Obama faces options in Iraq and Syria WASHINGTON (AP) - At the heart of President Barack Obama's quandary over the Islamic State militants is their haven in Syria. The president may continue helping Iraqi forces try to reverse the group's land grabs in northern Iraq by providing more arms and American military advisers and by using U.S. warplanes to support Iraqi ground operations.
Pentagon: Islamic State militants will regroup WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. airstrikes have helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain their footing in Iraq, but the well-resourced Islamic State militants can be expected to regroup and stage a new offensive, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Speaking alongside Hagel at a Pentagon news conference, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said that although the Islamic State group can be contained it cannot be defeated without attacking it in Syria.
Israel, Palestinians trade fire; 2 killed in Gaza GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - An Israeli airstrike on a Gaza farm killed two Palestinians on Friday, a Gaza health official said, as fighting continued for a third day after the collapse of Egyptian-led cease-fire talks. The renewed exchanges have dashed hopes for a lasting truce after a monthlong war that has already killed over 2,000 people.
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Ukraine claims wins over rebels but progress slow DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's armed forces say they have caused heavy casualties among pro-Russian separatist forces, although their overall advance quelling the rebel resistance remains haphazard and faltering. Defense officials said Friday in a daily update that government forces had destroyed 11 Grad missile systems, three tanks and five armored personnel carriers during fighting near the town of Snizhne. They also claimed to have killed around 100 rebel fighters. The claims could not immediately be verified and Ukrainians have in the past made overblown estimates of their successes.
MH17 remains return home as govt battles fallout KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Carried by soldiers and draped in the national flag, coffins carrying Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 returned home Friday to a country still searching for those onboard another doomed jet and a government battling the political fallout of the twin tragedies. The bodies and ashes of 20 victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July were given full military honors and a day of national mourning was declared, the first in the country's history.
Slaying of American reopens debate on ransoms WASHINGTON (AP) - By rejecting demands for a nine-digit payment to save kidnapped American journalist James Foley, the United States upheld a policy choice that some European and Arab governments have long found too wrenching to make themselves: ruling out ransom to rescue any citizen held captive by militant organizations, in hopes the tough stand will make Americans safer from kidnapping and attacks by extremists. Foley's beheading by the Islamic State extremist group intensified a debate within the Obama administration and with American allies abroad about whether to pay ransoms to al-Qaida and other organizations, at the risk of encouraging more abductions and funding militancy.
American Ebola doc: 'I am thrilled to be alive' ATLANTA (AP) - Calling it a "miraculous day," an American doctor infected with Ebola left his isolation unit and warmly hugged his doctors and nurses on Thursday, showing the world that he poses no public health threat one month after getting sick with the virus. Dr. Kent Brantly and his fellow medical missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was quietly discharged two days earlier, are still weak but should recover completely, and no one need fear being in contact with them, said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs the infectious disease unit at Emory University Hospital.
Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks HEXIGTEN, China (AP) - Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble of this power plant echoes across the ancient steppe, and its acrid stench travels dozens of miles away. This is the first of more than 60 coal-to-gas plants China wants to build, mostly in remote parts of the country where ethnic minorities have farmed and herded for centuries. Fired up in December, the multibillion-dollar plant bombards millions of tons of coal with water and heat to produce methane, which is piped to Beijing to generate electricity.
Ferguson fallout: A call for police 'body cams' NEW YORK (AP) - What if Michael Brown's last moments had been recorded? The fatal police shooting of the unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, is prompting calls for more officers to wear so-called body cameras, simple, lapel-mounted gadgets that capture video footage of law enforcement's interactions with the public. Proponents say the devices add a new level of accountability to police work.
National Guard to withdraw from a quieter Ferguson FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - The streets of Ferguson were peaceful for another night, as protests and tensions were subsiding in the St. Louis suburb where unrest had erupted after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old. Gov. Jay Nixon also ordered the Missouri National Guard, which arrived Monday, to begin withdrawing as flare-ups have been easing. Police have made only a handful of arrests in the protest area on the past two nights.