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How Rapper Pop Smoke Was Killed In Hollywood Hills Home (Full Details)

Rapper Pop Smoke is dead. According to a TMZ Report, he was shot and killed in what appears to be a home invasion in his house in Hollywood Hills.

“The rapper was at his home in the Hollywood Hills at around 4:30 AM when 2 men wearing hoodies and masks broke into his house… this according to law enforcement sources. We’re told the 2 men fired multiple shots, striking and critically wounding Pop Smoke. The men were seen fleeing on foot,” the report reads.

 

TMZ’s report is accompanied by footage of first responders attempting to perform life-saving techniques on the rapper, as he’s being wheeled out on a stretcher to an awaiting ambulance. The footage may be upsetting to some viewers.

Pop Smoke was reportedly rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was pronounced dead.

 

Born Bashar Barakah Jackson on July 20, 1999 in Brooklyn New York. The up-and-coming rapper burst onto the scene in April 2019 with “Welcome to the Party,” which served as the first single from his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo, to be released in July of that year. His second mixtape, Meet the Woo 2, came out just 12 days before his death.

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Coronavirus: Thieves Steal 6000 Hygiene Masks In Japan.

Thieves in Japan have made off with some 6,000 surgical masks from a hospital, with the country facing a mass shortage and a huge price hike online due to the coronavirus.

 

Four boxes containing the face masks disappeared from a locked storage facility at the Japanese Red Cross hospital in the western port city of Kobe, a hospital official said on Tuesday.

 

“We still have a large number of masks — enough to continue our daily operations at the hospital, but this is so deplorable,” the official told AFP.

 

Police have launched an investigation as they suspect the thieves intend to resell the masks. Masks have sold out at many drug and discount stores across the nation as the number of infections have increased in Japan — one of the most affected countries after China where the death toll from the virus has hit 1,800.

 

Public anxiety has been also fuelled by headlines of hundreds of people infected with the virus onboard a ship quarantined off Japan.

 

The theft came after knife-wielding men jumped a delivery driver and stole hundreds of toilet rolls on Monday in Hong Kong, where the coronavirus outbreak has fuelled a run on face masks, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

 

Japanese flea market app Mercari called on its users to trade masks “within socially accepted limits” after a box of 65 masks was priced at more than 50,000 yen ($456) at its online marketplace.

 

The Japanese government has “strongly requested” mask makers to boost output, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters last week.

 

There has been a shortage of masks at drug stores in the hygiene-conscious nation where face masks have been part of everyday streetwear for decades.

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Coronavirus: South Korea Sends Presidential Plane To Evacuate Citizens

The VCN-235 Air Force plane left Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, at noon on Tuesday (Feb 18), and landed in Japan’s Haneda Airport, 20 minutes away from the Yokohama port where the cruise ship Diamond Princess is docked.

 

The plane is scheduled to leave Japan on Wednesday and arrive at Gimpo Airport at around 8am. It is set to evacuate five people – four South Korean nationals and a Japanese spouse – from the cruise ship. But the final number could change depending on the situation, according to government officials.

 

There are 14 Koreans onboard – nine passengers and five crew members, all of whom are reportedly unaffected by the coronavirus. They have been stranded on the ship with around 3,700 people since Feb 3, after a former passenger was diagnosed with the virus. As of Tuesday, 542 people were infected with Covid-19, in the largest cluster of virus cases outside of China.

 

The remaining Koreans have said they want to stay on the ship, largely due to their residence status tied to Japan. The mandatory quarantine on the cruise is set to end Wednesday, which means the remaining Koreans may leave the ship if they test negative.

 

Upon returning from Japan, the evacuees will be transported to quarantine facilities of Incheon Airport for 14 days, similar to hundreds of Korean nationals airlifted from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the covid-19 outbreak.

 

“The decision to repatriate Korean nationals who wish to return was made, on the outbreak of many Covid-19 cases on the Diamond Princess cruise,” said Health Vice-Minister Kim Kang-lip during a regular briefing. “The location of the temporary lodging facility was selected considering the small number of evacuees.”

 

The government had decided to deploy the 19-seat government plane, considering the small number of evacuees and the cost, it added.

Coronavirus: Don’t miss alerts on the outbreak

 

Evacuees who test positive for the virus or exhibit symptoms will be prohibited from boarding the flight. Those infected with the virus will stay in Japan for treatment.

 

Seoul’s sudden decision to evacuate its citizens comes as many countries have decided to airlift their citizens stranded on the cruise ship. Last week, the government was not considering the evacuation, as most of the Korean nationals on the cruise consider Japan their main country of residence and had not expressed intention to return.

