French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that opposition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq should have more Western support, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not be an ally against jihadists. Assad is not a partner in the struggle against terrorism," he said in a speech. "There is no choice to be made between two barbarisms." In a text provided before a speech to an annual conference of French ambassadors, Hollande also said: "To fight Islamic State, the international community must also arm opposition forces who are fighting it." Syrian rebel forces have been fighting Assad for more than three years with political backing from the West in a war that has cost 190,000 lives.
The World Health Organization said Thursday it aimed to reverse the spread of Ebola within three months, but warned that the caseload in West Africa's epidemic could eventually top 20,000. "It acknowledges that the aggregate case load of (Ebola) could exceed 20,000 over the course of this emergency," it added.
East Ukrainian pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said serving Russian soldiers, on leave from their posts, are fighting Ukrainian troops alongside the rebels, Russian state television reported. "Among us are fighting serving soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom," said Zakharchenko in an interview posted on Vesti.ru, the Internet site of a Russian state television station.
Ukrainian President Poroshenko said on Thursday Russian forces had invaded Ukraine and he called an urgent meeting of the Ukraine's security and defense council to decide the next steps to take in the crisis. "I made the decision to cancel a working visit to the Republic of Turkey in connection with the rapidly deteriorating situation in Donetsk region, in particular in Amvrosiyivka and Starobesheve, as an invasion of Russian forces has taken place," he said in a statement on the presidential website. Writing by Alessandra Prentice;
By Anton Zverev DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Pro-Moscow rebel forces in Ukraine gained a foothold on the Sea of Azov on Thursday and their objective is to fight their way down the coast to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the leader of the main separatist entity said. Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told Reuters in an interview that about 3,000 Russian volunteers were serving in the rebel ranks. "Today we reached the Sea of Azov, the shore, and the process of liberating our land, which is temporarily occupied by the Ukrainian authorities, will keep going further and further," Zakharchenko said in the city of Donetsk, the main rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine.