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Turkey deploys Military Equipment to Syrian border in fear of refugee inflow – Reports

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…As Developer of North Korea missiles, nuclear weapons dies***

The Turkish Military is sending military equipment to Kilis province bordering Syria over concerns of a new wave of refugees inflow, the media reported on Tuesday.

The refugee inflow could be provoked by a possible military operation in Syria’s Northwestern Idlib province.

At least eight vehicles transporting tanks and howitzers passed through Kilis on the way to the Turkish district of Elbeyli on the Syrian border on Tuesday, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

The media outlet said, citing security sources, that this move was aimed at helping contain a new wave of Syrian refugees that could result from a potential Syrian government offensive in Idlib province, which is one of Syria’s de-escalation zones and a remaining stronghold of insurgency in the country.

Turkey has also expanded the Atmeh refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border and reinforced 12 observation points to monitor the situation in the de-escalation zone, according to the report.

The situation in Idlib has escalated over the past weeks amid the recent reports of a potential government offensive after Russia said it had evidence that terrorists in the province were preparing a false-flag chemical weapons attack to frame the government forces and spark a U.S.-led military intervention.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that talks were underway to create humanitarian corridors in Idlib to allow civilians to leave the province.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told reporters on Monday that nobody was interested in active fighting in Syria’s Idlib, which may result in mass casualties.

In the meantime, a veteran North Korean official who was sanctioned for his suspected role in development of the country’s nuclear and missile technology has died, the North announced on Tuesday.

The state-run KCNA news agency said “academician and professor” Ju Kyu Chang died on Monday at the age of 89 from “pancytopenia”, a blood disease.

It said the official state obituary described Ju as “an elder revolutionary who made (a) distinguished contribution to the strengthening of the country’s defence capabilities”.

Ju was a former minister of the North’s defence ministry, which was in charge of developing the country’s nuclear weapons and missiles.

He was one of a number of individual North Koreans slapped with non-proliferation sanctions in 2013 by the US Department of Treasury for their role in the nuclear programme.

Ju oversaw the launch of North Korea’s Unha 2 long-range rocket in 2009, which he watched alongside then leader Kim Jong Il, Yonhap news agency said.

He was also deeply involved in developing the two Unha-3 long range rockets launched in 2012 before retiring in 2015, it added.

Impoverished and isolated North Korea has prioritised its nuclear weapons, achieving remarkable success in recent years.

It conducted its first successful nuclear test in 2006 followed by five more and a string of increasingly successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches.

Last year it claimed it had become a nuclear state, capable of fitting a viable nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach as far as the United States’ eastern seaboard.

Additional report from AFP

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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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