Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Syrian opposition coalition dissolves interim government <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The Western-backed National Coalition of Syrian opposition members said on Tuesday it had voted to force out its &quot;interim government&quot; and form a new one within a month.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Attempts to form a viable government-in-exile for Syria&#39;s opposition have been hamstrung by rivalries between its backers and among its members as well as by its inability to establish itself inside Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The National Coalition is designated as the main body representing the opposition by the United States and other major powers but it has little influence over rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The group said in a statement on Tuesday it was dissolving its interim cabinet to &quot;create new ground for work on the basis of moving the government into the interior as soon as possible, and employing Syrian revolutionary capabilities&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The coalition&#39;s interim Prime Minister Ahmed Toumeh and other ministers would continue as caretakers until the new government was formed, it said. Nominations would be open for two weeks and a new government formed within 30 days.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The dissolution of the government comes two weeks after the group elected Hadi al-Bahra, a US-trained industrial engineer, to replace its president, Ahmad Jarba, after he served his maximum two six-month terms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both Bahra and Jarba have close ties to Saudi Arabia, one of the main backers of the rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bahra had also been chief negotiator at US and Russian-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland, which stalled after two rounds in January and February.</div> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:42:00 +0000 Reuters 2437659 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/01/20/156431/syrian_opposition.jpg Israel says soldier missing, presumed dead <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, dashing hopes of a pause in the fighting, as the military said one of its soldiers was missing, presumed dead, following clashes with Hamas Islamists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>International efforts to end the 15-day conflict gathered pace, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holding talks in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon due to arrive in Israel later in the day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, there was no sign of any let-up in the fighting around Gaza, with plumes of black smoke spiraling into the sky, and Israeli shells raining down on the coastal enclave.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hamas and its allies fired a barrage of rockets into southern and central Israel, triggering sirens in Tel Aviv, with one missile striking a nearby town, lightly injuring two people, officials said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile fire out of Gaza by Hamas, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military said it had identified the remains of six soldiers killed in an attack on their armored vehicle inside Gaza on Sunday. It had already announced that seven died in the strike and said it was trying to identify the seventh.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sparking widespread celebrations in Gaza, Hamas&#39;s armed wing announced on Sunday that it had captured a soldier in Sunday&#39;s clashes. It displayed a photo ID and army serial number of the man, but did not show any image of him in their hands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military believes it was impossible for anyone to have survived the hit on the army APC.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel has agreed to mass releases of Palestinian prisoners in the past to secure the freedom of captured soldiers, or even for the return of the bodies of its citizens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With the conflict entering its third week, the Palestinian death toll rose to almost 550, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Israeli military said it had killed 183 militants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israel&#39;s casualties also mounted, with the military announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of army fatalities to 27 - almost three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza in a 2008-2009 war.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Palestinian militants in Gaza said they had agreed to a five-hour ceasefire on Tuesday to allow Gazan residents to leave their homes and seek vital supplies, and accused Israel of rejecting the proposal. Israeli officials did not comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Violence spread to the nearby West Bank, where medics said soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man while dispersing stone-throwing protesters. A Palestinian shot and seriously wounded an Israeli in the Nablus area on Tuesday.</div> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:49:00 +0000 Reuters 2437650 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/07/21/484151/israeli_ground_offensive.jpg 'Industrial scale' tampering of evidence at MH17 site: Australia <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Evidence has been tampered with on an &quot;industrial scale&quot; at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday, calling it &quot;a cover-up&quot;.</p><p>Abbott, whose government was behind a UN Security Council resolution that Monday unanimously demanded full access to the site in rebel-held east Ukraine, admitted progress had been made but said more needed to be done.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1350">&quot;There is still a long, long way to go,&quot; he told a press conference of the quest to repatriate the bodies of the dead Australians and bring those responsible for the 298 killed to justice.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1352">&quot;After the crime comes the cover-up,&quot; he added.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1354">&quot;What we have seen is evidence tampering on an industrial scale. That has to stop.