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Gen. Dempsey Says Military Might Alone Won’t Beat ISIS

Gen. Dempsey Says Military Might Alone Won’t Beat ISIS

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — U.S. military might alone won’t defeat the Islamic State, according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters that any long-term strategy to defeat the extremist group now operating in both Syria and Iraq must involve Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Dempsey says given the brutality ISIS has demonstrated against the Iraqis and U.S. journalist James Foley, other governments should become “willing partners” to “squeeze ISIS from multiple directions in order to initially disrupt it and eventually defeat it.”

The nation’s top general says that American airstrikes have slowed the radicals’ momentum but it will take more than bombs to crush ISIS.

Since the group has enlisted Sunnis disenfranchised with the direction of the Iraqi government, Dempsey urged both political and diplomatic solutions to convince the country’s minority that “ISIS is not the path to their future.”

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Israel Keeps Pounding Hamas Targets in Gaza

Israel Keeps Pounding Hamas Targets in Gaza

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — There were no signs that Israel and the militant group Hamas were scaling back hostilities Monday as the two sides attacked the other with Israel doing far more damage to the already devastated Gaza Strip.

Although Hamas lobbed 115 rockets at Israel, most fell harmlessly while Israel responded with airstrikes that leveled a school and two mosques.

According to the Israeli military, the buildings were being used to either fire rockets or store weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Hamas targets are fair game and warned Palestinians to leave facilities the militant group is using.

The Israelis said one of the airstrikes is believed to have killed Hamas’ top financial official in charge of “terror fund transactions.”

Over the past seven weeks, more than 2,100 Palestinians have been killed while 68 Israelis have died, all but four of them soldiers.

As the fighting continues, the Egyptian government is asking Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to return the bargaining table in Cairo although little progress was made when the diplomats were called back by their respective governments last week.

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Could This Be the Face of James Foley’s Executioner?

Could This Be the Face of James Foley’s Executioner?

Obtained by ABC News(LONDON) — As British authorities focus on neighborhoods in East London in hopes of learning more about the apparently England-raised militant who appears in a mask in the gruesome video of James Foley’s execution, computer science experts across the Atlantic have created an image that may show a likeness of his face.

The image was created by American facial recognition specialists who consult with the U.S. government based on the purported ISIS member’s eyes and the area just around the eyes not covered with the black cloth.

British authorities said they are close to identifying the man in the video who appears to begin killing Foley, though Foley’s actual death is not shown in the video. Earlier reports emerged identifying a young British rapper as the prime suspect, but sources told ABC News he is not believed to be the man in question.

The execution video has undergone intense analysis by intelligence agencies, private companies and amateur sleuths online, all looking for any clues that could be helpful in identifying Foley’s killer or finding other hostages held by ISIS.

Several U.S. military imagery analysts told ABC News that the movement of Foley’s shadow throughout the course of the video indicated the footage was shot over a period of time in the morning, perhaps less than a couple hours.

An amateur analyst writing for the new site Bellingcat deduced by landmarks in the video that it was possibly shot near Raqqah, Syria, near where U.S. special operations forces launched a failed rescue mission for American hostages in July.

After Foley, at least three other American hostages are believed to be held by ISIS. All three have been threatened with execution.

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USAID Airlifts Medical Supplies to Liberia to Battle Ebola

USAID Airlifts Medical Supplies to Liberia to Battle Ebola

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — The United States Agency for International Development says it has airlifted over 16 tons of medical supplies to the capital city of Liberia and will continue to provide equipment and supplies in the African nation’s battle against the spread of the Ebola virus.

The most recent shipment arrived in Monrovia on Aug. 24, and contained 10,000 sets of personal protective equipment, two water treatment systems, two portable water tanks that can hold up to 10,000 liters each and 100 rolls of plastic sheeting. That shipment came from the USAID facilitiy in the United Arab Emirates.

“The U.S. is committed to working with the Liberian government,” Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance said, “…to ensure that those working on the front line of this crisis get the medial supplies, training, and support needed to safely do their jobs.”

USAID says it has committed over $14.5 million to the Ebola response.

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State Department Declines Comment on Reports of Airstrikes Conducted in Libya

State Department Declines Comment on Reports of Airstrikes Conducted in Libya

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department declined to comment on Monday on reports of airstrikes conducted in Libya by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“We believe outside interference exacerbates current division and undermines Libya’s democratic transition,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “and that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.” Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on Sunday, the State Department said, but there was no indication of what was discussed.

