Tag Archives: western

Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western Syria

Islamic State fighters 'evacuate Damascus enclave' as Bashar Assad moves to reclaim western SyriaA war monitor said buses evacuated Islamic State fighters from an enclave south of Damascus on Sunday in a withdrawal deal, though state media denied the report and said the Syrian army was fighting to finish off the insurgents. The recovery of the enclave south of Damascus will mark another milestone in President Bashar al-Assad's war effort, crushing the last besieged rebel enclave in western Syria. Swathes of territory at the borders with Iraq, Turkey and Jordan, however, remain outside state control. Syrian government forces and their allies have been battling to recover the enclave south of Damascus since defeating rebels in eastern Ghouta, also near the capital, in April. The area is centred around the al-Hajar al-Aswad district and the adjoining Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. In a live broadcast, a reporter with Syrian state TV said the Syrian army operations in the Hajar al-Aswad area were nearing their end and insurgent lines were collapsing as columns of smoke rose from the area behind him. Smoke billowing from the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk during regime strikes targeting the Islamic State group in the camp Credit: Stringer/AFP The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said buses had entered the enclave after midnight to take out fighters and their families. They had left towards the Syrian Badia, a sparsely populated expanse of territory east of the capital that extends to the border with Jordan and Iraq, it said. Islamic State militants had torched their offices in the Yarmouk enclave, the Observatory said. Negotiated withdrawals have been a common feature of the Syrian war in recent years as the government, aided by the Russian military and Iran-backed forces, has steadily clawed back territory. The rebels have mostly been given safe passage to northwestern Syria. In the last two months alone, the United Nations says 110,000 people have been evacuated to northwestern Syria and rebel-held areas north of Aleppo. Syrian president Bashar Assad meets Vladimir Putin for talks in Sochi on May 17 Credit: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP The opposition has called it a policy of forced displacement amounting to demographic change to drive out Assad's opponents. The Syrian government has said nobody is forced to leave and those who stay must accept state rule. While Assad has vowed to win back "every inch" of Syria, the map of the conflict suggests a more complicated time ahead from now on. The U.S. military is in much of the east and northeast, which is controlled by Kurdish groups that want autonomy from Damascus. It has used force to defend the territory from pro-Assad forces. Turkey has sent forces into the northwest to counter those same Kurdish groups, carving out a buffer zone where anti-Assad rebels have regrouped. In the southwest, where rebels hold territory at the Israeli and Jordanian border, Assad faces the risk of conflict with Israel, which wants his Iranian-backed allies kept well away from the frontier and has mounted air strikes in Syria.



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Storms kill at least 78 in western and northern India

Storms kill at least 78 in western and northern IndiaHail and rain storms knocked down power poles and uprooted trees, killing at least 78 people in northern and western India, government officials said on Thursday. Thirty-three people were killed on Wednesday in the western desert state of Rajasthan and 45 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, authorities said. “We experienced a fierce storm, with an unusually high wind speed, and as a result, 33 people died in Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan,” Hemant Gera, responsible for relief and disaster management in Rajasthan, told Reuters by phone from Jaipur, the state capital.



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Putin: Further Western strikes on Syria will lead to chaos -agencies

Putin: Further Western strikes on Syria will lead to chaos -agenciesRussian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Sunday that further Western missile strikes on Syria would lead to chaos in international relations, Russian news agencies cited the Kremlin as saying. Putin and Rouhani spoke by phone to discuss the situation in Syria after the United States, France and Britain launched missile strikes on the country over a suspected poison gas attack.



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Western attack on Syria seen as 'limited' if now over: senior pro-Assad official

Western attack on Syria seen as 'limited' if now over: senior pro-Assad officialA U.S.-led attack on Syria will be seen as limited if it is now over and there is no second round of strikes, said a senior official in the regional alliance that has supported President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war. “If it is finished, and there is no second round, it will be considered limited,” the official told Reuters. Syrian state TV said the attack was being confronted by the pro-Damascus “anti-terror axis”, a phrase suggesting that Assad’s foreign allies, Iran and Russia, may be helping to defend Syria.



