An American who has been held hostage for 22 months by an Islamic rebel group in Syria was released Sunday to UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, US and UN officials said. "Finally he is returning home," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement, confirming the release of Peter Theo Curtis, a 45-year-old author and freelance journalist whose disappearance in Syria had not been previously reported. Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in the village of Al Rafid, Quneitra, in the Golan Heights and after undergoing a medical checkup was turned over to US representatives, the United Nations said. The news of his release came less than a week after a video surfaced showing the slaying of captive US journalist James Foley at the hands of an Islamic State militant.
Iraq called Sunday for global support for its fight against jihadists, as Shiite neighbour Iran said it was helping Baghdad resist the militants but not with soldiers on the ground. Iraq is struggling to regain significant parts of the country after a lightning militant offensive led by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group seized second city Mosul in June and swept through the country's Sunni heartland, as security forces fled. The jihadist fighters have been bombarded since August 8 by US air strikes in northern Iraq, allowing Kurdish peshmerga security forces to claw back a limited amount of lost territory, including the Qaraj area, which they retook on Sunday.
A British nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone arrived in London by military plane on Sunday, BBC news reported. The patient, who is not "seriously unwell" according to the Department of Health, is to be treated at an isolation unit at a London hospital. A spokesman for Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health, Yahya Tunis, said the man was a volunteer nurse working in Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone, one of the areas hardest hit by Ebola which has now been quarantined. "His colleagues are very sad over the development as he is considered as a valued member," Tunis said, adding that he was involved in "surveillance, contact tracing and the burial of Ebola victims".
Eugenie Bouchard, tipped as the next superstar of women's tennis, arrives at the US Open seeking to take a year of remarkable Grand Slam success to the last level -- victory. The 20-year-old Canadian has accomplished the rare feat of reaching at least the semi-finals of the year's first three Grand Slams. Her first trip to a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon resulted in a crushing defeat at the hands of Petra Kvitova. The fanfare surrounding seventh-seeded Bouchard is in contrast to the relatively low profile of Simona Halep, the 22-year-old Romanian who fell in the French Open final to Maria Sharapova.
By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton EDGARTOWN Mass./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Barack Obama discovered over the past two weeks, presidents can run into trouble when their playtime is perceived as detached from the concerns of Americans. Obama returns to Washington on Sunday faced with having to repair some of the dings to his reputation after he came under fierce criticism for playing golf amid smoldering crises involving Islamic State militants, racial unrest in Missouri, a Chinese plane's altercation with an American aircraft over Japan, and renewed violence in Ukraine. "Perception is reality, and it takes a long, sustained effort to change perception," said Dana Perino, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush. George H.W. Bush was seen as out of touch by rocketing around the waters off the coast of Maine in a pricey speedboat while the country faced an economic slowdown.
Sixteen tonnes of medical equipment donated by the US government arrived on Sunday in Liberia, which has tallied the highest death toll in the West African epidemic. Kai Olsen, from the US Agency for International Development, said the shipment included plastic sheeting to build temporary shelters and water purification kits. It also included personal protective equipment such as "gloves, facial masks and body suits that allow workers to work with either patients or samples of materials -- to work with the Ebola virus safely." Olsen said it was the "first load" of Ebola-focussed aid from USAID to Liberia, where 624 people have died from the infectious tropical virus.
By Josephus Olu-Mammah and Kylie MacLellan FREETOWN/LONDON (Reuters) - A British medical worker was flown home from West Africa on Sunday after becoming the first Briton infected in the world's worst Ebola epidemic, as a separate new outbreak of the disease was detected in Democratic Republic of Congo. A specially adapted Royal Air Force cargo plane picked up the male healthcare worker in Sierra Leone on Sunday after Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond authorized his repatriation for treatment. The U.K. Department of Health said the patient - whose identity has not been disclosed - was "not currently seriously unwell". The man will be transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday confirmed its two first cases of Ebola this year, but claimed they were unrelated to the epidemic raging in four countries of West Africa. The UN's World Health Organization also announced that one of its health experts, an epidemiologist, had been infected while working in Sierra Leone. In Kinshasa, Congolese Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said that two of eight samples taken from victims of a mystery fever had tested positive for Ebola. The Ebola virus is confirmed in DRC," Kabange told AFP.