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Thursday, Sep 29th

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Canadian jailed in China over spying allegations freed

Kevin GarrattA Canadian citizen who was detained in China for two years over accusations of spying has been freed and has returned to Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he's delighted Kevin Garratt is back in Canada with his family. His return comes just over a week after Trudeau visited China in a bid to improve relations.

Garratt had been indicted by prosecutors in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border where he and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work for North Koreans. He and his wife Julia were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau.

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Truce extended but aid fails to reach besieged Syrians

Syrians get no reliefThe US and Russia have said that a cessation of hostilities in Syria is largely holding and it should be extended by 48 hours, as the UN urged all sides to guarantee the security of an aid convoy, currently held-up along the Turkish border, into Aleppo.

"There was agreement as a whole, despite sporadic reports of violence, the arrangement is holding and violence is significantly lower," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

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US and Israel to sign record military aid deal

Israel to get 38b in arms aidThe United States has agreed a record multi-billion-dollar deal to provide Israel with military assistance for 10 years from 2019, according to US officials.

Following 10 months of frequently tense negotiations, the State Department said on Tuesday that the two allies had reached an agreement, with a signing ceremony planned for Wednesday.

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Syria ceasefire comes into effect under US-Russia deal

Syria cease fireA nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by the United States and Russia began at sundown on Monday, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, but there are concerns about whether it will hold.

Several hours into the ceasefire, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said major conflict zones across the country were quiet.

"Calm is prevailing," said SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman, adding, however, that there had been light shelling by both rebel groups and government forces in the country's southwest.

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At least 20 killed in Bangladesh factory fire

Bangla Desh fireAt least 20 people died in a factory fire after a boiler exploded in a four-story building in Bangladesh on Saturday.

According to CNN, local police chief Harunur Rashid said the explosion caused a fire while employees were inside the building in Tongi near the capital city of Dhaka.

The death toll is expected to rise as hundreds of firefighters attempt to extinguish the fire and 50 people were hospitalized with injuries.

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North Korea's fifth nuclear test prompts U.S. calls for more sanctions

N Korea's fifth nuclear testThe United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the test and said it would begin work immediately on a resolution. The United States, Britain and France pushed the 15-member body to impose new sanctions.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the group to remain united and take action that would "urgently break this accelerating spiral of escalation."

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US, Russia seal Syria cease-fire, new military partnership

Russia and USSR sign pact re SyriaThe United States and Russia early Saturday announced a breakthrough agreement on Syria that foresees a nationwide cease-fire starting on Monday, followed a week later by an unlikely new military partnership targeting the Islamic State and al-Qaida as well as new limits on President Bashar Assad's forces.

After a daylong final negotiating session in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said shortly after midnight Saturday that the plan could reduce violence in Syria and lead to a long-sought political transition, ending more than five years of bloodshed. He called the deal a potential "turning point" in a conflict that has killed as many as 500,000 people, if complied with by Syria's Russian-backed government and U.S.-supported rebel groups.

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