Monday, January 4, 2016

Febrokrat intel news (February 2016)

"Freedom of movement is an important principle -- one of the biggest achievements (in the European Union) in recent years," foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters.

"Schengen is very important but it is in danger," he added, when asked about Denmark's announcement of checks at the German border, on the same day Sweden introduced controls on its frontier with Denmark.......
Germany on Monday said it saw the passport-free Schengen zone "in danger"


  1. Syrian opposition claims regime dropped chlorine gas on Damascus suburb...

    Syrian opposition websites on Sunday said between eight and 90 people suffered respiratory problems after the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs containing poisonous chlorine gas on a Damascus suburb.

    According to the unconfirmed reports, "helicopters dropped at least 66 barrel bombs" on Muadamiyat al-Sham, south of the Syrian capital.

    The United Nations human rights chief on Monday said that no amnesty should be possible for people suspected of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity, as Geneva hosted troubled talks aimed at ending Syria's war.

    "We do have a principled position in the United Nations that no amnesties should be considered for those suspected of having committed crimes against humanity or war crimes," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein told reporters in Geneva.

    His comments came as indirect UN-brokered talks between Syria's warring parties, which had been scheduled to start last week, continued to struggle to get off the ground.

    Zeid said the talks must go forward and secure a swift end to the violence......

  2. Russian Defense Ministry accused Turkey in Syria shelling...

    Russian Defense Ministry has irrefutable evidence that Turkey shelled Syrian border towns of heavy artillery. This was stated by official representative of the Ministry Major-General Igor Konashenkov reports in Monday February 1 TASS .

    According Konashenkova the Ministry of Defense has received the corresponding video from the representatives of the Syrian opposition. On the set of visible deployment of self-propelled guns of large caliber at one of the border outposts said Major-General. “This is called a fact” – also said Konashenkov.

    Video obtained by Russian soldiers from Syria posted on its website channel LifeNews.

    February 1 Konashenkov also told reporters that Ankara has not provided any evidence about the alleged violation of the Russian Su-34 the Syrian-Turkish border including altitude airspeed and the area of ​​the incident.....

  3. Turkey refuses entry to Russian trucks amid sour relations...

    Russia's long-haul trucks are no longer allowed into Turkey, a Russian trucking union and lobby group said on Monday.

    The Association of International Truckers said in a statement on its website that Turkey refused to renew an agreement allowing Russian truckers to bring goods into Turkey.

    In response, Russia's transport ministry said it would cut back the number of Turkish trucks allowed into Russia to one quarter of the the current permitted number, according to Russia's Interfax news

  4. Boko Haram burns children alive in Nigeria...

    A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s home-grown extremists.

    Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night’s attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 5 kilometres from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast...AP...

  5. Afghanistan attack: Kabul suicide bomber kills 20...

    A suicide bomber has killed 20 people at a police headquarters in the Afghan capital Kabul, officials say.

    At least 29 others were wounded in the blast in the west of the city, the interior ministry said.

    Some reports suggest most of those killed and injured were police officers. Earlier reports said most of the dead were civilians.

    The Taliban said they carried out the bombing - one of a string of attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in recent months.

    Monday's attack happened at the entrance of the headquarters of the National Civil Order Police, a unit that has a counterinsurgency role against the Taliban.....BBC

  6. The Iraqi authorities announced on Monday that the army managed to cut off the supply routes to ISIL in Fallujah, opening safe passages for the locals to exit the city which has been occupied by the terrorists since 2014...

    A military commander told AFP that liberating the city will be a gradual process as the noose around ISIL terrorists is being tightened.

  7. Syria's main opposition group accused Damascus-ally Russia Monday of helping to turn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into a "new Hitler" by supporting his forces in the war-ravaged country...

    "Russian regime will create a new Hitler. We are suffering from a Hitler in Syria," said High Negotiations Committee spokesman Salem al-Meslet after the group's first formal talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva.

  8. The Israeli military reopened the main Palestinian city in the West Bank late Monday after imposing a rare, day-long partial closure of surrounding roads following a Palestinian shooting attack on Israeli soldiers the day before...

    Citing a “situation assessment,” the military said crossings to and from Ramallah have returned to normal.

    Ramallah is the seat of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority and is a commercial center, drawing workers from around the West Bank. “Internal closures” were common during the Palestinian uprising that ended a decade ago, but have been rarely used in recent years.

    Early on Monday, the military blocked access to Ramallah to all but city residents, and only residents of other towns and humanitarian cases were allowed to

  9. Syria called on the Turkish government on Tuesday to cease its violations of Syria’s sovereignty and respect the international law...

    A source at the Foreign Ministry told SANA that the Turkish artillery on Monday opened fire at Atira village in the northern countryside of Lattakia, leaving several civilians injured.

    "The Syrian government considers this a blatant breach of international law and a crime against the Syrian civilians. It also demands that Turkey cease such violations and respect international law," SANA quoted the source as saying.

    "Syria calls on the international community to put pressure on the Turkish government to deter such crimes and to respect its legal and pact obligations as a United Nations member state," the source added, stressing that the Syrian government reserves the right to hit back at this heinous crime by every possible means.

  10. Spaniens König Felipe VI. hat den sozialistischen Parteichef Pedro Sanchez als neuen Ministerpräsidenten vorgeschlagen. Dies gab Parlamentspräsident Patxi Lopez am Dienstag nach einem Treffen mit dem Monarchen bekannt...

    Sanchez hatte sich zuvor in einem Gespräch mit dem König bereiterklärt, eine Regierung zu bilden.

    Bisher ist allerdings offen, wie der bisherige Oppositionsführer die erforderliche Mehrheit für die Vertrauensabstimmung im Parlament zusammenbekommen wird. Der amtierende Ministerpräsident Mariano Rajoy bekräftigte seinen Anspruch auf eine zweite Amtszeit. Er räumte aber ein, dass ihm dazu "im Augenblick" die notwendige Mehrheit fehle. Er hatte daher den Auftrag des Königs zur Regierungsbildung nach der Parlamentswahl am 20. Dezember abgelehnt. Die Volkspartei hatte bei dem Urnengang ihre absolute Mehrheit

  11. Islamic State (IS) militants are transporting carloads of dollars from Iraq to their de facto capital city in Syria following U.S. airstrikes that destroyed millions in IS currency holdings, according to Iraqi and Kurdish officials...

    The Pentagon has released several videos in recent weeks that U.S. officials say, show coalition aircraft bombing IS cash depots in Mosul, Iraq and nearby city of Ninevah.

    After the January 11 bombing on an IS cash depot in Mosul, the terrorist group has stepped up the process of moving millions of dollars across the border to Syria, Iraqi and Kurdish officials told VOA.

    Ghyas Surchi, spokesperson for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan political party, told VOA that the U.S. airstrike on the Mosul depot was a “shock” for IS and torched millions of U.S. dollars and billions of Iraqi dinars...

  12. Le président américain Barack Obama a réaffirmé mardi, lors d'un échange téléphonique avec le Premier ministre britannique David Cameron, le soutien des Etats-Unis envers un Royaume-Uni partie intégrante de l'Union européenne...

    Selon un compte-rendu de l'appel diffusé par la Maison Blanche, M. Cameron a informé M. Obama de l'état des négociations avec les leaders de l'UE visant à "réformer" la place de son pays au sein du bloc des 28. "Le président a réaffirmé le soutient constant des Etats-Unis pour un Royaume-Uni fort dans une Union européenne forte", indique le communiqué

  13. Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region should hold a non-binding referendum on independence, its president said on Tuesday, despite the numerous crises it is facing...

    Massoud Barzani has previously called for a referendum but set no timetable for a proposed vote.

    The chaos created by ISIS's occupation of swathes of Iraq and Syria has given Kurds a chance to further their long-held dream of independence. But the region is currently struggling to avert an economic collapse.

    "The time has come and the situation is now suitable for the Kurdish people to make a decision through a referendum on their fate," Barzani said in a statement on his website.

    "That referendum does not mean proclaiming statehood, but rather to know the will and opinion of the Kurdish people about independence and for the Kurdish political leadership to execute the will of the people at the appropriate time and conditions."

  14. Japan military on alert over North Korea's planned rocket launch...

    Japan put its military on alert on Wednesday to shoot down any North Korean rocket that threatens it, while South Korea warned the North it would pay a "severe price" if it goes ahead with a satellite launch that South Korea considers a missile test.

    North notified U.N. agencies on Tuesday of its plan to launch what it called an "earth observation satellite" some time between Feb. 8 and 25.

    North Korea has said it has a sovereign right to pursue a space program by launching rockets, although the United States and other governments suspect that such launches are in reality tests of its missiles.

    "We have defenses ready to deal with all threats, but in view of the announcement I have put the Self Defense Force's Aegis destroyers and our PAC-3 units on alert and issued an order to shoot down any ballistic missile threat," Japan's defense minister, Gen Nakatani, told media

  15. Aviation authorities in Pakistan said dozens of international and domestic flights were cancelled on Wednesday, a day after three workers of the state airlines were killed in clashes with the police in the southern port city of Karachi...

    The protest against the government plan to privatize the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) turned violent when the police fired tear gas shells and used baton to disperse hundreds of protesters.

    The protesters said their three colleagues died of bullets, however, the police denied firing and said they are investigating as to who had fired.

    PIA pilots refused to fly aircraft on Wednesday as angry workers staged rallies in major cities including capital Islamabad, representatives of the protesting workers said.

    The PIA workers closed the main office in Islamabad. Reports say main offices in other cities were also closed down by the protestors, suspending sale of the tickets.