 

The United States was the first to send planes, transporting 328 citizens from the cruise back to the US. Among them, 14 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy and Hong Kong were also planning to repatriate citizens from the cruise.

 

As of Tuesday, more than 73,000 have been infected with Covid-19 around the world, with the death toll exceeding 1,800, mostly in China.

 

South Korea confirmed another case of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 31.

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Storm Dennis Batters The United Kingdom (photos)

Storm Dennis, one of the deepest low-pressure centres to have formed in recent years, has brought severe weather to Iceland and many western and central parts of the UK.

 

Some of the regions now being affected by Dennis were also hit by a preceding storm, Ciara, which brought stronger winds than Dennis but less rain. Nevertheless, rivers were already full and the ground saturated before Dennis’s arrival.

 

The UK Met Office warned of rainfall totals of 50 to 100 millimetres in many areas.

 

The military has been called in provide assistance in parts of northern England, where rivers have overflowed in recent days.

 

There are no reports of significant damage along the western coast although rough seas extend across much of the North Atlantic with wave heights of up to 20 metres, 300 kilometres west of Ireland, being reported on Friday.

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15-Year-Old Disney Actress, Nikita Pearl, Who Appeared In ‘Queen Of Katwe’ Is Dead

A Disney actress died Saturday following a brain tumor, according to the Ugandan school where she was a student.

 

Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who appeared in the 2016 Disney film “Queen of Katwe,” was 15.

 

The movie tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi who went from living in Uganda’s slums to becoming an international chess star. Nikita played the main character’s friend Gloria in the film.

 

Nikita’s school, Gayaza High School, tweeted about her death Sunday.

 

“Fare thee well Nikita Pearl Waligwa. You were a darling to many and we have lost you to brain tumor at such a tender age,” the school’s tweet read. “Rest in Perfect Peace dear.”

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Suhaila Ibrahim Zakzaky With Soleimani’s Daughter In Iran (Photos)

Here is the Daughter of Sheikh Zakzaky, head of the Iranian-backed Islamic Movement of Nigeria, pictured in Iran next to the daughter of the late Qassim Soleimani, former head of IRGC Quds Force

 

The reach of the Islamic Revolution stretches way beyond the Middle East.

 

Both were attending an annual “global resistance front” conference in Qom, which included speeches by senior IRGC commanders. The motto of this conference:

 

“The expulsion of the US is the prelude to the destruction of Israel and the death of the Deal of Century”

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Syrian Army Kills 5 Turkey Soldiers. Pope Francis Prays for ‘Martyred’ in Syria

Turkish defence ministry says army retaliated by destroying ‘targets’ after attack on its forces in northwest Syria.

 

Five Turkish soldiers have been killed in an attack carried out by Syrian government forces in Syria’s northwest, according to the Turkish defence ministry.

 

A further five troops were wounded in the assault on Monday in Idlib province, the last rebel-held stronghold in the war-torn country.

 

The “regime’s intense artillery fire targeted our elements sent as reinforcement to the region with an aim to prevent clashes in Idlib, ensure our border security and stop migration and human tragedy”, the ministry said.

 

The Turkish military retaliated, it added, “destroying targets”.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the Turkish soldiers were killed in shelling by the Syrian army at Taftanaz airport, north of Saraqeb town.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar held an emergency meeting immediately the attack, Turkey’s NTV television reported.

 

Russian delegation in Ankara

The assault came after a similar attack by the government forces last week killed eight Turkish military personnel, prompting another response by Turkey’s army.

 

It also happened as a delegation from Russia, the Syrian government’s main ally, is in Ankara for talks on the situation in Idlib. Another round of talks is expected to be held on Monday.

 

Ankara has sent major reinforcements to Idlib, as it tries to stem rapid advances by Syrian government forces backed by Russia.

 

The Syrian government offensive in Idlib has driven more than half a million people from their homes towards the closed Turkish border, threatening a new humanitarian crisis.

 

Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot absorb any more and has demanded Damascus pull back in Idlib by the end of the month or face Turkish action.

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How ‘Emmyjay’ Emmanuel İfeanyi Okonyia Was Killed – Turkish Police

The name of the Nigerian who was found dead in his apartment at Şişli Mecidiyeköy with his hands and feet tied from behind is revealed to be Emmanuel İfeanyi Okonyia, who was a DJ at night clubs, and was tortured before being killed.