Psaki noted that the United States has a working relationship with both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and that the countries exchange a “range of information.”

The New York Times reported the airstrikes occurred twice within the last week.

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Ebola Outbreak: Looking for Hope in a Hot Zone

Ebola Outbreak: Looking for Hope in a Hot Zone

Dr. David Kaggwa and Dr. Richard Besser at an Ebola ward in Monrovia, Liberia. (Courtesy Dr. Richard Besser)REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK by ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser

(MONROVIA, Liberia) — Walking through a makeshift Ebola ward, it’s hard to believe that anyone could survive.

Four men sit on plastic chairs waiting to be tested for the disease. Surrounding them are confirmed Ebola patients, walking around the packed dirt square getting exercise. One man collapses on the ground, unable to walk and appearing near death. Leaning against the wall is a woman who just died.

Those admitted to the unit who don’t have Ebola will surely catch it. Those already diagnosed with the disease are just waiting to see if their bodies will fight it off. I met a young woman who had been in the ward for nine days. When I asked when she would be going home, she smiled, did a little dance and said, “Today!” She is one of the lucky ones.

This Ebola outbreak is like no other. It’s urban rather than rural, and therefore faster moving. It’s occurring places where there is profound distrust of the government and where basic healthcare infrastructure was among the poorest in the world before the outbreak hit. In Liberia, there were roughly 50 doctors for a country of more than 4 million people. Some of those doctors have now died from Ebola and many clinics have closed.

I’m traveling at the same time as Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Tom Kenyon, director of Global Health for the agency; and a couple other CDC staff. The group is on a fact-finding tour of the region. They will visit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — the three countries hardest hit by the outbreak — hoping to bring attention to the global health crisis and rally support from the international community.

While Ebola is the disease making headlines in the region, the outbreak’s impact on other health problems is believed to be staggering. The number of women who give birth without a trained attendant, the number of children with malaria who go untreated, and the number of people who die from trauma because there is no hospital willing or able to take them is unknown.

They are suiting up to go into to #Ebola ward. Have to make their own hoods. Ran out of real ones. pic.twitter.com/8KEBcAZYtR

— Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) August 25, 2014

At JFK Medical Center, the largest hospital in Liberia, it’s a tale of contrasts. The emergency department — usually a frenzy of activity — is shut down. Ambulances are parked in the lot, going nowhere. There are not enough doctors and other health care workers to staff the emergency room, and it’s too dangerous to let patients walk in off the street. Someone with fever might have malaria, but they also might have Ebola.

The makeshift Ebola ward is down a little alley from the hospital in a concrete building that used to house the hospital’s cholera treatment center. It was converted nine days ago and has already reached capacity with nearly 60 patients, some sleeping on mats on the floor. Six of the patients have been health care workers.

Dr. David Kaggwa, a Ugandan pediatrician working as an expert consultant to the World Health Organization, took us into the treatment center. As I suited up to enter, I knew that any mistake could be costly. Each layer was important: boots, scrub suit, plastic apron, outer gown, mask, goggles and two pairs of gloves. An expert in protective gear made sure we were properly covered. Every time we entered or left a room, we’d step in a pan full of bleach and wash our hands with bleach — basic precautions performed with military precision to avoid spreading Ebola.

To enter/exit the #Ebola treatment Unit you wash your boots in bleach. I’ll take you inside tonight on @ABCWorldNews pic.twitter.com/XKNTv1bYBV

— Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser) August 25, 2014

Inside the center, there were two parallel paths separated by a two-foot high red mesh screen: one leading to the isolation ward, the other to the triage tent. The triage tent was about 100 square feet separated down the middle by a low wall. On our side, three nurses and physician assistants sat at a table, getting information from patients. No physical contact with the patients was allowed. If a patient collapsed, they would have to wait until someone in proper gear was available to help.

While we were there, over a course of 20 minutes, three patients were evaluated. All of them had contact with someone with Ebola and all now had symptoms consistent with the disease. They were admitted as suspect cases and would be tested.

Behind the triage tent was the isolation ward, where patients were waiting to die or survive. The scene was apocalyptic. I asked the security guard if he was scared. “No,” he replied. If an Ebola patient comes near him and tries to touch him, he runs. He showed me where he once knocked down the fence running to escape.

