Tag Archives: forces

Israeli forces 'kill Hamas commander during operation in Gaza'

Israeli forces 'kill Hamas commander during operation in Gaza'Israeli commandos and Hamas fighters engaged in a deadly gun battle inside Gaza late on Sunday, straining hopes that the two sides were close to reaching a ceasefire agreement. One Israeli officer and seven Palestinians were killed in the fighting near Khan Younes in the southern Gaza Strip. The initial gun fight was followed by heavy Israeli air strikes and a volley of Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza. Hamas, the Islamist militant group which controls Gaza, said the shooting broke out when an Israeli “undercover force” infiltrated the strip and assassinated Nour Baraka, a 37-year-old senior Hamas commander.        The Israeli raiding party entered Gaza in a civilian vehicle and was attacked by Palestinian fighters after carrying out the killing, Hamas said. Israeli aircraft began launching strikes to cover the commandos’ retreat out of Gaza, according to Hamas.  The Israeli military did not give details of the operation but denied  that the commandos were in Gaza to kill or kidnap a Hamas commander. Israeli media reported it was more likely a botched intelligence gathering operation.   Israel launched heavy air strikes after the shooting began Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo “During an Israeli Defence Forces special forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved. At this incident an IDF officer was killed and an additional officer was moderately wounded,” the military said in a statement.  Residents of southern Gaza reported heavy Israeli airstrikes at around 9pm on Sunday. The Israeli military said at least 17 rockets were fired from Gaza in the hours that followed. By Monday morning the situation appeared quiet.  The spasm of serious violence was surprising because Israel and Hamas appeared to be nearing an agreement, in which Israel would ease its decade-long blockade of Gaza in return for Hamas keeping the situation quiet. In recent weeks, Gaza’s dire electricity shortages have eased after Israel allowed Qatar to begin paying for power plant fuel. Israel also allowed Qatar to deliver a suitcase with $ 15 million (£11.6 million) in cash to help pay salaries to civil servants inside Gaza.    Just hours before the fighting broke out, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, defended the Qatari deal and said it had been endorsed by the Israeli cabinet as a way of easing Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and lowering the chances of conflict.   “I am doing everything I can to avoid an unnecessary war,” he said.  The fighting appeared to take the Israeli government by surprise and led Mr Netanyahu to cut short a trip to France, where he had been marking the centenary of the end of the First World War alongside fellow world leaders.  Both Israel and Hamas have said they do not want another war and the UN will be hoping that the fighting on Sunday night will not derail what appeared to be promising steps toward a longterm ceasefire.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris  Credit: AFP Israel cancelled school for children living near the Gaza border on Monday and shut down the train line between Ashkelon and Sderot as a precaution. Some of the Palestinian rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.  Tal Russo, a retired Israeli general, said Israeli forces were likely carrying out an intelligence-gathering operation inside Gaza and were caught, rather than trying to assassinate Hamas leaders.  “Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region. This action – an operation that was apparently exposed – wasn’t an assassination attempt. We have other ways of assassinating people and we know how to do it much more elegantly,” he said, according to the Times of Israel. The Israeli officer killed was identified by the military only as Lieutenant Colonel M, in line with Israel’s practice of not naming its special forces troops.  "I am shocked and saddened at the loss of Lt Col M, the IDF officer killed last night, and praying with all citizens of Israel for the swift recovery of the injured soldier," said Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli president. The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said seven Palestinians had been killed. One of them was Nour Baraka, a commander in the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.  Several of the dead were also Hamas fighters, according to Palestinian media. It was not clear if any civilians had been killed.    Hamas rarely inflicts casualties on Israeli forces and by Monday morning the group was hailing the gun battle as a victory for its side. “Qassam fighters stopped the Israeli aggression east of Khan Younes in a legendary and heroic way,” a spokesman said.  



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Five dead in California wildfire as second blaze forces Malibu evacuation

Five dead in California wildfire as second blaze forces Malibu evacuationA rapidly moving wildfire in Northern California killed five people when flames engulfed their vehicles as they attempted to flee the mountain town of Paradise in one of three infernos raging across the state, authorities said on Friday. Nearly 500 miles (800 km) to the south, a blaze forced the evacuation of the upscale oceanside city of Malibu, home to many celebrities, and threatened the beleaguered town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people this week in a shooting rampage in a bar and dance hall. “The town is devastated, everything is destroyed,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott Mclean, referring to Paradise, which has a population of 26,000 including many retirees.



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After Gaza strikes, Israel threatens Iranian forces in Syria

After Gaza strikes, Israel threatens Iranian forces in SyriaGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian militants ceased rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and relative calm prevailed Saturday afternoon after a night-long exchange of fire that prompted Israeli threats against Iranian forces in Syria.



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Israeli forces kill four Palestinians in Gaza border protest: medics

Israeli forces kill four Palestinians in Gaza border protest: medicsThe Israeli military responded with air strikes at three positions belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, an army statement said. It said 16,000 Palestinians had gathered along the Gaza border and hurled grenades, firebombs and rocks at Israeli troops, who responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire when required. Later, sirens sounded in Israeli towns and communities around the Gaza Strip to warn that militants had launched rockets.



