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The Syrian uprising began in March 2011, now fighting has spilled across the country's borders as the battle of key towns and cities continues.

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  • Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UNHCR's high commissioner, spoke to us from Geneva about what the agency calls the biggest humanitarian emergency of our time.


    Audio: UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming
    by Rahul Radhakrishnan
  • According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights , Syrian warplanes targeted several IS positions in Raqqa and its outskirts. No casualties have been acknowledged so far.
  • The number of refugees who have fled the Syrian civil war has reached three million; which is around 5,000 people a day. 

    The United Nations says this is the biggest humanitarian emergency of our time, and that not enough is being done to help.

    By December 2012, the UN Refugee Agency said the number of Syrians who had left the country had crossed the 500,000 mark.

    But that figure doubled just three months later, when the one millionth Syrian was registered as a refugee. It then took only six months, September 2013, for that number to swell to two million.

    Now, a year later, three million Syrians have crossed the border in search of safety. The bulk of them are in Lebanon and Turkey. 

    The rest have settled in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

  • Reports claim that heavy shelling on al-Nusra Front Sites in Jobar, located in the suburbs of Damascus, has taken the lives of 150 people and wounded rebel fighters today.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify this report. 


    by Diana.AlRifai edited by Rahul Radhakrishnan 8/29/2014 12:59:36 PM
  •  
    UN says Syria refugees top three million mark [Reuters] 


  • French leader calls Assad a 'jihadist ally'
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

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

    Saudi Arabia's leading religious leader has warned Muslim youth to steer clear of "calls for jihad" issued on "perverted" grounds, state news agency SPA says.

    "Young people should not let themselves be influenced by calls for jihad... on perverted principles," Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said.  

    "It is a great misfortune that our youths are being exploited to fuel sedition" and lured into war zones "under the pretext of jihad", he said.

    Those "endangering the lives" of young Saudis have "disobeyed God and have sinned."
    [AFP]

  • Who Are The Kurds And What Do They Want In Iraq?
    by TestTube via YouTube

  • Fiji says negotiations underway to free captured peacekeepers

    Talks were underway to release 43 Fijian peacekeepers taken hostage by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, the Pacific nation's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said.

    "The latest information we have is that they are safe and I can say now that the negotiations for their release have already begun," he said in a statement.

    Bainimarama said the peacekeepers were believed to be safe and his government was working closely with the United Nations to secure their release.

    "These men are peacekeepers, not combatants in the Syrian conflict, and there is no need for them to be detained," he said.

    The Fijians, who were on duty in a UN-patrolled zone, were taken hostage on Thursday. 

    About 75 Philippine peacekeepers who refused to surrender were involved in a tense standoff with armed groups in the same area, Philippine officials said.

    The UN peacekeeping force has been stationed there since 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria. 

    There are currently 1,200 peacekeepers from the Philippines, Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands.
    [AFP]
  • UN says Syria refugees top three million mark

    The United Nations refugee agency says the civil war in Syria has forced a record three million people out of the country, an increase of one million from almost exactly a year ago.

    UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement on Friday, that the Syrian crisis has become "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" with almost half of all Syrians forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives since the conflict began in March 2011. 

    With about one of every eight Syrians fleeing across the border, and 6.5 million others displaced with the country's borders, the Geneva-based agency says over half of all those uprooted are children.
    [Associated Press]


  • The Islamic State group has executed dozens of prisoners captured after the fall of Tabqa airbase. Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports.
  • The UN says Syrian rebels have abducted 43 Fijian soldiers monitoring the demilitarised zone in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The US says fighters from the al-Qaeda affiliate group, the Nusra Front, are among those involved. You can read the story here.




  • Barack Obama has admitted the US has no strategy to deal with the Islamic State group in Syria. You can read Al Jazeera's story here.




  • There are several reports of Islamic State fighters "waterboarding" western captives in Syria. Waterboarding is a torture technique which simulates drowning and was used by the CIA during the presidency of George W Bush. It was later ruled as "cruel and unusual punishment" and unconstitutional. You can read Al Jazeera's story here.


  • US President Barack Obama played down the prospect of imminent US military action in Syria saying "we don't have a strategy yet'' for degrading the violent armed group seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East.

