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Cameron Ready To Work With Iran To Defeat IS

Written By andika jamanta on Selasa, 23 September 2014 | 18.25

By Dominic Waghorn, US Correspondent

David Cameron is to become the first British Prime Minister to meet an Iranian President since 1979 in a historic encounter in New York.

Downing Street says the meeting with Hassan Rouhani is part of efforts to mobilise support against the Islamic State and drop Iran's support for the Assad regime in Syria.

The Prime Minister will be attending the United Nations general assembly and is hoping to secure UN approval for a comprehensive strategy to deal with the brutal militant group.

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, Syria The PM will dicuss the threat posed by Islamic State with Iran's president

It marks Mr Cameron's determination to enlist the active support of regional powers in the Middle East in taking on IS, which has seized control of swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The group has also carried out a string of atrocities against local people and foreigners as it seeks to impose its own brand of extremist Sunni Islam.

Mr Cameron will also join US President Barack Obama and other members of the UN Security Council to discuss the threat posed by foreign fighters - thought to include hundreds of Britons - engaged in the conflict.

Officials say he will set out in his speech that the threat from extremism is faced by everyone and international action is required to defeat it.

World leaders meet annually for the event in New York which is often criticised for being long on talk and short on action.

Ahead of the encounter, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued damning criticism of the UK and the US calling them warmongers for their planned actions in Iraq.

A nuclear plant in Iran Also on the agenda with be Iran's nuclear-enrichment programme

Britain has yet to commit support for air strikes and there has been US speculation it may step up its military intervention now the Scottish independence referendum is out of the way.

Britain and the US also hope to see a new UN Security Council resolution preventing the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria.

Tehran will also call for flexibility on its uranium-enrichment programme which has led to sanctions due to Western concerns any nuclear capability could be used militarily.

Downing Street said Mr Cameron had "no illusion" about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear operations, but was ready to work with Tehran if it was willing to join the effort to defeat IS.

There is a sense of urgency this year given the threat posed by IS, but also the catastrophic dangers posed by global warming. 

Ahead of the meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned time is running out to unite against the global threat of climate change. 

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US And Arab Allies Attack IS Targets In Syria

The US and five Arab countries have been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time.

Fighter jets, bombers and drones as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US ships in the northern Persian Gulf and the Red Sea were deployed in the aerial raids.

The strikes form part of the expanded military campaign against IS insurgents that was authorised two weeks ago by President Barack Obama. He is due to meet foreign leaders at the UN General Assembly later.

Tomahawk missile launched from USS Arleigh Burke A Tomahawk missile is launched from USS Arleigh Burke

US Central Command said Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar had either taken part in or supported the Syria raids although their exact roles were unclear. The strikes did not involve the UK.

Where airstrikes took place targeting Islamic State in Syria Where the airstrikes took place in Syria

Damascus said Washington informed Syria's UN envoy before launching the bombings.

The US also carried out aerial raids on its own in Syria against al Qaeda extremists that were thought to be planning an "imminent attack" against US and Western interests.

The US military said it had destroyed or damaged multiple IS targets around the militant stronghold of Raqqa as well as Deir al Zor, Hasakah and the border town of Albu Kamal.

Countries involved in airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria Saudia Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar were involved in the raids

It said targets included IS fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance centre, supply trucks and armed vehicles.

There were at least 50 airstrikes on IS targets and dozens of fighters were killed, according to activists.

They also said 30 fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front group died, along with eight civilians, including children, in Aleppo and Idlib.

Jets take off from USS George H W Bush A fighter jet takes off from USS George H W Bush

Residents in Raqqa had said last week that IS was moving underground after Mr Obama signalled on September 11 that air attacks on its forces could be expanded from Iraq to Syria.

The group had evacuated buildings it was using as offices, redeployed its heavy weaponry, and moved fighters' families out of the city, the residents said.

Islamic State Islamic State have made rapid gains in Iraq and Syria

The strikes follow a summit of world leaders in Paris where agreement was reached to form a broad coalition to counter the advance of IS in Syria and to provide military aid to Iraq to fight the extremist network.

Military leaders have said about two thirds of the estimated 31,000 IS militants are in Syria.

International efforts to combat the group, who have grabbed swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, have taken on an added urgency after the beheading of two journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines, and the threat to kill UK hostage Alan Henning.

