VOA news for Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
From Washington, this is VOA news. A new round of fighting erupts between Israel and Gaza militants after 2 weeks of relative calm, and Islamic State militants claim to have beheaded a U.S. journalist. I’m Michael Lipin reporting from Washington.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have resumed attacks on each other in a heaviest fighting since a series of short-term truces began 2 weeks ago.
Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel on Tuesday afternoon, breaking a truce that had been due to last until midnight.
Israel responded with airstrikes on militant targets in Gaza, including the home of a suspected militant.
Palestinian authorities said the attack on the house killed a baby and a woman and wounded several other people.
Hamas militants who run Gaza said the Israeli airstrike was an attempted assassination of the head of its military wing, Mohammed Deif.
It was not clear whether he was in the home at the time.
Hamas retaliated for the attack by firing another wave of rockets toward southern and central Israel.
Sirens sounded in the main Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The Israeli military said Gaza militants fired at least 50 rockets during the day, with several being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no casualties.
Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the collapse of the latest truce.
The Islamic State militant group has released a video purportedly showing the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley.
The video posted on a social media site Tuesday could not be authenticated. The militants said it was a message to the United States to stop intervening in Iraq.
Foley was in Syria, covering the country’s civil war when he went missing in November 22nd.
This is VOA news.
Iraqi government troops and Iraqi Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. aircraft have engaged in battles with Sunni militants in northern Iraq on Tuesday.
The allied Iraqi forces pressed toward the northern city of Tikrit, where witnesses said they met stiff resistance from Islamic State fighters.
Authorities said the Iraqi advance stalled by mid-afternoon.
A day earlier, the allied Iraqi forces retook control of the country’s biggest dam near Mosul after the militants had seized it.
A rights group that monitors the United Nations is calling on the U.N. Human Rights Council to convene an emergency session on the plight of minority groups in Iraq.
!100,000s of Yazidis, Christians and other Iraqi minorities have left their homes this year to escape from attacks by the Sunni militants who call themselves the Islamic State. Lisa Schlein has more from Geneva, where the U.N. Human Rights Council is based.
The executive director of the monitoring group, U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer, says the activists are appealing to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to call for the special session.
He says the rights council could mobilize action to protect vulnerable populations in Iraq against mass killings.
“Second, to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the Islamic State for their acts that destroy in whole all or in part ethnic and religious groups that may constitute genocide, as defined in the genocide convention. And, finally, to revive the mandate, which used to exist here in Geneva of a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq. It was terminated 10 years ago. We are asking for it to be revived, to ensure that we have an early warning mechanism for the international community, with regular reporting to both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.”
The son of the leader of the Yazidi people, Breen Tahsin, also is calling for the U.N. council to meet urgently on the destruction of minorities in Iraq.
Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.
The office of Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, says he will hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, next week to address the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Mr. Poroshenko’s office said Tuesday the August 26th gathering in Belarus will be aimed at stabilizing the situation in Ukraine.
An aide to the Ukrainian President said the agenda of the talks will include energy security and Ukraine’s expanding economic ties with the European Union.
A Kremlin statement confirmed the Belarus gathering but did not say whether Russian President Putin and Mr. Poroshenko will meet face-to-face.
It will be the 1st time the 2 leaders will be in the same room since a brief encounter in France in June.
Neither has engaged in direct talks since pro-Russian rebels launched a rebellion in eastern Ukraine in April.
That’s the latest world news from VOA.

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