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  • British 'jihadist' mum threatens to behead Christians: reports A middle-aged British mother-of-two and former rock band member has joined jihadists in Syria and wants to behead Christians with a "blunt knife", British media reported. The reports identified the woman as Sally Jones, 45, from Kent in southeast England, and said she now goes by the name Sakinah Hussain, or Umm Hussain al-Britani. Security experts estimate that hundreds of Britons have gone to the Middle East to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group, the most brutal to emerge out of Syria's bloody civil war and the most successful. The well-funded group controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq and has proved adept at using social media to boost its profile, attract recruits and terrify enemies with images of mass executions and battlefield victories.
  • UK: Passports could be seized to fight terrorism 

    British police officers stand guard outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron is expected on Monday to expand powers to combat terrorism in hopes of preventing attacks by Islamist militants returning from terror training in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday proposed new laws that would give police the power to seize the passports of Britons suspected of having traveled abroad to fight with terrorist groups.

  • France and Saudis 'finalising' $3bn Lebanon arms deal: official 

    French President Francois Hollande (L) and Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saudb at the Elysee Palace in Paris on September 1, 2014France and Saudi Arabia are close to signing a $3 billion arms deal for Lebanon, the Elysee Palace said Monday following talks between President Francois Hollande and the Saudi crown prince. The deal is for military equipment and arms to be supplied to Lebanon's army. Hollande told an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace attended by Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also the Saudi deputy prime minister and defence minister, that Lebanon was a "great but vulnerable country" which "needs security".

  • Hamas boosted politically despite battlefield losses: analysts 

    A Palestinian supporter of the Islamist movement Hamas gestures during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 30, 2014Gaza's Islamist Hamas movement may have suffered heavy military losses during 50 days of conflict with Israel but it emerged with its political standing enhanced, analysts say. After the ceasefire last week between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, Hamas leaders celebrated "victory" to the cheers of crowds across the enclave it rules. Hamas leaders raised the prospect of opening up Gaza to the world, winning the applause of crowds keen to see an end to Israel's crippling blockade of the territory, in place since 2006.

  • Fidel Castro compares NATO to Nazis, lashes out at US 

    Cuban leader and former president Fidel CastroCuban ex-president Fidel Castro lashed out at the United States and Europe on Monday, accusing them of war-mongering and comparing the NATO military alliance's representatives to the Nazi SS. In a tortuous column published in Cuban state media, the father of the island's communist revolution also attacked US Senator John McCain over United States policy in the Middle East, calling him "Israel's most unconditional ally."

  • IS fears make Gulf monarchies set aside differences 

    Islamic fighters from the Al-Nusra Front wave their movement's flag as they parade at the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus on July 28, 2014Advances by jihadists in Syria and Iraq, and US calls for a coalition against them have made Gulf monarchies set aside disputes over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, analysts say. Wary of spectacular gains made by Islamic State jihadists, the oil-rich monarchies fear the militants could advance towards their own borders, where the extreme ideologies could find support. "The biggest danger (in the Gulf) comes now from these (emerging) terrorist groups, and not from the Muslim Brotherhood," said Abdulaziz Sager, head of the Gulf Research Centre think-tank.

  • As Islamic State fighters begin to blend in, defeating them no easy matter 

    Resident of Tabqa city touring the streets on a motorcycle waves Islamist flag in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa cityBy Isabel Coles and Peter Apps BAQIRTA Iraq/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - (This story has been refiled to fix a typo in the third paragraph, "involving", to make it "evolving") After their lightning takeover in June, flag-waving Islamic State militants paraded through the captured Iraqi city of Mosul in looted U.S.-built Humvees, armored cars and pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns.     Today, many have ditched military-type vehicles that could make them easy targets of U.S. It is unclear how the Islamic State’s tactics will further change as a result of the reclaiming of the strategic Mosul Dam by Iraqi government and Kurdish forces or Sunday’s dramatic retaking of Amerli, where thousands had been cut off from food and water, but clearly battlefield strategies are evolving on both sides.

  • Kenyan commandos on frontline of poaching war 

    A family of white rhinos is pictured at the Ol Jogi rhino sanctuary in Nairobi on August 7, 2014With camouflage uniforms, assault rifles, night vision goggles, thermal imaging devices and radios, wildlife rangers in Kenya's Ol Jogi rhino sanctuary prepare for night patrol in the "war" against poaching. As the late afternoon sun creeps towards the horizon and shadows lengthen on the sweeping plains dotted with rocky outcrops, Ol Jogi's armed rangers get set for another tough night on patrol. "It sounds crazy, but it's actually a war," said Jamie Gaymer, head of security for the vast reserve. Trained by the Kenya Wildlife Service and police, the 32 men in the security force are also reserve police officers, allowed to carry weapons.