Dr. Kaggwa believes that with more resources, more beds and more protective gear, more patients with Ebola will be cured and fewer health care workers will get sick. For now, the outbreak toll continues to tick up, with no end in sight.

Watch more news videos | Latest from the US

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ISIS an ‘Incredible’ Fighting Force, US Special Ops Sources Say

ISIS an ‘Incredible’ Fighting Force, US Special Ops Sources Say

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — With the Obama White House left reeling from the “savage” slaughter of an American journalist held hostage by ISIS terrorists, military options are being considered against an adversary who officials say is growing in strength and is much more capable than the one faced when the group was called “al Qaeda-Iraq” during the U.S. war from 2003-2011.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has been making a “tactical withdrawal” in recent days in the face of withering U.S. airstrikes from areas around Erbil in northern Iraq and from the major dam just north of Mosul it controlled for two weeks, according to military officials monitoring their movements.

“These guys aren’t just bugging out, they’re tactically withdrawing. Very professional, well trained, motivated and equipped. They operate like a state with a military,” said one official who tracks ISIS closely. “These aren’t the same guys we fought in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) who would just scatter when you dropped a bomb near them.”

ISIS appeared to have a sophisticated and well thought-out plan for establishing its “Islamic Caliphate” from northern Syria across the western and northern deserts of Iraq, many experts and officials have said, and support from hostage-taking, robbery and sympathetic donations to fund it. They use drones to gather overhead intel on targets and effectively commandeer captured military vehicles — including American Humvees — and munitions.

“They tried to push out as far as they thought they could and were fully prepared to pull back a little bit when we beat them back with airstrikes around Erbil. And they were fine with that, and ready to hold all of the ground they have now,” a second official told ABC News.

ISIS didn’t necessarily count on holding Mosul Dam, officials said, but scored a major propaganda victory on social media when they hoisted the black flag of the group over the facility that provides electricity and water to a large swath of Iraq, or could drown millions if breached.

U.S. special operations forces under the Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command keep close tabs on the military evolution of ISIS and both its combat and terrorism — called “asymmetric” — capabilities, officials told ABC News. A primary reason is in anticipation of possibly fighting them, which a full squadron of special mission unit operators did in the Independence Day raid on an ISIS camp in Raqqah, Syria.

“They’re incredible fighters. ISIS teams in many places use special operations TTPs,” said the second official, who has considerable combat experience, using the military term for “tactics, techniques and procedures.”

In a press conference Friday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said ISIS has shown that it is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen.”

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” he said. “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

Prior to ISIS’ recent public successes, the former chairman of the 9/11 Commission, which just released a 10th anniversary report on the threat of terrorism currently facing the homeland, said he was shocked at how little seems to be known inside the U.S. intelligence community about the Islamist army brutalizing Iraq as it has Syria.

“I was appalled at the ignorance,” former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who led the 9/11 Commission, told ABC News last week.

Kean, a Republican, who with vice chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, recently met with about 20 top intelligence officials in preparation of the commission’s latest threat report, said many officials seemed both blind-sided and alarmed by the group’s rise, growth and competency.

“One official told me ‘I am more scared than at any time since 9/11,’” Kean recounted in a recent interview.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence defended the intelligence community’s tracking of ISIS, saying officials had “expressed concern” about the threat as far back as last year.

“The will to fight is inherently difficult to assess. Analysts must make assessments based on perceptions of command and control, leadership abilities, quality of experience, and discipline under fire — none of which can be understood with certainty until the first shots are fired,” ODNI spokesperson Brian Hale said.

Where did ISIS learn such sophisticated military methods, shown clearly after the first shots were fired?

“Probably the Chechens,” one of the U.S. officials said.

A Chechen commander named Abu Omar al-Shishani — who officials say may have been killed in fighting near Mosul — is well known for commanding an international brigade within ISIS. Other Chechens have appeared within propaganda videos including one commander who was killed on video by an artillery burst near his SUV in Syria.

Earlier this year, ABC News reported on the secret history of U.S. special operations forces’ experiences battling highly capable Chechen fighters along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border since 2001. In addition, for decades, Chechen separatists have waged asymmetric warfare against Russian forces for control of the Northern Caucasus.

In the battle against ISIS, many within American “SOF,” a term that comprises operators from all branches of the military and intelligence, are frustrated at being relegated by the president only to enabling U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. They are eager to fight ISIS more directly in combat operations — even if untethered, meaning unofficially and with little, if any, U.S. government support, according to some with close ties to the community.

