World News | WRHL World News 2016-09-29T01:41:53Z World News U.S. close to suspending Syria talks with Russia as Aleppo battle rages By Arshad Mohammed and Tom Perry WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United States is close to suspending talks with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, as the Kremlin vowed to press on with an assault on the city of Aleppo. Moscow and Damascus launched a campaign to recapture the rebel-held sector of Syria's biggest city this month, abandoning a ceasefire a week after it took effect to embark on what could be the biggest battle of a nearly six-year war. In the first significant government territorial advance of the Aleppo campaign so far, Syrian forces captured the Handarat camp north of Aleppo on Thursday. India says hits Pakistan-based militants, escalating tensions By Sanjeev Miglani and Asad Hashim NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Indian officials said elite troops crossed into Pakistan-ruled Kashmir on Thursday and killed suspected militants preparing to infiltrate and carry out attacks on major cities, in a surprise raid that raised tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. Pakistan said two of its soldiers had been killed in exchanges of fire, but denied India had made any targeted strikes across the de facto frontier that runs through the disputed Himalayan territory. Indian special forces crossed the heavily militarized border by foot just after midnight and hit about half a dozen "launching pads", where the suspected militants were preparing to sneak across, an Indian military source and a government official said. Erdogan says to extend Turkey's emergency rule, rounds on rating agencies By Seda Sezer and Tuvan Gumrukcu ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan suggested on Thursday that emergency rule could be extended beyond a year and rounded on rating agencies after Moody's cut Turkey to "junk" status, helping send the lira to its weakest in almost two months. In a speech in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey would benefit from a three-month extension to the three-month state of emergency declared after a failed July 15 coup, which the government says is needed to hunt down those responsible, but which critics say is being used to stifle dissent. "It would be in Turkey's benefit to extend the state of emergency for three months," he told a group of provincial leaders at the presidential palace. Palestinian president plans to attend funeral of Israel's Peres By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to pay a rare visit to Jerusalem on Friday to attend the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, a Palestinian official said on Thursday. It was not immediately clear if the occasion would yield anything more than handshakes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, who will also be at the burial. Peres, who died on Wednesday aged 93, won a Nobel Prize for his peace efforts with the Palestinians in the 1990s. U.N. fails to set international probe on Yemen war crimes By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday declined to set up an independent inquiry into abuses in Yemen, instead calling on a national inquiry to investigate by violations by all sides, including the killing of civilians and attacks on hospitals. The move disappointed activists, who, along with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, had called for an independent probe, especially into air strikes by a Saudi-led Arab coalition backing the Yemeni government. The United Nations blames the coalition strikes for 60 percent of some 3,800 civilian deaths since March 2015. Air strikes kill 18 Islamic State 'leaders' in last month: U.S. Air strikes by the United States and its allies have killed 18 Islamic State "leaders" in the last 30 days, 13 of them in Mosul, the group's de facto Iraqi capital, a U.S. military spokesman said on Thursday. Earlier this week the Pentagon announced that the United States would send around 600 new troops to Iraq to assist Iraqi forces in the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants, who control parts of Iraq and Syria. US Treasury head touts trade, security in Mexico visit U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made a strong pitch for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact in a visit to Mexico Thursday. Lew strongly defended globalization, but acknowledged that "some industries, ... World figures to attend funeral of Israel's Shimon Peres JERUSALEM (AP) — The following world figures have confirmed attendance at Shimon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem on Friday: Israel's Supreme Court rejects former PM Olmert's appeal JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's imprisoned former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces an additional eight months behind bars after the country's Supreme Court rejected an appeal. UN rights council seeks greater monitoring of Yemen abuses GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution calling for greater U.N. monitoring of rights abuses in war-torn Yemen, while shrugging off calls from the U.N. human rights chief and others for an independent investigation of abuses. Top Asian News 6:26 p.m. GMT HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said joint military exercises of Filipino and American troops next week will be the last such drills, although his foreign secretary quickly said the decision was not final. Duterte made the comments while addressing Filipino community members in Hanoi late Wednesday night, noting that the Philippines will maintain its military alliance with the U.S. because they share a 65-year-old mutual defense treaty. During a two-day visit to Vietnam, Duterte said he wants to establish new trade and commercial alliances with China and Russia, and that Beijing doesn't want the war games. "I would serve notice to you now that this will be the last military exercise," he said. Scientists bid farewell to Rosetta space probe before crash BERLIN (AP) — Scientists began saying their final farewells to the Rosetta space probe Thursday, hours before its planned crash-landing on a comet, but said that data collected during the mission would provide discoveries for many years to come. U.S. expects donor conference to pledge $3 billion a year for Afghanistan An international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels next week is expected to pledge over $3 billion a year in development support to the Central Asian nation up to the end of 2020, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Richard Olson, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a forum in Washington that the U.S. government would seek via Congress to maintain U.S. assistance to Afghanistan "at, or near" current levels for the period. The European Union and Afghanistan will host a donor conference on Oct. 4-5 in Brussels to seek backing for reforms to stabilize and develop the country. 