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Failed UN Resolutions on Syria Leave Millions at Risk

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Dueling UN resolutions calling for a cease-fire in the Idlib region of Syria were both defeated Thursday, leaving millions at risk amid a brutal government offensive, aided by Russian airstrikes, and a looming humanitarian disaster, The Washington Post reported.

Failed Security Council resolutions to stop the fighting have marked the Syrian war virtually since it began eight years ago, and these were no different.

Russia and China vetoed the measure supported by the majority of members of the 15-member council. The other permanent members – the United States, Britain and France – vetoed the plan proposed by Russia, which a senior U.S. official said was a “license to kill in Idlib and anyplace else.”

Idlib remains the last major holdout of opponents of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who have long been included in his expansive definition of terrorism. Millions of civilians in the region of northwest Syria, many displaced by the long war, have borne the brunt of a five-month government offensive in which Russian airstrikes have targeted towns and villages far from the front lines, the Post adds.

The non-Russian draft resolution, sponsored by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait, garnered 12 votes. It called for “the immediate halting of any indiscriminate aerial bombardments resulting in civilian casualties” and said “counterterrorism operations do not absolve parties to armed conflicts of their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

“The Russians know we’re talking about them,” said the U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under administration rules. “That is a new development.”

The carnage in the northwest continues as the United States and Turkey have begun joint air and ground patrols in northeast Syria, as part of an attempt to establish a “safe zone” in an area cleared of Islamic State fighters.

Turkey had demanded the zone also be cleared of the primary ground force allied with the Americans in the effort, the Syrian Kurdish fighters known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. Turkey considers the fighters terrorists, allied with Kurdish militants fighting for autonomy in Turkey, the Post noted.

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Greek Church recognizes autonomy of Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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The leading figures of the Church of Greece decided at a meeting this weekend to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece recognized the autonomy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in line with a request by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios

The Orthodox Times says the Greeks’ formal recognition will take place October 19 in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine present.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople, generally considered the spiritual headquarters for Orthodoxy, granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine independence in January in a move that was adamantly resisted by Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine installed its first metropolitan, Epifaniy, at a ceremony in Kyiv on February 3 in a process that further established the new church body’s independence

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Indonesia’s security minister attacked by man with knife

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Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto is conscious and in a stable condition after he was stabbed on Thursday by a man authorities suspect had been radicalized by Islamic State ideology, police said.

Television footage showed the minister slump to the ground beside his car after the attack in Pandeglang, in Banten province, west of the capital on the island of Java.

“His condition is stable and at the moment he is being evacuated to a hospital in Jakarta,” Tomsi Tohir, Banten police chief told Metro TV. A police photograph showed the minister, a former general, being carried on a stretcher into a nearby hospital. The minister had suffered two wounds to his stomach, hospital chief said.  

Police had arrested a man and a woman they suspected were a couple, and seized sharp weapons they were carrying, including knives and a pair of scissors, police chief said.

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Taiwan: China is threating international stability

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Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has accused China of threatening international stability and pledged for boosting her country’s defence in the face of what Taipei sees as a growing threat from Beijing.

In a televised address to the nation Wednesday, the president stressed the international importance of Taiwan’s democratic values and raised concerns about Chinese infiltration. The remarks are seen as a sign of Taipei’s hardening resistance to Beijing’s opposition to her government.

“The people of Taiwan will never accept any attempt by external forces to unilaterally change the cross-Strait status quo. I am calling on the authorities in Beijing, as a responsible major power, to play a positive role in the region and the world, instead of being a source of conflict,” Tsai said.

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