    US President Barack Obama said confronting the Islamic State group requires a regional strategy with support from other states in the region. He said it's time for states in the region to "stop being ambivalent" about the aims of rebel groups like the Islamic State.

    "They have no ideology beyond violence and chaos," Obama said.

  • The UN Security Council just released this statement on the UN Disengagement Observer Force

    The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the detention of 43 United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers from within the Area of Separation in the vicinity of position 27, as well as the surrounding of positions 68 and 69, which are manned by 81 UNDOF peacekeepers, earlier today by a Security Council-designated terrorist groups and by members of non-state armed groups. 

    The members of the Security Council demanded the unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers and called upon all parties to cooperate with UNDOF in good faith to enable it to operate freely and to ensure full security of its personnel. They called up countries with influence to strongly convey to the armed members of the opposition in the UNDOF area of operation to immediately release the peacekeepers.  They stressed that there should be no military forces in the area of separation other than those of UNDOF, and further reiterated their condemnation for the increased use by elements of the Syrian opposition and other groups of improvised explosive devices in the UNDOF area of operation which which threaten the safety and security of United Nations personnel.

    The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their unconditional support for UNDOF. 
  • The UN Security Council "strongly condemned" the detention of the 43 peacekeepers and the "surrounding of positions" manned by the 81 other peacekeepers, by "terrorist groups and by members of non-state armed groups."

    The council demanded the "unconditional and immediate release of all the detained United Nations peacekeepers" and urged countries with influence to help win their release. 

    The 81 Filipino troops were locked in a standoff near Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah, while the Fijian soldiers were taken to the southern part of the buffer zone, UN officials said. 

    UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it was unclear which group had staged the attacks.

    "Some groups are self-identified as affiliated to Al-Nusra but we are not able to confirm," he said.
  • US President Barack Obama will meet his top national security advisers on Thursday to discuss the challenge presented by the Islamic State group and the situation in Iraq and Syria, the White House announced.

    "Today the President is meeting with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our efforts to counter the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State). You should not expect that we'll have new decisions to announce on these issues today," a White House official said.

    Obama's meeting, with Vice President Joe Biden and members of his National Security Council, will take place at 4pm EDT in the White House Situation Room, Reuters reported.
  • A group of 43 UN peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have been detained by gunmen fighting the Syrian army and the world body is working to secure their release, the United Nations said on Thursday.

    "During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, 43 peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah," the UN press office said in a statement.
  • Syrian airstrike reportedly kills Islamic State commanders

    A Syrian government airstrike has reportedly killed commanders of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said.

    The Observatory, which says it gathers information from all sides in the Syrian conflict, reported that Syrian war jets had struck a building used as a headquarters by Islamic State while a meeting of its commanders including Syrians, Arabs and foreigners, was underway.

    Syrian state TV reported that the army "eliminated more than 10 terrorists" in an attack east of Deir al-Zor airport, including two men it named as Islamic State leaders in the province, and destroyed 14 armoured vehicles. 
    [Reuters]
  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad names new government

    Following is the new cabinet list:

    Prime Minister: Wael al-Halaqi
    Defence Minister: General Fahd al-Freij
    Foreign Minister: Walid Muallem
    Interior Minister: Mohammed al-Shaar
    Local Administration Minister: Omar Ghalawanji
    Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection Minister: Hassan Safiye (new)
    Communications and Technology Minister: Mohammed al-Jalali (new)
    Waqf (Religious endowment) Minister: Mohammed Abdel-Sattar Sayyed
    Presidential Affairs Minister: Mansour Azzam
    Justice Minister: Najem Hamad al-Ahmad
    Finance Minister: Ismail Ismail
    Health Minister: Nizar Wehbe Yazigi (new)
    Tourism Minister: Bishr Riyad al-Yazigi
    Electricity Minister: Imad Mohammed Dib Khamis
    Water Resources Minister: Kamal al-Sheikha (new)
    Agriculture Minister: Ahmad al-Qadri
    Higher Education Minister: Mohammed Amer Mardini (new)
    Education Minister: Hazwan al-Wazz
    Economy and Foreign Trade Minister: Humam al-Jazaeri (new)
    Industry Minister: Kamal Eddin Taameh
    Transportation Minister: Ghazwan Kheir Bek (new)
    Housing and Urban Development Minister: Mohamed Walid Ghazal (new)
    Administrative Development: Hassan al-Nuri (new)
    Public Works Minister: Hussein Arnus
    Oil and Mineral Resources Minister: Sleiman Abbas
    Culture Minister: Issam Khalil (new)
    Labour Minister: Khalaf Sleiman al-Abdullah (new)
    Social Affairs Minister: Kinda Shmat
    Information Minister: Omran al-Zohbi
    Minister of State for National Reconciliation: Ali Haidar
    Minister of State for Environmental Affairs: Nazira Sarkis
    Minister of State: Hassib Elias Shammas
    Minister of State: Mohamed Mutia Muayyad (new)
    Minister of State: Abdallah Khalil Hussein
    Minister of State: Jamal Shahin
    [AFP]
  • Syrian killed on Lebanese border 

