Thursday, October 1, 2015

Russia 'launches air strikes again', targeting rebel alliance in Syria - live updates by Raziye Akkoc

Russia 'launches air strikes again', targeting rebel alliance in Syria - live updates 

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Russian jets bomb rebel positions in Syria including rural areas near the north-western town of Jisr al-Shughour, a day after launching air strikes. Follow latest developments here











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Is Putin the only world leader with a coherent Middle East strategy? 

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Poll: Russia's intervention in Syria may have no clear end point, but Vladimir Putin desperately wants to demonstrate his country's great power status











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Mexico's most wanted: Which drug lords have been captured under Enrique Peña Nieto? 

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The president of Mexico concludes a state visit to Britain with news that a top drug kingpin has been arrested. Who else has been captured under his rule?











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'Tyrannical' king of Mandela's clan jailed for attacks on subjects

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King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo set fire to disobedient subjects' homes, severely beat young men suspected of crime, and kidnapped the family of a man he saw as a dissident











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Netanyahu blasts 'deceitful' Abbas ahead of UN speech

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Israeli prime minister to address UN General Assembly day after Palestinian leader called for end of Oslo peace accords











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Russia conducts second wave of Syria air strikes

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Russia's defence ministry continued its bombing campaign overnight as it releases footage showing four more air strikes over Syria









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Attacks on Jews rise to five-year high in Germany - more than any country in Europe 

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Jewish leaders warn of mass emigration from Europe as Germany records more anti-Semitic incidents than any EU state











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Seven Israelis charged over first 'plot to launch Isil attacks' in country 

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Suspects indicted on charges of contacting Isil fighters in Syria, who then allegedly encouraged them to plan terror attacks in Israel











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Why Is Putin Joining The Syrian Conflict?

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The answer as to why Russia has begun airstrikes in Syria could lie thousands of miles north in Ukraine, Sam Kiley writes.

Russia Airstrikes In Syria 'Killed Civilians'

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Children are said to be among 36 people killed in strikes but Russia rejects the claims as false and part of an "information war".

Clinton Emails Targeted In Russia-Linked Attack

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Clinton stands with television host DeGeneres during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in New York

Syria Conflict: How The Key Countries Line Up

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Smoke and dust rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc

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Russian Strikes in Syria Draw Ire From Anti-Assad Opposition - Bloomberg

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Bloomberg

Russian Strikes in Syria Draw Ire From Anti-Assad Opposition
Bloomberg
Syrian ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad speaks during a press conference in Moscow on Oct. 1, 2015. Photographer: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images. Don't Miss Out — Follow Bloomberg On. Facebook · Twitter · Instagram · YouTube. Sign up ...
Russian air strikes hit CIA-trained rebels, commander saysReuters
McCain: Russian airstrikes target CIA-backed rebelsCNN International
Russian Airstrikes Hit Rebel AreasNew York Times

all 74 news articles »

Iran troops to join Syria war, Russia bombs group trained by CIA - Reuters

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Reuters

Iran troops to join Syria war, Russia bombs group trained by CIA
Reuters
BEIRUT/MOSCOW Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join a major ground offensive in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government, Lebanese sources said on Thursday, a further sign of the rapid internationalization of a civil war in ...
Iranian troops prepare to aid Russia with Syrian ground assault, officials sayFox News
Iran sends troops to back Assad, report says, as Russia bombs Syrian rebelsNew York Daily News
Assad allies, including Iranians, prepare ground attack in Syria: sourcesGlobalPost
Ynetnews -Washington Examiner
all 50 news articles »

Iranian troops prepare to aid Russia with Syrian ground assault, officials say - Fox News

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Fox News

Iranian troops prepare to aid Russia with Syrian ground assault, officials say
Fox News
More Iranian troops have arrived in Syria for an upcoming ground operation to accompany Russian airstrikes, defense officials confirm to Fox News. “It has always been understood in this building that the Russians would provide the air force, and the ...
Assad allies, Iranian troops prepare ground attack in SyriaWashington Times
Lindsey Graham: Beware The Russian Alliance With Iran In SyriaCBS Local
Sources: Russian Airstrikes Back Iran, Hezbollah Offensive in SyriaNewsmax
Ynetnews
all 48 news articles »

