US journalist released from Syria 'overwhelmed with emotion'

A US journalist released earlier this week after almost two years of imprisonment in Syria said he was "overwhelmed with emotion" because of the attention he has received upon returning home.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, was captured in 2012 by Nusra Front and was only released on Sunday.

He said: "I suddenly remember how good the American people are, and what kindness they have in their hearts."

Meanwhile, Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, who is suspected of fighting with Islamic State militants operating in Iraq and Syria, has been killed in the Middle East, a US security official has said.

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UN confirms US journalist handed over to peacekeepers

A spokesperson from the UN has confirmed it facilitated the handover of US journalist Theo Curtis, who was held in Syria for two years by an al Qaeda-linked group.

In a statement, the UN spokesperson said: "He was handed over to UN peacekeepers in Al Rafid village, Quneitra, the Golan Heights, at 6:40 p.m. (local time) on 24 August 2014. After receiving a medical check-up, Mr. Curtis was handed over to representatives of his government."

Kerry 'relieved and grateful' over US journalist release

The US reached out to a dozen countries over the past two years to help secure the release of American journalist Theo Curtis, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said. In a statement, he added:

Particularly after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis coming home after so much time held in the clutches of Jabhat Al-Nusrah.

For two years, this young American has been separated from his family. Finally he is returning home. Theo's mother, whom we've known from Massachusetts and with whom we've worked during this horrific period, simply refused to give up and has worked indefatigably to keep hope alive that this day could become a reality.

– John Kerry, US Secretary of State


Islamic State fighters 'capture major Syrian airbase'

Islamic State fighters have captured a major military airbase in north eastern Syria, according to the Associated Press. It eliminates the last government-held outpost in a province dominated by the extremist group, activists and state media said.

A damaged ambulance is parked in front of the National Hospital of al-Tabqa Credit: Reuters

After several failed efforts to breach Tabqa air field located some 25 miles from the extremists' stronghold in Raqqa in recent days, Islamic State fighters managed to punch through and storm the air field, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said

"Some of the Syrian regime troops pulled out, and now the Islamic State is in full control of Tabqa," said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. "This makes Raqqa province the first to fully fall out of government hands."


Bombings across Iraq kill at least 35 people

Bombings across Iraq killed at least 35 people in attacks that appeared to be revenge for an assault on a Sunni mosque that has deepened sectarian conflict.

A bomb exploded in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, which has enjoyed a relative stability.

Kurdish security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Arbil. Credit: Reuters

Triple car bomb rocks Kirkuk 'killing at least six'

Three bombings that appeared to be targeting Kurdish forces killed six people in the city of Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, security sources said.

In Baghdad, a bomber rammed a vehicle into an intelligence headquarters on Saturday, killing at least eight people, police and medical sources said. Near Tikrit, a suicide bomber driving a military Humvee packed with explosives attacked a gathering of soldiers and Shi'ite militias on Friday night, killing nine.

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