    The Lebanese army has fired live ammunition at a van carrying 13 people, 10 of which Syrian, killing one and wounding two others after they failed to stop at an army checkpoint in Rashaya, on the border of southeast Lebanon. 

    According to the national news agency, they were arrested on charges of carrying illegal weapons at an illegal border crossing leading to Syria's Golan Heights.
  • France dismisses Assad as ally in fight against Islamic State 

    French President Francois Hollande has warned the West of working with Syria's President in the fight against the Islamic State group, saying Assad was an ally of Islamic extremists wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq.

    "Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he is the de facto ally of jihadists," he said.

    In a wide-ranging speech to international ambassadors, Hollande said France would call an international conference to address the threat of the Islamic State and said a broad alliance was needed.

    His comments came after Assad's regime said it was willing to work with the international community, including Washington, to tackle extremist fighters in the war-ravaged country.
    [AFP]

  • Will The US Bomb IS Group (AKA ISIS) In Syria?
    by AJ+ Labs via YouTube

  • Philippine's Muslim rebels vow to stop Islamic State 'virus'

    The largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines has condemned the Islamic State group, and vowed to stop the spread of their "virus" into the Southeast Asian nation.

    After decades of armed rebellion that claimed tens of thousands of lives, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it was vital to stop the savage ideology of Islamic State (IS) infecting the Philippines.

    "The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS or even by its (MILF's) own members," the MILF said in a statement posted on its website.

    "The threat really comes from the extremism [espoused] by the ISIS. Ideas are contagious and infectious," it said.

    Two other Filipino Muslim armed groups, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), have recently vowed allegiance to the IS in videos uploaded to social media sites.
    [AFP]
  • Leading Sunni scholar calls Islamic State 'deviants'

    Prominent Sunni Muslim scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has slammed the Islamic State group as "deviants," accusing the group of violating Islamic law and inflaming sectarianism.

    Qaradawi's International Union of Muslim Scholars, described IS's offensive in Syria and Iraq as "criminal and unlawful" and prohibited in Islam.

    The International Union of Muslim Scholars said it "categorically prohibits the actions of some excessive and deviant groups, such as killing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims, under the cover of repugnant sectarianism one time, or under the name of the so-called Islamic State the other time."
    [AFP]
  • Syrian rebels back US strikes against Islamic State group

    Syrian rebels are calling for the United States to carry out strikes against the Islamic State group in the country, as the Washington mulls over a decision to expand its mission into the country.

    "We support US strikes against Daesh," said Abu Al-Muqdad, a fighter in Aleppo with the Islamic Front, a rebel coalition, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS).

    "I'm in favour of American air strikes on the areas controlled by Daesh because they and the regime, they're one and the same," said Jaber, who heads the Islamic Front's military police unit in eastern Aleppo city.

    Calls for US action in Syria have been mounting in the wake of IS advances in Iraq and Syria, as well as the brutal killing of US journalist James Foley, who was held hostage.
    [AFP]


  • Fighters from the Islamic State group are cracking down on behaviour that contravenes their interpretation of Islam. In this video taken in the southern Aleppo countryside they're seen destroying a marijuana field.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the content of the video.


