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Trump mocks Kim Jong-un, calls him ‘Rocket Man’

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  • As Russia denies airstrike that wounded six US-backed fighters in Syria

US President Donald Trump once again mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, calling him “Rocket Man”, an allusion to Pyongyang`s recent nuclear tests, as well as speaking ironically about the “long … lines” of people waiting to get fuel in the nation after the sanctions imposed by the UN.

“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!” wrote Trump on his Twitter account on Sunday.

The reference to the gas lines was made, evidently, as an allusion to the sanctions imposed last week by the international body on North Korea after Pyongyang`s recent missile tests, Efe news reported.

The latest sanctions include a reduction in the amount of petroleum that Pyongyang may import, although the true impact on the North Korean economy has not yet been confirmed.

Moon and Trump agreed on the need to fully implement the sanctions so that North Korea understands that continuing with its weapons testing will only result in its increasing diplomatic isolation and additional economic pressure, which will — in all likelihood — ultimately lead to the regime`s “collapse”, the South Korean President`s Office said.

The conversation between the two leaders came after Pyongyang`s launching on Friday of another long-range missile, which overflew Japanese territory before landing harmlessly in the Pacific.

Moon and Trump agreed to place additional pressure on North Korea, including implementing the new batch of sanctions unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council this past week, a response to Pyongyang`s sixth and most power nuclear test on September 3.

In the meantime, the Russian military denied claims on Sunday that it struck a US-backed force in eastern Syria, wounding six fighters.

The Kurdish-led and US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday that its fighters had been hit in the airstrike near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour in an industrial area that had recently been liberated from the Islamic State group.

The Russian defence ministry spokesman, Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov, said: “Russian air forces carry out pinpoint strikes only on IS [Isis] targets that have been observed and confirmed through several channels.”

The command of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that Saturday’s air raid occurred on the eastern side of the Euphrates iver in the industrial area that was recently liberated from Isis.

The US military said in a statement that Russian forces struck a target east of the Euphrates river near Deir el-Zour, causing injuries to US-led coalition partner forces.

Western forces embedded with the SDF were not injured, the US military said. The SDF is supported by a US-led international coalition of forces to defeat Isis militants in Syria and Iraq. An estimated 900 US troops are embedded with partner forces in Syria. They provide artillery support and can command air support.

“Russian munitions impacted a location known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers,” the statement said, adding that the wounded SDF fighters received medical care following the strike.

It said that multinational coalition troops advising and assisting the SDF were present but not wounded as a result of the Russian strike.

“Coalition officials are available and the de-confliction line with Russia is open 24 hours per day,” said coalition commander Lt Gen Paul E Funk. “We put our full efforts into preventing unnecessary escalation among forces that share Isis as our common enemy.”

“The coalition and its partners remain committed to the defeat of Isis and continued de-confliction with Russian officials,” the statement said. “Coalition forces and partners always retain the right of self-defence.”

SDF fighters have been advancing against Isis fighters on the east bank of the Euphrates while Syrian government forces and their allies are pushing on the western side.

The march by the SDF aims to prevent Syrian troops and their allies from expanding their presence along the border with Iraq.

The air raid came as Syrian troops and their Iran-backed allies began a new offensive dubbed Fajr 3, or Dawn 3, that aims to capture areas along the border with Iraq in south-east Syria under the cover of Russian airstrikes, according to a statement by the commander of Iran-backed fighters.

The statement of the unnamed commander was released on media arms of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, which is a main force fighting alongside Syrian troops.

The commander said Syrian troops along with fighters from Hezbollah, Afghanistan’s Fatimiyoun, Pakistan’s Zeinabiyoun and Iranian fighters will take part in the offensive, which aims to reach the Syrian border town of Boukamal, an Isis stronghold.

Zee with additional report from Guardian

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

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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

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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

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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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