“ISIS and their kind must be destroyed,” said a senior counterterrorism official after journalist James Foley was beheaded on high-definition ISIS video, echoing strong-worded statements of high-level U.S. officials including Secretary of State John Kerry.

But asked when the Obama administration would attempt to confront ISIS, the official declined to answer.

Ben Rhodes, the president’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, told reporters Friday that President Obama is currently focused on protecting American lives, “containing” ISIS where they are and supporting advances by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

“Our military objectives in Iraq right now are limited to protecting our personnel and facilities and address the humanitarian crisis,” Rhodes said. The “ultimate goal,” Rhodes said however, was to “defeat” ISIS.

“We have to be clear that this is a deeply rooted organization… It is going to take time, a long time, to fully evict them from the communities where they operate,” he said. “In the long term, we’ll be working with our partners to defeat this organization.”

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Russia to Send Second Convoy to Ukraine

Russia to Send Second Convoy to Ukraine

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russia is set to send a second aid convoy into eastern Ukraine, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The announcement follows Friday’s decision to deploy a convoy without a Red Cross escort or permission from Ukrainian authorities. The trucks left Ukraine less than a day later, but the U.S. warned it could lead to more punishment for the Federation.

Officials claim the humanitarian situation in south eastern Ukraine demanded action after a week of delays, while Ukraine called the incident an invasion.

Distribution of Russia aid will begin Monday in Luhansk.

During a press conference Monday, Lavrov said the country is ready to participate in settling the crisis with Ukraine through any means, according to Interfax.

“Basically, we are prepared — as was repeatedly stressed by President Putin — for any format, as long as there is a result and movement from the military confrontation, for the civil war in Ukraine towards a national dialogue,” Lavrov said.

President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with Ukraine’s president in Minsk on Tuesday to discuss the conflict.

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Congo Reports First Ebola Cases as Outbreak Continues

Congo Reports First Ebola Cases as Outbreak Continues

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ebola continues to spread in Africa and ignite fears with the Democratic Republic of Congo reporting its first cases over the weekend.

The Congo is hundreds of miles away from the nearest affected country, but officials there say they suspect they’ve had more than a dozen Ebola deaths.

At last count on Friday, the virus had killed at least 1,427 people and sickened 1,188 more — numbers thought to “vastly underestimate” the outbreak’s true toll, according to the World Health Organization, which is expected to release updated case counts soon.

The outbreak emerged in March and quickly became the deadliest on record. An estimated 48 percent of all Ebola deaths recorded since the virus’ discovery in 1976 have occurred in the last five months, according to WHO data.

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Pope Sends Letter of Condolence to James Foley’s Family

Pope Sends Letter of Condolence to James Foley’s Family

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis extended his condolences Sunday to the family of James Foley, the American journalist executed by ISIS.

During a mass of remembrance held for the reporter in Rochester, New Hampshire, the Bishop of Rockeville Centre read a message from the pope:

“The Holy Father, deeply saddened by the death of James Wright Foley, asks you kindly to convey his personal condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to James’ loved ones.  He commends James to the loving mercy of God our Father, and joins all who mourn him in praying for an end to senseless violence and the dawn of reconciliation and peace among all the members of the human family.  Upon the Foley family, and upon his friends and colleagues, he invokes the consolation and strength borne of our hope in Christ’s Resurrection.”

The letter was sent from the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on behalf of Pope Francis, Vatican Radio reports.

Last Thursday, the pope phoned Foley’s parents to offer comfort after a video appearing to show the brutal murder of their son circulated online.

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Iran Reportedly Shoots Down Israeli Drone

Iran Reportedly Shoots Down Israeli Drone

iStock/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) — As negotiations continue over Tehran’s nuclear program, Iranian officials claim they have caught Israel attempting to spy on a main uranium enrichment site at Natanz.

Iran claims its Revolutionary Guard shot down an Israeli spy drone headed for the nuclear facility. The Al-Alam State TV station aired footage of the alleged drone in pieces in a desert area.

Previously, Iranian claims of destroying American drones have been discovered to be false. Israel did not comment on the report as of Monday morning.

Following the recent assertion, Iranian officials promised to take revenge by arming more Palestinians in the West Bank.