  • This is the full video of Shirley Sotloff pleading with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of territories controlled by the Islamic State group, to release her son, Steven.

    The US journalist appeared at the end of a video which showed the killing of another reporter, James Foley.

    You can read our full report here.


  • The mother of an American journalist held captive by militant group Islamic State released a video on Wednesday appealing directly to the group's leader for his release.

    "I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. My son Steven is in your hands. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, who protected people of The Book (Christians and Jews). " 

    Sotloff, 31, went missing in Syria last year while covering the conflict there. Islamic State released a video last week in which he could be seen kneeling following the filmed decapitation of fellow journalist James Foley.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that "we certainly would call on those who are holding (Sotloff) to release him." He reiterated that theUnited States does not pay ransom to release hostages, however, saying it puts other innocent Americans at risk.

    [Reuters]
  • Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree to form a new government on Wednesday, keeping most key ministers in place, Reuters news agency reported.

    Assad was sworn in for a new seven-year term on July 16 after a presidential election that confirmed his grip on power, a process that required him to name a new government. 

    He re-appointed Wael al-Halaqi as prime minister, having first given him the job 2012 after his predecessor, Riad Hijab,
    fled Syria to join the opposition. Halaqi, who wields little power in a system dominated by the president, survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus last year. 

    Critics consider the cabinet, made up of Baathist loyalists, to be largely symbolic as power in Syria lies in the hands of Assad and his inner circle of family and elite members of the security forces.

  • Syrian rebels seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights after heavy clashes with Assad's forces, activists and rebels have said.

    Wednesday's capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan Heights held more of a symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an array of rebel fighters took the crossing after heavy fighting that left at least 20 Syrian soldiers and an unknown number of rebels dead.

    It said clashes also raged in the towns of Jaba, Tal Kroum and Rawadi in Quneitra province.

    The fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan frontier spilled over into Israel, with errant fire wounding an army officer, Israel's military said. It did not immediately comment on the crossing takeover.

    From the Israeli side of the de facto border, large clouds of smoke could be seen, as gunfire and explosions sounded in the distance, AP news agency reported.

    Israel has avoided taking sides in the war, but has responded when the violence has spilled across the border. In its response, the military said it targeted two Syrian army positions and "hits were confirmed". It gave no further details.

    Israel says it holds the Syrian government responsible for any violence that emanates from its territory. 
  • An independent UN commission has said that the Syrian government has likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians and that the Islamic State group committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two cities in the country's north and west.

    The report from the commission, which has been tasked to investigate potential war crimes in the country, marks the first time the United Nations has assigned blame for the use of the chemical agent.

    Specifically, the commission said government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad likely unleashed chlorine on civilians in northern Syrian villages eight times in April.

    Source: AP
  • Fifteen Australians, including two young suicide bombers, are believed to have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, intelligence chief David Irvine said on Wednesday.

    Canberra has expressed alarm that around 60 Australians have joined violent armed groups such as Islamic State (IS) overseas.

    One Islamic State fighter, Australian man Khaled Sharrouf, sparked outrage when an image of his Sydney-raised son posing with the rotting head of a Syrian soldier was reportedly posted on Twitter.

    "The draw of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq is significant and includes more Australians than any other previous extremist conflicts put together,"
    Irvine said.

    He said the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) believed the number of citizens posing a potential security threat had increased substantially as a result.

    Source: AFP
  • The United States has begun reconnaissance flights over Syria to track Islamic State fighters but insisted it has "no plans" to coordinate with Syria on targeting the armed rebels.

    Numerous sources said foreign drones had been seen, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting that "non-Syrian spy planes" had on Monday carried out surveillance of IS positions in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

    The surveillance is seen as a precursor to possible US airstrikes on positions held by Islamic State group, similar to those being carried out in neighbouring Iraq.

    Source: AFP
  • Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, of New Hope, Minnesota is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters. McCain, suspected of fighting alongside Islamic State group fighters has been killed in Syria, a US official has said.

  • The United States has begun reconnaissance flights over Syria to track Islamic State fighters but insisted it has "no plans" to coordinate with Syria on targeting the armed rebels.