    The Civil Aviation Authority also confirmed cancellation of flights and said negotiations are underway with private airlines to accommodate those passengers who had confirmed reservations....

  16. Liban: importante opération de l'armée contre l'EI...

    (Belga) L'armée libanaise a mené mercredi une importante opération contre des membres du groupe Etat islamique (EI) dans l'est du pays près de la frontière avec la Syrie, a affirmé à l'AFP un porte-parole militaire.

    Six djihadistes ont été tués, dont un leader local, et 16 arrêtés au cours de cette opération menée à l'aube dans la région d'Aarsal, selon l'armée. "Il s'agit de la plus importante opération de l'armée libanaise contre Daech (acronyme de l'EI en arabe) dans la région d'Aarsal de par son envergure et le nombre de personnes tuées et capturées", a précisé le porte-parole sous couvert de l'anonymat. Une unité de l'armée est intervenue "après avoir surveillé un groupe terroriste affilié à Daech qui planifiait d'attaquer des postes de l'armée et d'enlever des citoyens dans la région d'Aarsal", selon l'armé

  17. Syrian government forces are reported to have broken a siege of two villages north-west of Aleppo, severing a key rebel supply route into the city...

    State TV said troops and allied militiamen, backed by Russian air strikes, had reached Nubul and Zahraa.

    A military source told the AFP news agency that opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo were now cut off from Turkey, to the north, which backs the rebels.

    The offensive threatens to derail UN efforts to start peace talks in Geneva.

    The umbrella group representing opposition factions pulled out of a meeting with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday afternoon, after what they described as "unprecedented" Russian bombardment of rebel-held areas around Aleppo......

  18. Canada considers housing Syrian refugees at military bases...

    Faced with a shortage of affordable housing, Canada said Wednesday it is considering putting Syrian refugees up at military bases.

    Canada has welcomed 15,685 Syrian refugees from UN camps in the Middle East since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals were sworn in last November, and expects to take in 10,000 more this month.

    But several Canadian cities have asked for a break in the large influx of asylum seekers until they find suitable accommodations for the new arrivals.

    Immigration Minister John McCallum described the housing problem as "significant, but manageable."

    He said other cities and towns have stepped up to fill part of the gap, while several real estate developers offered the use of their rental or condo units.

    As a last resort, McCallum said, two military bases in Kingston, Ontario and Valcartier, Quebec stand ready to take in refugees....AFP

  19. The Iraqi air force has taken delivery of two more F-16 fighter jets, bringing to six the number of the sophisticated U.S. planes it now has, an official said Wednesday...

    Baghdad-based U.S. military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the Iraqis had purchased a total of 36 F-16s, and the only thing holding up their delivery was the availability of trained Iraqi pilots.

    "The limiting factor has been pilot generation," he told Pentagon reporters in a video call, noting that the US-trained pilots need to go through a year or more of instruction in Arizona.

    "We bring the F-16s in as pilots are available," he added.

    The United States sees the strengthening of Iraq's small air force as a key component in Baghdad's efforts to push back the ISIL group.

    Warren said the Iraqi air force had been striking pre-planned targets but is also being used in a limited way to help troops on the ground.

    "We look forward to this additional capability along with the additional trained pilots," Warren said.

    Iraq took delivery of the first four F-16s in July.

  20. Cologne tightens security for carnival after assaults...

    Cologne has beefed up security for the city's annual carnival, after many women suffered sexual assaults and robberies there at New Year.

    The city in western Germany is putting 2,500 police officers on the streets for the week-long event....BBC

  21. The US and France have accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of undermining talks to end Syria's civil war, which were suspended hours before donors were due to meet on Feb. 4 to raise aid for the conflict-torn country...

    French French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Damascus and Russia of "torpedoing the peace efforts" by launching an offensive near Aleppo, and said world powers would hold "in-depth consultations" on their actions at the conference.

    The UN paused the fruitless peace negotiations on Feb. 3 as the Syrian government said it had cut a key supply route to Syria's second city from the Turkish border with the help of Russian air strikes.

    It is one of several regime offensives since Moscow began bombing in September, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Feb. 3 he saw no reason to stop until the "terrorists" are defeated......AFP

  22. France has destroyed an ISIS training camp in a joint raid with coalition partners, the defence ministry said Thursday...

    The air raid took place on Monday, around 60 kilometres northeast of Aleppo, a rebel-held town in northern Syria.

    "It allowed us to destroy an important site serving as a training camp and weapons store for Daesh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS)," the ministry said in a statement.

    The ministry did not provide evidence that a training camp was targeted, and provided no information on casualties.

    Around 20 planes took part in the raid, including French Rafale fighters.

    One of the French SCALP missiles used in the strikes had a technical fault that caused it to crash-land in a field, the statement added....AFP

  23. Syrie: des milliers de civils fuient l'offensive du régime près d'Alep...

    Le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU tient vendredi des consultations sur la Syrie, où le régime, appuyé par l'aviation russe, a intensifié son offensive contre la ville d'Alep, provoquant l'exode de dizaines de milliers de civils.

    Les frappes russes de jeudi -130 selon l'Observatoire syrien des droits de l'Homme (OSDH)- ont fait au moins 21 morts parmi les civils, dont trois enfants, dans des quartiers rebelles d'Alep, a indiqué cette ONG.

    Lancée lundi, cette offensive de l'armée a poussé près de 40 000 civils de la région à fuir leurs foyers, selon l'OSDH. Des milliers d'entre eux se trouvent sans abri dans le nord de la Syrie, notamment près de la frontière avec la Turquie.

    "60 à 70 000 personnes" pourraient se réfugier en Turquie après avoir fui l'offensive du régime, a de son côté averti le Premier ministre turc Ahmet Davutoglu, dont le gouvernement est opposé au régime de Bachar al-Assad.....

  24. NATO: Russian Strikes ‘Undermining’ Syria Peace Efforts...

    NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Russia's air strikes in Syria targeting Takfiri insurgents are "undermining" efforts to find a non-military solution to the war.

    "What we have seen is that the intense Russian air strikes mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria are undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict," Stoltenberg said as he arrived for talks in Amsterdam with EU defense ministers....AFP

  25. 4 Dead, Over 150 Injured as 6.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks Taiwan...

    The Taiwanese Disaster Response Center said four people were killed on Saturday morning when a 6.4 magnitude quake hit Taiwan. Officials said at least 224 people were rescued from damaged structures, many from a high-rise residential building that collapsed in Tainan. Two bodies have been recovered from the toppled building.

    The Central News Agency reported earlier that a 40-year-old man and a 10-day-old girl were killed in Tainan. Disaster officials said over 150 people in the city were hospitalized.

    Over 1,500 people are involved in rescue operations. Seven other buildings sustained damages. As of 5:30 a.m. (local time), a total 121,672 homes and business establishments were without power in Tainan

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered approximately 48 km east-southeast of Tainan.

  26. Residential building collapses as deadly quake hits Taiwan...

    A powerful, shallow earthquake struck southern Taiwan before dawn Saturday, collapsing a high-rise residential complex and killing at least seven people, sending scores to hospital and leaving about a couple dozen missing.

    Rescuers pulled 247 survivors from the rubble in the worst-hit Tainan city. More than 1,200 firefighters scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to the ruins of a 17-floor residential building that folded like an accordion in a pile of rubble and twisted metal.

    Local media said the building included a care center for newborns and mothers, and a newborn was among the dead in the disaster, which came two days ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations that are the most important family holiday in the Chinese calendar.

    Most people were caught asleep when the 6.4-magnitude temblor struck about 4 a.m. local time (2000 GMT Friday). It hit some 22 miles (35 kilometers) southeast of Yujing, and struck about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the U.S. Geological

  27. International Talks Resume on Afghanistan ...

    Representatives of the United States, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to agree to a plan to facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in a meeting in Islamabad Saturday.

    The delegates are trying to prepare a "road map" for a sustainable and productive peace process, and studying what to do about Taliban factions that oppose the talks and refuse to end hostilities.

    The Quadrilateral Coordination Group has met twice before in Islamabad and Kabul, but no significant developments were reported in those meetings.

    “I’m hopeful that in today’s deliberations, we’ll be able to finalize and adopt the roadmap,” Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister on foreign affairs, said in his opening statement.

    The four countries are trying to find a way to convince the Afghan Taliban to come to the table.

    Taliban officials have called these talks “useless” and have not indicated that they are willing to cease hostilities against the Afghan government.....

  28. The Turkish authorities have called Russia “frivolous state”...

    Russia behaves as a “frivolous state” making a bet on the “senseless propaganda unjustified charges and deceit” says Kalyn Ibrahim spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So he reacted to the failed attempts to contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday 6 February Rambler News Service .

    Kalyn quoted by Turkish news agency Anadolu said that after the “Russia has once again violated the airspace of Turkey” Erdogan tried to contact by phone Putin but “the Russian side does not respond.”

    “This fact once again shows how insincere appeals Russia they say is why Turkey is discussing these issues with partners in NATO not us. On the one hand Putin avoids contact with Erdogan on the other – says that no one contacted us ” – said the spokesman..........

  29. Ukrainian investigators said Saturday they had found a cache of 24 guns implicated in a bloody crackdown on pro-EU demonstrators in February 2014 that led to the downfall of the country's pro-Russian leader...

    The cache comprised dismantled parts from 23 Kalashnikov assault rifles and a high-precision rifle that had been assigned to a now-dissolved special police anti-riot unit called the Berkut, they said.