  • Britain 'deplores' Israel decision to claim West Bank land 

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond arrives in Downing Street in central LondonThe British government said on Monday it deplored an Israeli decision to appropriate a large swathe of land inside the occupied West Bank, saying the move would seriously damage Israel's international reputation. On Sunday, Israel announced the appropriation of land in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem, a move which an anti-settlement group said was the biggest such claim in 30 years. "The UK deplores the Israeli government's expropriation of 988 acres (1.54 square miles) of land around the settlement of Etzion," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement which echoed U.S. It will do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community." Some 500,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

  • London shares slip as supermarkets weigh 

    The FTSE 100 index was up 0.33 percent at 6,847.51 points in early dealsLondon (AFP) - London shares edged slightly lower on Monday, with troubled supermarket giants Tesco and WM Morrison weighing on the FTSE.

  • Islamic State group becomes target of Arab satire 

    In this image made from an undated cartoon broadcast on state-run al-Iraqiya TV in Iraq, a cartoon character portrayed as a member or a supporter of the Islamic State group sings a song. Television networks across the Middle East have begun airing cartoons and comedy programs using satire to criticize the group and its claim of representing Islam. And while not directly confronting their battlefield gains, the shows challenge the legitimacy of the Islamic group and chips away at the fear some have that they are unstoppable. The Arabic writing on the flag reads, "One Arab nation," top, and "Having an eternal message." "ISIS" on the cartoon character's head cover is the outdated acronym of the group. (AP Photo/al-Iraqiya)BAGHDAD (AP) — The bumbling young militant first drops the rocket launcher on the toes of his boss before taking aim and firing toward a military checkpoint outside of an Iraqi town — not realizing he's fired it backward at his leader.

  • Israel claims West Bank land for possible settlement use, draws U.S. rebuke By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared "state land, on the instructions of the political echelon" by the military-run Civil Administration. "We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move "counterproductive" to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.
  • U.N., Fiji say no word on location of peacekeepers abducted in Golan Heights 

    Militants are seen on the Syrian side of the Quneitra border crossing between the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and SyriaBy Louis Charbonneau and Avi Ohayon UNITED NATIONS/EIN ZIVAN Golan Heights (Reuters) - The head of the Fijian army said on Sunday negotiations for the release of 44 soldiers abducted by an al Qaeda-linked group on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights were being pursued as the United Nations said it had no word on the troops' whereabouts. The U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji were seized by Islamist militants on Thursday, one of several groups attacked in the volatile frontier between Syria and Israel. U.N. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that they were now treating it as a case of kidnapping.

  • Germany to send Iraqi Kurds enough weapons for 4,000 fighters By Sabine Siebold BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will send enough weapons to arm 4,000 Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq battling against Islamic State (IS) insurgents, whose advances threaten to destabilize the Middle East, the defense minister said on Sunday. "The weapons delivery is enough to supply a brigade of 4,000 soldiers," said Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Breaking with a post-war policy of not sending arms to conflict zones, Chancellor Angela Merkel says northern Iraq is an "exception" because of the nature of Islamic State's violence. "The lives of millions of people, the stability of Iraq and the whole region and ... due to the high number of foreign fighters, our security in Germany and Europe are being threatened," read a government statement after Merkel met some of her ministers to discuss details of the aid to the Kurds.
  • 'Recruiter' for Syrian jihad arrested in France 

    The international airport of Nice, southeastern France, seen on September 14, 2011A 22-year-old man suspected of acting as a recruiter for jihadist groups in Syria has been arrested at an airport in the south of France, the interior ministry said Sunday. The man, who is said to be of Chechen origin, was stopped at the Nice airport on Saturday and taken into custody. He is suspected of having paid in cash for a 16-year-old girl to fly to Turkey with the intention of then crossing the border to Syria, a statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Unconvinced by the girl's explanation that she was planning on visiting her grandmother in Istanbul, Turkish Airlines contacted French border police, who then called the security services.