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More than 4,000 Migrants Rescued Off Italy’s Coast

More than 4,000 Migrants Rescued Off Italy’s Coast

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) — Rescue workers saved more than 4,000 migrants off the coast of Italy this weekend as thousands attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

At least six people died in the seas off the southern coast when a small fishing boat carrying close to 400 people sank. Italian workers discovered the individuals just one day after crews pulled another 19 bodies from a capsized ship.

Libyan rescue workers also searched for the bodies of at least 170 drowned off their country’s shores.

Many of those taking the dangerous trip are fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.

Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s Home Affairs Commissioner, said she was “appalled” by reports of the drownings and will meet with the Italian government later this week to discuss preventative measures.

“The European Commission remains committed to help Italy in its efforts,” Malmström said in a statement. “…I also reiterate my call to Member States to provide assistance to Mediterranean countries facing increased migratory and asylum pressure, in particular by resettling people from refugees’ camps outside the EU.”

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Ukrainian Leader Warns of Constant Russian Military Threat

Ukrainian Leader Warns of Constant Russian Military Threat

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) — As long as Russia supports the insurgency in his country, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claimed Sunday that a “constant military threat will hang over Ukraine.”

Poroshenko made his comments following Moscow’s controversial delivery of humanitarian aid to people affected by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. A convoy of trucks crossed over the border into Ukraine on Friday and headed back east the following day.

With Ukraine’s army stepping up its offensive against the rebels, Poroshenko said the government would pump nearly $3 billion more into the military between 2015 and 2017.

The president declared the campaign to defeat separatists trying to secede from Ukraine has been “exhausting.”

More than 2,000 people have been killed since the insurgency began last spring, with 333,000 civilians now displaced in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

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American Citizen Held in Syria Freed, State Department Confirms

American Citizen Held in Syria Freed, State Department Confirms

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An American citizen held hostage in Syria for the last two years was released and is returning to the United States, the State Department confirmed on Sunday.

Peter Theo Curtis had been held, the State Department said, by al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra. During the two years that he was held, the U.S. reportedly reached out to over two dozen countries for help in securing his release, and the release of any American hostage in Syria.

Less than one week after video was posted online of American journalist James Foley being executed by a self-proclaimed member of the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria, Curtis is now safe outside of Syria, according to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. He is expected to be reunited with his family “shortly.”

Rice added that the United States would “continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed.”

The United Nations confirmed on Sunday that it played a role in facilitating Curtis’ release.

Curtis’ mother released a statement through the State Department, in which she said “My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months,” while asking for privacy in the wake of his release.

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House Homeland Security Chair Says ISIS ‘Operations’ Underway to Hit West

House Homeland Security Chair Says ISIS ‘Operations’ Underway to Hit West

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — House Homeland Security Chair Rep. Michael McCaul said Sunday he believes that ISIS, the jihadist army that has taken control of large part of Iraq and brutally murdered American journalist James Foley, has external operations under way to hit the West.

“Their focus right now is establishing the caliphate. But don’t kid yourself for a second, they are [sic] intent on hitting the West. And there are external operations, I believe, under way,” McCaul, R-Texas, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on This Week.

“We have tens of thousands of foreign fighters from all over the world pouring into this safe haven that’s now been established, including hundreds of Americans with Western passports and legal travel documents, which would enable them not only to travel to Western Europe, but to the United States,” McCaul added.

Also on This Week, retired Gen. John Allen — who has called ISIS a clear and present danger — said that destroying the group would require “a comprehensive approach” that would necessitate more resources.

“It’s going to take more than what we’re doing right now, George. There’s just no question of this,” Allen said. “We need to give the American public more clarity in terms of our commitment solely using the terms boots on the ground.

“I think we’ve been very clear that we don’t want to put American maneuver forces necessarily, conventional maneuver forces back on the ground, but we have really significant capabilities to provide special operators into these formations, both at the tribal level, some of the more recently emerging Sunni conventional forces that are appearing in northwest Iraq, the Free Syrian Army, and Sunni tribes in Syria,” Allen added.

Allen also told Stephanopoulos that the effort to eliminate ISIS might mean working toward the same goal as the regimes in Iran and Syria, even if the efforts were not coordinated.

“I think that the actions that we take may, in fact, be not in coordination, necessarily, but provide an opportunity for a coordinated effort,” he said.

“But we don’t share any values with the Iranian regime, and we don’t share any values with the Syrian regime,” Allen added. “The Syrians, in fact, are one of the principle reasons that ISIS has had the opportunity to incubate to this point to the level that it is, to the threat that it has become. The Assad regime, in fact, has turned a blind eye to the development of ISIS and permitted ISIS ultimately to attack that element that we have been and ought to be supporting in Syria, the free Syrian movement.”

