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US-led air strikes in Syria kill 865 people

Air strikes by US-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people - including 50 civilians - since the start of the campaign against Islamic State in September, a group monitoring the war said.

US-led air strikes have helped stop the advance of IS militants. Credit: Reuters

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 746 of the deaths were Islamic State fighters, but suggested that the actual figure could be much higher.

Eight of the civilians were women and children, the group said.

Sixty-eight members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front were also killed.

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Pair jailed by North Korea greeted by families

The US citizens freed from captivity in North Korea have returned to the US today, and have been reunited with their families.

Their departure from North Korea of Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae was through a secret mission by America's intelligence chief James Clapper.

"Thank you all for supporting me, lifting me up, not forgetting me," Mr Bae told reporters. He thanked the North Korean government for letting him come home

US officials did not immediately provide details about the circumstances of the Americans' release, including whether Mr Clapper met Kim or other senior North Korean officials.

The officials insisted the timing was not related to president Barack Obama's imminent trip to China, Burma and Australia.

Freed US citizens land in Washington

An aircraft carrying recently-released US citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller from North Korea has landed at a US military base in Washington State, Reuters have reported.

Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller walked off the plane after it landed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, and each hugged family members on the tarmac.

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Obama 'grateful' for release of prisoners in North Korea

US President Barack Obama said he was "grateful" for the safe return of two Americans held in North Korea, and praised the Direction of National Intelligence James Clapper for his role bringing them home.

It's a wonderful day for them and their families. Obviously we are very grateful for their safe return and I appreciate Director Clapper doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission.

– US president Barack Obama

America thanks partners over US citizen release

The US State Department has moved to thank international partners following the release of American citizens Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller by the North Korean government

Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary. Credit: Reuters

We are grateful to Director of National Intelligence Clapper, who engaged on behalf of the United States in discussions with DPRK authorities about the release of two citizens.

We also want to thank our international partners, especially our Protecting Power, the government of Sweden, for their tireless efforts to help secure the freedom of Mr Bae and Mr Miller.

– US State department statement
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