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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Middle East Updates / Kerry, Zarif, Ashton start nuclear talks in Oman......

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shake hands
11:20 A.M. Syrian army planes bomb northern town killing 21, monitor group says
At least 21 people were killed and around 100 wounded overnight when Syrian army planes bombed a town in northern Syria that is controlled by Islamic State militants, a group monitoring the war said.
Syrian military helicopters dropped barrel bombs and warplanes launched air strikes on al-Bab which lies northeast of the city of Aleppo, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
One of the 21 killed was a child and the death count was expected to rise as some of the wounded were in a serious condition, said the Observatory, which gathers information from a variety of sources in Syria. (Reuters)
10:03 A.M. Witness: Kerry, Zarif, Ashton start nuclear talks in Oman
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif began talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton in Oman on Sunday to try to advance efforts to end a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, a witness said.
The discussions, aimed at curbing Iran's sensitive uranium enrichment work in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions, are taking place just two weeks before a self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal. Iranian official media also reported the start of the Muscat talks. (Reuters)

5:24 A.M. Yemen kidnappers free UN water engineer, says world body
The United Nations said a Sierra Leonean water engineer working in Yemen on a sanitation project had been freed more than a year after being kidnapped by unidentified armed men.
"Colleagues at the United Nations are delighted that James Massaquoi, who was abducted in Yemen in October 2013, has today been released and is safe and well," said a UN statement dated Nov. 8.
"James is a water engineer who has been working in Yemen to help provide water and sanitation services in order to improve the health of local children," it said, adding the world body thanked the Yemeni government and tribal leaders who it said had "supported efforts to bring about his safe release".
The UN Children's Fund, for whom Massaquoi works, has said he was kidnapped in the capital Sanaa on Sunday Oct. 6, 2013 "by unknown armed men." (Reuters)
12:33 A.M. Syrian Kurds advance against ISIS in Kobani, monitors say
Kurdish fighters from Syria on Saturday advanced against Islamic State militants in the embattled town of Kobane in northern Syria, a monitoring group said.
The People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish militia in Kobane, pushed into the city on the Turkish border after clashes with the jihadists, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
At least 13 Islamic State fighters and six YPG militiamen were killed, the Britain-based observatory said.