Attacks Kill 10, Wound 25 in Afghanistan

A suicide attack against a coalition convoy and a separate rocket attack against tankers carrying fuel for NATO on Wednesday killed a total of 10 civilians and wounded 25 in southern and western Afghanistan, officials said.

Spokesman Omer Zwak of southern Helmand province said the suicide car bomb attack happened in the provincial capital city of Laskar-Gah and killed four civilians. He added that another 15 were wounded.

Zwak had no details about how the attack was carried out but said there were no immediate reports of casualties among coalition forces. They usually drive in heavily armored vehicles.

Spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandai of western Farah province said a rocket fired at a parking lot used by truck drivers carrying fuel for the coalition hit a fully laden vehicle, which immediately caught fire. The ensuing blaze killed six Afghan drivers and wounded another 10.

Zhawandai said the fire destroyed about 35 of the 40 trucks parked in the lot, which is used by drivers to safely spend the night. Drivers rarely travel in Afghanistan between dusk and dawn to avoid insurgent attacks.

The coalition imports all the fuel it uses in the country and it is transported by Afghan civilian contractors.

"The fire destroyed so many trucks because we have no way to fight them," he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in an email and said it was part of their campaign against the coalition and government of President Hamid Karzai.

Insurgents have picked up the pace of their attacks after the international coalition handed over responsibility for security around the country to Afghan forces two months ago.

They have so far unsuccessfully tried to retake territory in their traditional southern and eastern heartlands.
Source. abc news

Israel-Turkey Relations Sink to Low

After a brief courtship last spring, relations between Israel and Turkey have fallen to a new low, officials in both countries say, just as the two former allies are bracing for possible U.S. military action in neighboring Syria.

The breakdown in once-close military ties could be critical if the international community, led by the U.S., decides to attack in response to the alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons last week. A U.S. strike could trigger a retaliatory response by Syria against either of its neighbors, both close U.S. allies.

But officials in both countries confirm that political and military contacts are now limited. They say reconciliation talks meant to repair diplomatic ties have collapsed quietly, and military ties, once the centerpiece of the alliance, are minimal at best. The dire state of affairs was reflected last week when Turkey's Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that Israel was behind the recent military coup in Egypt, prompting condemnations from Israel and the U.S.

"The mood is so negative in the upper echelons of Turkey and Israel toward each other, it doesn't look like cooperation is possible," said Alon Liel, a former foreign ministry director general who served as Israel's top diplomat to Turkey in the 1980s.

Israel and Turkey, located on opposite sides of Syria, long enjoyed vibrant trade, tourism and military cooperation. Just a few years ago, Turkey sponsored indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria. But relations began to decline after Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. The Islamist Turkish leader gradually distanced himself from the Jewish state as he raised his profile in the Muslim world.

Ties took a serious downturn during Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip in late 2008, and turned to outright animosity after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American in 2010. In one infamous incident, Israel's deputy foreign minister intentionally placed the Turkish ambassador on a low-seated couch at a public meeting in order to humiliate his guest.

President Barack Obama, visiting Israel last March, persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call Erdogan and apologize for the flotilla deaths. The apology, a key Turkish demand, was expected to lead the way to reconciliation and compensation to the families of the dead flotilla activists.

Netanyahu, who had previously rejected calls to apologize, cited the Syrian civil war as the reason for his about-face. In particular, Netanyahu pointed to Syria's chemical weapons stockpile as a threat to both countries.

Yet nearly six months later, the talks have ground to a halt, both sides say. One Israeli official familiar with the negotiations said the talks have "evaporated."

The official said the sticking point was not about compensation, but persistent Turkish demands that Israel go beyond its apology and accept greater responsibility for the bloodshed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists.

Israeli defense officials paint a similar picture. The officials say that while Israel has honored pre-existing arms sales with the Turks, no significant deals have been signed since the flotilla incident. The close cooperation and joint training drills of the past no longer take place.
Source..Abc news

Western powers will strike soon, Syrian Opp told

Western powers told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.

"The opposition was told in clear terms that action to

deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva," one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday said.

The meeting at a hotel in downtown Istanbul was between senior figures of the Syrian National Coalition, including its president Ahmad Jarba, and envoys from 11 core "Friends of Syria" alliance members, that included US envoy Robert Ford, the top US official handling the Syria file, the sources said.

Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that could dampen prospects for proposed peace talks in Geneva, Assad's foes have vowed to punish a poison gas attack in some rebel-held districts of Damascus on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds.

U.N. experts trying to establish what exactly happened in the attack were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors - despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron meanwhile said he was recalling lawmakers from their holidays to debate a response to alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Cameron said parliament's lower chamber would be reconvened on Thursday to vote on a government motion to respond to suspected gas attacks near Damascus -- which Britain, France and the United States say were carried out by the Syrian regime.

"Speaker agrees my request to recall Parliament on Thurs," Cameron said in a Twitter message.

"There'll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks."

The House of Commons will sit between 2:30 pm and 10:00 pm for the debate and vote, reports said.

Cameron's spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that Britain's armed forces were drawing up contingency plans for military action in Syria, but that no decision had been made about what action may be taken.

"We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces," a Downing Street spokesman said.

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