Indonesia Thursday rejected appeals from the UN and EU to halt the execution of 14 drug convicts including foreigners, as speculation mounted they could face the firing squad in a matter of hours. The group, including foreigners from Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, have been placed in isolation on a prison island where Jakarta carries out executions. Family members say they have been told the convicts will be executed Thursday night, according to a lawyer and diplomat -- who were angry as it was earlier than they thought was allowed.
Russia said on Thursday it had launched a "large-scale humanitarian operation" together with the Syrian government around the battered city of Aleppo to open humanitarian corridors for civilians and fleeing fighters. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that three humanitarian corridors were being opened "to aid civilians held hostage by terrorists and for fighters wishing to lay down their arms" and one more corridor to the north of the city for rebels to flee with their weapons. Opposition neighbourhoods of Aleppo have been effectively besieged by regime forces backed up by Russian air power since July 7, when government troops advanced to within firing range of the sole remaining supply route into the east.
The United Nations said on Wednesday there has been at least 120 cases of sexual violence and rape against civilians in South Sudan's capital Juba since fighting erupted three weeks ago between troops loyal to the country's rival leaders. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan continued to receive "deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, by soldiers in uniform and men in plain clothes against civilians, including minors, around U.N. House and in other areas of Juba." Haq said U.N. peacekeepers had stepped up patrols and were also providing "protection at designated times to women when they to go out of the Protection of Civilians sites to collect firewood and procure other non-food items." The United Nations is protecting tens of thousands of people at sites in Juba and elsewhere in South Sudan.