Iraqi prime minister says he would 'welcome' Russian airstrikes - Washington Post

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CTV News

Iraqi prime minister says he would 'welcome' Russian airstrikes
Washington Post
As Russia began bombing neighboring Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would welcome the extension of airstrikes to Iraq, a move that could potentially see the United States sidelined in the battle against Islamic State militants in ...
Lavrov insists Russia and US are fighting same targets in SyriaPolitico
Russia sees 'eye-to-eye' with US on Syria: LavrovCNBC
Europe, US split over form of Syria talksSTLtoday.com
Sputnik International
all 345 news articles »

US, Russia to Hold Talks on Military Operations Over Syria - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

US, Russia to Hold Talks on Military Operations Over Syria
Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—The Pentagon plans to conduct talks Thursday with its Russian counterparts in an effort to avoid midair collisions and other disasters as both countries conduct airstrikes over Syria, a senior military official said. The talks come amid ...
Tensions Rising, US and Russian Military Holding Syria TalksABC News
Russia launches media offensive on Syria bombingBBC News
Russia's Anti-ISIL Efforts 'Shift Syrian Civil War Landscape'Sputnik International

all 165 news articles »

Putin just threw a wrench into the 2016 foreign policy debate - Washington Post

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Fox News

Putin just threw a wrench into the 2016 foreign policy debate
Washington Post
Since the beginning of 2015, America's attitudes about sending troops to fight the Islamic State have been all over the place. Polling from a number of different outlets have asked a variety of questions about putting American troops on the ground in ...
US, Russia Military Officials Holding Talks on SyriaVoice of America
Lavrov insists Russia and US are fighting same targets in SyriaPolitico
Nouns and the Syrian WarForbes
New York Times -San Jose Mercury News -CNBC
all 489 news articles »
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Syria and Ukraine: Two Fronts in Russia's War for Influence

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Russia's airstrikes in Syria are in part designed to extract concessions from the West over Ukraine by making Moscow a key player in any attempts by world powers to hammer out a post-conflict settlement in Damascus, some Western officials believe. While the Syrian capital lies 3,000 km (1,800 miles) south of Kyiv, for Russian President Vladimir Putin they are two fronts in the same war that is aimed at blocking Ukraine's European integration, some EU, U.S. and NATO officials...

Russia's Actions Indicate Long-term Commitment in Syria

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Twenty-eight civilians, including women and children, were killed Wednesday in Russian airstrikes in Syria, an opposition monitoring group claimed. The airstrikes, which are Russia’s first military action outside the former Soviet Union since the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, appear to be the start of a long-haul commitment by the Kremlin to shore up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian officials dismissed claims civilians were killed Wednesday in the 20 sorties...

Russian Warplanes Hit Targets in Syria 

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:03

Russia is now conducting air strikes in Syria, hitting targets Wednesday in the cities of Homs and Hama, military officials say. Russia says it is fighting Islamic State, but the Pentagon and Syrian human rights groups say it’s not clear if that’s actually the case. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has more.

John Kerry Statement on Russian Airstrikes in Syria | The New York Times 

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From: TheNewYorkTimes
Duration: 05:10 

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the United Nations about Russia's airstrikes in Syria.
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John Kerry Statement on Russian Airstrikes in Syria | The New York Times
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Hearts, Mind and Humor: Combating ISIS by Making Fun of It