 

Video shows How police sealed and guided the forensic and ambulance team around the building where EmmyJay was murdered

The incident occurred in Mecidiyeköy Mahallesi Ahu Sokak. According to the reports in local Turkish media, the owner of the apartment where Emmanuel İfeanyi Okonyia, who is a DJ in night clubs, has been calling her tenant for a couple of days and asked for help from the real estate agent when she could not reach her tenant. Opening the door with his own key of the apartment, the real estate agent saw Okonyia motionless in the living room with his hands and feet tied behind with a cable. Closing the door with a panic, the real estate agent came out and called the landlord and explained the situation.

 

Health and police teams were dispatched to the scene after the landlady was informed. The medical teams, who entered with the police, confirmed that Emmanuel İfeanyi Okonyia was already dead.

 

In an early police investigation statement, it was understood that Emmanuel Okonyia, who had a knife next to his body, was tortured before he was killed. It is emphasized that Okonyia, who was killed in the house where he had lived for two years, may have fallen victim to a jealousy murder in the light of the findings obtained so far. The body of Emmanuel İfeanyi Okonyia, was removed from the Forensic Medicine Institute Morgue after the investigation. Meanwhile, relatives and friends of Okonyia who came to the scene shed tears uncontrollably

 

While DJ’s friends were seen to be upset, one of his friends had a nervous breakdown confirming that he was a friend of DJ who was found dead in his house, Chinedu Jımmy said, “I don’t know anything. I have no idea. I was asleep, a friend called me and I came here in disbelief. We last met 3 days ago. I called him many times today but I couldn’t reach him. Now I came to see him dead. ” when asked if he had suspected anyone.

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Syrian Government Chopper Shot Down By Rebels (Video)

A Syrian government helicopter has been shot down by Turkish-backed rebel groups in western Syria amid spiralling tensions in the region.

 

Video shows a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter in flames somewhere near the town of Nerab, which was recently captured by government troops, before it breaks up and plummets from the sky.

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Families Of Victims Seek Justice Over Plane Shot Down In Iran

Puneh Gorji and Arash Pourzarabi were married in Iran on January 1. A week later, the newlyweds were returning to Canada to resume their studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton when their plane was shot down over the Iranian capital, Tehran.

 

All 176 people on board the Ukrainian airliner were killed.

 

“When I saw the name of my niece on the list of the victims, it was the worst experience of my life,” Gorji’s uncle, Ali Asghar Gorji, said via telephone from his house in Edmonton. “The only thing that can comfort me now is justice.”

 

The January 8 plane disaster occurred amid fears of an all-out war between Iran and the United States. Just days earlier, Washington had assassinated  top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, prompting leaders in Tehran to pledge “severe revenge”. And hours before the plane crashed, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had fired more than a dozen short-range ballistic missiles at two bases hosting US troops in Iraq.

Puneh Gorji and Arash Pourzarabi were married in Iran on January 1. A week later, the newlyweds were returning to Canada to resume their studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton when their plane was shot down over the Iranian capital, Tehran.

 

All 176 people on board the Ukrainian airliner were killed.

 

“When I saw the name of my niece on the list of the victims, it was the worst experience of my life,” Gorji’s uncle, Ali Asghar Gorji, said via telephone from his house in Edmonton. “The only thing that can comfort me now is justice.”

 

The January 8 plane disaster occurred amid fears of an all-out war between Iran and the United States. Just days earlier, Washington had assassinated  top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, prompting leaders in Tehran to pledge “severe revenge”. And hours before the plane crashed, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had fired more than a dozen short-range ballistic missiles at two bases hosting US troops in Iraq.

For three days afterwards, Iran denied any involvement in the downing of the plane. Then on January 11, Iran announced an IRGC operator had “unintentionally” shot down Flight PS752 amid fears of a counterattack by the US. The admission triggered scattered protests  at universities in Tehran and other cities, shattering the sense of unity in Iran following Soleimani’s killing. Dozens of victims of the plane crash were graduates from Iranian universities who were visiting families in Iran while on holiday from fellowships, graduate schools and promising careers abroad.

 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, issued a statement calling the tragedy a “disastrous mistake”. He promised further investigations to prosecute perpetrators behind the incident and to inform families of the victims of the truth of what had happened. A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary on January 14 said several people accused of a role in the incident had been arrested, without elaborating further.

 

But Gorji does not believe the Iranian government would deliver justice.

 

“We believe that they committed this crime intentionally,” he said. “They allowed commercial flights on the same night they attacked bases in Iraq. That is a declaration of war and they have to cancel all commercial flights.”