John Cantlie A second video of UK hostage John Cantlie has been released by IS

Meanwhile, a second propaganda video of British hostage John Cantlie has been released by IS.

Speaking to the camera and seemingly under duress, he addresses the coalition of states targeting the group, though it is not clear when the video was filmed.

Alan Henning The group is still holding British hostage Alan Henning

"Everyone now is getting involved," he said. "Denmark and France have sent air power, Britain is arming the Kurds, Iran is sending troops and contractors are being sought in Iraq.

"Even Bashar al Assad, until earlier this year the most hated and villainised tyrant in the Arab world, is being approached for permission to go into Syria.

"It's all quite a circus. Not since Vietnam have we witnessed such a potential mess in the making."

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Israeli Missile Shoots Down Syrian Fighter Jet

Israel says it has shot down a Syrian fighter jet over its airspace - the first such incident in more than 30 years.

The aircraft was hit by a Patriot missile while trying to "infiltrate" the Quneitra area of the Golan Heights, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said.

An Israeli defence source identified the jet as a Russian-built Sukhoi Su-24 fighter plane. Previously it was reported to have been a MiG-21 aircraft.

ISRAEL-SYRIA-CONFLICT-GOLAN-AIRCRAFT The aircraft was hit by a Patriot missile

It flew 800 metres into Israeli airspace and tried to return to Syria after the Patriot missile was fired, he said.

The crew managed to abandon the plane in time and landed in Syrian territory, he added.

The Golan area, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, has seen clashes between the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Syrian President Bashar al Assad's forces in recent weeks.

Syrian state TV confirmed Israel had shot down one of its planes, and described it as an act of aggression.

A Sukhoi Su-24 jet fighter drops flares during a joint Kazakh-Russian millitary exercise at Otar millitary range A file picture of the type of jet that was shot down

It quoted a military source saying the attack came "in the framework of (Israel's) support for the terrorist (Islamic State) and the Nusra Front".

Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the aircraft had crossed into Israel in a "threatening way" and vowed to retaliate to any similar incidents in the future.

"We will not allow (any) element, whether it is a terror group or a state, to threaten our security and breach our sovereignty," he said.

"We are committed first and foremost to ensure the security of the Israel's citizens and we will use all means at our disposal to do so."

Map of Golan Heights, Syria

It came hours after the US and five Arab countries began airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time.

The raids were carried out using fighter jets, bombers, drones, and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US ships in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar were involved in the raids, a US official said, although their exact roles were unclear.

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Tesco Suspends Bosses Over £250m Profit Error

Written By andika jamanta on Senin, 22 September 2014 | 18.25

Tesco has suspended four senior executives after it revealed an accounting error overstated its first-half profit by £250m.

CEO Dave Lewis said that "a number of people" have been suspended while an internal investigation is under way, including the four senior executives.

Sky News understands that Carl Rogberg, Tesco UK finance director, is one of the four executives suspended.

One of the other executives suspended is UK managing director Chris Bush.

Shares were down more than 11% in early trading, before easing slightly to around 8% down. Its stock price is down more than 43% in the last year.

Tesco share price over last year Tesco shares have fallen more than 40% in the last year

Britain's biggest supermarket chain said it has commissioned an independent review to uncover the cause of the profit miscalculation.

Tesco said in a statement: "On the basis of preliminary investigations in to the UK food business, the board believes that the guidance issued on 29 August 2014 for the group profits for the six months to 23 August 2014 was overstated by an estimated £250m.

"Some of this impact includes in-year timing differences. Work is ongoing to establish the extent of these issues and what impact they will have on the full year."

New Tesco boss Dave LewisTesco UK managing director Chris Bush Tesco CEO Dave Lewis (l) and UK managing director Chris Bush (r)

Tesco said that the overstatement of profits could be due to many issues related to the commercial income of the business, and it could be related to "payments to suppliers" being reported in the wrong financial reporting period.

The statement added: "The board has asked Deloitte to undertake an independent and comprehensive review of these issues, working closely with Freshfields, the group's external legal advisers.

"We will provide a further update at our interim results, which will now be announced on the 23 October 2014."

Tesco has issued a series of income warnings in the last year, with the latest at the end of August when it said trading profit was forecast to be around £1.1bn.