  • Jubilant Iraqi forces break two-month siege of Amerli: officials 

    Iraqi security forces and Iraqi Shi'ite volunteers react after breaking a siege by the Islamic State extremist group on AmerliBy Ahmed Rasheed and Isabel Coles BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants and entered the northern town, officials said. The mayor of Amerli and army officers said troops backed by militias defeated fighters from the Islamic State (IS) to the east of the town. Fighting continued to the north of Amerli in several villages. "Security forces and militia fighters are inside Amerli now after breaking the siege and that will definitely relieve the suffering of residents," said Adel al-Bayati, mayor of Amerli.

  • Egypt delays deadline for criticized NGO registry CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities pushed back Sunday a deadline for local and international non-government organizations to register under a restrictive law or risk being shut down, a decision that was criticized as a way to silence critics of the government, a government official said.
  • Mogherini must win over doubters as EU foreign policy chief 

    Newly elected European High Representative for Foreign Affairs Mogherini of Italy attends a news conference during an EU summit in BrusselsBy Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) - Federica Mogherini must show she has the experience and clout to succeed as the European Union's new foreign policy chief, just as her predecessor had to overcome a reputation as a diplomatic lightweight. The 41-year-old career politician, who became Italian foreign minister only in February, has been seen throughout her career as a politician who prefers to skirt controversy rather than take tough policy stands. Cynics say her appointment at an EU summit on Saturday confirms that member states want to keep their own tight grip on foreign policy issues, much the same as they said when Catherine Ashton became the EU's first foreign policy chief in 2009. Ashton arrived as an unelected member of the British upper house of parliament with no foreign policy experience.

  • Iran FM says ready to meet Saudi counterpart TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister said Sunday he is ready to meet his Saudi Arabian counterpart on the sidelines of next month's UN General Assembly and to visit the Gulf powerhouse later this year.
  • West drops aid to Iraq town under jihadist siege 

    Peshmerga fighters' miltary vehicles are positioned at their post in the strategic Jalawla area, in Diyala province, which is a gateway to Baghdad, on August 25, 2014Western warplanes dropped desperately needed aid on Sunday to an Iraqi Shiite town under blockade by jihadists for well over two months as preparations to break the siege dragged on. The aid drops were accompanied by US air strikes and were the furthest south that US forces have intervened in Iraq, barring reconnaissance flights, since their withdrawal in December 2011. The mainly Turkmen residents of the Salaheddin province town of Amerli, where the United Nations has warned of the risk of sectarian massacre by the besieging Sunni Arab extremists, have been running desperately short of food and medicines. Washington launched air strikes in support of Kurdish forces in northern Iraq on August 8.

  • Philippine UN peacekeepers safe after 'greatest escape' 

    Members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) drive their armoured vehicles in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights near the Quneitra crossing, the only border crossing between Israel and Syria, on August 30, 2014Dozens of Filipino UN peacekeepers performed the "greatest escape" from besieging Syrian rebels, slipping away under the cover of night after rebels rammed their Golan Heights outpost with armed trucks, the Philippine military said Sunday. All 75 soldiers serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Middle East flashpoint zone reached safety after the rebels, some linked to Al-Qaeda, surrounded them and demanded their weapons on Thursday, military chief General Gregorio Catapang said. The troops are part of a UN peacekeeping force which has been stationed in the Golan Heights since 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria. We left our (old) position but we brought all our arms," said Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala.

  • U.S. planes strike militants near Iraq's Amreli, airdrop aid 

    Kurdish Peshmerga fighters guard their position on the Jalawla front line in the northeastern district of Baquba near the city of KhanaqinBy Raheem Salman and Matt Spetalnick BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States carried out air strikes on Saturday against Islamic State fighters near the besieged Shi'ite town of Amerli in northern Iraq and airdropped humanitarian aid to civilians trapped there, the Pentagon said. President Barack Obama authorized the new military action, broadening U.S.

  • African extremists: Islamic State offers grim inspiration 

    A screen-grab from a video released by Boko Haram shows alleged members of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group at an undisclosed location on August 24, 2014Amid fears Islamic State fighters are inspiring jihadists outside the Middle East, analysts warn it has emboldened extremists in Africa operating in voids left by weak governments and rampant corruption. The United States has described the IS group in Iraq and Syria as the strongest-ever Islamist threat with its "apocalyptic end of days" ideology. Their advance has sparked concern in Africa, with leaders from across the continent meeting Tuesday in Kenya to discuss the threat, the first such conference organised by the African Union. Islamist groups who belong to the Al-Qaeda franchise have already firmly implanted themselves across swathes of territory: from Nigeria's Boko Haram, extremists in the Sahel to Shebab fighters in the Horn of Africa.