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Factbox: Deadly attacks in Western Europe

Factbox: Deadly attacks in Western Europe(Reuters) – Following are some of the deadly attacks in Western Europe in recent years: April 7, 2018 – A man drives a van into a group of people sitting outside a restaurant in the old city center of Muenster in Germany, killing several of them before taking his own life, police say, a year to the day after the Stockholm truck attack. Aug. 17, 2017 – A van ploughs into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, killing at least 13 people, a regional official says, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack. June 3, 2017 – Three attackers ram a van into pedestrians on London Bridge then stab revelers in nearby bars, killing eight people and injuring at least 48.



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Russia Promises Retaliation After Western Expulsions

Russia Promises Retaliation After Western ExpulsionsMoscow even turns to Twitter to ask which consulate to close.



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Shark alert as more than 130 beached whales die in Western Australia

Shark alert as more than 130 beached whales die in Western AustraliaAt least 135 short-finned pilot whales died after a mass beaching in Western Australia – with fears the carcasses will attract sharks – as rescuers worked to herd those still alive back out to sea. The stranding of 150 whales at Hamelin Bay, around 195 miles south of Perth, was spotted by a commercial fisherman at daybreak. Locals and tourists are being warned to stay out of the water due to a likely increase in sharks attracted by the dead whales. Western Australia state’s Parks and Wildlife Service said its staff were on site and assessing the health and well-being of the 15 still alive. "Most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived," said incident controller Jeremy Chick who added they they were awaiting support and equipment to help in a rescue attempt." Stranded whales on the beach at Hamelin Bay Credit: REUTERS He added: "The strength of the animals and the windy and possibly wet weather conditions will affect when and where we attempt to move them out to sea. "The main objectives are to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers as well as the whales’ greatest chance of survival." Melissa Lay, manager at the Hamelin Bay Holiday Park, told Reuters on the phone that it was the second masse stranding she had witnessed during her 15 years in the area. "There are some that are still alive but barely," Lay said. "The last time it happened, none survived." Locals and tourists were being warned to stay out of the water due to a likely increase in sharks attracted by the dead whales. People there for the peak salmon fishing season were also advised to stay out of the shallows. When they beach, short-finned pilot whales do so en masse as they travel in their hundreds Credit: Reuters "It is possible the dead and dying animals will act as an attractant, which could lead to sharks coming close into shore along this stretch of coast," the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said in a statement. It added: "While it's not uncommon for sharks to be present off the Western Australian coast throughout the year, people should exercise additional caution until the stranding incident is resolved." Short-finned pilot whales inhabit tropical and subtropical waters and are often seen in the hundreds and when they beach, it is usually en masse. The stranding happened at Hamelin Bay, around 200 miles south of Perth The reason why mass strandings occur is still unknown. There are many theories including the shape of the coastline being a contributing factor, whales responding to distress calls from other whales, or groups following a leader into shore. The largest mass stranding in Australia’s west was at Dunsborough in 1996 when 320 long-finned pilot whales came ashore. All but 20 survived.



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Why aren't Western sanctions stopping Putin?

Why aren't Western sanctions stopping Putin?Western countries keep heaping sanctions on Russia and on cronies of President Vladimir Putin, but they haven’t deterred him from military aggression, cyberattacks and assassinations. Why not?



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Kim Jong-Un Traveled With a Fake Passport to Apply for Western Visas: Report

Kim Jong-Un Traveled With a Fake Passport to Apply for Western Visas: ReportKim Jong-Un used an illegally obtained Brazilian passport to apply for visas to western countries in the 1990s, according to a report



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Russia criticizes Western pressure to turn away from Moscow

Russia criticizes Western pressure to turn away from MoscowBELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday criticized Western policies toward his country, blasting the European Union for failing to maintain good relations with Moscow despite the divisions over Ukraine and many other issues.



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