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Kerry defends diplomacy as Russian-backed forces pound Aleppo

Children stand in front of the bullet-riddled facade of a building in the rebel-held Douma neighbourhood of DamascusBy Patricia Zengerle and Lisa Barrington CARTAGENA, Colombia/BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended his efforts to negotiate with Moscow over the war in Syria on Monday, despite the collapse of a ceasefire that has led to a massive Russian-backed assault on the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo. Medical supplies were running out in eastern Aleppo, with victims pouring into barely functioning hospitals as Russia and its ally President Bashar al-Assad ignored Western pleas to stop the bombing of the last major urban area in opposition hands. Moscow and Damascus launched their assault last week despite months of negotiations led by Kerry that resulted in a short-lived ceasefire this month.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:30:02 -0400
Gulf may arm rebels now Syria truce is dead: U.S. officials

A rebel fighter of 'Al-Sultan Murad' brigade arranges weapons inside a warehouse in the northern Syrian rebel-controlled town of al-Rai, in Aleppo GovernorateBy Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The collapse of the latest Syria ceasefire has heightened the possibility that Gulf states might arm Syrian rebels with shoulder-fired missiles to defend themselves against Syrian and Russian warplanes, U.S. officials said on Monday. The latest U.S. attempt to end Syria's 5-1/2 year civil war was shattered on Sept. 19 when a humanitarian aid convoy was bombed in an attack Washington blamed on Russian aircraft.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 20:06:10 -0400
Islamic State 'dead set' on using chemical arms: Pentagon spokesman

Flag of the Islamic State militants is seen in FallujaBy David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Islamic State militants are "dead set" on using chemical arms and are likely to try them again as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, a week after a rocket with a possible chemical agent landed near U.S. troops. The shell initially tested positive for a mustard agent, but two subsequent tests have been inconclusive and the device is undergoing further tests, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:43:07 -0400
U.S. hotels in Adana, Turkey, could be targets of attacks -U.S. consulate

(Reuters) - The U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey, warned Americans on Monday that it had received specific and credible threats of potential terrorist activity targeting U.S.-branded hotels in Adana. "U.S. citizens in Adana are advised to exercise caution when patronizing these establishments," the consulate said in a statement on its website. The warning did not name the hotels.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:59:29 -0400
Kerry meets Venezuela's Maduro amid vote tensions

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk during their meeting in CartagenaBy Patricia Zengerle CARTAGENA, Colombia (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday, the first formal encounter between the two since Kerry became the top U.S. diplomat. "(Kerry) spoke of our concern about the economic and political challenges that have affected millions of Venezuelans, and he urged President Maduro to work constructively with opposition leaders to address these challenges," said State Department Spokesman John Kirby. Kerry and Maduro also agreed to continue bilateral discussions that began in recent months, Kirby said.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:24:16 -0400
U.S. sanctions Chinese firm tied to North Korea's nuclear program

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets scientists and technicians in the field of research into nuclear weaponsBy David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it had sanctioned a Chinese industrial machinery and equipment wholesaler, a new step in tightening the financial noose around North Korea's nuclear program after its fifth nuclear test this month. The U.S. Treasury said it was sanctioning Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Co (DHID) and four of its executives, including the firm's founder, Ma Xiaohong, under U.S. regulations targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. It accused the firm of acting on behalf of North Korea's Korea Kwangson Banking Corp (KKBC), which has been under U.S. and U.N. sanctions for supporting proliferation of such weapons.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:23:42 -0400
Gordon homers leading off as Marlins mourn Fernandez

Miami Marlins players wearing a jersey in honor of pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) gather around the pitching mound before a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Miami. Fernandez died in a boating accident Sunday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)MIAMI (AP) In tribute to Jose Fernandez, left-handed hitter Dee Gordon stepped to the plate as a righty to lead off the first inning of Monday's mournful game.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:31:13 -0400
Clinton, Trump clash over race, experience in first debate

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in HempsteadBy John Whitesides and Steve Holland HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Republican Donald Trump of racism, sexism and tax avoidance on Monday during a heated presidential debate that could reshape the 2016 campaign for the White House. Trump, a real estate tycoon making his first run for public office, said Clinton's long years of service represented "bad experience" with few results and suggested her disavowal of a trade deal with Asian countries was insincere. For Trump, 70, the debate was a chance to appear disciplined.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:25:53 -0400
Mexico's governing party strips governor of party support

MEXICO CITY (AP) An internal committee of Mexico's governing party has decided to strip party rights from one of its state governors under federal investigation for corruption.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:24:30 -0400
Colombia, FARC sign historic peace deal ending long conflict

Colombias President Juan Manuel Santos, front left, and the top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Rodrigo Londono, known by the alias Timochenko, shake hands after signing the peace agreement between Colombias government and the FARC to end over 50 years of conflict in Cartagena, Colombia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Behind, from left, are U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Cuba's President Raul Castro, and Spain's former King Juan Carlos. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) Colombia's government and its largest rebel movement signed a historic peace accord Monday in an emotional ceremony that seeks to put an end to a half-century of combat and put the war-weary nation on the path to reconciliation.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 23:17:58 -0400
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