World news

Iraqi army tries to reach site of Islamic State executions south of Mosul

By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Stephen Kalin SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - The Iraqi army was trying on Thursday to reach a town south of Mosul where Islamic State has reportedly executed dozens to deter the population against any attempt to support the U.S.-led offensive on the jihadists' last major city stronghold in Iraq. Eleven days into what is expected to be the biggest ground offensive in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, army and federal police units were fighting off sniper fire and suicide car bombs south of Hammam al-Alil, the site of the reported executions on the outskirts of Mosul, an Iraqi military spokesman said. The executions were meant "to terrorize the others, those who are in Mosul in particular", and also to get rid of the prisoners, said Abdul Rahman al-Waggaa, a member of the Nineveh provincial council.

Russia's Putin says Moscow not trying to influence U.S. election

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the U.S. presidential campaign was characterized by hysteria about alleged Russian influence and dismissed the idea that Moscow was trying to sway the vote. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Duterte says Philippines could join sea exercises with Japan, again vents anger at U.S

By Minami Funakoshi YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday his country could join naval exercises with Japan, but repeated there would be no more war games with long-time ally the United States and again gave vent to his anger against Washington. Duterte also said he had explained to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in talks on Wednesday just why he resented the United States, reiterating that Washington treated the Philippines like "dogs on a leash" and lectured about human rights in connection with his domestic campaign against drugs. The Philippine leader's visit to Japan coincides with jitters about his foreign policy after weeks of verbal attacks on the United States, including threats to end military agreements, and overtures toward China.

Russia says not responsible for strike on school in Syria's Idlib

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday Moscow is not responsible for an air strike on a school in Syria's Idlib province that led to deaths of 26 civilians, most of them schoolchildren. Russian military were not involved in the attack, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Maria Tsvetkova)

Turkey-Kurdish rivalry complicates push against Islamic State in Syria's Raqqa

By Angus McDowall and Nick Tattersall BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Fighting between Turkey and Kurdish militias in northern Syria is complicating plans to drive their mutual enemy Islamic State from its Syrian capital Raqqa, an operation U.S. officials have said may start within weeks. Turkish jets and armor, in support of Syrian rebels, have struck Kurdish fighters in recent days as both sides compete to capture land from Islamic State that Ankara wants as a buffer zone against militants near its border. This was taken from Islamic State in August by local fighters backed by Kurdish groups, and offers strategic control over a large area.

Venezuela protests against Maduro escalate, dozens injured

By Andrew Cawthorne and Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's increasingly militant opposition stepped up its push to oust leftist leader Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday with protests that drew hundreds of thousands but also saw unrest leading to dozens of injuries and arrests. The government blamed opposition activists clashing with security forces on a highway out of Caracas. The police force of Miranda, whose governor is opposition leader Henrique Capriles, confirmed the death but did not link it to protesters.

Teenager appears in court over London Tube 'explosive' device

A teenager charged after an explosive device was found on a London Underground train intends to plead not guilty on the grounds that it was a prank, his lawyer told a court Thursday. Damon Smith, 19, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London over the incident on October 20 which sparked a security alert.

Kerber, Cibulkoba reach semi-finals

Germany?s Angelique Kerber continued her unbeaten run at the WTA Finals on Thursday, steamrolling rising American Madison Keys 6-3 6-3 to charge into the semi-finals of the season-ending championship . Kerber was joined in the semis by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, who claimed her first victory of the tournament by defeating Simona Halep of Romania 6-3 7-6 (7-5), to finish as the group runner-up. Beaten in her first two matches, the 27-year-old Cibulkova needed to see off Halep in straight sets then rely on Kerber defeating Keys in straight sets to advance, but she made it through when everything she hoped for went according to plan.

Powerful quakes wreak new havoc in Italian mountain towns

VISSO, Italy (AP) ? Authorities scrambled to find housing Thursday for thousands of people displaced by a pair of strong earthquakes that struck the same region of central Italy hit by a deadly quake in August, hoping to prevent a second night for them on the street or in cars.

Russia's Putin says attempts to get Syria deal with Obama thwarted

KRASNAYA POLYANA (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his attempts to reach an agreement with U.S. President Barack Obama on ending the bloodshed in Syria had not worked out. "A united front to defeat terrorism has in fact not been created," Putin told an audience of Russia experts gathered in southern Russia. "In Washington there were forces that did their best to ensure our agreements did not take off." (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Journalist on trial in Turkey for alleged pro-PKK tweets

ISTANBUL (AP) ? A Kurdish journalist charged with engaging in terrorist propaganda for a series of Twitter posts has gone on trial in Turkey.

Belgian deal clears way for EU-Canada free trade pact

BRUSSELS (AP) ? The European Union and Canada are on the cusp of sealing a landmark free trade deal after the Belgian government on Thursday overcame an impasse with its regional authorities, which had been seeking more protections from multinationals.

Italy quake was new shock, typical of region: experts

The powerful tremors which shook central Italy on Wednesday were the product of a new earthquake rather than aftershocks from one that devastated the town of Amatrice in August, Italian experts say. "It wasn't an aftershock, it was a new earthquake," Mario Tozzi of the national institute for environmental geology and geo-engineering (IGAG) told AFP. Tozzi said Wednesday's 'double-hit' quake, in which an initial tremor of 5.5 magnitude was followed by one of 6.1, was typical of the central Appenine mountains.

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