Israel and Hamas have extended their ceasefire for another five days. This marks the longest pause of the more than month-long assault on Gaza, following two 72-hour ceasefires over the past week. Talks at extending the truce initially appeared to be at an impasse before a last-minute agreement was reached. The ceasefire appears to be holding, despite an initial flare-up of violence from both sides.
The United States says a rescue mission for trapped civilians in northern Iraq is less likely after an assessment team found better conditions than previously thought. The Pentagon made the announcement after a small group — including Marines and Special Forces — visited Mount Sinjar, where thousands of Yazidis have fled attacks by the Islamic State militant group. The U.S. team apparently found thousands of Yazidis, instead of the estimated tens of thousands, and in better condition than had been feared. The Pentagon credited recent humanitarian aid drops and said U.S. airstrikes and advances by Kurdish forces helped break the siege and allowed Yazidis to escape. The news came hours after Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said President Obama is considering a number of options for Mount Sinjar, including the deployment of U.S. forces.
Ben Rhodes: “What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq, but there are a variety of ways in which we can support the safe removal of those people from the mountain.”
The United States now has close to 1,000 military personnel in Iraq and continues to launch airstrikes on Islamic State militants in the north. The United Nations, meanwhile, has elevated Iraq’s humanitarian crisis to a level three, its most dire warning, with more than 1.5 million people displaced.
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, appear to be escalating a crackdown on protests over an officer’s fatal shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. On Wednesday, Ferguson police fired tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs to break up a fifth night of demonstrations. At least 10 people were arrested, including St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been posting video online of the protests and who appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this week. An earlier protest faced a heavy police response, with police in riot gear stationed by a massive armed vehicle in the street.
Protest organizer: “I’m very discouraged. This was supposed to be a peaceful rally, that we wanted peace and unity. We don’t want an adversarial relationship with the police. We want to partner with them to find out what happened and to bring justice for Mike Brown, because that’s what it’s all about. And so, the fact that it had to come to this is very disheartening and disappointing.”
Journalists from The Washington Post and Huffington Post were also arrested and then released without charges last night while reporting on the protest in Ferguson, Missouri. They were detained while filing reports from a McDonald’s restaurant near the protest.
The Ferguson Police Department continues to withhold the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, citing threats on his life. At a news conference, Ferguson Chief of Police Thomas Jackson said the unidentified officer was injured during his confrontation with Michael Brown. Jackson also called on protesters to end night-time demonstrations.
Thomas Jackson, Ferguson chief of police: “He was injured. He’s got — the side of his face is swollen; I’m not sure which side. But he was taken to the hospital and treated for that. We’d like the protesting to end at dark, just because, as you probably know, it’s just been unsafe after dark. It starts getting violent after dark.”
Witnesses say Brown was shot with his arms up as he tried to flee the officer’s fire. On Wednesday, officials confirmed the Justice Department has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. USA Today reports that the Justice Department will also conduct a national review of police tactics in response to the Ferguson shooting and similar incidents nationwide.
As protests continue in Missouri, police in Los Angeles are facing public anger over a shooting of another young African American. Details remain unclear, but family members say 25-year-old Ezell Ford was unarmed and lying on the ground when police shot him dead Monday night. Ford suffered from mental disabilities. His family has announced a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department. A protest on LAPD headquarters has been called for this Sunday.
In Egypt, state forces have killed at least two people in protests marking the one-year anniversary of a massacre of demonstrators opposed to the country’s military coup. A year ago, tens of thousands of people camped out to protest the ouster of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. Over the course of a single day, in what became known as the Rabaa massacre, Egyptian forces killed at least 800 people. To mark the anniversary, hundreds of Morsi supporters have blocked roads and highways in Cairo and Giza.
New figures show the death toll from violence in eastern Ukraine has doubled in the past weeks. The United Nations says around 1,000 people have died since late July as the U.S.-backed Ukraine government steps up fighting with separatist rebels. Around 5,000 people have been wounded. Russia has sent what it calls a massive convoy of humanitarian aid for residents of eastern Ukraine, but the delivery has been held up amidst Ukrainian government accusations that Russia is trying to smuggle in ammunition to the rebels or stage a pretext for an invasion.