&quot;</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1356">His comments came as pro-Russian separatists, who are accused of shooting down the plane, finally conceded to a furious international clamour for the bodies and the jet&#39;s black boxes to be handed over to international investigators.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1358">It followed days of bitter wrangling in which rebels hampered experts from gaining access to the site and were accused of tampering with evidence.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1361">&quot;This site has been trampled from the beginning and we haven&#39;t just seen all sorts of random individuals roaming around the site, picking over the remains, picking over the wreckage. We&#39;ve seen heavy equipment coming onto the site,&quot; Abbott said.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1363">&quot;The more recent footage suggests it&#39;s more like a building demolition. And this again is unacceptable.&quot;</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1365">- Securing the site -</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1367">He said the crash site must be secured and suggested it should be policed by those countries whose citizens had been killed in the disaster.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1375">&quot;Obviously there does need to be security for the site and I would think that the security for the site would best be provided by the countries that have been so wronged here,&quot; he said.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_613">In recent days Abbott had been particularly scathing in his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin for failing to intervene, but admitted he now appeared to be acting following intense international pressure.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1385">&quot;The point I made 24 hours ago is that President Putin had said all the right things. I then went on to say the challenge is to hold him to his word,&quot; he said.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_1387">&quot;And to President Putin&#39;s credit, he has thus far been as good as his word. I give him credit for being as good as his word over the last 24 hours.&quot;</p><p>A train carrying the remains of 280 people killed in the disaster was finally allowed to leave a rebel-held region in eastern Ukraine Tuesday as the militants declared a truce around the crash site.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_700">The corpses are due in the Ukrainian government-controlled city of Kharkiv before being put on planes, including an Australian C-17 Globemaster, to the Netherlands, where the doomed flight to Kuala Lumpur originated.</p><p>Abbott said the &quot;painstaking and methodical process&quot; of identifying the victims could take weeks, a process he acknowledged would be frustrating but important to get right.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1406017909610_616">&quot;It would be terrible to compound families&#39; grief by risking the misidentification of their loved ones,&quot; he said, adding that Australia&#39;s Operation Bring Them Home was being coordinated from Ukraine by former Defence Force chief Angus Houston.</p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:40:00 +0000 Reuters 2437647 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/26/484151/pro-russian_checkpoint.jpg Central Africa peace talks open in Congo <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1441">Key players in the Central African conflict launched a fresh round of talks in Brazzaville on Monday to end more than a year of sectarian bloodshed in the impoverished nation.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1444">The three-day forum for reconciliation and political dialogue is chaired by Congo&#39;s President Denis Sassou Nguesso as regional mediator in a crisis that has left thousands of civilians dead and driven more than a million people from their homes.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1446">One of Africa&#39;s poorest countries, CAR has been in crisis since the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March 2013 coup, with months of atrocities by rebels gone rogue sparking reprisal attacks by Christian vigilantes.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1448">Backed by a contact group bringing together some 30 countries and organisations, the latest talks aim to produce an accord by Wednesday on ending the violence, disarming fighters and setting up a new framework for political transition.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1450">That would pave the way for a hoped-for national reconciliation council to take place in Bangui in October.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1489">Some 170 Central African officials are expected in Brazzaville, including members of transitional President Catherine Samba Panza&#39;s government, lawmakers, envoys from armed groups, political parties and civil society.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1504">But several political and religious leaders in CAR have boycotted the talks in Brazzaville, after calling for them to be held at home.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1506">Divisions within the mainly Muslim Seleka and Christian anti-balaka vigilante groups also meant they struggled to designate their negotiators for the talks.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1508">Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa director at the International Crisis Group, warned that the lack of fully representative envoys and the short time allocated for the talks could hamper their chance of success.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1510">Previous peace summits held in Gabon or Chad have produced no tangible results in efforts to end the conflict.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1512">French peacekeepers intervened in the former colony in December last year, along with a multinational force raised by the African Union, amid fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.</p><p id="yui_3_16_0_1_1405944380675_1514">They are to be joined in coming months by a UN peacekeeping force of some 2,500 troops.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:15:00 +0000 AFP 2437636 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/07/21/94/former_members_of_the_central_african_republic_seleka_rebels_drive_near_a_convoy_of_chadian_soldiers_unseen_leaving_the_capital_bangui_on_april_4_2014.jpg