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Revealed: The battle-hardened Spetsnaz Brigade special forces unit that trained Skripal 'hitman'

Revealed: The battle-hardened Spetsnaz Brigade special forces unit that trained Skripal 'hitman'The special forces brigade in which Anatoliy Chepiga served carried out secret missions in Ukraine for which it is believed he was awarded Russia’s highest honour. Colonel Chepiga – the Salisbury nerve agent assassin travelling under the false identity Ruslan Boshirov – had graduated in 2001 from his military academy in far eastern Russia on the Chinese border, 5,000 miles and a five-day train journey from Moscow. Passing out with honours, he was assigned to the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade, stationed in Khabarovsk, again in the far east of Russia and 20 miles from the Chinese border. From there, Col Chepiga served three tours in Chechnya in the brutal second Chechen war. Russia’s Spetsnaz special forces brigades are run by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit of which Sergei Skripal, the target in Salisbury, was also a colonel. Colonel Sergei Skripal also served in Russia’s military intelligence unit Spetsnaz units have a reputation for ruthlessness and are highly regarded by their British equivalents – the SBS and the SAS. The units are highly trained and well-equipped. Its bat-and-globe symbol embodies an ethos for shadowy operations that are not confined to Russian soil. Two Spetsnaz units were based in Chechnya during the second war until they were disbanded in 2008. Salisbury suspects named by British authorities as Ruslan Boshirov (left) and Alexander Petrov Credit: AFP/Getty It is not known what role Col Chepiga played in Chechnya, but he will have emerged battle-hardened amid reports he has received more than 20 separate military awards for his service. A year later in 2009, with the war in Chechnya largely over, Col Chepiga was withdrawn to Moscow. It is there he was given his fake identity, Ruslan Boshirov, by his GRU paymasters. Each Spetsnaz brigade consists of about 1,000 special forces troops. Brigades were deployed in Ukraine in 2014 as Russia began military incursions that led to the annexation of the Crimea and an ongoing war with Ukraine in the east. Read more | Salisbury Novichok poisoning A report on Russian troop movements claimed that the 14th Brigade had been secretly deployed on the eastern border with Ukraine in late 2014, a couple of months before Col Chepiga was given his Hero of the Russian Federation medal. Units of 14th brigade were transferred to southern Russia in August and then moved to Millerovo airport in the Rostov region, close to Ukraine by the autumn.  The 14th brigade was established in 1963 and fought in the war in Afghanistan in the decade from 1979. Sergei Skripal profile Col Skripal served with an airborne regiment in Afghanistan before being recruited by the GRU. The brigade fought in both Chechen wars.



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Delta Fire explodes in Lakehead, California, forces closure of I-5

Delta Fire explodes in Lakehead, California, forces closure of I-5Firefighters rushed to slow the growth of the rapidly growing Delta Fire near Lakehead, California, which has exploded in size to more than 31,000 acres with zero percent containment.



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Fast-growing Northern California wildfire forces evacuations

Fast-growing Northern California wildfire forces evacuationsThe Delta Fire was burning in timber and brush in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in a canyon along the Sacramento River. Wildfires in California have scorched far more ground this year than in 2017, one of the most destructive in the state’s history. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to 4,587 fires that have destroyed 613,710 acres (248,359 hectares), compared with 4,425 fires that destroyed 233,936 acres (94,671 hectares) through the same period in 2017, according to figures from the agency The latest fire spread to 2,000 acres (809 hectares) by Wednesday evening, forcing the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office to evacuate residents along a stretch of Interstate 5 north of the town of Lakehead to the Siskiyou County line, according to the government wildfire tracking website Inciweb.



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Afghan forces search for Taliban fighters after major attack

Afghan forces search for Taliban fighters after major attackAfghan forces launched a clearing operation Friday, searching for Taliban fighters following a major assault on the southeastern city of Ghazni, after US air strikes targeted insurgents trying to overrun the city. Afghan special forces were deployed to Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban centre, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks. Ghazni — less than two hours by road from Kabul — has been under threat from massing Taliban fighters for months, with residents saying the complex nature of the attacks was unprecedented in its scale.



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A New Northern California Wildfire Forces More Evacuations

A New Northern California Wildfire Forces More EvacuationsFirefighters in California found themselves facing a new blaze that erupted Tuesday and drove through a rural area near a national forest



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Fast-spreading California wildfire forces evacuations in Yolo County

Fast-spreading California wildfire forces evacuations in Yolo CountyA fast-growing wildfire that broke out over the weekend in Northern California, fueled by parched lands and high winds, prompted evacuations on Sunday and sent ash spewing over a wide area of the region, officials said. More than 1,200 people were fighting the so-called County Fire, located about 75 miles (120 kms) northeast of San Francisco. The sky turned orange in parts of the San Francisco Bay area due to the blaze, with many residents waking up to a thin coating of ash on windows, cars and lawns.



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