  • Philippine peacekeepers rescued from militants on Golan: U.N. 

    A member of the UNDOF gestures from an APC in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before crossing into SyriaBy Louis Charbonneau and Avi Ohayon UNITED NATIONS/EIN ZIVAN Golan Heights (Reuters) - Thirty-two U.N. peacekeepers were rescued on Saturday from Islamist militants who fired at their post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights and trapped them for two days, the United Nations said. Another group of 40 Philippine U.N. peacekeepers remain trapped by Islamist militants who reinforced their siege on Saturday with fighters who arrived in more than 20 vehicles, U.N. diplomatic sources told Reuters. The peacekeeping troops are part of UNDOF, a U.N. force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since 1974, following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

  • Israel agreed Gaza truce to focus on jihadist threat: Netanyahu 

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a special cabinet meeting at the Ashkelon Shore regional council in Bat-Hadar, Israel, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Amir Cohen, Pool)Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel agreed to a permanent truce in its 50-day Gaza war with Hamas in order to keep focused on the threat from regional militants. "We fought for 50 days and we could have fought for 500 days, but we are in a situation where the Islamic State is at the gates of Jordan, Al-Qaeda is in the Golan and Hezbollah is at the border with Lebanon," Netanyahu said in an address on public television. He was referring to Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq -- both neighbours of Jordan -- Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front Syria rebels on the Israeli-annexed Golan and Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah. "We decided not to get bogged down in Gaza, and we could have, but we decided to limit our objective and restore calm to Israeli citizens," Netanyahu added.

  • EU leaders pick Italian as bloc's new top diplomat 

    Italy Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini smiles as she meets the media during an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. European Union foreign ministers on Friday were set to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders on Saturday picked Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, to become the 28-nation bloc's top diplomat for the next five years.

  • Gulf monarchies say ready to help counter jihadists 

    Islamic fighters from the Al-Nusra Front wave their movement's flag as they parade at the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus on July 28, 2014Gulf Arab monarchies said Saturday they were ready to help counter advances by jihadists in Syria and Iraq, after the US called for a global coalition to fight the militants. US President Obama admitted Thursday that he did not yet have a strategy to tackle jihadists from the Islamic State, which has declared a "caliphate" in large swathes of territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.

  • Iran nuclear talks to continue on fringes of U.N. assembly: Ashton 

    Ashton looks on as she peaks during a news conference at the end of an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in MilanThe six global powers will discuss ways to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Saturday. Talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for ending sanctions began in February. Catherine Ashton, the EU's top diplomat, is expected to continue to lead nuclear negotiations with Iran even as she leaves her EU job at the end of October.

  • Saudi king warns West will be jihadists' next target 

    Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud speaks before a meeting with the US Secretary of State at his private residence on June 27, 2014 in the Red Sea city of JeddahKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is "rapid" action. "Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East," said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States. The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group has prompted widespread concern as it advances in both Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of people, including in gruesome beheadings and mass executions. President Barack Obama has yet to decide whether the United States should launch raids against positions held by the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria to follow US air strikes on IS activities in Iraq.

  • Gulf rivals struggle to build anti-jihadist front 

    A Jihadist media outlet Welayat Raqa image from July 25, 2014, allegedly shows Islamic state militants raising their black and white flag over a building belonging to a Syrian army base in the northern rebel-held city of RaqaGulf countries, while siding with Washington against Islamic State jihadists, are struggling to build a common front because of differences within their own ranks and with non-Arab Iran. US President Barack Obama is sending his Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to try to build strong regional support against IS, which is rampaging through Iraq and Syria. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has over the past week been at the centre of diplomatic efforts to stand up to the challenge posed by IS to the status quo. He and his counterparts from Egypt, Qatar and the Emirates held talks on Syria and "the rise of terrorist extremist ideology", according to an official statement.

  • Kerry urges global 'coalition' to fight IS jihadists 

    Police officers stand guard on Downing Street in London on August 29, 2014US Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a global coalition to combat the Islamic State jihadist group and their "genocidal agenda". His remarks came as Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah warned that the West would be the group's next target unless there was swift action to stem their advances through Iraq and Syria. Writing in the New York Times, a week before a NATO summit in Wales, Kerry urged "a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations".

