Tag Archives: fears

Pentagon fears dangers of 'risky flying' by Russian pilots in Syria

Pentagon fears dangers of 'risky flying' by Russian pilots in Syria  The Pentagon is voicing growing alarm that the risky flying of Russian pilots in Syria could lead to a mishap – or even the nightmare scenario of a US jet shooting down a Russian warplane. Defense officials this week highlighted several recent close calls with Russian planes, including one Wednesday, when a pair of US F-22s intercepted two Russian jets over a part of Syria in which the Pentagon says they are not meant to be operating. The uptick in incidents comes as remaining operations by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria have shrunk down to an area of only about 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) around Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, by the Iraq border. Coalition forces are giving air support to local Kurd and Syrian Arab partner troops on the ground as they root out remaining IS fighters east of the Euphrates River. Under a verbal agreement, the Russians, who support President Bashar al-Assad, are supposed to stay to the west. FAQ | Russian strikes in Syria Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart, an Air Force spokesman in the Middle East, outlined a string of instances where Russian fighter jets flew east of the Euphrates without notifying the coalition. On November 15, two US A-10 Warthog ground-attack planes nearly collided head on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer that passed within only 300 feet (90 meters) of the American planes – a mere whisker in aviation terms. One A-10 pilot had to "aggressively execute a defensive maneuver to avoid a midair collision," Pickart said in an email to AFP. Then on November 17, two F-22s intercepted an armed Russian Su-24 that flew over coalition and partner forces three times and failed to respond to radio call. "The F-22s intercepted this pilot and were in a position to fire," Pickart said. "Luckily our pilots showed restraint, but given the actions of the Su-24 aircraft could have reasonably been interpreted as threatening to US forces, our pilots would have been well within our rights to engage." Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said it was not clear if the incidents were a mistake due to inexperience, or the product of boisterous young pilots "dangerously feeling their oats." Jim Mattis, US Defence Secretary Credit: Matthias Schrader /AP "I don’t expect perfection, but I don’t expect dangerous maneuvers either and so we’ll sort this out," Mattis told Pentagon reporters Friday. "Right now, I cannot tell you if it’s sloppy airmanship, rambunctious pilots or people who are trying to do something that is very unwise." Since Moscow entered the Syria war in late 2015, Russia and the United States have been using a special "deconfliction" hotline to communicate about operations occurring in similar locations. Officials use the line constantly. A shootdown of a Russian jet, or a midair collision, could suddenly and dramatically shift the stakes in the knotted Syria conflict and open the door to a retaliatory measures by the Russians. "The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces," Pickart said. "We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians – our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them." At one point during Wednesday’s incident, the US F-22 Raptor stealth fighters deployed chaff and flares to convince the Russian Su-25s to leave the area, and one US pilot had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders contacted Russian officers on a special hotline to try to calm the situation and avert a "strategic miscalculation," Pahon said. More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, and millions have been displaced.  



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Trump's aides leave Russia out of intelligence briefings over fears it will upset him

Trump's aides leave Russia out of intelligence briefings over fears it will upset himWhite House officials have claimed they purposefully leave information on Russian interference out of Donald Trump’s daily briefings for fear it will upset him. Current and former administration officials told the Washington Post they frequently plan the President’s daily brief (PDB,) around his suspected emotional reactions. “If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference – that takes the PDB off the rails,” a former senior US intelligence official told the Post.



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California wildfires: Fears for avocado harvest as fires devastate top fruit-growing region

California wildfires: Fears for avocado harvest as fires devastate top fruit-growing regionWildfires in southern California have decimated a large area of the region’s famed avocado crop. Experts said even those farms that were not directly impacted by the blaze may have suffered devastating losses due to the hot, dry Santa Ana winds that blow out of the California desert, knocking avocados from the trees with gusts up to 80 miles per hour. “A lot of the fruit everybody was looking forward to harvesting next year is laying on the ground,” said John Krist, chief executive of the Ventura County Farm Bureau.



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Another Body Found Amid Serial Killer Fears in Florida Neighborhood

Another Body Found Amid Serial Killer Fears in Florida NeighborhoodTampa police blockaded a neighborhood and searched with a SWAT team and dogs for a possible serial killer Tuesday after a fourth person was shot dead for no apparent reason.



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Australian academic's book pulled over China backlash fears

Australian academic's book pulled over China backlash fearsAn Australian publisher has shelved plans to release a book detailing alleged Chinese interference in the country over fears of legal attacks by Beijing, the author said Monday. Academic Clive Hamilton said his book “Silent Invasion” was pulled by publisher Allen & Unwin last week just as it was about to go to press. The book, which was to be his ninth with the publishing house, included the names of individuals and organisations trying to influence Australian society and politics in China’s interests, Hamilton said.