Tesco 10 year share price Tesco shares are now worth less than they were 10 years ago

That profit figure is now likely to be reduced to £850m.

Sky News City Editor Mark Kleinman described the accounting error as a "humiliation" for the embattled group.

Regulators are now expected to launch their own inquiries into the profit over-estimation.

Last November, an analyst at stockbroker Cantor Fitzgerald accused Tesco of squeezing suppliers ahead of release of lacklustre trading figures.

The company denied the claim and said the assertions of demanding money from suppliers' trading accounts were "based on speculation".

Tesco has come under increasing pressure in the ongoing supermarket price war, with the rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl, and margin-squeezing of the big four chains.

Chief executive Dave Lewis, who started in the role on September 1, said: "We have uncovered a serious issue and have responded accordingly."

Mr Lewis took control of Tesco after former boss Philip Clarke failed to halt a slide in profit and sales.

Mr Clarke was ousted by the Tesco board in late July as he was preparing to celebrate 40 years with the retailer.

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Decomposed Body Found After Leg Discovered

A body has been discovered by officers searching the area where a human leg was found near Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Lancashire police have been using sniffer dogs to search the area after the adult limb was found on land behind Healey Conservative Club in Whitworth on Sunday.

There is no indication of sex or age of the body due to how badly decomposed it is.

A police spokesman said earlier: "Police were called at shortly before 2.45pm to a report that a member of the public had found a human leg on land behind Healey Conservative Club at Whitworth."

It is not clear how long the leg has been there or whether it belonged to a man or a woman.

The Conservative Club declined to comment.

More follows...

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Balls To Freeze Child Benefit To Balance Books

Ed Balls has told his party's conference a child benefit freeze, a cut in politicians pay and higher tax for top earners will form part of Labour's plan to bring the deficit down.

The shadow chancellor presented a 1% cap on rises for the first two years of a Labour government as one of the "tough decisions" necessary to deal with the deficit if the party takes power next year.

In a speech in Manchester, Mr Balls pledged to "change the way our economy works" and to "not flinch from the tough decisions we must make".

He said: "Three years of lost growth at the start of this parliament means we will have to deal with a deficit of £75bn - not the balanced budget George Osborne promised by 2015. And that will make the task of governing hugely difficult.

25379153 Mr Balls says a cap in child benefit rises will save £400m

"People know we are the party of jobs, living standards and fairness for working people. But they also need to know that we will balance the books and make the sums add up and that we won't duck the difficult decisions we will face if they return us to government.

"Working people have had to balance their own books. And they are clear that the Government needs to balance its books too."

Speaking on Sky News ahead of his appearance Mr Balls said he would not "duck or flinch" from the tough decisions and he defended claims the savings provided by the measures would be miniscule.

He said the child benefit move would save £400m in the next parliament, plans to end the winter fuel allowance for rich pensioners would bring an extra £100m a year of savings and the introductino of a 50p tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 would bring in £3bn.

Under austerity measures introduced by the coalition, child benefit was frozen from 2010 to this year.

Labour also plans to cut ministerial salaries - taking £7,125 off the Prime Minister's annual wage, and £6,728 from Cabinet ministers.

Child benefit rose by 1% in April and is due to rise by the same amount in 2015/16, but Mr Balls will commit to extending below-inflation hikes for at least one more year.

Palace Of Westminster Houses Of Parliament A 5% cut in ministerial salaries is also on the cards

The party also has plans to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, and introduce a jobs guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed funded by a tax on bank bonuses and limiting pensions tax relief for the highest earners.

Treasury Exchequer Secretary Priti Patel poured scorn on Mr Balls' plan for the economy, claiming Labour would put the deficit up, not down.

"These savings on ministerial pay only cut a miniscule fraction of the deficit - less than 1% of 1%.  And it comes just days after the Institute for Fiscal Studies said Labour's economic policy means £28bn extra borrowing," she said.

The Children's Society said Labour's plans to freeze child benefit would leave the average family more than £400 a year worse off by 2017 and urged the shadow chancellor to reconsider.

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Alan Henning's Wife Pleads For His Release

Written By andika jamanta on Minggu, 21 September 2014 | 18.25

The wife of British aid convoy volunteer Alan Henning has issued a statement to the Islamic State calling on his captors to release him.