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Israeli Air Strike Destroys 11-Story Residential Building in Gaza

Israeli Air Strike Destroys 11-Story Residential Building in Gaza

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) — An Israeli air strike leveled an 11-story residential building in Gaza City late Saturday night.

The Israeli Defense Forces believe that the building was home to multiple control and command centers operated by Hamas militants. The IDF also says that it dropped leaflets earlier on Saturday asking residents to leave the area, as well as firing a “warning shot” prior to the strike.

Still, Palestinian medical sources say at least 20 people were reportedly injured in the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Gazans on Sunday to stay away from all locations operated by Hamas, as Israeli will continue to target them.

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US, UK Close in on Identity of Foley Executioner, Sources Say

US, UK Close in on Identity of Foley Executioner, Sources Say

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) — U.S. and British intelligence are closing in on the identity of the man who killed American journalist Jim Foley in a horrifying video that was released online, ABC News has learned.

“We are confident he will be identified,” a senior U.S. official tells ABC News, adding he expected the positive identification to happen “soon.”

Using voice recognition technology, intelligence agencies are working to match the voice on the video of Foley’s execution with a voice database of British nationals with terrorist ties. They are also attempting to match the voice with communications now being monitored.

ABC News has also learned that U.S. officials know about three Americans in addition to Foley who were captured and held by ISIS — Steven Sotloff and two aid workers.

The White House said Wednesday that the video released earlier this week showing the murder of Foley at the hand of an Islamic militant “is authentic,” a determination that came just before British Prime Minister David Cameron said it looked “increasingly likely” the masked executioner was from the United Kingdom.

The gruesome video, released online Tuesday, appeared to show an armed militant, who identified himself as being with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, beheading Foley.

Before his death, Foley delivered a halting, potentially coerced statement condemning U.S. military efforts against ISIS, and the figure clad in black spoke directly to President Obama with what seemed to be a British accent.

After the figure in black kills Foley, he threatens another American hostage, Steven Sotloff, saying, “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

Prior to the video’s release, the U.S. military launched dozens of airstrikes on ISIS targets in support of a Kurdish and Iraqi military offensive against the terror group at and around the Mosul Dam, eventually pushing the extremists off the key piece of infrastructure.

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Dozens Killed, Wounded in Northern Iraq Bombings

Dozens Killed, Wounded in Northern Iraq Bombings

iStock/Thinkstock(ERBIL, Iraq) — Several bombings in northern Iraq left dozens wounded and close to 20 people dead Saturday.

The first attack in the Kurdish city of Erbil wounded four after a magnetic bomb detonated.

Three more deadly car bombings followed in Kirkuk, a city controlled by Kurdish forces.

Officials believe the attacks were coordinated by militant group ISIS, which controls much of the territory south of Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Iceland Issues Red Alert for Bardarbunga Volcano Eruption

Iceland Issues Red Alert for Bardarbunga Volcano Eruption

iStock/Thinkstock(REYKJAVIK, Iceland) — Iceland issued a red alert to airlines Saturday as the Bardarbunga volcano begins erupting.

The warning is the highest possible alert, bringing the possibility of significant ash emissions.

“It is believed that a small subglacial lava-eruption has begun under the Dyngjujökull glacier,” the warning from the Icelandic Met Office reads.

The conditions come as a result of intense earthquake activity at the volcano over the past week.

Ash can wreak havoc on plane engines and ground transatlantic flights, similar to a major 2010 eruption that caused massive travel disruptions for days and delayed millions of passengers.

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Obama, Merkel Concerned Over ‘Dangerous Escalation’ in Ukraine

Obama, Merkel Concerned Over ‘Dangerous Escalation’ in Ukraine

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama addressed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine while speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, calling for a bilateral ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia accompanied by “effective” border monitoring.

During the phone call, the two leaders agreed that Russia’s sending of a massive aid convoy into Ukraine without permission is a “further provocation and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Concern was also expressed over the large number of Russian troops on the border of Ukraine and the presence of military personnel in the country, according to a readout.

“They agreed that it is imperative that Russia….de-escalates the situation by removing its military forces from the border region, withdrawing its weapons, vehicles and personnel from the territory of Ukraine,” officials said in a statement.

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