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AP Top News at 2:07 p.m. EDT

Obama again faces tug of military action in Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) - For three years, President Barack Obama has resisted the pull of potential U.S. military action in Syria. He has held firm even as the civil war's death toll climbed toward 200,000, the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians and Islamic State militants strengthened amid the chaos.


Russian aid trucks leave; highlight dire needs
DONETSK, Russia (AP) - Hundreds of Russian aid trucks returned home from rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Saturday, highlighting a dire need for long-term assistance to the region where homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by months of fighting. Ahead of a much-anticipated meeting on Tuesday between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Kiev with Ukrainian officials and expressed hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.


Airlines on alert as eruption begins in Iceland
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) - Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano began erupting Saturday under the ice of Europe's largest glacier, prompting the country to close the airspace over the volcano. Thousands of small earthquakes have rattled the volcano, located deep beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, in the last week. Seismic data indicated that magma from the volcano was melting ice beneath the glacier's Dyngjujokull icecap, Meteorological Office vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer said.


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Israeli airstrike collapses Gaza apartment tower
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a 12-story apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday, collapsing the building, sending a huge fireball into the sky and wounding at least 22 people, including 11 children, witnesses and Palestinian officials said. Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes against Gaza in nearly seven weeks of fighting with Hamas, but Saturday's strike marked the first time an entire high-rise was toppled.


Ferguson residents struggling with daily life
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Life in this working-class St. Louis suburb of modest brick homes and low-rise apartments hasn't been the same since Angelia Dickens' son tearfully told her, "The police shot a boy." Since that news two weeks ago, she has been afraid to leave her apartment at night as protesters clash with police in sometimes violent confrontations. She's stopped going to her job at a call center after it took two hours to navigate police barricades and street closings to get home.


Bombings kill 30 in Iraq after Sunni mosque attack
BAGHDAD (AP) - Bombings in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk killed at least 30 people in Iraq on Saturday as the government investigated a deadly attack on a Sunni mosque the day before that has heightened sectarian tensions amid a fragile political transition. In oil-rich Kirkuk, long disputed by Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government, three bombs went off in a crowded commercial district, killing 19 people and wounding another 112, Kirkuk deputy police chief Tarhan Abdel-Rahman said.


Thousands turn out for rally over chokehold death
NEW YORK (AP) - Thousands of people expressing grief, anger and hope for a better future marched through Staten Island on Saturday to protest the chokehold death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. The afternoon rally and march was led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and relatives of Eric Garner, who died July 17 after a New York Police Department officer took him to the ground with a banned tactic captured on a widely circulated video.


As evangelist opens US crusade, zeal and questions
MIAMI (AP) - By the time the Rev. Reinhard Bonnke edges toward the stage, anticipation in the thundering arena is swelling. The crowd of thousands has been told of his decades of preaching in Africa, the tens of millions of souls he has saved, the countless healings for which he has been a conduit and the modern-day Lazarus he saw risen. The floor is vibrating with the thumping of bass, fog blows into the air, sleek videos play on huge screens, and each speaker who comes to the microphone stokes the fires of excitement. Great things are coming. Anything is possible. Miracles will happen.


Spirits, prayers mark hunt for Myanmar's lost bell
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Divers stand on the edge of a small wooden fishing boat gazing at the murky, choppy waters below. After receiving blessings from Buddhist monks, they lower their masks and plunge one-by-one into the mighty Yangon River, clinging to garden hoses that will act as primitive breathing devices during their dizzying descent into darkness. From the shoreline, thousands of spectators look on, some peering through borrowed binoculars, praying the men will find what other salvage crews have not: The world's largest copper bell, believed to have been lying deep beneath the riverbed for more than four centuries.


Phelps wins gold, Ledecky breaks 400 world record
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - The second coming of Michael Phelps gained momentum with another gold medal at the Pan Pacific championships on a night when U.S. teenager Katie Ledecky set yet another world record. The old and the new faces of world swimming delivered on expectations Saturday, with 29-year-old Phelps following up on his relay gold by winning his first individual title since returning to international competition following 1 1/2 years in retirement. The most decorated Olympian in history won the 100-meter butterfly in 51.29 seconds, edging long-time U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte.