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Islamic State steps up counter-attacks as fighting edges closer to Mosul

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter aims to fire during a battle with Islamic State militants at Topzawa village, near BashiqaBy Maher Chmaytelli and Stephen Kalin BAGHDAD/BARTELLA, Iraq (Reuters) - Islamic State expanded its attacks on Monday against the army and Kurdish forces across Iraq, trying to relieve pressure on the militant group's defenses around Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in the country. About 80 Islamic State-held villages and towns have been retaken in the first week of the offensive, bringing Iraqi and Kurdish forces closer to the edge of the city itself - where the battle will be hardest fought. The Mosul campaign, which aims to crush the Iraqi half of Islamic State's declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, may become the biggest battle yet in the 13 years of turmoil triggered by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and could require a massive humanitarian relief operation.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:15:31 -0400
Gunmen kill 48 in attack on police academy in Pakistani city of Quetta

A police truck is seen at a gate to the Police Training Center after an attack on the center in QuettaBy Gul Yusufzai and Mehreen Zahra-Malik QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least 48 people were killed and 75 wounded when gunman stormed a Pakistani police training academy in the southwestern city of Quetta, hospital officials said on Tuesday. "Forty eight bodies have been brought to the hospital," said Wasim Beg, senior doctor at Quetta's Civil Hospital. Most of the dead were police cadets.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:55:01 -0400
Philippines' Duterte softens stance toward U.S. before Japan visit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte interacts with reporters during a news conference upon his arrival from a four-day state visit in China at the Davao International Airport in Davao cityBy Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka TOKYO (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened his remarks about a "separation" from long-time ally the United States on the eve of a visit to Japan, a country worried about Manila's apparent pivot away from Washington and toward China. "The alliances are alive," Duterte told Japanese media in Manila on Monday, Kyodo News reported.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:02:33 -0400
Venezuela, opposition announce dialogue as protests brew

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San CristobalBy Diego Or and Anggy Polanco CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist government and opposition on Monday announced surprise talks for the weekend to deal with a worsening political standoff since the suspension of a referendum drive to remove unpopular President Nicolas Maduro. "At last we are installing a dialogue between the opposition and the legitimate government," Maduro said from Rome, after a meeting with Pope Francis who urged him to alleviate Venezuelans' suffering during a brutal economic crisis. The opposition says Maduro is an inept autocrat who must leave office before the crisis worsens while the former bus driver and union leader vows not to be pushed out by what he calls a power-hungry elite seeking a coup.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:02:53 -0400
At odds over Brexit, UK nations hold 'frustrating' talks on common stance

Britain's PM Theresa May holds a news conference after the EU summit in BrusselsBy Kylie MacLellan LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to persuade the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Monday to work with her government on a common Brexit negotiating position, but the Scottish leader dismissed the meeting as "deeply frustrating". May says that while the devolved governments of the UK's three smaller nations should give their views on what the terms of Brexit should be, they must not undermine the UK's strategy by seeking separate settlements with the EU. "I don't know what the UK's negotiating position is because they can't tell us," Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after talks at May's Downing Street office.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:43:10 -0400
Exclusive: Philippines police plan new phase in drugs war - sources

An investigator hold a tag at the site where a man was killed by unknown gunmen in ManilaBy Tom Allard and Clare Baldwin MANILA (Reuters) - Signaling a shift in strategy in its blood-soaked war against drugs, Philippines police aim to reduce the killing of suspects and put more resources into arresting prominent people tied to the trade, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. Project Double Barrel Alpha will put a stronger focus on arresting politicians, military, police, government officials and celebrities allegedly involved in narcotics, the sources said. The new approach will be outlined on Tuesday at a meeting of police chiefs from each of the Philippines' 18 regions at Camp Crame, the police headquarters north of the capital Manila, Philippines National Police spokesman Dionardo Carlos confirmed to Reuters.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:09:51 -0400
Venezuela opposition figure denies talks agreed with govt

Riot police confront opponents to Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal, state of Tachira, Venezuela on October 24, 2016A top Venezuelan opposition leader Monday dismissed the government's claim that it was ready for talks to settle the country's political crisis after Pope Francis weighed in on the dispute. Henrique Capriles, a top figure in the opposition MUD coalition, said the announcement of talks was a ploy by President Nicolas Maduro to keep resisting the opposition's efforts to remove him from power. Vatican envoy Emil Paul Tscherrig said earlier in Caracas that the sides had agreed to start a formal dialogue on October 30 with a view to resolving the crisis.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:11:07 -0400
Rangers need to mind the gap, warns Warburton

Team manager Mark Warburton says it's imperative Rangers spend wisely in the transfer market and build from the grassroots up rather than chase a short-term fixRangers manager Mark Warburton has cautioned his club not to spend rashly in a bid to bridge the gap with rivals Celtic. The 54-year-old Englishman's warning came on the back of Rangers' second Old Firm defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 to Celtic in a League Cup semi-final on Sunday. Celtic, who top the Scottish Premiership, dominated domestic football while Rangers, currently fifth in the table, were exiled in the lower leagues following financial collapse in 2012.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:01:18 -0400
Premier League club in probe over fake HSBC letters: report

Gino Pozzo, co-owner of the English Premier League club Watford, pictured in 2011Premier League club Watford are under investigation for allegedly submitting forged HSBC bank letters to support Gino Pozzo taking control of the club, British media reported on Monday. The English Football League has launched a probe into documentation submitted to the sport authority by Watford in July 2014, The Telegraph newspaper said. Two letters dated a week apart state Hornets Investment Limited, the club's parent company, had a bank guarantee of 7 million ($8.6 million, 7.9 million euros) to fund Watford for the upcoming season.

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:44:36 -0400
The Latest: UN blames all sides for Aleppo aid failure

In this photo taken Aug. 20, 2016 and provided by the local council of Aleppo city, Syrians workers fix electricity cables after airstrikes, in Aleppo, Syria. The opposition-held districts of the Syrian city have been surrounded and under siege for months. Russian and Syrian warplanes are bombing the streets into rubble and government forces are chipping away at the pocket of opposition control. (Local Council of Aleppo City via AP)BEIRUT (AP) The Latest on developments in Syria where government forces have renewed their attacks on eastern rebel-held districts of the city of Aleppo (all times local):

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:34:31 -0400
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