'Confident' Halep books place in WTA Finals World number five Simona Halep downed Madison Keys in the quarter finals of the Wuhan Open Thursday to book her place in the elite season-end WTA Final for the third consecutive year. Big serving Keys took an early lead in the first set, breaking the Romanian's serve twice, but was unable to maintain the momentum as Halep equalled and then took the set 6-4. Halep -- who turned 25 this week -- dropped just two games to take the second set and confirm her place in the eight-player season finale in Singapore. Matthew strengthens into a hurricane: NHC (Reuters) - Tropical storm Matthew has strengthened into a hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Thursday. Matthew is located about 190 miles (300 km) northeast of Curacao, and is moving towards the west at 17 miles per hour (28 km/h), the Miami-based weather forecaster said. (Reporting by Harshith Aranya in Bengaluru; editing by Diane Craft) The Latest: Teammates, family arrive for Fernandez funeral MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (all times local): A week of terror in Syria's Aleppo Rebel-held areas of Aleppo have been battered by intense bombardment since the Syrian regime announced an offensive a week ago to retake the entire city. The escalation follows the breakdown of a week-long ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States earlier in September that had brought brief respite to the battleground city. Residential buildings have been reduced to rubble and residents of rebel-held east Aleppo face severe shortages of food, medicines and water. Putin, Merkel discuss Ukraine, agree more contacts: Kremlin MOSCOW/BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to stabilize a fragile ceasefire in Ukraine and do all he could to improve the "catastrophic humanitarian situation" in Syria, a German government spokesman said. "The chancellor expressed great concern about the situation in Syria and urged President Putin to do everything possible to improve conditions for the civilian population," the spokesman said, referring to a phone call between the two leaders. The Kremlin earlier said Merkel and Putin had agreed on a schedule of future contacts in the so-called Normandy format, first adopted at talks in France in 2014, which brings together the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France. Coalition raids kill 8 Yemeni civilians: govt official The Saudi-led coalition killed eight civilians in two separate air strikes on rebel-controlled areas of northern Yemen on Thursday, a government official said. Warplanes from the coalition, which supports forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, hit "by mistake" a vehicle at Razah in Saada province, killing five civilians, said the official. Another air strike killed three civilians travelling in a vehicle in Shadeh, a village also located in Saada, said the same source. Algeria says 5 Islamists killed in army operation Five armed Islamists were killed in an army operation in a mountainous region of southeast Algeria on Thursday, the defence ministry said. Algerian authorities use the term "terrorists" for armed Islamists who have been active in the North African state since a devastating civil war in the 1990s. Plane that Ronaldo uses runs off runway in Barcelona MADRID (AP) — A plane believed to be used by Cristiano Ronaldo skidded off a runway in Barcelona because of a landing gear problem. Germany's Steinmeier urges Russia to support lasting ceasefire in Syria Germany's foreign minister urged Russia on Thursday to do more to bring about and enforce a lasting ceasefire in Syria, saying the situation there had escalated into "a humanitarian catastrophe." Earlier on Thursday, Russia vowed to press on with its assault in Syria while U.S. officials cast about for a tougher response to Moscow's decision to ignore the peace process and seek military victory on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke by telephone with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and called on Moscow and Washington to resume ceasefire discussions. A look at some of Israel's prime ministers JERUSALEM (AP) — Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday, was both a former president and prime minister, the only person in Israel to hold both jobs. Of Israel's 12 prime ministers, three are still living: current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who is in prison after a bribery conviction; and Ehud Barak, who appears to be plotting a comeback. Catalan leader wins backing of regional parliament for independence referendum Catalan regional lawmakers on Thursday approved regional President Carles Puigdemont's plan to call a referendum next year on independence from Spain, which has been without a fully functioning government since December. Puigdemont called the vote of confidence in his government and its plans after his pro-independence coalition that rules Catalonia broke down in June when its most radical component -- the far-left CUP party -- refused to back the government budget for 2016. The CUP had since said it would help bring the coalition back together again and vote for Puigdemont, but only in exchange for a Scotland-style referendum next year. European rookies at Ryder Cup just want to have fun CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — Martin Kaymer thought he was supposed to deliver extraordinary shots at the Ryder Cup because that's all he ever saw. U.S. seen ending Syria diplomacy with Russia, mulls options By Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is on the verge of ending its Syria diplomacy with Russia and is looking at new options on how it might seek to end the 5-1/2 civil war, U.S. officials said on