    The SBU security service and the public prosecutor told reporters that the guns had been found buried at a site on the outskirts of Kiev after they had been immersed in a nearby lake and their serial numbers removed.

    The weapons had been assigned to Berkut personnel who had been deployed in Kiev's Maidan Square on February 20, 2014, when about 50 demonstrators were killed, officials said.....

  30. Taiwan earthquake: Hopes of finding more survivors fade...

    Hopes are fading for dozens of people thought to be trapped in the ruins of a Taiwanese apartment complex toppled by an earthquake.

    Most of the 27 confirmed to have died after Saturday's quake were in the Weiguan Jinlong building in Tainan City.

    An investigation into its construction has been launched.

    Earlier, a six-month-old baby girl was pulled alive from the rubble but she later died in hospital.

    Sunday also saw a 20-year-old man was also pulled out alive.

    About 200 people have now been rescued. Nearly 500 people were injured as a result of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake, and dozens remain in hospital.

    Hundreds of soldiers are involved in the rescue effort, with the help of hi-tech equipment, sniffer dogs and cranes. Shelters are being set up for those who have lost their homes in the city of two million people.....

  31. Le Canada dévoile lundi son nouvel apport à la coalition contre l'EI ...

    Le Premier ministre Justin Trudeau doit dévoiler lundi le nouveau plan de participation du Canada à la coalition internationale contre le groupe Etat islamique (EI) après son engagement à mettre un terme aux frappes aériennes.

    Dimanche soir, le bureau du chef du gouvernement a annoncé une conférence de presse lundi de Justin Trudeau avec ses ministres des Affaires étrangères Stéphane Dion et de la Défense Harjit Sajjan.

    Dès son entrée en fonction, Justin Trudeau avait informé les pays de la coalition emmenée par les Etats-Unis contre le groupe EI de sa volonté de retirer les six F18 canadiens.

    Ces avions avaient été engagés par le précédent gouvernement conservateur depuis l'automne 2014 pour bombarder des positions des jihadistes en Irak puis en Syrie. Le Parlement avait voté cet engagement avec une mission venant à échéance fin mars prochain.

    A plusieurs reprises, M. Trudeau comme son ministre des Affaires étrangères ont affirmé que le Canada préférait concentrer ses efforts dans la lutte contre les combattants du groupe EI par l'envoi de forces spéciales supplémentaires pour former les militaires irakiens.

    Environ 70 membres des forces spéciales canadiennes sont dans le Nord de l'Irak depuis novembre 2014....

    1. Canada to end bombing missions in Iraq and Syria...

      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday Canada would pull out six jets that have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, ending Canada's controversial combat role in the effort against Islamic State.

      Canada will end its bombing missions by Feb. 22 but keep two surveillance planes in the region as well as refueling aircraft, and triple the number of soldiers training Kurdish troops in northern Iraq to about 200, from about 70 currently, the government said.

      "In any mission, you need to make choices. We can't do everything. In our decision, we were guided by our desire to do what we could do best to help in the region and to do it in the right way," Trudeau said during a news conference.

      "The people terrorized by ISIL every day don't need our vengeance, they need our help.".....Reuters

  32. Turkey Keeps Syrian Refugees Waiting ...

    While Turkey says it has reached its "capacity to absorb" refugees, Turkish aid workers are providing tents and supplies for Syrian refugees who have gathered at the border between the two countries.

    Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told CNN-Turk television Sunday Turkey has already taken in 3 million refugees, the vast majority of them Syrians.

    "But in the end, these people have nowhere else to go. Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will… watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders," Kurtulmaus said.

    Turkey has closed its Oncupinar border opposite Syria's Bab al-Samam frontier where thousands of Syrians massed Sunday for a third day waiting for the border to open. Turkish officials say up to 35,000 Syrians are waiting at the border. The Syrians are escaping a Russia-backed government offensive in the Syrian city of Aleppo.....

  33. Members of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Valery Rashkin and Sergei Obukhov (Communist Party faction) have sent a letter to the country’s leadership and the Foreign Ministry proposing to denounce the Moscow Treaty of Friendship and Brotherhood signed On March 16, 1921, by the government of Soviet Russia (RSFSR) and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, writes Russia’s Izvestia daily which has obtained the text of the letter...

    “We should consider a possibility of legal review of all Russian-Turkish agreements that are unfavorable for our country and its allies. Ankara must understand what the escalation of the conflict could be fraught with for it. Only this can bring it to earth and prevent it from carrying out new provocations,” Obukhov told Izvestia.

    The initiative has been supported by the Just Russia faction. According to State Duma member Oleg Pakholkov, the Moscow treaty was signed to the detriment of Russia’s interests.

    Obukhov noted that “two of the three Transcaucasian republics – Georgia and Armenia – did not recognize the terms of the treaty considering it unfair.” “One should realize that in 1921 the Bolshevik (Soviet) government was literally hanging by a single thread: the foreign intervention and civil war continued. Under those circumstances Soviet Russia could not speak from a position of strength and impose more favorable terms of the treaty on Turkey,” the parliamentarian said.

    The newspaper notes that under the treaty “the former Kars region and the southern part of the former Batumi region that were part of the Russian Empire since 1878 as well as former Surmalin district of Erivan Governorate that was part of the Russian Empire since 1828 with Mount Ararat were ceded to Turkey.”

  34. Japan to adopt resolution to protest DPRK's rocket launch, maintains alert level for further tests ...

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday once again denounced the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) launch of a long range rocket on Sunday as being in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, as bipartisan lawmakers plan to convene on Tuesday to adopt a resolution protesting the launch.

    Speaking at a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) liaison meeting, Abe once again condemned what he called the firing of a long-range ballistic missile and said that Japan would take"resolute measures"such as the imminent strengthening of its own sanctions against Pyongyang.

    The Japanese leader, calling the launch"absolutely unacceptable"and in"clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions,"added that the launch of the long range rocket was also a"clear thereat to Japan's national security."

    Abe said that Japan was liaising effectively with the United States on the issue, while his top government spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, said that investigations into what the DPRK has possibly put into orbit were ongoing, and welcomed moves agreed between the US and South Korea to begin talks on deploying an antimissile defense system.

    "I believe it will take some time to analyze whether North Korea has put a certain kind of object into orbit. It will also take some time to study the details of it,"Suga said, adding that the deployment of a missile defense system on the inter-Korean border could enhance peace and security in the region.

    Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, told a press briefing Monday that swift actions were necessary from the UN Security Council and that Japan would continue to cooperate with its allies over the issue.......

  35. 7 Killed, 15 Wounded in Blast Near Police Club in Damascus...

    A source said seven people were killed while 15 others were injured on Tuesday when a booby-trapped car exploded and tore through the parking lot of the Police Club in Masaken Barzeh.

    According to the source, who declined to be identified, the car was left in the parking lot of the police club in Masaken Barzeh, a district located north of Damascus and one which has not seen car bombings throughout the course of the country's long-running conflict.

    The club is intended for sport activities and is situated inside a marketplace.
    Official Syrian media agencies reported the incident but provided little information.

    Meanwhile, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast killed eight police officers and injured 20 others, adding that the death toll may rise as many of the injured are in critical condition.

  36. At least nine people were killed and scores more injured, police say, after two passenger trains collided in the German state of Bavaria...

    The head-on crash happened near Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich.

    The transport minister said the trains had crashed into each other while both travelling at around 100km/h (62mph).

    Emergency teams, some winched in by helicopter, worked for hours to free casualties from the wreckage....BBC

  37. Der US-Geheimdienst berichtet, dass Nordkorea die Herstellung von Plutonium wieder aufgenommen aben soll...

    Der Reaktor Yongbyon könne binnen "weniger Wochen oder Monaten" Plutonium verfügbar machen, sagt US-Geheimdienstkoordinator James Clapper am Dienstag. Das Material könnte für Atomwaffen verwendet

  38. Palestinian govt ‘willing to step down for unity’...

    The Palestinian government said on Tuesday it was ready to step down to enable a new national unity government, as rivals Fatah and Hamas engaged in a new reconciliation effort.

    Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was “ready to resign to support the formation of a national unity government and to take every effort to achieve genuine reconciliation”, a statement read.

    The government is the remnant of the cabinet of independent technocrats that the West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza rulers Hamas agreed on in 2014 when they announced their reconciliation.

    But the unity government has been ineffective and essentially barred from operating in Gaza, with President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah and the Islamist Hamas long at

  39. Israeli and Turkish negotiation teams are set to meet Wednesday in Switzerland in an effort to finalize a rapprochement deal, local media reported on Tuesday...

    According to Israel's Ha'aretz daily, the Israeli team will include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's representative Joseph Ciechanover and acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel.

    The participants on the Turkish side will be headed by Under Secretary of State Feridun Sinirlioglu.

    A spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister's Office was not immediately available to comment on the report.

    Relations between the two former allies have soured over a deadly assault by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010.

    Recently, Israeli and Turkish officials have reportedly held a series of talks in an attempt to normalize their relations, including discussions on possible exports of Israeli natural gas through a new planned pipeline......

  40. Le ministre français des Affaires étrangères Laurent Fabius, pressenti pour prendre la présidence du Conseil constitutionnel, a annoncé mercredi son départ du gouvernement, à l'issue du Conseil des ministres hebdomadaire...

    Aux journalistes qui lui demandaient s'il s'agissait de sa dernière participation à ce Conseil, Laurent Fabius a simplement répondu "oui". Il devrait toutefois rester jusqu'en novembre président de la COP21, la conférence de l'ONU sur le climat.