    Numerous sources said foreign drones had been seen, with the Syrian
    Observatory for Human Rights reporting that "non-Syrian spy planes" had on
    Monday carried out surveillance of IS positions in the eastern province of Deir
    Ezzor.

    The surveillance is seen as a precursor to possible US airstrikes on positions held by Islamic State group, similar to those being carried out in neighbouring Iraq.

    It comes after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime said on Monday it was willing to work with the international community, including Washington, to tackle armed fighters.

    Source: AFP

  • Journalist Peter Theo Curtis returned to  the United States on Tuesday, two days after he was released by the Islamic State  group in Syria, US media reports said.

    In a statement  released by his family to US media after he arrived in Boston, Curtis said:

    I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the people who have  come up to me today - strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family - to say welcome home
  • An American fighting for the Islamic State was killed over the weekend in Syria, US officials said Tuesday, underlining growing concerns about Westerners signing up for hardline groups in the Middle East.

    The United States had been aware that Douglas McCain, 33, a one-time aspiring rapper and basketball fan from California, was in war-torn Syria, the White House said, confirming his death.

    McCain, who converted from Christianity to Islam about a decade ago, was killed in fighting against the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked group blacklisted by the United States, US media reports said.

    "We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

    McCain's affiliation to the Islamic State group- which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria in a brutal offensive -- and his death had left his family "devastated" and "just as surprised as the country," his uncle Ken McCain told CNN.

    He was "a good person, loved his family, loved his mother, loved his faith," the uncle said, referring to his nephew's Christian beliefs before his conversion.

    The US State Department informed the family of his death on Monday.

    [AFP]
  • Obama promises to root out Islamic State 'cancer'

    US President Barack Obama has vowed to go after the killers of American journalist James Foley, and said rooting out the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria will not be easy.

    "America does not forget, our reach is long, we are patient, justice will be done," Obama told veterans gathered at a convention of the American Legion in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

    "Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won't be easy and it won't be quick," he said, referring to an acronym the United States uses for Islamic State.
    [Reuters]
  • British police urge public to inform on 'aspiring' terrorists

    British police have urged people to identify "aspiring terrorists" among their family members, friends and neighbours after the killing of US journalist James Foley, apparently by a man with an English accent.

    "We are appealing to the public, family members and friends to help identify aspiring terrorists; they may be about to travel abroad, have just returned or be showing signs of becoming radicalised," said Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country's most senior police officer on counter-terrorism, in a statement.

    "Every reasonable person in the country has been touched by the pitiless murder of James Foley at the hands of Islamic State terrorists, and the murderer's apparent British nationality has focused attention on extremism in the UK as well as the Middle East."

    He said British police had arrested five times more people in the first half of this year compared with 2013 for "Syria-related" offences.

    Intelligence services say 500 Britons have travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside jihadists in the last few years.

    The government is under increasing pressure to take steps to combat radicalisation and Home Secretary Theresa May said Saturday that she was considering introducing new powers.
    [AFP]
  • Sheitat tribesmen beg Islamic State fighters for mercy

    Clan and tribal elders from groups opposed to Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have appeared in a video posted on Sunday appealing the leader to pardon them.

    "We ask that you extend forgiveness to the people of Sheitat, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State... and your forgiveness will facilitate a new phase," said one of the leaders, dressed in traditional tribal robes.

    Hundreds of members of the Sheitat clan have been executed after their tribe refused to submit to the Islamic State group.

    The entire tribe had been deemed "hostile apostates" by the group.
    [Reuters]
  • Qatar seeks to free more US hostages in Syria

    Qatar is working to help free four Americans held hostage in Syria by various armed groups, a day after the Gulf Arab state's diplomacy helped free a journalist held since 2012.

    A source told the Reuters news agency, "four other Americans who have gone missing in Syria have now been located, and Qatar is working to free them." 

    He said the hostages were being held by "various groups" but declined to give details.

    A rebel commander in Syria reached by Skype from Beirut told Reuters that Qatar was continuously trying to secure the release of captives of all nationalities.