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In a basement in the Jordanian capital of Amman, three young men are arguing over whose turn it is to kill their next victim. Wearing explosive vests and flak jackets over their robes, the men re-emerge with party hats, singing “Happy birthday to ISIS,” as the studio audience of Iraq’s leading online satirical news series, the Al-Basheer Show, roars with laughter.
There isn’t usually a whole lot to laugh about when it comes to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the extremist group that has committed countless atrocities in its march to power—and attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters in part by broadcasting those same atrocities. But while Western and regional governments scramble to drive back ISIS, young Arabs have found their own way to counter the group’s propaganda: comedy.
“Making fun of the enemy is the best way of defeating them,” says Ahmad al-Basheer, the 30-year-old host of his namesake show, which has racked up more than 26 million views online since it began broadcasting in April 2014. The Al-Basheer Show is one of many such parodies that have flourished in the Middle East, where millions of Muslims have grown increasingly outraged by ISIS’s theology. The ridicule comes in various forms—television shows, plays, cartoons and songs—but they share the same message: for all its claims to the contrary, ISIS is not Islamic.
Guy Martin—Panos for TIMEAmman, Jordan at night.
Alhakam Turki, a 23-year-old actor and writer for the Al-Basheer Show, believes that if more people knew the real truth about ISIS, they would not join the group. In one of the show’s most popular “commercials”—a takeoff of a well-known Snickers ad—a hungry ISIS fighter decides he wants to spread peace and love. After eating a candy bar, he regains his energy and remembers his true passion is blowing up people.
Critics might argue that satirizing such horrific atrocities is inherently offensive. The cast and crew of the Al-Basheer Show disagree—as would the 500,000 to 1 million Iraqis who watch every week. They see satire as an antidote that empowers comedians and their audience. “When you laugh about something that hurts, it’s a kind of recovery,” says producer Hussam A. Hadi.
“Making comedy out of horrific events also has another effect,” says Guy Martin, who photographed the cast and crew of the Al-Basheer Show for TIME. “It diminishes and weakens. It reduces power. It suddenly makes the world’s biggest bogeymen seem fallible.”
The crew, most of whom are Iraqi refugees, have bitter experience to inspire them. Al-Basheer, a Sunni, lost his father and brother to Shi‘ite militias in the Iraqi city of Ramadi in 2011. Hadi, a Shi‘ite from Baghdad, was kidnapped by armed extremists before he fled to Amman in 2006.
Though Iraqi state TV broadcasts its own ISIS parody, Dawlat al-Khurafa (Mythical State), the Al-Basheer Show has a harder edge. As well as mocking ISIS extremists, the crew’s own experiences of violence have inspired them to lampoon the regional politicians and clerics who fuel the conflict. It’s telling that they produce the show in neighboring Jordan, fearing their safety and freedom of expression would be compromised back home, but they still receive threats.
The young refugees hope to prove that humor can be a weapon in the fight against a group that relies on inspiring fear. But while they want a better, stronger country, even the comedians find it difficult to be optimistic these days. “People tell us, ‘We laugh while watching but then cry at the end,’” says Hadi. And as long as ISIS continues its own carnival of televised and tweeted brutality, the levity offered by comedy will only be fleeting.
With reporting by Rami Nazzal in Amman, Jordan.
Guy Martin is a freelance photographer represented by Panos.
Olivier Laurent , who edited this photo essay, is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitterand Instagram @olivierclaurent.
Naina Bajekal is a reporter for TIME based in London. Follow her on Twitter @naina_bajekal.
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Russia’s endgame in Syria? Maybe there isn’t one.

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Putin seems to be making bold moves in the Mideast. But he has limited influence on events there.















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Cameron: UK will not pay reparations for slave trade – video

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Prime minister David Cameron tells the Jamaican parliament that the UK would not make reparations for its role in the Caribbean slave trade. Speaking on Wednesday after calls for the UK to make reparations, Cameron said that although slavery’s ‘wounds run very deep indeed’ he hoped Jamaica and Britain would ‘move on from this painful legacy’
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Russia strikes Syrian targets for second day – video

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Russia’s defence ministry has released footage of Russian warplanes hitting targets in Syria in the Jisr al-Shughour area. This is the second day of strikes from the Kremlin following the unanimous decision to assists Bashar al-Assad against Syrian opposition forces and Isis. So far aircraft have targeted areas in northwest Syria around the city of Homs, where there are believed to little or no Isis activity
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Azerbaijan Targets Another RFE/RL Reporter