    Il remplacera Jean-Louis Debré au Conseil constitutionnel.

    Son remplacement devrait intervenir dans la cadre d'un remaniement plus large du gouvernement franç

  41. Syrian rebels demand U.S. action ahead of peace talks...

    Rebel groups urged U.S. President Barack Obama to do more to stop Russian bombing raids in Syria as pressure mounted on Washington ahead of a new round of peace talks this week.

    World powers are meeting in Germany on Thursday to try to revive the first effort in two years to negotiate an end to the war after it faltered in the starting blocks last week.

    But with Moscow backing a Syrian government push for all-out military victory against Western-backed rebels, Western officials and opposition delegates hold out little hope.

    Opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat said Obama could stop the Russian attacks, although he did not spell out how.

    "If he is willing to save our children it is really the time now to say 'no' to these strikes in Syria," he told

  42. South Korea begins Kaesong industrial park shut down...

    South Korea has begun shutting down its operations in the Kaesong industrial park jointly run by the rival Koreas.

    On Wednesday, Seoul announced it would suspend its activity there because of the North's recent rocket launch.

    It had already restricted some South Korean activity there following Pyongyang's nuclear test last month.

    It is unclear how long the shutdown will last, which Seoul said was aimed at cutting off money the North used for nuclear and missile development.

    About 124 mostly South Korean companies operate in Kaesong employing thousands of North Koreans.....

  43. Russia Proposes March 1 Cease-Fire In Syria ...

    U.S. officials say Russia has proposed a cease-fire in Syria to begin on March 1 but the United States says the fighting should stop immediately.

    One unnamed official told AP on February 10 that Washington believes the Russians are giving themselves and the Syrian military three weeks in which to launch fierce ground attacks on opposition forces and to regain valuable territory before the cease-fire begins.

    The U.S. officials said Washington wants an immediate cease-fire and complete humanitarian access to Syrian civilians trapped in the fighting....

    1. Russia's Defence Ministry said on Thursday that U.S. aircraft had carried out a bombing attack on the Syrian town of Aleppo on Wednesday, which the U.S. later said had been carried out by Russian planes, the TASS agency reported...

      TASS cited a defense ministry spokesman as saying that two U.S. A-10 ground attack aircraft, flying from Turkey, had bombed objects in Aleppo.

      The spokesman also said that a Pentagon spokesman had accused Russia of bombing two hospitals in the town on Wednesday.

  44. Kurdish-led fighters aided by Russian bombing captured a rebel-held former Syrian military airport near the border with Turkey, a monitor and rebels said on Thursday...

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said heavy fighting took place between Kurds and Syrian insurgents around Menagh airport and Russian warplanes staged at least 30 raids against the rebels holding out there.

    Rebels say the Kurdish YPG militias have been taking advantage of their preoccupation with fending off a Syrian army ground offensive launched last week in the northern Aleppo countryside to gain ground in the area near a main border crossing with Turkey.....REUTERS

  45. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has urged Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to quickly reestablish a unified government and carry out reforms sought by the West...

    The need to move quickly to quell a political crisis in the wake of the resignation last week of widely respected Ukrainian Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, who cited corruption within the government, was discussed in a phone call between the two leaders on February 11, the White House said.

    The conversation came one day after Poroshenko talked with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde and assured her that he remains committed to economic reform and rooting out corruption despite Abromavicius's charges.

    Lagarde had warned that Ukraine's $17.5 billion loan program was at risk unless the government proceeds with reforms linked to the financial aid.....

  46. Asian markets battered as Tokyo tanks again...

    A near five percent plunge in Tokyo led another Asian rout Friday, bringing to an end one of the most painful weeks for global investors as fears about the world economy -- and possible recession -- stalk trading floors.

    The losses in Japan came as the yen pushed to more than 16-month highs against the dollar. The rise led the government to say it would take "appropriate measures", fueling speculation officials were considering a currency market intervention.

    However, oil soared more than four percent following a report that producers' group OPEC could be willing to cooperate on output cuts to stem a crash in prices that has roiled world markets.......

  47. Tunisia said Friday that it was asking its regional authorities to work on a plan to cope with the fallout of a possible foreign military intervention in neighbouring war-torn Libya...

    In 2011, hundreds of thousands of people fled from Libya to Tunisia - a country of around 11 million - to escape fighting that led to the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

    Tunisia shares a southeastern border with Libya, where Western powers are openly considering an intervention against Daesh, which has gained influence there in the chaos following Gaddafi’s ouster.

    “In preparation for the situation developing and its consequences, Prime Minister Habib Al Sid has authorised governors in the southeast regions to form regional committees,” a government statement said.

    These will include “the different parties concerned in order to draw up a plan for each governorate to successfully face... exceptional events that could occur,” it said, without giving further details.

  48. More major attacks in Europe 'a certainty': French PM...

    More major attacks in Europe are a "certainty", French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told an audience at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

    "We have entered -- we all feel it -- in a new era characterised by the lasting presence of 'hyper-terrorism'," said Valls, whose country was hit by two Islamist attacks last year.

    "We must be fully conscious of the threat, and react with a very great force and great lucidity. There will be attacks. Large-scale attacks. It's a certainty. This hyper-terrorism is here to stay," he said.

    Valls was speaking at the three-day security conference in the southern German city, speaking alongside Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev..AFP...

  49. The Syrian army intends to advance into Islamic State-held Raqqa province having captured positions at the provincial border of the jihadists' stronghold, a Syrian military source said on Saturday...

    A move into Raqqa province would reestablish a foothold for Damascus in a region where it has had no presence since August 2014, and complicate any attempt by Saudi Arabia to send ground forces to the area to fight Islamic State.

    The military source who was briefed on the matter said the operation had been going on for a number days. The army had captured several positions from Islamic State at the provincial border between Hama and Raqqa in the last two days.

    "It is an indication of the direction of coming operations toward Raqqa. In general, the Raqqa front is open ... starting in the direction of the Tabqa area," the source said. Tabqa is the location of an air base captured by Islamic State in 2014....Reuters

  50. Ukraine Separatists Say 10 Months Needed Before Elections ...

    Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say that local elections mandated by the Minsk process on ending the conflict in the region can only be held toward the end of this year.

    Separatist official Vladislav Deinego said in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk on February 14 that first the political situation must "stabilize" and economic concerns must be addressed.

    "It will take at least half a year to complete constitutional reform and at least a month to adopt a law on elections and begin preparing," he said. "It turns out it will take at least 10 months."

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking in Munich on February 13, urged Kyiv to adopt "constitutional reform that will reinforce the permanent status of Donbas."....

  51. Les kurdes de Syrie de nouveau sous les bombes turques...

    La Turquie poursuit ses bombardements sur les forces kurdes syriennes au nord d'Alep. Une source de tension supplémentaire dans le bras de fer international qui oppose partisans et opposants à Bachar al-Assad.

    L’armée turque a bombardé des positions de combattants kurdes en territoire syrien pour la deuxième journée consécutive, dimanche 14 février, alimentant du même coup les tensions internationales qui se concentrent autour de la Syrie.

    Ces tirs turcs ont en effet été dénoncés à la fois par le régime syrien, la France et les États-Unis, tandis que l’Iran et la Russie surveillent de près les agissements d’Ankara. La Turquie, farouchement opposée tant au maintien au pouvoir de Bachar al-Assad qu’à la progression des Kurdes syriens à proximité de sa frontière, envisage en effet de lancer avec l'Arabie saoudite une opération terrestre contre les jihadistes du groupe État islamique (EI) en Syrie.

    Cette situation explosive ne laisse guère d’illusions quant à une résolution prochaine du conflit syrien, malgré l’accord de "cessation des hostilités" conclu vendredi 12 février au terme d’une réunion du Groupe international de soutien à la Syrie (ISSG)

  52. Turkish artillery keeps pounding N. Syria ...

    The Turkish artillery continued to shell Kurdish areas in northern Syria for the second straight day on Sunday, killing and wounding nine fighters of a Kurdish group, a monitor group reported.

    Two fighters with the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Force, a new rebel alliance constituting of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters and supported by the West, were killed and seven others wounded by the Turkish shelling that targeted the positions of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    The Uk-based watchdog group said the Turkish artillery fired at the Kurdish positions in the Minnegh airbase, the town of Afrin and near Azaz in northern Aleppo near the Syrian-Turkish borders.

    Meanwhile, the YPG and the PYD, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, rejected the Turkish claims that the shelling came in retaliation to a fire against Turkey from YPG positions.

    Moreover, the Kurdish fighters made it clear that they reject the Turkish demand to withdraw from the Minnegh airbase and the vicinity of Azaz.......

  53. Biden urges Turkey to cease shelling in northern Syria ...

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has called on Turkey to cease artillery strikes targeting Syrian Kurdish forces in northern Syria, while voicing support for the country’s fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    “The vice president [Biden] noted U.S. efforts to discourage Syrian Kurdish forces from exploiting current circumstances to seize additional territory near the Turkish border, and urged Turkey to show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area,” a statement issued by the White House said, following a phone conversation between Biden and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Feb. 13, during which the Turkish leader informed the U.S. leader about Turkey’s concerns on the issue.

    According to the statement, Biden and Davutoğlu also pledged to work together on protecting displaced people in northwest Syria and ensuring routes to Aleppo remained open for humanitarian aid.

    Biden also stressed the U.S. support in Turkey’s fight against the PKK, as well as ISIL

  54. Turkey has denied reports that some of its soldiers have entered Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency says...

    Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz also told a parliamentary commission it was not considering deploying troops there.