Thursday. On Wednesday, U.S. officials told Reuters President Barack Obama's administration had begun to consider tougher responses - including military options - to the Russian-backed Syrian government's assault on Aleppo, the country's largest city. Moscow gallery attack targets Ukrainian troop photos Dozens of pro-Kremlin activists have attacked a Moscow exhibition of photographs of Ukrainian forces in the separatist conflict, defacing images, tearing down signs and forcing its temporary closure, organisers said on Thursday. The attacker targeted images shot by Sergei Loiko, a journalist who covered the conflict for the Los Angeles Times, and Belarusian Alexander Vasukovich, the centre said. Pakistan fury after India launches Kashmir strikes Indian commandos carried out a series of lightning strikes Thursday along the de facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir, provoking furious charges of "naked aggression" from its nuclear-armed neighbour. Amid anger in India over a recent deadly assault on one of its army bases in Kashmir, officials said troops had conducted "surgical strikes" several kilometres (miles) inside the Pakistan-controlled side of the disputed territory to prevent attacks being planned on major Indian cities. Pakistan said two of its soldiers had been killed and nine more wounded in what it described as small arms fire and dismissed the talk of surgical strikes as an "illusion" designed to whip up "media hype". Algeria army kills five Islamist fighters: defense ministry Algerian troops killed five armed Islamist militants and seized weapons, munitions and food supplies on Thursday in an ongoing operation east of Algiers, the defense ministry said. The five were killed during an army sweep of the forests of Tazoult in the Batna province, about 430 km (268 miles) from Algiers, the ministry said in a statement. Violence has declined in Algeria since the end of its 1990s war with Islamist fighters that killed 200,000 people. The Latest: Matthew becomes a hurricane in Caribbean MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean (all times local): Figure skating costume designer Jef Billings dies at 71 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Renowned figure skating costume designer Jef Billings has died at 71. Catalan separatists win confidence vote in test of supporters' loyalty By Sam Edwards BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia's pro-independence government won a confidence vote on Thursday that it hopes will spur support for its attempts to split from Spain at a time of disarray in national politics. Triggered by squabbling among separatist factions which hold power in Catalonia's regional assembly, the 72-63 win in the vote served as a show of unity as local leaders try to push ahead with secession plans. The wealthy north-eastern region's premier, Carles Puigdemont, has said a victory in the vote would accelerate his government's proposals to construct an independent Catalan state, with or without Spain's consent. Sombre Ukraine marks 75 years since Nazi slaughter of Jews A sombre Ukraine on Thursday marked 75 years since the Nazis slaughtered 34,000 Jews on the outskirts of Kiev during one of the worst single massacres of the Holocaust. The carnage at the Babi Yar ravine has prompted soul-searching and disputes in Ukraine over the participation of local collaborators in the killings and atrocities that followed. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was meant to join a memorial ceremony led by Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and attended my other global dignitaries. Stocks turn lower as drugmakers drag health stocks down NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are skidding Thursday and giving up most of their gains from the last two days. EpiPen maker Mylan and other drug companies face scrutiny over increases in product prices. Banks are falling as bond yields decrease, and interest rates go with them. High-dividend stocks like utilities and real estate companies are also slumping. Kremlin offers Ukraine separatists propaganda tips: German media Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are being actively advised by people close to the Kremlin on how to conduct a "propaganda campaign" against Kiev and the West, German media reported Thursday. In what it called the "Donetsk-Leaks", investigative television programme Frontal21 and newspaper Die Zeit said they had obtained "10,000 emails" from the inbox of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic's information minister Elena Nikitina, shared online by pro-Ukraine activists. Moscow has always denied that it provides support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, but the documents demonstrate the opposite, the reports said, showing "advisors" working directly with the rebels. 7 Afghan military students AWOL from US posts FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — Officials say seven Afghan military students in four different states have been absent without leave since earlier this month. US 'on verge' of ending Syria talks with Russia: Kerry US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Thursday that Washington was on the brink of ending its talks with Russia on the Syrian conflict over the assault on Aleppo. "I think we are on the verge of suspending the discussion because, you know, it's irrational in the context of the kind of bombing taking place, to be sitting there, trying to take things seriously," Kerry said. "There is no notion or indication of seriousness of purpose with what is taking place right now," he told a conference in the US capital, a day after warning his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov he would end talks unless Moscow halts the assault on Aleppo. Day after rejecting veto, U.S. lawmakers concerned about Sept. 11 law U.S. lawmakers on Thursday expressed doubts about Sept. 11 legislation they forced on President Barack Obama, saying the new law allowing lawsuits against Saudi Arabia could be narrowed to ease concerns about its effect on Americans abroad. A day after a rare overwhelming rejection of a presidential veto, the first of Obama's eight years in the White House, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives opened the door to fixing the law as they blamed Obama for not consulting them adequately. WRHL 2016-09-29T18:41:53Z