The 48-year-old engineer said he believed Iran’s government had used “Iranian passengers as human shields” by keeping the country’s airspace open. Gorji said he and other families of victims have filed a class-action lawsuit against Iran for “an act of terrorism” in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario.

 

Some 57 of the victims were Canadian, most of them dual nationals holding Iranian citizenship.

 

“The lawsuit is aimed at proving in a court of law that they [Iran’s government] committed a crime. This would be an important message to the Iranian people and the world,” Gorji said. If the case proved successful, the second step would be to lobby the Canadian government to sue Iran at the International Criminal Court, he said.

 

“I want justice for my niece … I had to do something and I can do it here,” he said.

 

Gorji declined to comment further on the lawsuit, but in a Facebook post on January 25, he said families of the victims had launched a lawsuit against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the IRGC. The case – John Doe v Islamic Republic of Iran – was filed on January 24 and seeks $1.5 billion Canadian dollars ($1.1bn) in compensation from Tehran.

 

Canadian courts do not typically have jurisdiction over foreign states, but a 2012 law lifted that immunity for countries Canada considers “foreign state sponsors of terrorism”. Iran and Syria are on that list.

 

To find out details of what exactly happened on January 8, Iran has to decode the flight’s black boxes. Canada and Ukraine are pressuring Iran to release the data recorders, but Tehran – which has rights under global aviation rules to lead the investigation – has offered contradicting statements on its plans.

 

An aviation official who initially said  the black boxes would be sent to Ukraine backtracked on his comments a day later, saying Iranian authorities have asked US and French authorities to lend them the equipment needed to read the data. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has said Ottawa will continue to pressure Tehran to send the black boxes to France.

Meanwhile, some experts have expressed concern about Iran’s capability and willingness to handle the investigation beyond technical issues.

 

“They have a strong tradition of sweeping it under the rug rather than addressing it in a meaningful way,” said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East North Africa Programme at Chatham House. “To take responsibility and accountability is not what they have succeeded in doing over the past decades.”

 

But Mohammad Marandi, the head of American Studies at the University of Tehran, said it was the US that bore ultimate responsibility for the downing of the plane.

 

“The real culprit here, the most responsible, and they can’t hide it, is the US for acts of war against Iran and creating a situation where Iran had to be on high alert and was prepared for an attack,” he said, dismissing allegations Tehran would hide the truth behind the plane crash.

 

“The notion of a cover-up is nonsense and the evidence is that from the beginning Iran invited international teams to come to Iran,” he said, referring to Iran’s offer to foreign experts, including from Ukraine and the United Nations, to join the investigation.

 

“If there is a case to be filed, that should be against the US government and the US president. Whatever the court says, these [Iranian soldiers] are people who acted unintentionally … The circumstance that the US have created, through sanctions, through the killing of senior officials, through acts of war, those are all intentional acts. Therefore the US bears the whole responsibility.”.

Meanwhile, in Tehran, people who spoke to Al Jazeera described an increasing sense of distrust in the government they believed should be taking care of them

 

Nima, a 28-year-old young man who gave only one name, used the words “hopelessness, helplessness and despair” to describe his anxiety about the future, while Sarah, a 36-year-old teacher, said the shooting down of the plane as well as a brutal government crackdown in November against people protesting against a hike in fuel prices “show this regime doesn’t want us”.

 

Bita, a 52-year-old nurse, said: “I was asking myself, what else did they lie about?”

 

Babak Roshanaei Moghaddam, a psychologist based in Tehran, said the shooting down of the plane was a traumatic event, not just for families of victims but for the whole country.

 

“The whole nation is grieving, each person in their own way” said the founder and director of the Tehran Center for Psychoanalytic Studies.

 

“Losing last bits of hope in relationship with a government whose basic trust had already been compromised for many other reasons, can be a very unsettling and anxiety-provoking position.”

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Thai Soldier Goes On Shooting Rampage, Killing At Least 20 people

Gunman identified as Jakrapanth Thomma steals army vehicle and opens fire at different locations in Nakhon Ratchasima.

A Thai soldier has killed at least 20 people and wounded 31 in a shooting rampage in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, according to the health ministry.

 

The suspect of Saturday’s attack, identified by police as 32-year-old Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma, remains at large, and Thai police entered a shopping centre he was believed to be hiding in.

 

Dozens of terrified shoppers were evacuated from the centre as armed police said they had “taken control” of the ground floor of the complex.

 

But authorities did not give any firm details on the whereabouts of the attacker.

The suspect reportedly stole an army vehicle and posted photos and video of himself in full tactical gear as the attack was carried out.

