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Israeli army says it hit squad placing explosives along Syria border



Israeli army says it hit squad placing explosives along Syria border

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday that it opened fire at, and hit a group of “terrorists,” who were attempting to place an explosive device near the security fence between Israel and Syria.

The army said it “thwarted an attempt by 4 terrorists” to place the explosives.

“Our troops and aircraft fired toward the squad & a hit was identified,” the IDF said in a tweet, adding that they were “ready for any scenario & hold the Syrian regime responsible for all events in Syria.”

“We understand that they are killed,” a senior IDF officer later told dpa, speaking on the four armed men.

An engineering force was in the area and was about to “neutralise” the bomb, he said.

He was unable to say to which organisation the group belonged.

Throughout the week soldiers on lookout posts with a view of the border had been aware of “suspicious” activity and seen men dressed as shepherds approaching the border fence, the officer said.

On Sunday evening, they again spotted suspects approaching the border at around 8 pm (1700 GMT).

At around 11 pm (2000 GMT) they spotted four armed men approaching the fence, placing an explosive device near the fence.

“After they placed the improvised explosive device, we opened fire at them,” the senior officer, who declined to be named, told dpa, first from the ground, and subsequently also from an Israeli aircraft.

The bomb was placed at an Israeli outpost that “wasn’t manned at the moment, but can be manned when necessary.”

The squad had crossed the so-called alpha line separating the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Syria.

However, they had not crossed the fence securing the border, built by Israel several metres inwards from the alpha line.

Also read: U.S. expands metals sanctions on Iran

Israel for the past weeks has been on heightened alert along the borders with Lebanon and with Syria, after it reportedly unwittingly killed a member of the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah movement in an airstrike outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, destroying an arms depot.

Israel has not confirmed or denied the airstrike, but admitted it was being “active” in both countries to prevent Iran from widening its influence in the region, whether through its proxies such as Hezbollah, or its own Revolutionary Guards.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syrian in the 1967 Six-Day War.

It applied its sovereignty over the strategic plateau overlooking the Sea of Galilee in 1981.

The heavily secured border has largely been quiet in recent years and incidents of this sort have been rare.




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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’



The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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