In our news wrap Friday, Russia extended the “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo for a third day, after the United Nations said that planned evacuations of the rebel-held Syrian city had not actually begun. The UN blamed a lack of security guarantees from both warring sides for the delay. Also, in Iraq, Islamic State militants launched attacks in and around the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 13.
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In the day's other news: Russia extended a pause in fighting in Aleppo, Syria, for a third day, to allow people to receive aid, that after the U.N. said planned evacuations of the rebel-held east were halted, due to a lack of security guarantees from the warring sides.
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting in Geneva, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights again denounced Russian and Syrian airstrikes.
ZEID BIN RA'AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties, and these violations constitute war crimes. And if knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against civilians, they constitute crimes against humanity.
Separately, the United Nations set up a special inquiry today to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Aleppo.
In Iraq, Islamic State militants launched attacks of their own today in and around the northern city of Kirkuk. Suicide bombers stormed a power plant, killing 13 workers, including four Iranians. Explosions and gunfire echoed throughout that area for hours.
The assault was apparently aimed at diverting Iraqi and Kurdish forces away from their massive offensive in the ISIS-held city of Mosul. A passenger train derailed in the Central African country of Cameroon today, killing at least 55 people and injuring nearly 600 more. Some 1,300 people were on board, more than twice the normal load. First-responders struggled to pull mud-soaked victims from the wreckage. Heavy rains had caused several roads in the area to collapse.
Back in this country, a series of cyber-attacks made dozens of popular Web sites inaccessible today, from Twitter to the music streaming site Spotify. The hack targeted the New Hampshire-based Internet infrastructure provider Dyn. The attacks were launched from devices infected with malware from millions of I.P. addresses around the world. The FBI is still working to determine who's behind the hack.
The president of the Philippines has clarified comments he made yesterday about a — quote — "separation" from the United States. Rodrigo Duterte says he's not cutting ties with the U.S., but rather meant that the Philippines — quote — "need not dovetail the foreign policy of America."
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed concern about the leader's recent pronouncements.
JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:
We have seen too many troubling public statements from President Duterte over the last several months. And the frequency of that rhetoric has added an element of unnecessary uncertainty into our relationship that doesn't advance the interests of either country.
The U.S. and the Philippines have been allies for 70 years.
A U.S. Navy warship sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea today, drawing a stern rebuke from China. The USS Decatur drew close to the Paracel Islands, one of the territories contested by China and its neighbors, before two Chinese ships warned it to leave. China's Defense Ministry called the move illegal and provocative.
And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 16 points to close at 18145. The Nasdaq rose 15 points, and the S&P 500 slipped less than a point. For the week, all three indexes gained a fraction of a percent.