 

He wrote on his Facebook page earlier in the day that “Death is inevitable for everyone”. The suspect also posted a picture of what appeared to be his hand holding a gun.

 

At one point after the shooting had begun, he wrote online, “Should I give up?” before his account became inaccessible.

 

The soldier opened fire at different locations in the city, which is more than 250km (155 miles) from capital, Bangkok, police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said in a message sent to reporters.

The shooter remained in a shopping centre and had not yet been apprehended, the police said.

 

“We don’t know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” said defence ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit.

 

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said that the situation around the shopping centre was still evolving.

 

“Police say that the suspect has hostages inside the shopping centre with him, but it is not clear how many,” he said.

 

Hay added that gunshots were heard from the building late at night and in the first hours of Sunday.

 

Amateur footage

Local media showed footage of the soldier getting out of a car in front of the shopping centre and firing a series of shots.

 

Footage circulating online showed panicked scenes, with people fleeing and what appeared to be the sound of automatic gunfire filling the air.

 

One video from a bystander showed a man slumped at the wheel of a car in a pool of blood. It was unclear if he was among the dead.

A woman interviewed by Thailand’s Channel One television said she had heard gunshots when she was at the shopping centre and hid in a clothing store with other people before escaping.

 

The shooter had initially gone to a house in the city and shot two people dead, before going to the weapons store on an army base and taking a new gun, police said.

 

They added that he also shot at people on the army base.

 

Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong issued an order for local army commanders to rush to the scene and investigate.

 

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed condolences to the families of those killed, a government spokeswoman said.

 

Thailand has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world but mass shootings by soldiers targeting civilians are rare.

 

Several shootings at courthouses late last year also renewed concern about gun violence in the country.

 

In one high-profile case, two lawyers were shot dead by a clerk at a court in eastern Thailand during a hearing over a land dispute.

Families of victims seek justice over plane shot down in Iran

 

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Yemen al-Qaeda leader al-Rimi killed in US operation, says Trump

Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP, was killed in counterterrorism operation in Yemen, US president says.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that US forces have killed Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in an operation inside Yemen.

 

Al-Rimi claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly shooting at US Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, where a Saudi aviation trainee killed three US sailors.

The AQAP has long been considered al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate for its attempts to carry out attacks on the US mainland. Trump said the US and its allies are safer as a result of his death.

 

“We will continue to protect the American people by tracking down and eliminating terrorists who seek to do us harm,” Trump said on Thursday.

While Trump confirmed reports that al-Rimi had been killed, he did not say when the US operation was conducted or offer any details about how it was carried out. Al-Qaeda has not confirmed his death.

Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher, reporting from Washington, DC, said the attack that killed the 41-year-old took place last month.

 

“The CIA and American intelligence officials have been very careful after previous strikes proved that their targets actually survived them,” he said.

 

“Al-Rimi is a significant target for the US authorities. He is one of the few leaders that predates the attacks of September 11,” Gallacher said.

 

“He trained at camps in Afghanistan before going back home to Yemen where he was in prison for five years for plotting the US ambassador there. He broke out of jail in 2006 and is thought to be behind the attack on the US embassy.”

 

In late January, a suspected US drone attack destroyed a building housing al-Qaeda fighters in eastern Yemen.

 

Also, on February 1, Trump retweeted several other tweets and media reports that seemed to offer confirmation that the attack had killed al-Rimi.

Shooting

Al-Rimi had said in an 18-minute video that his group was responsible for the December 6 shooting at the naval base in Florida.

 

He called the attacker, Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani, a “courageous knight” and a “hero”.

 

The attacker opened fire inside a classroom at the base, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt.

 

The attack focused public attention on the presence of foreign students in US military training programmes and exposed shortcomings in the screening of cadets.

 

In January, the US sent home 21 Saudi military students, saying the trainees had “jihadist or anti-American sentiments” on social media pages or had “contact with child pornography”, including in internet chat rooms.

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Drug Lord, Pablo Escobar’s Hitman Who Killed 3000 People Dies Of Cancer At 57 (Pics)

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s former chief hitman Jhon Jairo ‘Popeye’ Velasquez has died of cancer today at the age of 57.

 

Velasquez served a life sentence after admitting to killing 300 people and ordering the deaths of 3,000 more as he violently enforced Escobar’s legendary reign of terror.

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Turkey: Avalanche Kills Dozens Of Rescuers (Photos)

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Two avalanches in eastern Turkey have killed 38 people, most of them buried by the second snowslip while working to rescue victims of the first, officials said on Wednesday.