    In letters of complaint to the UN, Syria had earlier accused Turkey of allowing about 100 "Turkish soldiers or mercenaries" - to cross into Syria.

    It urged the UN to take action against Turkish shelling in northern Syria, calling it a violation of sovereignty.

    Turkey had shelled Kurdish forces over the weekend as they advanced in northern Aleppo province...BBC

  55. A Saudi-led airstrike killed at least 11 people and wounded four others in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa on Sunday, officials and witnesses said...

    The rebel-controlled state Saba news agency reported that the airstrike at Sunday dawn hit a sewing workshop and adjacent electronics warehouse owned by citizens in downtown Sanaa, killing 11 laborers.

    A medical official told Xinhua that two employees of the sewing workshop and other nine laborers working at the electronics warehouse store were killed in the airstrike, while four others wounded.

    Witnesses said the two private companies were destroyed and burned down and dozens of nearby houses were also damaged in the heavily residential quarter of Shauub near the old city.....

  56. Merkel says supports some kind of no-fly zone in Syria...

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview that she was in favour of a no-fly zone in Syria.

    "In the current situation it would be helpful if there was an area there in which none of the warring parties carry out attacks by air - so a type of no-fly zone," she told German regional newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview due to be published on Tuesday.

  57. 20 countries prepare for military maneuver in Saudi Arabia ...

    Military forces from 20 countries will arrive in the next few hours in Saudi Arabia for a military maneuver, reported Saudi Press Agency Sunday.

    The news agency described the maneuver, dubbed "Thunder of North," as the region's most important military exercise involving ground, air and naval forces.

    It is also the largest in terms of numbers of participating nations and the amount of weaponry ever used in the Arabian Gulf.

    The maneuver intends to highlight that Riyadh and its allies are united against regional challenges.

    In addition to the six Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Qatar, other participating countries include Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and Tunisia.

    The maneuver comes as Saudi considers participating in land operations in cooperation with its international allies to fight the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria.

    The maneuvers will take place in the Military City of King Khalid in Hafr Al-Batin, north of Riyadh.
    Xinhua -

  58. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reiterated on Monday his country’s rejection of the foreign military interference in Syria, affirming that terrorist organizations shouldn’t be allowed to expand and threaten the whole region...

    President el-Sisi, in an interview with Jeune Afrique magazine which is specialized in the African affairs, asserted his country’s firm stance which calls for a political solution to the crisis, considering that the Syrian crisis has been neglected for a long time and now the situation has become very complicated.

    “If a solution had been found two years ago, we wouldn’t have reached the current situation,” he added.

    The Egyptian President stressed that terrorist organizations mustn’t be allowed to expand because this will threaten the whole region.

  59. Russia claims Turkey supplies ISIL via Syrian town of Azaz...

    Turkey has vowed it will not let the Syrian town of Azaz fall into the hands of Kurdish forces because it lies on a supply route used by Ankara to support Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

    Turkey accused Russia on Monday of an "obvious war crime" after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia it would face the "harshest reaction" if it tried to capture Azaz near the Turkish border.

    "Some of our partners have literally implored us 'not to touch' a corridor which is a bit shorter than 100 kilometers on the Syrian-Turkish border around Azaz," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in official comments, mentioning Washington and its allies also operating in Syria.

    "Obviously, this is aimed at ensuring continued daily supplies to Islamic State [ISIL], Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups with weapons, ammunition and food from Turkey via this area, and also to allow it to serve as a passageway for terrorists," she said.

    Earlier on Tuesday the Kremlin strongly rejected accusations by Turkey that Russian bombs hit several medical facilities and schools in northern Syria, saying they were unfounded. by REUTERS

  60. Turkey and Israel are close to a deal on normalizing ties more than five years after relations were downgraded, a senior Turkish official said on Feb. 16...

    Turkish media reports said high-level Turkish and Israeli delegations held a second round of talks in Geneva earlier this month.

    “The talks are going on. We are close to concluding a deal [on a full normalization of ties] but it is not over yet so I won’t comment further,” the Turkish official told reporters in Istanbul, according to AFP.

    “The sides should show some political will to conclude it,” said the official, asking not to be

  61. Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar Al-Jaafari called for holding the Turkish regime accountable for shelling Syrian territories, affirming that “Turkey tries to push all sides to escalate the situation in Syria.”...

    “The hostile acts of Ankara made, even, the countries which were supporting Turkey to express concern over its policy,” Al-Jaafari said in press statements following the Security Council session held on Tuesday upon Russia’s demand to discuss the Turkish shelling of the Syrian lands.

    He added that “All member countries of the Security Council asserted during the meeting their commitment to the agreements reached by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in Munich last week.”

    Al-Jaafari affirmed “the complicity of Turkey with Qatar and Saudi Arabia against Syria and its allies,” pointing out that “terrorism-supporting countries are suffering from hysterical bout due to the Syrian Army’s progress on all fronts.”

    “Turkey has allowed terrorists to transfer the deadly Sarin gas to the Syrian territories, al- Jaafari clarified.....

  62. Tymoshenko Party Quits Ukraine Ruling Coalition ...

    An ally in Ukraine's ruling coalition has quit, calling the alliance a "clans' coalition that brought the nation to the extreme point of destruction."

    The leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, Yulia Tymoshenko, made the announcement on February 17 and urged other lawmakers to also walk out of the coalition.

    The move comes after lawmakers representing Batkivshchyna and another party, Samopomich (Self-Assistance), boycotted a parliamentary session to protest against Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's survival in a no-confidence vote.....

  63. China deploys missiles on disputed South China Sea island: report...

    China has deployed a surface-to-air missile system on one of its contested islands in the South China Sea, a report said Tuesday just as President Barack Obama called for "tangible steps" to reduce tensions in the region.

    Fox News said that images from civilian firm ImageSat International show two batteries of eight missile launchers and a radar system arrived within the past week on Woody Island, part of the Paracels chain.

    A US warship last month sailed close to another island in the chain -- which is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam -- in a gesture to assert freedom of navigation in the region which drew a quick protest from Beijing.

    The report on the missile batteries came as Obama wrapped up a two-day Southeast Asian summit in California where leaders voiced concern over Beijing's military build-up in the strategic and resource-rich area.....

  64. Russia's foreign ministry said on Wednesday Turkish artillery strikes on northern Syria are "absolute lawlessness", Russia's RIA state news agency reported...

    "What is happening on the Turkish-Syrian border now is absolute lawlessness..." Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry, was quoted as saying.

    "Turkey shells settlements across the border, transfers money, people and supplies there." by Reuters

  65. Turkey has vowed to retaliate against the perpetrators of a powerful blast in the capital Ankara that left at least 28 people dead and 61 injured...

    "Turkey will not shy away from using its right to self-defence at any time, any place or any occasion," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

    Officials said a vehicle full of explosives was detonated as military buses were passing by on Wednesday.

    Funerals are expected to take place later on Thursday.

    No group has so far said it was behind the attack....

  66. Russia says it's not about to deliver S-300 missiles to Iran—because Iran hasn't paid...

    Russia's Defense Ministry has denied Russian media reports that it was about to send S-300 missile systems to Iran, the Times of Israel reports.

    "The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit [S-300] missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price enshrined in the contract as of February 16," a senior official at the Russian Defense Ministry said to state-run news agency TASS on Wednesday evening, just hours after the reports surfaced.

    The information on the imminent transfer of missiles, which was reported by Reuters citing Russian media, had allegedly come from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    The Defense Ministry further added that "the presence of the Iranian defense minister in Astrakhan at the mythical ceremony of dispatching the first Favorit systems to Tehran is out of the question," according to the Times of Israel.

    The S300 deal has been under discussion for more than six years. Russia says it cancelled a contract to deliver the advanced missile system to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West. But Putin lifted that self-imposed ban in April following the interim nuclear deal between Iran and world powers..........

  67. Pakistani Taliban kill nine paramilitary personnel in attacks in northwest...

    Pakistani Taliban militants on Thursday shot and killed at least nine security forces personnel in two separate attacks in a volatile northwestern region, security and government officials said.

    Since 2007, the Pakistani Taliban have been waging an insurgency in the area around Mohmand, about 177 km (110 miles) from Islamabad, the capital, to demand imposition of a strict interpretation of sharia, or Muslim religious law.

    Several military operations, the most recent begun in 2014, have reduced the number of large-scale militant attacks in the region, but security forces and civilians are occasionally still targeted.

    Two members of the Khasadar paramilitary force on guard duty were shot dead, followed by an attack on a village checkpost in Akar that killed seven, said Naveed Akbar, a senior government official in Mohmand.

    Another government official, Khyal Nabi, confirmed the death toll, saying the bodies were being handed over to their families for burial....

  68. Canadian F-18 fighter jets have flown their last raids against the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group in Iraq and Syria, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged, authorities said Wednesday...

    The final air strikes were against an ISIL "fighting position in the vicinity of Fallujah," Iraq, a Defense Ministry statement said. The planes flew their last sortie on Sunday, it added.

    In place of the six F-18 fighter jets, Ottawa said it would triple the number of special forces training Kurdish militia in northern Iraq to about 210.....AFP

  69. Upcoming US-South Korean Military Exercise to be Largest Ever ...

    South Korean defense officials say the upcoming annual military drill with the United States will be the largest ever, a sign of growing tensions with North Korea over its recent tests of nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs.

    Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Thursday that about 15,000 U.S. troops will take part in the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises when they begin next month, which is twice the number from last year. Yonhap news agency said Wednesday the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John C. Stennis will take part in the annual drills, which Pyongyang always claims are preparation for a northward invasion.

