Seventy-five Filipino members of a UN peacekeeping force besieged by Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights are ready to use "deadly force" to defend themselves, their commander in Manila said Friday. Talks were underway to free a separate group of 43 peacekeepers from Fiji who have been taken hostage by anti-Assad fighters, officials said. The United Nations Security Council "strongly condemned" the assaults against the peacekeepers, which it said were carried out by "terrorist groups and by members of non-state armed groups". The Filipino peacekeepers trapped at two posts on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights were prepared to fight back rather than surrender, their commander in Manila said.
By Anna Yukhananov WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday penalized a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines for violating sanctions against Tehran largely tied to its nuclear program. The Treasury Department said it was targeting individuals and companies for violations including helping Iran's missile and nuclear programs, evading prior sanctions or supporting terrorism. Companies affected included Iran's Asia Bank, Caspian Air, Meraj Air and Lissom Marine Services LLC, a shipping firm. In a parallel move, the State Department imposed sanctions on four firms it said were helping Iran's nuclear program, as well as Goldentex FZE, a UAE-based firm working with Iran's shipping sector, and an Italian firm, Dettin SpA, which it said was working with Iran's petrochemical industry.
Swiss banks have suffered from a massive outflow of funds since 2008, a survey said on Friday, squeezed by an international crackdown on tax evasion. The survey by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers attributed much of the outflow -- totalling almost 350 billion Swiss francs (290 billion euros, $380 billion) -- to customers paying fines for undeclared assets held in Swiss accounts. The report said that foreign clients withdrew about 100 billion Swiss francs to pay fines abroad, and 250 billion Swiss francs were transferred to other countries. Martin Schiling, PWC's head of financial services in Switzerland, was upbeat about the country's banking sector in spite of the sizeable cash outflows.
The Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie called Friday for a new bid to bring peace to Syria which she said was destabilising the whole region and bringing misery to millions. In an emotional plea, the UN goodwill ambassador for refugees, who married her long-term partner Brad Pitt in a secret ceremony at their chateau in the south of France last week, said, "Three million refugees is not just another statistic. "International stability is steadily bleeding away in Syria. UN Security Council Resolutions are being ignored;
Spanish holders Sevilla and English side Everton have been handed tricky ties in the draw for the UEFA Europa League group stage, made in Monaco on Friday. Sevilla, bidding for a record fourth title in the second-tier European competition, won last season by beating Benfica on penalties in the final in Turin.
Senegal confirmed its first case of Ebola on Friday, as the country's health minister announced that a young Guinean had tested positive for the deadly virus. Guinean health services had reported on Wednesday "the disappearance of a person infected with Ebola who reportedly travelled to Senegal", Senegalese health minister Awa Marie Coll-Seck said. The minister said "plans were being reinforced to prevent the disease from spreading from this major case".