Some 300 emergency service workers were called to a highway near the mountain-surrounded town of Bahcesaray in Van province, which borders Iran, after an avalanche struck late on Tuesday, killing five people. Around noon on Wednesday, the second avalanche struck the team.

 

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD) said 33 people died when the second avalanche hit while they were searching for two more victims of the first snowslip, which killed five people, after rescuing eight others.

 

Emergency teams were still searching for other colleagues under the snow, Mehmet Emin Bilmez, the governor of the eastern Van province, said. He did not provide a figure of how many more could be missing.

 

Some 30 emergency workers were either rescued or escaped from underneath the snow and were hospitalised on Wednesday, the interior ministry said. There was no further information on their conditions.

 

Video from the scene showed at least three overturned vehicles at the bottom of a hill during a snow storm. Some rescuers were climbing a steep incline to get away from the mass of snow while others dug frantically into the snow with shovels and pick-axes. Fog, heavy snow and strong winds were hampering the rescue efforts.

 

A special military plane with 75 gendarmerie officers and other rescue officials were on their way from Ankara, AFAD and the defence ministry said.

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu to obtain information on the efforts, the presidency said.

 

The president’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, also said on Twitter that “every tool available was mobilised” to help officials.

 

Christian Berger, the EU ambassador to Turkey, offered his “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences” as did the US embassy to Turkey on Twitter.

 

Last month, the eastern province of Elazig was hit by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake, killing 41 people and injuring more than 1,600 others.

 

A 2009 avalanche in the northeastern province of Gumushane killed 11 climbers in the Zigana mountains.

 

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State Of The Union: Nancy Pelosi Tears Up Trump’s Speech

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday ripped up her copy of President Trump’s prepared remarks at the conclusion of his State of the Union address.

 

As Trump finished speaking and most lawmakers stood to applaud, Pelosi stood, took the printed copy of Trump’s speech and tore it in half. She placed the shredded copy in a stack on the dais as Trump made his way to greet members of Congress.

 

Asked afterward why she tore the speech up, Pelosi told reporters it was “the courteous thing to do given the alternative.”

 

The moment capped a tense address from Trump that started when the president appeared to snub Pelosi’s offer of a handshake.

 

Pelosi largely seemed to avoid looking at Trump throughout the address, instead reading from his prepared remarks and scanning the room.

 

She and other Democrats stood and applauded only periodically, even as Republicans regularly gave ovations. Pelosi could be seen subtly shaking her head “no” when Trump pledged to protect Medicare and Social Security as well as rejecting his claim that Democrats want to provide “unlimited health care” for undocumented immigrants.

 

The speech came weeks after the House impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and one day before the GOP-controlled Senate is likely to vote to acquit him.

 

Pelosi also made waves at Trump’s State of the Union last year, when her pointed applause at Trump calling for an end to “revenge politics” went viral.

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Coronavirus Hits Ivory Coast As One Tests Positive

Health authorities in Ivory Coast are investigating a suspected case of Wuhan coronavirus in a female student who arrived from China, officials have said.

 

The student, whom authorities have not named, is the first person to be tested for the virus on the continent, CNN reports.

 

The virus has killed at least 80 people in the mainland Chinese city of Wuhan.

 

The 34-year-old student traveled from Beijing to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on Saturday and was coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing, Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in statement.

 

The student was moved to a safe location upon arrival at the airport and is currently under medical observation, the ministry said.

 

Authorities believe it is highly likely a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the results of the test, the ministry said.

 

Michel Yao, WHO Africa emergency response program manager, said the agency had advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.

 

More than 2700 coronavirus cases have been confirmed, prompting countries around the world, including Nigeria to shore up surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travelers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.

 

Aviation authorities in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, said airlines operating in its airspace should update crew members on how to handle sick passengers on board their aircrafts.

 

Pilots must report such cases to health officials on landing while also encouraging sick travelers to seek help before leaving the airport, Nigeria’s Federal Airport Agency said in a statement.

 

Kenya, whose national carrier Kenya Airways, operates nonstop flights from Nairobi capital to Guangzhou, has also begun screening passengers arriving from China at its airport, according to local media.

 

Coronavirus are a large group of viruses that are common among animals, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans. The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold.

 

Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and infected persons may have headaches and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

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Billions Of Locusts Swarm Over East Africa

A locust invasion in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has left crops devastated. It is the biggest swarm in decades, with billions of the ravenous insects nibbling their way through the already climate-ravaged region.

 

Thick clouds of locusts are blackening the skies of East Africa from Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya due to extreme weather changes.

 

Experts warned Friday that the insect infestation could have disastrous effects on a region still recovering from recent drought and aggressive flooding.