    South Korean intelligence officials have informed lawmakers that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered preparations for terror attacks on South Koreans.

    A member of South Korea's ruling party told reporters Thursday the National Intelligence Service believes the attacks could target anti-North Korean activists, defectors and South Korean government officials.

    Subways, shopping malls and power stations are also potential targets......

  70. EU, Turkey to hold 'special meeting' on migration in March: Tusk...

    The EU and Turkey will hold a "special meeting" in early March to push forward an aid-for-cooperation deal to curb migrant flows to Europe, European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday.

    "We agreed that our joint action plan with Turkey remains a priority and we must do all we can to succeed," Tusk told a press conference after the first day of a European Union summit in Brussels.

    "This is why we have the intention to organize a special meeting with Turkey in the beginning of March," Tusk said without elaborating.

    The meeting of the leaders of 11 EU countries with Turkey had been planned before the full summit on Thursday but was cancelled after Turkey's premier Ahmet Davutoglu pulled out following a bomb attack in Ankara.......

  71. Russia warns Assad on vow to retake all of Syria...

    Russia’s envoy to the U.N. on Friday warned long-term ally President Bashar al-Assad over his vow to retake all of Syria, saying he faced dire consequences if he did not comply with Moscow over the peace process.

    “Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically and now also militarily,” Vitaly Churkin told Kommersant newspaper, referring to an international agreement to cease hostilities sealed in Munich last week.

    “Therefore we would like Assad also to respond to this,” he said, adding that the Syrian leader’s stance “is not in accord with the diplomatic efforts that Russia is making.”

  72. Turkey has struck positions of Syrian Kurdish militia the People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria with short to medium-range missiles, the Turkish media has reported...

    Turkish authorities hold the YPG, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), responsible for a bomb attack in Ankara on Wednesday that killed 28 people and wounded 61.

    Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Thursday said the suspect behind the attack was a Syrian national, Salih Neccar, who is believed to be linked to the YPG. The militia denies any responsibility for the attack and any links to the

  73. U.S. warplanes strike ISIS camp in Libya: NYT...

    U.S. warplanes struck an Islamic State camp in Libya early on Friday, targeting a senior Tunisian operative linked to two major militant attacks in Tunisia last year, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified Western official.

    The mayor of the western Libyan city of Sabrathan told Reuters unidentified planes carried the air strikes, killing as many as 40 people.

  74. Saudi Arabia said Friday it has halted a $3 billion programme for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group fighting in support of Syria's regime...

    In light of positions taken by Hezbollah the kingdom proceeded to "a comprehensive review of its relations with the Lebanese republic", an unnamed official told the Saudi Press Agency.

    It added that the remainder of a $1 billion financing package for Lebanese internal security forces had also been stopped, in a separate decision.

    A Lebanese military source told AFP that the "Lebanese army command hasn't been informed" of the Saudi aid halt.

    The $3 billion programme funded military equipment provided by France. The modernisation programme, known in France as Donas, aimed to ensure stability in the country weakened by internal divisions and threatened by jihadists......

  75. Russia: Turkey interferes in Cyprus peace talks to serve its own interests...

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides recalled on Friday Russia`s traditional supportive stance on Cyprus, when invited to comment on a press release issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry suggesting that Ankara “interferes grossly” in the UN-led peace talks to serve its own interests.

    Asked about a press report in “Phileleftheros” daily according to which the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its press release that Ankara is interfering in the Cyprus inciting Turkish Cypriots to adopt a hard and uncompromising stance at the talks, Kasoulides said that “we are well aware of the traditional stance of Russia, which supports Cyprus at the Security Council.”

    “Allow me not to intervene in this discussion,” he noted....

  76. Obama urges ‘restraint’ from Turkey over Syria...

    President Barack Obama in a telephone call with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday urged the Ankara government and Kurdish YPG forces to "show reciprocal restraint" in northern Syria.

    "President Obama stressed that YPG forces should not seek to exploit circumstances in this area to seize additional territory, and urged Turkey to show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area," a White House statement said.

    In response, in a phone conversation that lasted one hour and 20 minutes, Ankara said Obama had told his counterpart President Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey had a right to self-defense, and expressed worries over advances by Syrian Kurdish militias near Turkey's border.

    Earlier on Friday, Erdogan had said U.S.-supplied weapons had been used against civilians by a Syrian Kurdish militia group that Ankara blames for the deadly suicide bombing this

  77. Afghan forces have pulled out of bases in Musa Qala, a strategic district of the southern province of Helmand, after months of heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents, officials said on Saturday...

    Helmand, a traditional heartland of the Taliban and one of the world's biggest centres of opium production, has been threatened for months and the United States recently sent hundreds of soldiers to the province to bolster its defence.

    The commander of the Afghan army's 215th corps, Mohammad Moeen Faqir, said troops had been ordered to pull back from Roshan Tower, their main base in Musa Qala, as well as other checkpoints to reinforce Gereshk, straddling the main Highway One which links Kabul with the south and west.

    "Their presence in the area did not mean anything," he said. "We will use them in battle with enemies in other parts of Helmand province.".....REUTERS

  78. At least 62 dead in bombings claimed by Islamic State south of Damascus...

    At least 62 people were killed Sunday in a series of attacks, including a car bombing, near a Shiite shrine south of Syria's capital, state television and a monitor said.

    The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the IS-linked Amaq news agency

    The Syrian state broadcaster said a car bombing and two suicide attacks ripped through the area of the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, killing 30 and wounding dozens.

    "The attacks came as pupils were leaving school, and several of them were killed," the state broadcaster reported.

    "There was a car bomb and two suicide bombers who blew themselves up. We don't know the cause of the fourth explosion," the Britain-based Observatory said.....

  79. Another Indian military trooper was killed Sunday in the ongoing gunfight at a government building occupied by militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials said...

    The standoff is ongoing at a multi-storey government building of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) at Pampore town of Pulwama district, about 24 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

    "We have lost another soldier fighting militants at EDI building," Indian army spokesman Col N N Joshi told Xinhua. "The soldier was wounded and later succumbed to his wounds in hospital."

    With the killing of the trooper, the death toll in the attack has risen to five.

    Early Sunday morning, a young army officer was killed while trying to enter the building. Two paramilitary troopers of India's Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a civilian were killed on Saturday.

    "Prior to entering the building, militants attacked our convoy in which 11 personnel were wounded and of them two succumbed," CRPF spokesman Bhavesh Chaudhury told Xinhua. "Later on four CRPF men were wounded while they were trying to enter the building to take on militants there.".....Xinhua

  80. The death toll from caste riots in northern India has risen to 19, a state government official told AFP on Monday, adding that the protests had eased overnight...

    Authorities said some districts had now lifted a curfew imposed after the outbreak Friday of deadly riots in Haryana state by members of the Jat rural caste.

    "Nineteen people have died and more than 200 are injured," said Haryana additional chief secretary P. K. Das.

    "There were a few clashes in parts of Bhiwani district overnight, where a curfew is still on, but the curfew has been lifted in other districts."

    Das also said a canal supplying water to Delhi had been cleared after it was blocked by protestors, triggering shortages in the capital that have forced schools to close...AFP...

  81. A suicide bomber targeting a police commander killed at least 13 people on Monday, including nine civilians, in Afghanistan's northern Parwan province, an official said...

    The attack happened near a clinic and a bazaar, said Gen Zaman Mamozai, the provincial police chief. Four local police were among those killed, and another 19 people, including 17 civilians, were wounded, he said. The police commander who was targeted in the attack was among those wounded.

    "Once again, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked innocent civilians," Mamozai said, adding that the bazaar was packed with shoppers and that people were waiting outside the clinic for treatment.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility in an email sent to media...AP

  82. Vucic Says EU Membership Has 'Lost Magic Power' For Balkans ...

    The European Union has lost some of its allure for Balkan countries seeking to join, thanks to the migrant crisis and concerns about Britain leaving the bloc, Serbia's prime minister has said.

    Aleksandar Vucic told reporters in London that Serbia still hopes to join the EU after beginning formal accession talks last year.

    But the bloc "has lost its magic power" for Balkan countries aspiring to join, he said at a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development conference. "Yes, we all want to join, but it is no longer the big dream it was in the past."

    Balkan countries have been caught in the middle of the European migrant crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people who have fled war and poverty in the Middle East crossing through the Balkans in the desperate hope of finding refuge in the EU.

    The so-called "Balkan route" for migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries runs through FYROM, Serbia, and

  83. Peru oil spill pollutes waters used by indigenous groups...

    A series of leaks from Peru's main oil pipeline has led to at least 3,000 barrels of crude oil being spilled in an Amazonian region, the state oil company said, according to the BBC.

    Government officials and indigenous leaders have warned that the oil has polluted two rivers that at least eight indigenous communities rely on for water, the BBC reported.

    The pipeline spills in Peru's part of the Amazon hit areas rich in wildlife and it will take them a year to recover, the government said last week.

    The countries energy and mining minister Rosa Maria Ortiz said that originally it was thought that the spills released a total of 2,000 barrels of petroleum.

    She and other government officials flew over one of the areas blackened by a spill from a pipeline run by state-owned PetroPeru.

    The oil has been contained and is not spreading further, and tainted soil is being removed, Ortiz

  84. Meeting In Kabul Aims To Set Date For Direct Talks With Taliban ...

    Diplomats from four countries that are trying to broker an end to Afghanistan's war against the Taliban say they hope they will be able on February 23 to set a date for a face-to-face between the Taliban and negotiators from Kabul.

