• Friday, December 19, 2014

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Freedom in the air

Syria

Syria loses two key bases to rebels

The Syrian army yesterday lost control of two strategic bases in the northwestern province of Idlib to coordinated assaults by Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, a monitoring group said. Meanwhile, the EU backed UN efforts to arrange a ceasefire in Syria's second city Aleppo yesterday as one of the few good options left in a conflict which has claimed more than 200,000 lives. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said special UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura had briefed foreign ministers...

US Senate backs anti-IS spending

US Senate backs anti-IS spending

The US Senate has approved a new annual defence bill expanding the military campaign against Islamic State (IS). The bill approves a general Pentagon budget of $496bn (£316bn) plus $64bn for US wars abroad. The measure also authorises the training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebel fighters for two years. The bill had already been passed...

2014 a devastating year for children: UN

2014 a devastating year for children: UN

2014 has been a devastating year for children with up to 15 million swept up in wars in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Ukraine, the UN children's agency said Monday. "Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality," Unicef director Anthony...

UN appeals for record $16bn in aid

The UN appealed yesterday for $16.4 billion (13.4 billion euros) to provide aid to nearly 60 million people worldwide next year, with almost half the amount aimed at helping victims of Syria's drawn-out conflict. "The rising scale of need is outpacing our capacity to respond," warned United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, stressing that 2014 has been marked by a sharp rise in the number of people affected by violent conflicts. Some 102 million people worldwide were in need of aid...

Australians banned from IS stronghold Raqqa

Australians banned from IS stronghold Raqqa

Australia has banned its citizens from travelling to the Syrian province of Raqqa, stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for the first time used powers under terrorism laws to declare Raqqa a no-go zone. Anyone entering the area could face up to 10 years in prison unless they have...

Iraq denies woman detained in Lebanon is IS leader's wife

Iraq denies woman detained in Lebanon is IS leader's wife

Iraq says a woman detained in Lebanon is not the wife of the Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Lebanese officials said on Tuesday that the army had picked up a woman named Saja al-Dulaimi after she tried to enter from Syria with forged papers. But the Iraqi interior ministry said on Wednesday...

ISIS leader's family detained in Lebanon

The Lebanese army have detained a wife and child of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State (ISIS), as they crossed from Syria, security officials said yesterday. The officials declined to reveal the name or nationality of the woman, whom they described as one of his wives. The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that the army had detained the woman in coordination with “foreign intelligence apparatus”. The arrest is a blow to Baghdadi and could be used as a bargaining chip against...

IS steps up key Syrian town assault

IS steps up key Syrian town assault

Fighting has intensified in the besieged Syrian border town of Kobane, where Kurdish forces have been holding Islamic State at bay since September. IS militants launched at least four suicide attacks, with reports saying at least 25 people were killed. The first of the attacks was near the Turkish border crossing. It is thought to...

IS 'not weakened by air strikes'

IS 'not weakened by air strikes'

Two months of US-led air strikes have failed to weaken Islamic State (IS) militants, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has said. Moualem told Lebanese TV the only way to tackle IS was to force Turkey to tighten border controls and stop foreign fighters crossing into Syria. He also said Turkey's plan for a no-fly zone...

Syrian govt air strikes kill 63 in Raqqa

Syrian govt air strikes kill 63 in Raqqa

At least 63 people, half of them civilians, were killed when Syrian war planes struck the northeastern city of Raqqa on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria. Syrian government officials were not immediately available for comment. Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Britain-based Observatory, said 10 war...

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