 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that one locust invasion in Kenya covered around 2,400 square kilometers (930 square miles) and contained up to 200 billion locusts which descend to feed off plants and vegetation.

 

People in Kenya have been seen shooting in the air, waving sticks, banging cans and running around trying to chase the locusts away, according to the Associated Press news agency.

 

Biggest in decades

 

For Ethiopia and Somalia, the infestation is the biggest in 25 years, and for Kenya it is the greatest swarm in 70 years, according to the FAO.

 

A locust consumes their own weight in food every day. Farmers face frustration as vegetation for their livestock is consumed by the ravenous locusts. Many were just slowly recovering from three years of drought, a process which usually takes up to five years.

 

The FAO warned that the insects could “reproduce rapidly and, if left unchecked, their current numbers could grow 500 times by June,” spreading to Uganda and South Uganda.

 

People have been seen shooting in the air or waving sticks to fend off the locusts

 

Climate crisis

 

In an already vulnerable region with high levels of poverty, the locusts can further devastate crops, resulting in “a major food security problem”, said Guleid Artan of the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre at a press conference in Nairobi.

 

The locusts, he warned, were the latest symptom of extreme weather conditions that also saw a 2019 drought end in one of the wettest rainy seasons in four decades in parts of East Africa, with mass floods killing hundreds. The year 2019 witnessed eight cyclones, the most in a single year since 1976.

 

From East Africa to Australia

 

Artan attributed the weather crisis in East Africa to a warmer western Indian Ocean — a climate condition referred to as the Indian Ocean Dipole which has conversely led to extreme drought in Australia.

 

Miles away, Australia is also currently undergoing its own nature extremities: wildfires, dust storms, flooding and hail.

 

“We know East Africa is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. We know this region will see more extremes,” Artan said.

 

If the locusts are not controlled by the beginning of the next planting and rainy season around March, herders could see more crops devastated.

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Isabel Dos Santos: Africa’s Richest Woman Charged With Fraud

Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman has been charged with fraud which took place during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol.

Angola’s billionaire former first daughter Isabel dos Santo’s has been charged in the southern African country with money laundering and mismanagement during her stewardship of state-owned oil firm Sonangol, the Angolan prosecutor general announced on Wednesday.

 

Hundreds of thousands of files about dos Santo’s were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and released by several news organisations on Sunday, dubbed the “Luanda Leaks”. They allege the daughter of ex-president José Eduardo dos Santos plundered state coffers to build her fortune, estimated at $2.1 billion (€1.82 billion).

 

“Isabel dos Santo’s is accused of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds during her tenure at Sonangol and is thus charged in the first instance with the crimes of money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management…forgery of documents, among other economic crimes,” prosecutor general Helder Pitta Gros told a news conference late Wednesday.

 

Portuguese news agency Lusa quoted Pitta Gros as saying that dos Santos had not directly shown any interest in collaborating with Angolan authorities. “At the moment, the concern is to notify and get them to voluntarily come to justice,” he added.

 

Dos Santos, who was chairwoman of Sonangol from June 2016 to November 2017 and amassed her fortune during her father’s decades-long presidency, could not immediately be reached for comment but has denied wrongdoing.

 

Investigations were opened after her successor Carlos Saturnino raised the alarm about “irregular money transfers” and other dodgy procedures.

 

Dubbed Africa’s richest woman, dos Santos is accused of using her father’s backing to plunder state funds from the oil-rich but poor African country, and of building her business empire by moving the money abroad with the help of Western firms, including transfers between Angola and Dubai.

 

Pitta Gros said dos Santos was among five suspects, all of whom were currently residing abroad.

 

Stakes held in major Portuguese companies

 

In Portugal, dos Santos holds significant stakes in several major firms including NOS and oil firm Galp Energia. Soon after the Angolan prosecutor’s announcement, dos Santos announced her decision to sell her stake in Portuguese bank Eurobic, the small lender said on Wednesday.

 

Dos Santos is Eurobic’s main shareholder but the bank said she had decided to withdraw from its shareholding structure and sell her stake. In a statement sent to Reuters, Eurobic said the selling process of the 42.5% stake had already started and dos Santos’s decision was “final”.

 

A spokeswoman for Portugal’s public prosecutor’s office confirmed to Reuters that Angola’s Pitta Gros and Portugal’s attorney general, Lucilia Gago, will meet in Lisbon on Thursday. She did not say what they will discuss.

 

Frozen assets in Angola

 

She stopped living in Angola after her father, who ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly 40 years, stepped down in 2017 for his anointed successor João Lourenço.

