Political News from Yahoo

Fresh fighting in eastern Ukraine as MH17 flight investigation flounders

The first major fighting in Ukraine since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is under way in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, some 40 miles west of the crash site. Rebel fighters gathering in the city center told Reuters that the firing was part of a new Ukrainian military offensive to root the separatists out of the city. The Ukrainian government, through a spokesman, said that "The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation is continuing." But he declined to comment on Donetsk specifically, adds the Guardian. Western leaders, including Ukraine, widely believe that the rebels, with Russian support, were responsible for shooting down the Malaysian Airlines flight on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.

Syria rebels 'press offensive against jihadists near Damascus'

Syrian rebels battled jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) near Damascus on Monday, pressing their bid to expel them from their strongholds, a monitoring group said. Rebels holding positions in southern Damascus and the outskirts of the capital and seeking President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, launched an offensive some three weeks ago to expel IS. IS fighters have in recent days been expelled from the towns of Mesraba and Maydaa, in the Eastern Ghouta area east of Damascus. They have also been forced out of Yalda and Beit Sahem, in the capital, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


French minister slams 'anti-Semitic' Gaza protests

France's interior minister on Monday slammed "intolerable" acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel's Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses. Sunday's demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd. The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris. "When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act," Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.


Kuwait urges UN chief to stop Israeli 'aggression'

Kuwait called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to urge the international community to put an end to the Israeli "aggression" in Gaza which has claimed 508 lives. The call came in a meeting between Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah and Ban, who arrived in Kuwait on Monday, in the second leg of a regional tour aimed at pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza. The UN chief was separately received by Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the official KUNA news agency reported.


UK wants tougher sanctions against Russia over MH17

Britain will push for EU sanctions targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy in the wake of the Ukraine plane disaster even if it means taking a short-term "hit" to the economy, its ministers said on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "the time has now come for sanctions to be tightened further", and stressed that inaction so far over the Ukraine crisis had "not served us well". EU foreign ministers meet on Tuesday to decide whether to impose sanctions if Russia does not press Ukraine's pro-Kremlin separatists to allow access to the crash site of flight MH17 and reduce Moscow's support for the rebels. "We believe the time has now come for sanctions to be tightened further and that is precisely what we will be seeking to deliver in the meetings in the EU later this week," Clegg told a monthly news conference.


Russian stocks, ruble fall over Ukraine crisis

Russian stock markets fell on Monday as investors expressed alarm at the escalating crisis in Ukraine following the Malaysian plane disaster and the prospects of tougher sanctions doing more damage to the Russian economy. Moscow's ruble-denominated Micex stock exchange was down 1.27 percent in late morning trading, while the dollar-denominated RTS was down 1.32 percent. The ruble also fell against the dollar and the euro, with the dollar worth 35.12 rubles and the euro 47.50 rubles. The ruble had plunged on Friday in response to the air disaster and new US sanctions against Russia.


Kerry makes mic gaffe on Gaza

US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to criticize Israel in candid remarks caught on an open microphone between television interviews Sunday. Kerry was heard talking about Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza to a State Department official identified as Jonathan Finer just before appearing on the "Fox News Sunday" political talk show. The Palestinian death toll topped 500 on Sunday as Israel pressed a ground offensive into the densely packed Gaza Strip after two weeks of aerial attacks. When confronted over the remarks by Fox host Chris Wallace, Kerry reiterated Israel's right to self-defense.

Philippine worker beheaded in Libya: govt

Suspected militiamen have beheaded a Philippine worker in Libya after singling him out because he was not a Muslim, the Philippine Foreign Department said Monday. Department spokesman Charles Jose said this reinforced the government's order to all Filipinos to evacuate the country because of the worsening security situation. He told reporters the Filipino construction worker was kidnapped on July 15 and his beheaded remains were found in a hospital on July 20. There were three of them -– a Libyan, a Pakistani and a Filipino -- and he was allegedly singled out because he was non-Muslim," said Jose.


Sudan's Darfur rebels say claims they killed 13 'fabricated'

Rebels in Sudan's Darfur on Monday denied killing 13 civilians, calling government claims of their involvement a fabrication. The official news agency SUNA said the "innocent citizens" died on Saturday in an ambush on a commercial convoy about 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of El Fasher, the North Darfur capital. The faction has operated in North Darfur but Hussein Minnawi told AFP the area where the civilians died "is occupied by Janjaweed and the militia of Kbir." A Western diplomat has told AFP that Darfur's rebel groups prefer to target government installations, not civilians.


UN calls for immediate truce as Gaza toll tops 500

The UN Security Council called for an "immediate ceasefire" as Israel pressed on with a blistering assault on Gaza on Monday taking the Palestinian death toll above 500. US President Barack Obama echoed the call in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early Monday, as Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the region to join truce efforts. The Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on Sunday, raising to 18 the number of soldiers killed since a ground operation began late on Thursday.


Iraq suicide bomber was Australian teen

An 18-year-old Australian man was behind a deadly suicide bomb attack in Iraq last week, authorities said Monday, with Attorney-General George Brandis calling it a "disturbing development". Reports said the Islamic State militant group named him as Abu Bakr al-Australi on an affiliated Twitter feed, with Brandis' office confirming he was Australian. "This is a disturbing development and is a further example of the dangerous and volatile situation in Iraq at present," Brandis said in a statement. "The government deplores the violent actions being undertaken by ISIL and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, and is deeply concerned about the involvement of Australians in these activities.


French minister slams 'anti-Semitic' Gaza protests

France's interior minister Monday slammed "intolerable" acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel's Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses. Sunday's demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd. The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris. "When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act," Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.


Kerry travels to Cairo seeking 'immediate ceasefire'

US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cairo early Monday for crisis talks on Gaza, following President Barack Obama's call for an "immediate ceasefire" between Israelis and Palestinians. The US top diplomat is scheduled to meet with senior officials from Egypt and other countries, the State Department said, in a bid to halt a blistering land, sea and air assault that has sent thousands of terrified civilians fleeing their homes. Kerry will seek "an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," the White House said, stressing the need to protect civilian life both "in Gaza and in Israel." According to the State Department, Kerry supports Egypt's initiative to bring about a ceasefire.


US working on case against Russia on downed plane

WASHINGTON (AP) — Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.


Immigration debate upended by a flood of children

WASHINGTON (AP) — The sudden rise in the number of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the border has dramatically redefined the nation's yearlong debate on immigration.


Kerry returns to Mideast to push for cease-fire

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is making a renewed push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas with another trip to the Middle East after the civilian death toll in the conflict sharply escalated over the weekend.


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