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Police in Baku have ransacked an apartment and seized equipment belonging to an RFE/RL free-lancer in the latest incident in an unrelenting campaign targeting the country's independent press. Islam Shikhali, a free-lance video journalist working for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service, was not at home during the September 26 raid, when police confiscated his computer, video camera, microphone, and mobile phone. His passport and other personal documents were also taken, but later returned. "The police took Shikhali’s professional equipment, the tools of his trade, leaving us with the impression that they are attacking him for his journalism," said Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL editor in chief.  "They have no right to seize this equipment. It should be returned immediately, Shikhali should be allowed to work, and this harassment should end," he said. Shikhali was questioned at the prosecutor's office on September 28 and released. He told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that investigators asked about RFE/RL's work in Azerbaijan, and some of his Facebook friends who are independent journalists. "They asked me how well I know these people, how often do they come to my apartment and so on," Shikhali said. "And why I live alone instead of living with my family and how was I getting by." During the search, police showed Shikhali's roommate, who was in the apartment, a warrant citing suspicion of tax evasion. Tax evasion charges were used against investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, who was sentenced on September 1 to more than seven years in prison. Identical charges have been brought against other independent journalists, civic activists, and human rights defenders who are currently in jail, and who are regarded as "political prisoners" by a growing number of U.S. legislators, European officials, and international rights groups. RFE/RL’s Baku bureau was raided by Azerbaijani state agents on December 26. The bureau's documents, corporate stamps, and equipment were confiscated, more than 20 bureau employees were interrogated, and its bank accounts were frozen. Several journalists have fled the country and those that remain fear imprisonment. RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service continues to gather and report the news from RFE/RL’s headquarters in Prague for its website, www.azadliq.org, and remains a vital alternative to Azerbaijan’s government-controlled press.

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Trump Backs Russia's Effort To Fight Islamic State

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump says he supports Russian efforts to fight militants in Syria from the Islamic State (IS) group, also known as ISIS.

Russian Gets Four Years In U.S. Jail For 'Citadel' Computer Fraud

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A Russian national was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in U.S. prison for using sophisticated malware known as "Citadel" to steal banking information from thousands of computers, authorities said.

Zhirinovsky Sues Gorbachev Over Statements In Book

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Controversial Russian ultranationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky has sued Mikhail Gorbachev over comments made in the former Soviet leader's book.

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Kerry: U.S.-Russia Military Coordination On Syria Could Start October 1

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed that talks between the two nations' armed forces should start as soon as October 1 to prevent accidental clashes in Syria.

Russia-Linked Hackers Tried To Access Hillary Clinton's Email

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Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Clinton's private email account while she was U.S. secretary of state, emails released September 30 show.

Putin's Strategy In Syria: Clever Gambit Or Doomed Game Plan? 

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Putin is betting on Assad as the only power in Syria able to roll back the Islamic State extremist group. But experts give mixed assessments of the gambit's chances of success.

'Irreproachable' Air Strikes: Russian Media Spin The Syria Offensive 

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After a dramatic day that saw Russia unexpectedly launch a campaign of air strikes in Syria, RFE/RL takes a look at how the country’s state-dominated media justified and explained the military action to its own people.

Prosecutors decline to charge Caitlyn Jenner in fatal crash - Lompoc Record

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Lompoc Record

Prosecutors decline to charge Caitlyn Jenner in fatal crash
Lompoc Record
Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater, in Los Angeles in July. Prosecutors said Wednesday they have declined to charge Caitlyn Jenner in the Feb. 7 collision in which authorities said ...
Caitlyn Jenner will not be charged in fatal car crash - prosecutorsReuters
Across the nationLubbockOnline.com
Caitlyn Jenner won't be charged in fatal four-car accidentQ13 FOX
Yibada (English Edition) -Rapid News Network -iFreePress.com (blog)
all 503 news articles »

McCain accuses Russia of attacking CIA-backed Syrian rebels - Politico

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Politico

McCain accuses Russia of attacking CIA-backed Syrian rebels
Politico
Russia on Thursday escalated its military engagement in Syria, with warplanes carrying out a second day of heavy airstrikes in the wartorn country, as U.S. critics hurled fresh accusations at Vladimir Putin's intentions in the region. Sen. John McCain ...
Russia launches airstrikes against al-Assad's enemies in SyriaCNN International
Russian air strikes hit CIA-trained rebels, commander saysReuters
Russia launches media offensive on Syria bombingBBC News
Daily Beast
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Page 7

Khamenei calls for stronger Iranian military to deter enemies

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's armed forces should increase their preparedness to deter and defend against an attack by foreign enemies, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday.
  

Abbas's U.N. speech: not a bang but a whimper

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Before his speech to the United Nations late on Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promised to drop a "bombshell". In the event, he delivered little more than strong words that may amount to a hollow threat.
  

Assad allies, including Iranians, prepare ground attack in Syria: sources

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.
  

Israel says won't allow Iran to join 'nuclear weapons club'

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations on Thursday that his country would not allow Iran "to break in, to sneak in, or to walk into the nuclear weapons club."
  

