EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

June 22, 2014

Sunni fighters seize 3 Iraqi towns

(Continued)

De Blasio’s son, Dante, was bare-chested and painted blue.

Dante and Chiara were chosen King Neptune and Queen Mermaid of the parade.

Putin backs Ukraine cease-fire

KIEV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support yesterday for Ukraine’s unilateral cease-fire in its battle against pro-Russian separatists and appealed to both sides to halt all military operations.

But he warned that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s blueprint for peace would not be viable without action to start peace negotiations.

The qualified Russian backing for Poroshenko’s effort to halt the conflict was another in a series of shifting Kremlin moves and statements that leave unclear the level of Moscow’s commitment to de-escalating the conflict.

Putin’s conciliatory words came on the same day he ordered large-scale military exercises that NATO criticized as likely to raise tensions. U.S. officials also accused Russian troops of moving back into positions near the border with Ukraine’s troubled east.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin “calls on the opposing sides to halt any military activities and sit down at the negotiating table.”

Defense in Blackwater case cries foul

WASHINGTON — Defense lawyers for the ex-Blackwater security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqis in Baghdad nearly seven years ago are raising the possibility that prosecution witnesses, with direction from Iraqi law enforcement investigators, have orchestrated their stories.

The defense has been bedeviled by the fact that no one has come forward to support its self-defense theory — that the guards acted because they were under attack.

The most prevalent explanation since the shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, is that there were no incoming shots.

The carnage at Nisoor Square turned out to be the darkest episode of contractor violence during the war and inflamed anti-American feelings around the world. The trial, which began June 11 and is expected to last months, could feature the largest group of foreign witnesses ever to travel to the U.S. to participate in a criminal trial, according to the Justice Department.

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