot waste any time. This aid must be humanitarian aid.

Around 200 million people have been displaced. In Erbil, I saw the distress of those who have abandoned everything. We must undertake an unusual and exceptional effort...set up a humanitarian bridge.

The purpose of the conference is to collect funds from friendly countries, to send necessary equipment, food. Iraq also needs military support. France for its part, has already delivered some, in conjunction with other countries. This is what Pres Obama has done...many countries have reacted inside the region and outside. threatens the whole of the Middle East.



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France

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Germany tries first 'Islamic State jihadist'
2014.09.16 01:19:16

An alleged German jihadist has gone on trial accused of fighting in Syria for the group calling itself the Islamic State, amid calls for tougher action to prevent attacks in Europe by the group.

In the first German criminal proceedings involving IS, Kreshnik Berisha, a 20-year-old born to a family from Kosovo, has been charged with membership of a foreign terrorist organization.

Federal prosecutors say Berisha traveled to Syria in July 2013, planning to join the fighting to create a "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq.

Soon after his arrival, Berisha allegedly underwent firearms training and was put to work as a medic and a guard.

In the six months he spent in Syria, he is believed to have fought in at least three battles with IS against President Bashar al-Assad's troops.

He could face 10 years in prison if convicted by the city's superior regional court.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | Germany

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France begins spy flights to Iraq
2014.09.16 01:04:23

France has joined Britain in carrying out reconnaissance or surveillance flights in support of the US air campaign against armed groups in Iraq, the defense minister said on Monday.

"This very morning, the first reconnaissance flights will be carried out in agreement with the Iraqi and Emirati authorities," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French troops, including pilots, at the Al-Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates.

Le Drian's visit to the base came as Paris prepared to host an international conference on a fightback against the IS group, who have seized swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

[Source: AFP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | France

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US, Austria launch efforts to halt Islamic State group recruitments
2014.09.16 00:46:00

The US Justice Department has said it is launching a series of pilot programs to deal with American citizens intent on joining the Islamic State group fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Attorney General Eric Holder says in a video message released Monday that the programs will involve religious leaders, prosecutors and community representatives.

Meanwhile, Austria has said it plans to introduce a law banning symbols of the Islamic State group and 18 other armed groups.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner also says that dual nationals will lose their Austrian citizenship upon joining any foreign paramilitary organization.

[Source: AP]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Austria | Syria

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Shelling in the rebel-held city of Donetsk
2014.09.16 00:32:52

Six people were killed in shelling in the rebel-held city of Donetsk on Sunday, municipal authorities said on Monday, putting further strain on a 10-day ceasefire between government forces and Russian-backed separatists.

A monitoring team from the OSCE said it was also shelled twice in the city on Sunday despite the ceasefire.

Separately, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in Kiev there had been some deaths among Ukrainian troops over the weekend, although he did not provide details, and said 73 soldiers had been freed in an exchange with the rebels.

The truce started on Sept. 5 and has been broadly holding despite sporadic violations which both sides blame on the other.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Heavy fighting erupted
2014.09.15 03:29:05

Heavy fighting erupted around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

Donetsk council said there had been civilian casualties and described the situation in the city as "critical" but gave no further information.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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The pro-Russian party would boycott next month's parliamentary polls
2014.09.15 03:28:17

The pro-Russian party that ruled Ukraine under ousted president Viktor Yanukovych said Sunday it would boycott next month's parliamentary polls and form an "opposition government" to fight for regional powers and against Kiev's westward course.

The decision by the once-dominant Regions Party came as top politicians formed leadership lists for the October 26 election that was called early to regain people's trust after two decades of post-Soviet corruption and economic malaise.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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NATO weapons are on the way to Ukraine
2014.09.15 03:14:45

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Heletey says that NATO weapons are on the way to Ukraine after agreements about weapons delivery were reached at the NATO summit in Wales.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Reports of shelling
2014.09.15 03:13:27

Reports of shelling of neighborhoods near in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Sunday , jeopardizing the cease fire agreement.

The city council of Donetsk said Sunday that two neighborhoods in the north of the city had been repeatedly hit by shelling.

That part of the city is closest to the government-held airport, which has become the site of increasingly intense fighting between the pro-Russian separatists and Kiev's forces.

Volodymyr Polyovyi, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, told journalists Sunday that Ukrainian troops had repelled an attack at the airport by about 200 fighters during the night. He said
there were no military casualties.

[AP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Kerry 'extremely encouraged' by pledges of military support against IS
2014.09.15 02:59:17

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "extremely encouraged" by pledges of military assistance against the Islamic State group by countries inside and outside the Middle East.

On the CBS program 'Face the Nation,' Kerry said some countries have offered ground troops for the effort, but "we are not looking for that at this moment anyway." He did not identify the countries.

"This is a strategy coming together as the coalition comes together and the countries declare what they are prepared to do," Kerry said in the interview taped on Saturday in Egypt.

[Reuters]



Tags: Iraq | Islamic State | United States | Syria | John Kerry | Egypt

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