A Syrian government air strike killed commanders of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor on Thursday, including Syrians, Arabs and foreigners, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said. Syrian state TV reported that the army "eliminated more than 10 terrorists" in an attack east of Deir al-Zor airport, including two men it named as Islamic State leaders in the province, and destroyed 14 armored vehicles. The Observatory, which says it gathers information from all sides in the Syrian conflict, reported that Syrian war planes had struck a building used as a headquarters by Islamic State while a meeting of its commanders was underway.
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Thursday the bloc was seeking to fill its gas storage facilities and de-escalate a row between Ukraine and Russia in order to safeguard its own gas shipments from Russia in the 2014/15 winter. Ukraine warned Europe on Wednesday Russia could cut off gas to the continent this winter, but Moscow said the supplies would continue regardless of the political situation. Oettinger told Germany's ARD television diplomacy to defuse tensions between Kiev and Moscow was of the highest importance. "We need a solution that prevents an escalation between Ukraine and Russia," he said.
East Ukrainian pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said serving Russian soldiers, on leave from their posts, are fighting Ukrainian troops alongside the rebels, Russian state television reported. "Among us are fighting serving soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom," said Zakharchenko in an interview posted on Vesti.ru, the Internet site of a Russian state television station.