Contributing Op-Ed Writer: Vladimir Putin’s Guide to World History 

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According to his reading, Russia was the key to creating a participatory world order that America abused.

Refugee Crisis in Europe Prompts Western Engagement in Syria 

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The rush of refugees into Europe has stirred new urgency among Western leaders to address the war in Syria and push harder for an end to it.
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The Syria Conflict’s Overlapping Agendas and Competing Visions 

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The Syrian civil war involves multiple countries with overlapping and at times conflicting agendas. Here is where some of the main foreign actors stand.

Syrian Rebels Say Russia Targets Them Rather Than ISIS

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The rebels were taken aback on Wednesday when Russia’s first airstrikes in Syria appeared to target areas where the Islamic State has no known presence.

The Military Response: U.S. Struggles for Way to Help Afghans Regain Territory It Thought Was Secure

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The military response from the American-led coalition has been relatively limited since Monday when the Taliban seized Kunduz, the first city taken by the insurgents since 2001.

Kunduz Still Under Taliban Control, Locals Say, Despite Government Reports 

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Afghan security forces had advanced as far as a roundabout near the city’s entrance, a provincial official said, but the situation appeared to be fluid as fighting continued.

Russia Said to Carry Out 30 Airstrikes in Syria on 2nd Day of Raids 

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Warplanes targeted not the Islamic State but a rival insurgent coalition, according to a Lebanese news channel that leans toward the Syrian government.

Number of Iranians Killed in Hajj Stampede Grows to 464

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The news increased tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and added to doubts that the Saudi government had provided a full accounting of the disaster.
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A Look at the Army of Conquest, a Prominent Rebel Alliance in Syria 

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The Army, or Jaish al-Fatah, is a loose alliance of rebel groups that dealt some setbacks to the Assad government this year and is now a target of Russian strikes.

The Latest: Lavrov seeks effective Syria anti-terror fight

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MOSCOW (AP) -- The latest developments as Russia and other nations counter Islamic State militants in Syria. All times local:...

House to vote on defense bill that Obama threatens to veto

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The defense policy bill is one of the few bipartisan measures in Congress that has readily become law for more than a half-century. Not so fast this year, as President Barack Obama threatens to veto the bill moving through the House amid a bitter dispute about government spending....

Google: What people search for most on presidential hopefuls

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Potential voters who take their curiosity about presidential candidates to Google are interested in Hillary Rodham Clinton's age, Jeb Bush's height, Chris Christie's weight, Donald Trump's net worth, Carly Fiorina's marital status and Bobby Jindal's birthplace....

The Latest: Putin denies reports of civilian deaths

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MOSCOW (AP) -- The latest developments as Russia and other nations counter Islamic State militants in Syria. All times local:...