  • New Turkish top diplomat: pro-EU Erdogan ally with daunting task 

    Turkey's European Union (EU) Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is being promoted to foreign minister, is pictured in Luxembourg on June, 23 2014Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was on Friday named as the new Turkish foreign minister, is a strong supporter of Turkey's integration with the European Union as well as part of the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Cavusoglu takes on the post at a critical time, facing an enormous task with Turkey mired in foreign policy difficulties in the Middle East amid the strife in its conflict-torn neighbours Syria and Iraq. Some analysts believe his predecessor Ahmet Davutoglu -- now promoted to prime minister -- overreached himself with an ambitious foreign policy aimed at asserting Turkey as an Islamic power.

  • Cameron promises tough action to fight militants 

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron answers questionsLONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Friday to plug gaps in Britain's armory to combat terror, describing the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State group as being more dangerous than even that of al-Qaida.

  • Britain raises its terrorism threat level over Syria, Iraq By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - Britain raised its terrorism alert on Friday to the second-highest level with Prime Minister David Cameron saying the Islamic State (IS) group operating in Syria and Iraq posed the country's greatest ever security risk. "What we're facing in Iraq now with ISIL (IS) is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before," said Cameron, adding he was "absolutely satisfied that ISIL ... would make specific threats to the UK". It is the first time since mid-2011 that Britain has been placed on this grade of alert by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center (JTAC), the independent body responsible for setting the national threat level. The national threat level was first published in 2006, just over a year after four British Islamists carried out suicide bombings on London's transport network killing 52 people.
  • Syria refugees top 3 million, US has no strategy 'yet' 

    A Syrian refugee child eats food collected from a rubbish bin by her mother (background right), in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 18, 2014The number of refugees from the Syria conflict now tops three million, the UN said Friday, as US President Barack Obama admitted he has no strategy to tackle advancing jihadists. In Geneva, UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Syria had become the "biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" after a million people joined the exodus in the past year alone. They have fled the war-wracked country where Islamic State (IS) jihadists have sown panic with atrocities and executions, including of scores of Syrian soldiers and a US journalist this month alone. The scale of the crisis facing the international community deepened after rival Islamists led by Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, seized 43 Fijian UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights.

  • Dutch government clamps down on radicalization AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch government unveiled a package of measures Friday aimed at countering radicalization of Muslims in the country, a day after police announced the arrest of two men suspected of recruiting people to fight in conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
  • Obama cautions against using force to solve crises 

    President Barack Obama gestures in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, where he spoke about the economy, Iraq, and Ukraine, before convening a meeting with his national security team on the militant threat in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, faced with deepening crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, is putting the brakes on the notion that American military power can solve either conflict.

  • New Turkish cabinet spells little policy shift, Erdogan stays dominant 

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announces his new cabinet in AnkaraBy Gulsen Solaker and Nick Tattersall ANKARA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu kept key members of Turkey's economic management team in place and named Ankara's point man on Europe as foreign minister in a new cabinet on Friday, moves signalling President Tayyip Erdogan's continued domination. Erdogan, who had dominated politics as prime minister since 2003, was sworn in on Thursday as Turkey's first popularly-elected president, cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times. Erdogan is likely to retain influence over the new team, with his former aide Yalcin Akdogan and Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party and another close ally, both named as deputy prime ministers.

  • Obama says 'no strategy yet' as IS executes Syrian troops 

    An image made available by jihadist media outlet Welayat Raqa on June 30, 2014 allegedly shows Islamic State (IS) militants parading in the northern rebel-held Syrian city of RaqaUS President Barack Obama admitted Thursday that he still does not have a strategy to fight Islamic State jihadists in Syria, as the militants boasted they had executed scores of Syrian troops -- the latest in a string of atrocities that have shocked the world. Dampening hopes of imminent air strikes in Syria, Obama said he was still developing a comprehensive plan to defeat IS, which has also overrun large swathes of Iraq. The civil war in Syria has killed some 191,000 people since it erupted in March 2011 with President Bashar al-Assad's bloody effort to put down an uprising. The chaotic situation on the ground was underlined by the seizing of 43 UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights by rival Islamist rebels, led by Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

  • UN: Islamic State group threatens Syria aid access 

    In this photo provided by the United Nations, the U.N. Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefs the U.N. Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, at U.N. Headquarters. She told the Security Council that the Islamic State group is taking violence against civilians in Syria "to a new level," threatening the cross-border humanitarian aid operations recently approved by the Security Council and that both the extremists and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front are advancing on border crossings with Turkey "and could hinder additional cross-border operations." (AP Photo/United Nations, Loey Felipe)UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Islamic State group is taking violence against civilians in Syria "to a new level," threatening the cross-border humanitarian aid operations recently approved by the Security Council, a top U.N. aid official said Thursday.



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