    Its latest foray into hostage diplomacy brought Sunday's release of Peter Theo Curtis, an American held for nearly two years by the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate group.
    [Reuters]
  • Australia steps up efforts against radicalisation

    The Australian government has announced a $60 million dollar package to help prevent youngsters from being radicalised and joining groups fighting in the Middle East.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott said up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside the Islamic State group, while a reported 100 others were actively working to support the movement at home.

    "Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian citizens amongst the foreign fighters highlights the need for action to counter radicalisation," Abbott said, adding that IS was using "medieval barbarism allied to modern technology".

    "That's how serious and dangerous this movement is. Because of the Australians who are involved with this movement, what might otherwise be a problem in a far away country is a problem for us."

    The funding follows a warning from spy chief David Irvine this month that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of militants.

    Abbott said the $60 million would help support community groups and security agencies, with the emphasis on preventing radicalisation and reducing the threat of home-grown terrorism.
    [AFP]
  • Obama 'authorises spy planes over Syria'

    Sources say surveillance flights would be used by Washington to gather intelligence on the Islamic State group.
  • The Australian government announced a Aus$64 million (US$60 million) package to help prevent youngsters from being radicalised and joining "extremist groups" in the Middle East.

    The funding follows a warning from spy chief David Irvine this month that the bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria are creating a new generation of fighters.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott said up to 60 Australians were fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) fighters, while another 100 were actively working to support the movement at home.

    "Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian citizens amongst the foreign fighters highlights the need for action to counter radicalisation," Abbott said, adding that IS was using "medieval barbarism allied to modern technology".

    "That's how serious and dangerous this movement is. Because of the Australians who are involved with this movement, what might otherwise be a problem in a far away country is a problem for us."

    Abbott said the Aus$64 million would help support community groups and security agencies, with the emphasis on preventing radicalisation and reducing the threat of home-grown terrorism.

    [AFP]
  • A senior administration official says President Barack Obama has authorised surveillance flights over Syria in order to gather intelligence on the Islamic State group.

    The move could mark the first step toward US airstrikes against targets inside Syria.

    The White House says Obama has not yet made a decision on whether to take military action inside Syria.

    The US is already launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq. The group announced last week that it had murdered an American journalist in Syria and is threatening more US hostages.

    The official was not authorised to discuss Obama's decision by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

    [AP]
  • White House says Obama has taken no decision on Syria airstrikes

    The White House says President Barack Obama has so far made no decision on whether to launch air strikes on Islamic State fighters in Syria.

    "The president has not made any decision to conduct military action in Syria," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, amid rising expectations of US action following American attacks against the group in Iraq.

    Earnest did not directly respond to a comment by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria that it was willing to work with the United States to take on "terrorism" inside Syria, in a reference to IS forces opposed by both Washington and Damascus.

    Earnest appeared to hint that if Obama were to decide to launch attacks on Syrian territory, he would not feel the need to inform the Damascus government.

    "The president has already demonstrated a willingness, where necessary... to use military force to protect the American people, regardless of borders. 
    [AFP]

  • الرقة||فرحة أهالي الطبقة بعيد تحرير مطار الطبقة العسكري
    by ابو عبــد الرحــمــن ... via YouTube

    This video uploaded to Youtube purportedly shows supporters of the Islamic state celebrating after they captured the Tabqa military air base in northeastern Syria.

    The footage shows dozens of vehicles driving through the city of Tabqa, in Raqqa province, sounding their horns during the day.

    Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the content of the video. 
  • UN says 'terrorist groups' are continuing to prevent aid delivery in Syria

    The UN has said humanitarian access in Syria has improved since the Security Council authorised the delivery of emergency aid last month across the Syrian border without the government's consent.

    However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that designated terrorist groups continued to prevent aid workers from accessing some of the estimated 10.8 million people in Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

    "All parties to the conflict continue to deny access to humanitarian assistance in an unjustifiable manner," Ban said in a new report. "Hundreds of thousands of people live under siege."

    The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2165 last month, which authorized aid access at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Syria had warned it deemed such deliveries incursions into its territory. 

    Ban said it was the first time he was able to report improvements since he began submitting monthly updates on aid access earlier this year.

    "Access across borders following the adoption of resolution 2165 has resulted in broader reach to areas in Aleppo, Deraa, Rural Damascus, Idlib and Latakia."
    [Reuters]
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