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11:23 P.M. The parents of a U.S. man threatened with beheading by the Islamic State group are pleading with his captors to free him, saying in a video statement Saturday that their son has devoted his life to humanitarian work and aiding Syria's war refugees.
Ed and Paula Kassig's video was released a day after Islamic State's online video threatened to behead 26-year-old Peter Kassig next — following the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning. That video was a heartbreaking development for Kassig's family and friends, who had stayed silent since his capture while working to secure his release.
In the family's video, Ed Kassig says his son, who now goes by the first name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam during his captivity, was captured on Oct. 1, 2013, in Syria, where he was providing aid for Syrians fleeing that country's civil war. He says his son has grown "to love and admire" the Syrian people, after growing up in an Indianapolis family with a long history of humanitarian work and teaching. "Our son was living his life according to that same humanitarian call when he was taken captive," says Ed Kassig, a teacher. (AP) Watch the video
6:58 P.M. Muslim groups across Britain united on Saturday to join Prime Minister David Cameron in condemning the beheading of aid worker Alan Henning by Islamic State insurgents.
Prayers for the 47-year-old taxi driver were said in mosques throughout Britain at the start of the Muslim Id al-Adha festival. Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, called his murder "a despicable and offensive act." (Reuters) Read full story
6:47 P.M. The family of a leading Egyptian activist who has been on hunger strike for more than a month to protest his imprisonment says his health is deteriorating and that he has been transferred to hospital.
The wife of Ahmed Douma — one of the icons of Egypt's 2011 uprising — says he was taken to hospital on Saturday. Nourhan Hefzy posted on her Facebook page a petition signed by more than 30 physicians testifying that he is "risking death." The physicians say Douma suffers severe stomach pains and is frequently vomiting.
Douma, who is serving a three-year sentence for violating a law banning street protests without police permits, started the hunger strike along with scores of other imprisoned activists to protest the law and harsh sentences on violators. (AP)
6:03 P.M. Islamic State fighters stormed a town in Iraq's western Anbar province on Saturday, its latest conquest in the desert region where it has chalked up a string of victories, a military official and people fleeing the scene said.
Islamic State seized the town of Kubaisa two days after the fall of the nearby town of Hit as the group sought to consolidate control in towns west of Anbar's capital Ramadi.
The fall of Kubaisa jeopardizes the strategic Ain al-Asad military base, which allows Iraqi forces to send troops and supplies to defend the Haditha dam further west where a small number of Sunni tribes and government forces are fending off Islamic State forces. (Reuters)
1:03 P.M. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday he would use "all the assets we have" to try to find hostages being held by Islamic State.
Speaking in a broadcast message after the release on Friday of a video showing the decapitated body of British aid worker Alan Henning, Cameron said the whole country was mourning.
"In terms of what we will do, we will use all the assets we have ... to try and find these hostages, to try and help these hostages ... and do everything we can to defeat this organisation which is utterly ruthless, senseless and barbaric in the way it treats people." (Reuters)
12:14 P.M. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding an apology from U.S. Vice President Joe Biden over comments in which he said the Turkish leader had admitted to him that Turkey had allowed foreign fighters to cross into Syria.
Erdogan denied ever saying that and told reporters Saturday that Biden "will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions." (AP)
11:54 A.M. Syrian President Bashar Assad has made a rare public appearance at a mosque in Damascus at the start of a Muslim holiday, a photo posted on the presidency's official Twitter feed on Saturday showed.
Assad is shown seated on the floor of al-Numan bin Bashir mosque in the front row of a group of men in prayers for the Id al-Adha celebration.
Hours earlier, the U.S.-led coalition carried out new air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, reportedly killing as many as 30 fighters in the country's east. (AP and Reuters) Read full story
11:53 A.M. Germany's military plans to expand its engagement in the fight against the Islamic State militant group in northern Iraq, dpa learned Saturday after a briefing of the German parliament's Defense Committee by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Germany is considering the establishment of a military training centre in Erbil, capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan; participation in Iraqi military training; and the dispatch of additional military officers. The Defense Ministry confirmed the plans. (DPA)