The Latest: Russia says not invited to strike in Iraq

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In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia’s airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/Associated Press)
By Associated Press October 1 at 12:03 PM
MOSCOW — The latest developments as Russia and other nations counter Islamic State militants in Syria. All times local:
___
6:55 p.m.
Russia’s foreign minister says his country has not been invited by Iraq to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State group and others.
Sergey Lavrov was speaking to reporters Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders.
“We are polite people, we don’t come if not invited,” Lavrov said.
He also defended the targets of Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, saying, “If the U.S. coalition targets only terrorist groups, then we do the same.”
Lavrov said Russia does not consider the Western-backed Free Syrian Army a terrorist group.
“We consider terrorists those who have been recognized as such by the U.N. and Russia’s legal system,” he said.
___
6:45 p.m.
Russia’s foreign minister says the first military contact between his country and the United States on Russia’s airstrikes in Syria will happen “very, very soon.”
Sergey Lavrov was speaking to reporters Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday told reporters that military talks would happen as soon as Thursday as the United States wants to “de-conflict” and avoid complications with the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria.
Lavrov also told reporters that “we believe that our position is absolutely in line with international law.”
___
6:35 p.m.
Russia’s foreign minister says his country and the U.S.-coalition “see eye-to-eye” on the targets of their fight against terrorism in Syria.
Sergey Lavrov was speaking to reporters Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders.
“We have the same approach: It’s ISIL, Nusra and other groups,” Lavrov said.
He also defended cooperating with the Syrian government, asking how it could be left out of such a fight in its own country.
And he rejected the ideas that the airstrikes were supporting Syria’s government and were an attempt to distract the world’s attention from the fighting in Ukraine.
“It’s always possible to find some absurd interpretation of what’s going on,” Lavrov said.
___
5:35 p.m.
Turkey’s foreign minister says his country has not been approached by Russia to join its intelligence-sharing cooperation announced over the weekend with Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Feridun Sinirlioglu spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders.
The news of Russia’s latest military moves in Syria, including airstrikes, has overshadowed the gathering.
Sinirlioglu earlier told reporters that if reports of the Russian airstrikes hitting civilians and Syria’s opposition are true, it could lead to “further escalation, and that is the last thing that we need in this very tragic and chaotic situation in Syria.”
The foreign minister said Syrian President Bashar Assad cannot play a part in any political solution to Syria’s crisis, now well into its fifth year.
___
3:35 p.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied reports that Russian airstrikes in Syria have caused civilian deaths.
Speaking at a meeting with rights activists in the Kremlin, Putin on Thursday described the reports as “information attacks.”
Putin insisted that reports of civilian deaths came before Russian jets even took off from their bases in Syria.
Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. on Wednesday that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed 36 civilians, with five children among the dead. The claim could not be independently verified.
___
3:15 p.m.
Activists report that Russian jets are suspected of targeting a strategic city in the rebel-controlled Syrian northwestern Idlib province.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes Thursday have hit near a mosque in the city of Jisr al-Shughour. The city fell in April to a coalition of rebel groups that includes al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. The province totally fell to the rebels last month, the latest in a series of setbacks for the government of Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.
Idlib was the second province to go to the opposition. The northeastern Raqqa province previously fell to the Islamic State group before.
The Observatory and other activists reported an earlier other attack in the province Thursday, including one against a U.S.-backed rebel group.
___
2:30 p.m.
Russia’s defense ministry says it has damaged or destroyed 12 targets in Syria belonging to the Islamic State militant group, including a command center and ammunition depots.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised comments on Thursday that the Russian air force in the past 24 hours has hit 12 Islamic State targets, destroying among other things a command center and two arms depots.
Konashenkov said Russian Su-25M and Su-25 jets have made 20 sorties. He insisted that Russian jets were only targeting militant positions were not carrying out attacks on civilian areas.
___
2:10 p.m.
Activists in Syria are reporting a number of airstrikes in the country’s north and center which they suspect were carried out by Russian jets.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says airstrikes in the central province of Hama on Thursday have hit locations of the U.S-backed rebel group, Tajamu Alezzah. The British group said Tajamu Alezzah was also targeted on Wednesday.
An activist in the city of Kafranbel, Raed Fares, says two airstrikes outside of the city were carried out by Russian-operated jets. He says their communications in Russian intercepted. Fares said the targets outside of the northern city appeared to be a checkpoint operated by rebels backed by the United States.
___
1:35 p.m.
A member of the Czech government has warned that Russian airstrikes in Syria can only worsen the migrant crisis in Europe and result in a new wave of refugees.
Addressing the lower house of Parliament, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said Thursday: “I am looking with a deep distrust at the Russian military engagement in the area,” adding that airstrikes alone “solve nothing.”
Chovanec says there are millions of Syrians displaced from their homes in their own country and “if they lose hope the war will end ... they’ll be again heading for Germany.”
___
12:55 p.m.
The Foreign Ministry in Tehran says that Iran fully supports Russian airstrikes against “terrorist groups” in Syria.
According to a statement by the ministry’s spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, the “Islamic Republic of Iran considers military action by Russia against armed terrorist groups to be a step toward fighting terrorism and toward resolving the current crisis” in Syria.
She says the Russian airstrikes come in response to an “official request by Syria’s government from the Russian Federation.” The statement was carried by the official IRNA news agency.
___
12:20 p.m.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other extremist groups.
Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria. Moscow insisted that it was targeting IS militants while U.S. officials and other cast doubt on the claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces.
Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Russia is going after IS militants and other “well-known” groups.
Asked whether Russia is choosing its own targets or following the instructions of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Peskov said the targets were chosen “in coordination” with the Syrian army.
The Russian defense ministry said late Wednesday Russia had carried out 20 airstrikes.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Page 10

