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News Wrap: UN investigators accuse Syrian government of additional poison gas attacks

August 27, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
In our news wrap Wednesday, an independent commission announced that there’s evidence that the Syrian military used chlorine gas at least eight times in April against villages in the northern part of the country -- territory where Islamic State fighters now hold control. Also, residents of Gaza streamed back to communities destroyed during fighting with Israel.
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GWEN IFILL: Pro-Russian rebel forces opened a new front in Ukraine today, fighting their way into a key southeastern town. Novoazovsk lies in a strategic location astride the road that links Russia to Crimea. Up to now, fighting had not reached that far south.

Ukraine also reported more Russian soldiers and armored vehicles have crossed the border. The State Department said it appears a — quote — “Russian-directed counteroffensive” is under way in support of Ukrainian rebels.

United Nations investigators are once again accusing the Syrian government of poison gas attacks against its own people. An independent commission said today there’s evidence the Syrian military used chlorine gas at least eight times in April. The targets were villages in the north where Islamic State fighters now have control.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared victory today in the latest war in Gaza. More than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis died before a cease-fire took effect last night.

Netanyahu spoke today at a news conference in Jerusalem.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter): With the establishment of the cease-fire, I can say that there has been a huge military achievement here and also a political achievement for the state of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and didn’t get any of the demands they made as a condition for the cease-fire, not even one.

GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, Gazans streamed back to communities reduced to rubble by seven weeks of fighting. Thousands of homes were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving many people weary after the third round of fighting since 2007.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned today the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will get worse. Dr. Tom Frieden spoke during a visit to Liberia. Meanwhile, security forces there fired live rounds at a crowd trying to break a quarantine on their neighborhood. At least four people were hurt. The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,400 people so far.

President Obama will push for an international climate accord that doesn’t require Senate approval. A White House spokesman confirmed the new strategy today. He said the accord would — quote — “name and shame” countries that fail to reduce fossil fuel emissions, but it wouldn’t be legally binding. Republicans and Democrats have said there’s no way a formal treaty will get through the Senate.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, faces preliminary charges of negligence in a French corruption scandal. The announcement involves her former role as France’s finance minister in awarding $500 million to a businessman who sued a state-owned bank. Lagarde says the accusations are without basis.

In economic news, the Congressional Budget Office projected economic growth at just 1.5 percent this year. And Wall Street had a lackluster day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 15 points to close at 17,122. The Nasdaq slipped a point to close at 4,569 and the S&P 500 added a fraction to stay above 2,000.