    The representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States are meeting in Kabul on February 23 for the fourth round of discussions aimed at setting conditions for eventual peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

    Javid Faisal, the deputy spokesman for Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said the delegates announced "a date for the first direct peace talks" before the end of February.....

  85. At least 15 militants were killed when Pakistani army launched missile strikes in the country's northwest tribal area of North Waziristan on Tuesday, the military said...

    Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the mouthpiece of Pakistani army, said in a statement that the troops backed by fighter jets from Pakistan Air Force pounded eight militants' hideouts in North Waziristan, a restive tribal area along Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

    Identities of the killed militants have not been revealed yet, but North Waziristan Agency is believed to be a hotbed of outlawed group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

    Tuesday's airstrikes are continuation of the military operation in North Waziristan Agency......

  86. Belgium on Tuesday said it had temporarily reintroduced border controls with France to halt the arrival of migrants from the Calais "Jungle" camp, in a new blow to the EU's passport-free travel area...

    "We have informed the European Commission that we will temporarily depart from Schengen rules," Interior Minister Jan Jambon told a press conference in Brussels, referring to the 26-country borderless zone.

    France plans to close half of the controversial "Jungle" camp on the outskirts of Calais, although a court on Tuesday said it was delaying its ruling, just hours before a deadline for residents to be evacuated.
    inRead invented by Teads

    "We will not know today," said a source in the court in the northern city of Lille, adding that a decision was not now expected until Wednesday or Thursday.
    (FRANCE 24 with AFP)

  87. Der rechts-konservative ungarische Ministerpräsident Viktor Orban will die Bürger seines Landes über die von der EU beschlossenen Quoten zur Verteilung von Flüchtlingen abstimmen lassen...

    «Bis jetzt hat niemand die Menschen in Europa gefragt, ob sie die verpflichtende Quote zur Zwangsansiedelung von Migranten haben wollen oder ob sie das ablehnen», sagte Orban am Mittwoch auf einer Pressekonferenz in Budapest. Derartige Quoten festzulegen, ohne die Bürger zu befragen, komme aber einem «Machtmissbrauch» gleich, fügte er hinzu.

    Aus diesem Grunde habe die Regierung ihren Antrag auf die Volksabstimmung beim Nationalen Wahlbüro eingereicht. Es gilt als gesichert, dass die Behörde, an deren Spitze Regierungsloyalisten stehen, den Antrag positiv behandelt. Im Zuge dessen wird dann auch der Termin für das Referendum

    1. Hungary’s prime minister has called for a national referendum on the European Union’s mandatory quotas for migrants and refugees...

      Speaking in parliament Wednesday, Viktor Orban reiterated that Brussels has no right to "redraw Europe's cultural and religious identity," adding that introducing resettlement quotas without voter approval “equals an abuse of power.”

      "We Hungarians feel – I am convinced that the government is responding to public sentiment now – we think that introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the backing of the people equals an abuse of power," Orban said.

      He said that the referendum question would be: "Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory relocation of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Hungarian parliament?"......

  88. Premier largage aérien d'aide humanitaire de l'ONU à Deir Ezzor...

    L'ONU a largué pour la première fois par avion de l'aide humanitaire en Syrie, a annoncé mercredi le patron des opérations humanitaires de l'ONU Stephen O'Brien.

    "Ce matin un avion du Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM) a largué une première cargaison de 21 tonnes de provisions à Deir Ezzor" (est de la Syrie), a-t-il indiqué, ajoutant que l'opération avait réussi. Les palettes larguées "ont atterri dans la zone cible comme prévu", a-t-il précisé devant le Conseil de sécurité qui tenait des consultations sur la situation humanitaire en Syrie. Les quelque 200.000 habitants restants à Deir Ezzor, une ville située à 450 km au nord-est de Damas, sont soumis à un siège par les djihadistes de l'Etat islamique (EI) qui contrôlent une partie de la ville. M. O'Brien a souligné que de tels largages, imprécis et difficiles en raison de l'insécurité, "présentent des risques opérationnels" et ne sont envisageables qu'en "dernier recours". Mais ils "ont des avantages dans certaines régions de Syrie", a-t-il ajouté. C'est la première fois que l'ONU a recours à cette méthode pour secourir la population, au lieu d'acheminer des convois par la route. La Russie avait annoncé en janvier avoir réalisé des largages aériens humanitaires dans cette même région de Deir Ezzor. (Belga)

  89. Erdogan will Kurden-Miliz YPG von Feuerpause ausnehmen...

    Wenn es zu einer Waffenruhe in Syrien kommt, sollen die Angriffe gegen die Kurden dennoch weitergehen. So fordert es die Türkei. Für sie ist die YPG ebenso terroristisch wie der „Islamische Staat“.

    Der türkische Staatspräsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan hat gefordert, die Kurden-Miliz YPG von der Feuerpause in Syrien auszunehmen. Die YPG sei ebenso eine „Terrororganisation“ wie der„Islamische Staat“ und die Al-Nusra-Front, sagte Erdogan nach Angaben der staatlichen Nachrichtenagentur Anadolu am Mittwoch in Ankara.

    Die Feuerpause in Syrien soll am Samstag in Kraft treten und mittelfristig zu einer Übergangsregierung und Neuwahlen führen. Bis Freitag um 12 Uhr können sich alle Parteien, die in Kampfhandlungen in Syrien verwickelt sind, der Vereinbarung anschließen, die Amerika und Russland am Montag gemeinsam veröffentlicht

  90. Most ISIS bombs ‘made with civilian components’...

    ISIS relies on commercially available components for most of its bombs, with some parts coming from as far away as the United States and Japan, according to a report released Wednesday by a London-based arms research group.

    Conflict Armament Research says most components —such as chemicals and detonators come from companies in Turkey and Iraq, which may not know the parts are being bought by the extremists. Many components are also used for civilian purposes, such as mining, making them relatively easy to get.

    Roadside bombs have long been a weapon of choice among insurgents in the Middle East. ISIS has pioneered the use of armored vehicles loaded with explosives, which can withstand gunfire in order to reach their targets during battles with conventional military

  91. Australia Announces $21 Billion Defense Expansion ...

    Australia will spend an extra $21 billion in defense spending over the next decade. The government says it reflects concern over rapid militarization in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The specifics of Australia's defense priorities for the next decade were revealed in a policy document released Thursday by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

    The biggest investment will be the construction of 12 submarines, with additional funds for other naval vessels, fighter jets and more than 62,000 personnel, its biggest permanent force since 1993.

    Under Turnbull’s blueprint, defense spending will make up two percent of Australia's national income within five years.

    There is concern in Canberra over China’s militarization of the South China Sea, and officials concede the new policy document reflects Australia's “growing discomfort” with Beijing's military activity.....

  92. Berlin rechnet mit 3,6 Millionen Flüchtlingen bis 2020...

    Die Bundesregierung rechnet einem Medienbericht zufolge bis 2020 mit insgesamt 3,6 Millionen Flüchtlingen. Das berichtet die "Süddeutsche Zeitung" unter Berufung auf Prognosen des Wirtschaftsministeriums. Die internen Kalkulationen seien innerhalb der Regierung abgestimmt.

    Das Wirtschaftsministerium habe bestätigt, dass es zur Projektion der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung "intern eine rein technische Annahme für die Zuwanderung getroffen und innerhalb der Bundesregierung ressortabgestimmt" habe. Da es gegenwärtig nicht möglich sei, den Flüchtlingszustrom seriös vorherzusagen, wolle die Regierung keine offizielle Prognose zur Flüchtlingsmigration abgeben.

    Den internen Zahlen zufolge würde zwischen 2016 und 2020 jährlich durchschnittlich eine halbe Million Flüchtlinge in Deutschland aufgenommen. Die Zahlen könnten allerdings von Jahr zu Jahr schwanken. Zusammen mit den 1,1 Millionen Flüchtlingen aus dem Jahr 2015 ergibt sich so die Zahl von 3,6 Millionen.

  93. Saudi warplanes to arrive at Turkey’s İncirlik air base on Feb 26...

    Saudi warplanes sent to support the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition have been scheduled to arrive at İncirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southeastern province of Adana on Feb. 26, private broadcaster CNN Türk has reported.

    The report said advance guards had already arrived at the base as of Feb. 25.

    Four F-15E Strike Eagle jets will also arrive at the base, in support of the U.S.-led coalition.

    Around an hour before, CNNTürk reported that the Saudi aircraft would land at İncirlik Air Base on Feb. 26 after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told state-run Anadolu Agency that the jets were expected to come soon.

    “Now, entries have been made for supplies and personnel. Inspections have been made. The aircraft are expected to come today or tomorrow,” Çavuşoğlu said Feb. 25.

    Saudi Arabia, together with Israel, is the country with the second most F-15 type fighter jets in the world, after the U.S.

    The F-15E jets resemble the Russian SU-30 type aircrafts, which are currently deployed in Syria.

    Incirlik is also hosting aircraft from Britain, the U.S., Germany and Qatar.

  94. Davutoğlu: Syria ceasefire not binding when it threatens Turkey’s security...

    The Syrian ceasefire plan will not be binding if Turkey's security is threatened, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Thursday, adding Ankara would take "necessary measures" against the Syrian Kurdish YPG and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if needed.

    "The ceasefire is not binding for us when there is a situation that threatens Turkey's security, we will take necessary measures against both the YPG and Daesh when we feel the need to," Davutoğlu said in comments broadcast live on CNN Turk. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

    "Ankara is the only place that decides actions regarding Turkey's security," he said. - REUTERS

  95. Turkey thanks Merkel for support of safe zones in Syria...

    Turkey’s foreign minister has thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her support of the Turkish government’s demand to establish safe zones inside Syria, while also calling on all relevant parties to take the proposal into account in a “serious way.”

    “Merkel’s support is important. We thank her very much,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told the Anadolu Agency on Feb 25.

    Turkey has long proposed the establishment of safe zones inside Syria so that Syrians leaving their homes could be sheltered in their own country but has failed to garner sufficient support from the international community, particularly the United States. Turkey has reiterated its proposal to secure a 10-kilometer-deep strip of the Syrian border as a safe zone, as intensified clashes between Russia-backed regime forces and opposition forces pushed a new refugee influx into Turkey.

    Given the huge refugee problem threatening the EU’s unity, Merkel expressed her support for Turkey’s proposal to keep fleeing Syrians inside Syria.

    “This proposal of Turkey was not seriously discussed when we first brought it to the agenda. But even with delay, Turkey’s proposal is now understood,” he said.

    “It’s important that Merkel endorses this idea but this should be taken into account in a serious way. If you support this idea with the understanding of ‘How can we stop refugees?’ after this problem knocks your door, then this would be a provisional support. We can only healthily discuss and take steps about the proposals Turkey objectively brought to the table with the understanding of ‘What can we do altogether for Syrians?” he said.

    Safe zones will not only be useful for stemming the refugee flow but also for providing humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been displaced inside Syria, Çavuşoğlu said. “How many cities could we have built [inside safe zones] with the $10 billion we have spent so far?” he

  96. A Libyan militia loyal to the Islamist-backed government in Tripoli says it arrested the leader of the ISIS branch for a western city bombed by US forces last week...

    The Special Deterrent Force says in a Facebook post Thursday that it detained the city of Sabratha’s ISIS leader named Mohammed Saad al-Tajouri and killed dozens of ISIS members in a gunbattle. Al-Tajouri was also known as Abu Sulieman.

    SDF says he was sent by ISIS leaders in Sirte - a central city controlled by the group - to take charge of Sabratha. The militia says it will release videos of the arrest and al-Tajouri’s purported confessions.

    ISIS tried to take over Sabratha on Wednesday by storming the security headquarters and beheading at least 12 of the SDF fighters inside.

  97. Libya’s internationally recognized government denied reports that French Special Forces had been fighting the Islamic State group in the troubled country, after the rival administration in Tripoli confirmed them...

    The recognized government “didn’t allow and won’t allow any foreign forces to enter Libyan territories”, spokesman Hatem el-Ouraybi told official news agency LANA.

    “Our brave soldiers in the Arab Libyan Armed Forces are the ones who freed Benghazi from the hand of terror without any support from the international community,” he said.

    France’s Le Monde newspaper on Wednesday said special forces and members of the DGSE external security service were present in Libya for “clandestine operations” against ISIS, thought to number several thousand.

    It also claimed that an air strike in November that killed the top ISIS leader in the country, Abu Nabil, was “initiated by Paris”

  98. Greece snubs Austrian minister's request to visit Athens...

    Athens turned down a request by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner to visit Greece next week amid a row between the two EU members over Vienna's moves to restrict the flow of refugees, a Greek Foreign Ministry official said.

    Greece on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Austria in anger over the border closures and has threatened to block European Union decision-making unless the bloc comes up with concerted action to deal with the migrant crisis.

  99. Most major armed opposition groups in Syria have indicated they are ready to participate in the plan to cease hostilities on Saturday, as long as the Syrian government upholds its obligations under the deal, a senior Obama administration official said on Friday...

    "We continue to consult closely with the major Syrian armed opposition groups across Syria, which, through the HNC and directly with us, have confirmed their acceptance of the terms of the cessation of hostilities," the official said, referring to the High Negotiations Committee, the main opposition alliance.

  100. Ireland's outgoing coalition government is expected to fall short of the majority needed for a second term, a second parliamentary election exit poll indicated on Saturday as counting was set to begin...

    The poll for public broadcaster RTE showed Prime Minister Enda Kenny's Fine Gael party and junior coalition party Labour would take roughly 55 seats between them -- far short of the 80 needed for a majority in parliament.....

  101. A methane gas leak at a coal mine in Russia's far north triggered three explosions that ignited a raging fire and partially collapsed the mine, killing 36 people, officials said Sunday...

    The dead included five rescue workers and a mine worker who were killed early Sunday when the third explosion rocked the Severnaya mine in Vorkuta, a town north of the Arctic Circle in the Komi region, the emergency services said.

    The first two explosions struck late Thursday, killing four miners and trapping 26 others..AP...

  102. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned on Sunday the European Union's failure to get to grips with its migrant crisis and vowed to resist pressure to take in more migrants, saying they would bring crime, terrorism and other problems...

    Orban has long been known for his fiery right-wing rhetoric, but in his annual state of the nation address he struck a particularly harsh tone towards the refugees and Brussels over its attempts to impose migrant quotas on member states.

    "We cannot let it force upon us the sour fruits of their misguided immigration policy. We want to import no crime, terrorism, homophobia or anti-Semitism to Hungary," he said, adding the quota system could cause the EU's disintegration....REUTERS...

  103. Canada fulfills promise to take in Syrian refugees...

    Canada has met a self-imposed deadline to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war, officials said, fulfilling a campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    “25000 reasons why Canadians should be proud today #WelcomeRefugees,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum tweeted after a charter flight carrying refugees touched down in Montreal on Saturday.

    Trudeau had made a campaign pledge to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey before the end of 2015.

    But his Liberal government pushed the target back two months after taking office following elections in October.

    Canada has chartered around a hundred flights from Lebanon and Jordan since Trudeau met the first arriving plane in December.

    The government’s resettlement program will cover costs for more than half the refugees during their first year. Private groups or a combination of both will cover the rest, the country’s immigration authorities said.

    Syrian refugees will continue to arrive in Canada, albeit at a slower pace.

    The country is set to take in some 12,000 more refugees by the end of the year under a program run jointly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the immigration authorities said.

    Some 250 Canadian cities and towns have taken in refugees so

  104. US Warning of 'Catastrophic Failure' of Iraq's Mosul Dam ...

    Iraq's Mosul Dam risks "catastrophic failure" and a "tsunami" of water that would sweep downstream anything in its path, including bodies, buildings, cars, unexploded ordinances and hazardous chemicals, the U.S. is warning.

    The dam, located on the Tigris River just north of Mosul, is the largest in the country. Built in 1984, the dam is structurally flawed and has required constant maintenance and shoring up with cement grout.

    At full capacity, the dam can hold 11 cubic kilometers of water. If it were to burst at that level, a huge wave would roll down the river, potentially killing hundreds of thousands of people who are not able to move out of the way in time.

    "The approximately 500,000 to 1.47 million Iraqis residing along the Tigris River in areas at highest risk from the projected floodway probably would not survive its impact," according to a statement released by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad......

  105. Despite the promising tone of messages sent last week from NATO leaders in Brussels, the bulk of negotiations in overcoming territorial sensitivities between Greece and Turkey on how their ships will help counter the criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe across the Aegean Sea still lies ahead, with essential questions to be solved according to Turkish officials...

    “The North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Permanent Session approved on Feb. 24 the modalities of the activity to be conducted by NATO naval units with a view to supporting national and international efforts to cut the lines of human trafficking and illegal migration within the Aegean Sea,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Feb. 25.

    “Setting the modalities is only the first stage of a three-stage process,” Turkish officials told Hürriyet Daily News. “A technical agreement has been provided so far. The second stage will take place next week [Feb. 29-March 6] and will concern outlining details on how to implement these principles, and the third stage will be implementation,” the same officials, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, said.

    The second stage involved the “drawing” of maps, which will be attended by military officials from the Turkish Naval Forces, the officials

  106. France demands Syria ceasefire task force meeting 'without delay'...

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday called for a new meeting of a UN-backed task force overseeing a fragile Syria ceasefire "without delay" to evaluate a range of breaches.

    "We have received indications that attacks, including air strikes are continuing in areas controlled by the moderate opposition," Ayrault told reporters in Geneva.

    "This must all of course be verified. France has therefore asked that the task force overseeing the implementation of the cessation of hostilities meets without delay," he said on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council.
    AFP -

  107. The Turkish military has struck Islamic State positions inside Syria with artillery, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported on Monday...

    Fifty artillery round were fired by the military on targets to the north of Aleppo as part of the U.S.-led coalition's offensive against the Sunni hardline group, NTV said.

  108. A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a funeral northeast of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 20 people, among them a militia commander, officials said...

    The blast in Muqdadiyah also wounded at least 40 people, security officials said.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombings are a tactic almost exclusively employed in Iraq by ISIL terrorist group.

    The Muqdadiyah attack came a day after bombings in northern Baghdad killed at least 39 people and wounded at least 76, the deadliest attacks in the capital so far this year.

  109. Britain's defense minister says about 20 UK troops are being sent to Tunisia to help stop people crossing illegally from chaotic Libya...

    Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told lawmakers on Monday that a training team from the 4th Infantry Brigade would help Tunisian authorities combat illegal cross-border movement.

    Britain and other Western countries are worried that Islamic State group militants can slip easily from Libya into Tunisia, which has seen several deadly gun and bomb attacks targeting authorities and tourists.

    Fallon said Britain was willing to provide military advice and training to Libya's fledgling unity government. But he said "we do not intend to deploy ground forces in any combat role."

    Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with IS-linked militants gaining in strength.


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