Russia Carries Out Airstrikes in Syria for 2nd Day

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — In a second day of raids in Syria, Russian warplanes carried out a new round of airstrikes on Thursday in the northwestern province of Idlib that targeted not the Islamic State but a rival insurgent coalition, according to accounts from journalists and activists.
Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict, which started on Wednesday with a bombing attack on Syrian opposition fighters, has been angrily condemned by United States officials. They fear that PresidentVladimir V. Putin of Russia is using their shared goal of defeating the Islamic State as a pretext for weakening other opponents of Syria’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Putin says that Mr. Assad is a bulwark against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL; President Obama says that Mr. Assad must go.
On Thursday, Al Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based news channel that leans toward the Syrian government, reported that Russia was targeting “a known list of terrorist organizations” that it had agreed on with the Syrian Army.
Mostapha al-Nayrab, an antigovernment activist in Idlib Province, said that Russian warplanes had bombed many areas in the south and west of the province, hitting both insurgent bases and a mosque where five civilians were killed.
Russian officials, however, insisted that they had hit four “objects of the Islamic State”: a “terrorist headquarters” and arms depot near the city of Idlib; a three-story command bunker near Hama, a city about 60 miles to the south; and a bomb factory in Homs Province, which is farther to the south. The airstrikes began on Wednesday to the north and northeast of the city of Homs. The Islamic State has been most active in areas significantly to the east of those areas.
The Russian state news agency RIA reported that airstrikes by the Syrian military, which is working with the Russian Air Force, had killed 107 militants, including three commanders of the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, near Homs.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian Senate, denied the charge that Russia was overlooking Islamic State targets and instead attacking other opponents of Mr. Assad’s. “There is no evidence able to prove these groundless claims that are being spread today,” he said.
Maps show that most of the areas hit by the airstrikes are controlled by rebel groups and that they are not in Islamic State territory.
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The strikes on Thursday targeted the Army of Conquest, a coalition of insurgent groups that includes the Nusra Front, the hard-line Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, and a range of less extreme Islamist groups — all of which are opposed to the Islamic State.
Often fighting alongside the Army of Conquest are relatively secular groups from what is left of the loose-knit Free Syrian Army, including some that have received United States training and advanced American-made antitank missiles. At least one C.I.A.-trained group was among the targets hit on Wednesday, which drew an angry response from Washington.
This year, the Army of Conquest dealt Syrian forces a serious setback by seizing the city of Idlib, and later the entire province, advances that posed the war’s sharpest threat to the coastal areas where support for Mr. Assad is strongest. Russia has a naval station on the coast and has concentrated much of its recent military buildup there.
For critics of the Russian action, the imprecision in Moscow in the accounts of the targeting decisions in the first day of the Russian air assaults seemed intentional, bearing out fears in Western governments that the Kremlin, as it enters the Syrian conflict, would follow on the heels of Mr. Assad’s government in conflating antigovernment fighters with terrorists.
The choice of targets underscored a fundamental dispute between the United States and its allies, like Saudi Arabia, on one side and Mr. Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran, on the other.
Mr. Assad, and now Russia, make little distinction among Islamist insurgent groups, and their supporters suggest that any such distinctions are meaningless hairsplitting. United States policy appears to reflect an acknowledgment that the Nusra Front and its allies — while many of them are unpalatable — often clash with the Islamic State and have differing goals and tactics.
The Syrian uprising began in 2011 with peaceful protests and turned violent in response to repression by the government. But relatively secular groups led by army defectors have been eclipsed by better-financed, better-organized Islamist groups.
In the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter have denounced Russia’s first round of airstrikes, pointing out that even as Russian pilots did not hit known strongholds of the group. Instead, they targeted areas held by other insurgents, including some American-trained ones, in strikes that killed 40 people, including some civilians.
But the Army of Conquest itself embodies the ambivalence of American policy. The United States considers the Nusra Front a terrorist organization, but other groups, including some that have received American funding, fight alongside Nusra, saying that they have no choice if they want to unseat Mr. Assad.
The United States has been reluctant to increase support to those groups because some weapons have ended up in the hands of the Nusra Front, and Washington does not want to see the militant group take over Syria any more than it wants the Islamic State to take power.
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