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Lebanon PM resigns, says fears for his life

Lebanon PM resigns, says fears for his lifeLebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation on Saturday, citing Iran’s “grip” on the country and threats to his life. “I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister,” Hariri said in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network. The two-time premier, whose father Rafik held the same position for years and was assassinated in 2005, accused Iran and its powerful Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah of seeking hegemony in the region.



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Lebanon's prime minister resigns, saying he cannot tolerate Iranian interference and fears assassination 

Lebanon's prime minister resigns, saying he cannot tolerate Iranian interference and fears assassination Lebanon’s prime minister resigned abruptly on Saturday, saying that he was stepping down in protest at Iran’s interference in his country and feared he would be assassinated like his father 12 years ago.  Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation from Saudi Arabia and the move appeared to have been done in coordination with Riyadh, which sees Iran as an arch-rival to be countered across the Middle East.    "The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it,” Mr Hariri said in a televised address.  “Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon.” He also said his life was in danger and he was believed he was being targeted like his father, former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was killed by a massive car bomb in 2005.   “We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri. I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said. Saad al-Hariri's father, Rafik, was assassinated in 2005 Credit: REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir Mr Hariri also lashed out against Hizbollah, the Lebanese militant group which plays a major role in the country’s politics and is strongly supported by Iran.  Hizbollah’s armed wing is considered a terrorist group by the US, UK and most Gulf Arab states and new American sanctions imposed on the group may harm Lebanon’s overall economy. Mr  Hariri said the group’s actions had put Lebanon “in the eye of the storm”.  Mr Hariri had been in the role a little over a year and his resignation plunges Lebanon into uncertainty after what had appeared to be a period of progress in the small Middle East state.  In October, the parliament passed its budget since 2005 and last year it successfully elected a president, ending a standoff which had left Lebanon without a head of state for more than two years.   Under Lebanon’s complicated political power sharing system, the role of prime minister must be held by a Sunni, while the president is Christian and the speaker of the house is a Shia.  Hizbollah plays a major role in Lebanon's politics and its armed wing is beyond the control of the government Michael Aroun, the president, is closely aligned with Hizbollah and Mr Hariri’s resignation may remove one of the few anti-Hizbollah bulwarks inside the Lebanese government.  Mr Hariri announced he was stepping down after a flurry of visits to Saudi Arabia. He travelled to the Sunni kingdom earlier this week and met with the Thamer al-Sabhan, the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs, who takes a hawkish stance against Iranian influence in the region. Mr Sabhan called for the “toppling” of Hizbollah and days before Mr Hariri’s resignation he said he expected “astonishing developments”, suggesting he may have had advance warning of the Lebanese politician’s plans.  Mr Hariri quietly returned to Saudi Arabia later in the week and made his resignation speech from there. Minutes after Mr Hariri’s speech, the Saudi minister tweeted what appeared to be a warning to Iran: “Hands of treachery and aggression must be cut off.” ايدي الغدر والعدوان يجب ان تبتر— ثامر السبهان (@thamersas) November 4, 2017 Iran immediately cast Mr Hariri’s resignation as part of a US-Saudi plan for control in the Middle East.  "Al-Hariri's resignation was done in coordination with Trump and [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman to foment tension in Lebanon and the region,” Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to Iran’s foreign ministry, told the Fars News agency, which is closely linked to the government.  Mr Hariri was born in Saudi Arabia and holds Saudi citizenship.  Saudi Arabia has taken a more aggressive stance against Hizbollah in the last two years, arguing it is an Iranian proxy force that is destabilising the Arab world. Hizbollah’s supporters say it is an organic Lebanese group that rose up to fight against Israel.  While Hizbollah is fighting in Syria in support of the Assad regime, it also maintains large stockpiles of weapons in southern Lebanon pointed at Israel.  Both Israeli and Lebanese fear that an eventual clash between Hizbollah and the Israeli military is almost inevitable and likely to be bloodier than the 2006 war, which killed around 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 44 Israeli civilians. 



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Lebanon PM resigns, says fears for his life

Lebanon PM resigns, says fears for his lifeLebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation Saturday, citing Iran’s “grip” on the country and threats to his life. “I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister,” he said in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network. “I felt what was being covertly plotted to target my life,” Hariri said.



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Dozens of Packaged Vegetable Products Recalled Amid Listeria Fears

Dozens of Packaged Vegetable Products Recalled Amid Listeria FearsIt affects more than 30 products



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This Is the One Picture All of North Korea Fears Most

This Is the One Picture All of North Korea Fears MostAir power destroyed the DPRK in the 1950s. North Korea actually repaired the war damage faster than South Korea, which had been far less damaged during the war. As tensions between North Korea and the United States reach a fever pitch, it’s worth remembering the origins of the hostility: the Korean War.



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