Mr Henning, 47, a former taxi driver from Manchester, was captured last December near the town of al Dana in Syria by IS militants.

He was shown at the end of a video last week following the murder of fellow British captive David Haines.

The statement, issued through the Foreign Office, said: "I am Barbara Henning the wife of Alan Henning. Alan was taken prisoner last December and is being held by the Islamic State.

"Alan is a peaceful, selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the UK to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need.

Alan Henning Mr Henning (L) had driven an ambulance full of food and water to Syria

"When he was taken he was driving an ambulance full of food and water to be handed out to anyone in need.

"His purpose for being there was no more and no less. This was an act of sheer compassion.

"I cannot see how it could assist any state's cause to allow the world to see a man like Alan dying.

"I have been trying to communicate with the Islamic State and the people holding Alan. I have sent some really important messages but they have not been responded to.

"I pray that the people holding Alan respond to my messages and contact me before it is too late.

"When they hear this message I implore the people of Islamic State to see it in their hearts to release my husband Alan Henning."

It is the first public statement by Mr Henning's family since he appeared in the IS video.

It follows an appeal by Muslim scholars in the UK calling for the release of the Briton, who was captured in December near the town of al Dana.

IS has previously released footage showing the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

A separate video last week showed British photojournalist John Cantlie, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, saying he wanted to "convey some facts" about IS and saying he would speak about the group in future videos. There was no threat to kill Mr Cantlie in the video.

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Salmond: 'No' Voters 'Tricked' By Westminster

Salmond Quits: Nationalism Loses Its Face

Updated: 6:14pm UK, Friday 19 September 2014

Alex Salmond may be standing down as First Minister after his defeat in the independence referendum - but given his track record it is hard to believe he will not remain an influential figure in Scottish life.

Regardless of the vote, few would dispute his abilities as a political tactician, having led the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to a stunning victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.

Born in Linlithgow in 1954, Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond was educated at Linlithgow Academy and St Andrew's University, where he first joined the SNP.

Graduating with a degree in economics and history, he worked as an economist for both the Government Economic Service and the Royal Bank of Scotland before being elected as an MP for the Banff and Buchan constituency in 1987.

His election at Westminster followed a turbulent period for the SNP, which saw its number of seats fall from 11 to two in the 1979 General Election.

As a young and brash newcomer, Mr Salmond played a role in the breakaway faction of the party known as the "79 Group" which sought to take a more left-wing stance.

His brief expulsion as a result did not hinder his advancement within the party in the long-term, with his election to leader coming in 1990.

With the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, Mr Salmond went on to serve as leader of the opposition at Holyrood, while retaining his seat at Westminster.

He stood down as SNP leader in 2000 and left the Scottish Parliament in 2001.

Returning as leader in 2004, he guided the SNP to a narrow Scottish election win in 2007 and then led a minority government as he became Scotland's first SNP First Minister, with his wife Moira by his side.

That success was superseded in the 2011 election, when Mr Salmond led his party to an unprecedented victory, with a crushing defeat of its main rival and pre-election poll leaders Labour.

It meant the SNP's manifesto pledge to hold an independence referendum could be delivered.

Mr Salmond signed the Edinburgh Agreement with David Cameron on October 15 2012, setting out the terms of the vote.

Despite attempts by some in the Yes camp to move the focus away from him, Mr Salmond was seen across the UK - and the wider world - as synonymous with the Scottish independence movement.

During his time as First Minister he has had his fair share of controversies, including the decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

But over the past year, his White Paper on independence has been the focus of criticism from his unionist rivals, most notably over his currency plans and oil revenue projections.

He was generally held to have lost the first televised referendum debate with Better Together leader Alistair Darling, but made a barnstorming return in the second.

It failed to translate into majority support for independence and the No campaign are now celebrating a clear victory.

But whatever happens next, Mr Salmond will go down in history as the man who led the battle for independence to its highest watermark in over 300 years.

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Thai Murders: Sexual Jealousy May Be Motive

Police hunting the killer of two British backpackers in Thailand have told Sky News that "sexual jealousy" may be the motive.

Officers are appealing for anyone who had a relationship with Hannah Witheridge or David Miller in the days before they died to come forward.

It is nearly a week since their bodies were found on a beach in Koh Tao.

Sky's Jonathan Samuels said officers have asked police in the UK to speak to British friends of the travellers to find out about their interactions in the days leading up to the murders.

He said: "They are also investigating rumours that they may have had a row with a Thai man in a bar."

Police Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen said: "We are appealing for anyone who had a relationship, even a one night stand, with either Hannah or David in the days before they died to come forward as a matter of urgency.

"We have asked the Met police to go back and ask their friends if they can help with any further information."

He added: "We still believe sexual jealously is at the heart of this crime.

"We are aware of reports they may have been involved in a row in a bar with a Thai man and we are currently investigating."

More follows...

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Freed Islamic State Hostages Return To Turkey

Written By andika jamanta on Sabtu, 20 September 2014 | 18.25

Dozens of Turkish hostages seized by Islamic State militants in Iraq have been freed in what Turkey's President described as a secret rescue operation.

The 49 hostages - including diplomatic staff, special forces soldiers and children - were taken from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq on June 11 after the city was overrun by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said they were released after a "pre-planned operation" involving the country's intelligence services.

Ahmet Davutoglu meets Turkish hostages Mr Davutoglu hugs a child. It is not known if she is one of the hostages

"After intense efforts that lasted days and weeks, in the early hours, our citizens were handed over to us and we brought them back to our country," he said.

It was not immediately clear what Turkey had done to secure the safe return of the hostages, but Turkish independent broadcaster NTV said no ransom was paid and there were no clashes with insurgents during the operation to release them.

President Tayyip Erdogan said: "I thank the Prime Minister and his colleagues for the pre-planned, carefully calculated and secretly conducted operation throughout the night.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with freed hostages Mr Davutoglu (L) gets on a plane with the freed hostages

"MIT (the Turkish intelligence agency) has followed the situation very sensitively and patiently since the beginning and, as a result, conducted a successful rescue operation."

Police formed a cordon outside the airport in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa as the hostages arrived in buses with curtains drawn.

The Prime Minister, who cut short an official trip to Azerbaijan to travel to Sanliurfa, hugged the hostages before boarding a plane with them to the capital, Ankara.

Turkey The hostages were taken in Mosul and returned to Sanliurfa

Mr Davutoglu did not provide further details on the circumstances of the release, but said it was carried out through "MIT's own methods".

Sky's Senior Correspondent Ian Woods said: "It seems that some sort of deal must have been done because these are people, unlike the Western hostages, journalists and aid workers, these were people who were not in the country of their own volition.

"To describe this as something co-ordinated by the intelligence service suggests that a deal has been done. It was described as a rescue mission, but we should not think of this as such because is it unlikely they could rescue all 49 people without casualties."

Seizure of the hostages put Turkey in a difficult position as a summit of 30 countries met in Paris last week to co-ordinate their response to the IS threat.

ISIS fghters in the northern Iraq city of Mosul IS fighters in Mosul, Iraq. File image

The nations agreed to "support the Iraqi government by any means necessary - including military assistance".

Turkey resisted joining the coalition and the United States was careful not to push Ankara too hard as it worked to free the hostages.

The hostage release comes as Turkey opened up its border to thousands of Kurds fleeing clashes with IS in neighbouring Syria.

Under tight security, the refugees, mostly women and children, crossed to the Turkish side of the border in the southeastern village of Dikmetas.

Alan Henning The group is still holding British hostage Alan Henning

"We have taken in 4,000 brothers," Mr Davutoglu told reporters.

"The entries have started now. The number might increase. Their needs will be met. This is a humanitarian mission."

Islamic State has killed two US journalists and a British aid worker who were working in Syria in retaliation for airstrikes that Washington launched against them in Iraq.

IS is also holding two British hostages captured in Syria who have appeared in videos released by the group.

A group of Muslim scholars has made a direct appeal to IS to release hostage Alan Henning.

British hostage John Cantlie Mr Cantlie was seen in an IS video

In a video message posted online, the men told the 47-year-old's captors that killing him would be against Islamic law.

Mr Henning, a taxi driver from Salford, was delivering aid in Syria when he was captured in December near the town of al Dana.

A video released on Thursday showing British journalist John Cantlie, who is also believed to be held by IS.

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