 

Angolan authorities froze Isabel dos Santos’s assets in the African country in late December following allegations by prosecutors that she and her husband Sindika Dokolo had steered payments of more than $1 billion from state companies Sonangol and Sodiam to firms in which they held stakes. Dos Santos and Dokolo denied wrong doing.

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Ukraine President Zelenskyy Rejects PM’s Resignation

Oleksiy Honcharuk had offered to quit after he was allegedly heard criticising leader’s ‘primitive’ views on economy.

Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukraine’s embattled Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk tendered his resignation following a scandal over what appeared to be leaked tapes of him lambasting the president’s “primitive” views on the economy.

 

But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to accept Honcharuk’s offer to quit.

 

A man whose voice resembles that of Honcharuk is heard in three audio files posted on YouTube this week, which claim to be the recording of conversations between the prime minister and finance officials, including the finance minister.

Honcharuk, a 35-year-old lawyer who became Ukraine’s prime minister in August, is alleged to have said: “Zelenskyy has a very primitive understanding of the economy”, and is also heard describing himself a “layman” in economic matters.

Zelenskyy earlier said he would “consider” the resignation.

 

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s lower house of parliament – dominated by Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party – convened on Friday to discuss the resignation.

 

After the meeting, Zelenskyy refused the resignation bid.

 

“I decided to give you and your government a chance if you resolve some issues that are very important today and are of concern to our society,” the president told Honcharuk in a video released by his press service late Friday.

 

“Now is not the time to shake the country economically and politically.”

 

He instructed security officials to find the source of the leak.

 

“I demand that within two weeks, as soon as possible, we should get the information on who was recording,” he was quoted by his press service as saying.

 

Law enforcement agencies should “find who did it and work it all out,” he said.

 

Honcharuk blames ‘groups of influence’

Addressing the parliament earlier on Friday, Honcharuk said there had been attempts to sow distrust, but called for unity to prevail.

 

“Ukraine’s government keeps working as usual until the moment the president makes a decision,” he said.

 

“This is a political decision we are expecting from our political power.”

 

Some of the legislators shouted, “Get away!” after his speech.

 

Honcharuk also suggested unnamed powerful figures stood to benefit from his government being brought down.

 

“Many groups of influence, which are trying to gain access to financial flows, benefit from such presentation, but this is not true,” Honcharuk wrote on Facebook on Friday morning.

 

“I came to this post to execute the president’s programme. He is for me a model of openness and honesty. However, I wrote the resignation letter to the president with the right to submit it to Parliament to cast away any doubts of our respect and trust to the president.”

 

According to Ukraine’s constitution, only a parliamentary vote can dismiss a prime minister.

 

Honcharuk said on Friday the recording had been “doctored”, cobbled together from fragments of recorded government meetings.

 

“Its contents artificially create the impression that my team and I do not respect the president, who is our political leader,” Honcharuk said on social media.

 

He did not comment on whether it was his voice heard in the recording, but on Thursday said the furore would not “scare” him, as his government would be “even more stubborn in uprooting corruption and blocking the streams” of illegal financial operations.

His government, which largely consists of political first-timers and formerly junior officials, has been criticised for an inconsistent approach to reforms and a failure to live up to Zelenskyy’s populist election promises to upend the power of regional oligarchs, crack down on corruption  and reform an economy hobbled by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea  and an armed conflict in two separatist provinces.

 

“His government could start the process of replacing elites, changing the system of decision-making that went against the wishes of several oligarchic groups in Ukraine, but on the other hand, they could not make this work systemic, they did not start the reforms [the public] expected from them,” Igar Tyshkevich of Kyiv-based think-tank The Future Institute, told Al Jazeera.

 

Other experts are even more dismissive of Honcharuk’s performance.

 

“On a scale of one to 10, it’s definitely a zero,” Kyiv-based analyst Alexey Kushch told Al Jazeera. Explaining his low rating, Kushch cited an industrial recession, a drop in gross domestic product growth and deflation stifling income growth, budget and trade deficits and shrinking foreign investment.

 

Ukraine is one of Europe’s poorest nations, suffering after a severe disruption of economic ties with Moscow. Millions of migrant workers work in the European Union or Russia, while Kyiv’s cash-strapped government is struggling to maintain its military fighting pro-Russia separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

 

Honcharuk’s government has also faced two political crises not of his making.

 

The first is the ongoing scandal surrounding US President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure Zelenskyy into investigating Hunter Biden, the son of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States. The White House briefly froze almost $400m in military aid in a move that could have reignited the separatist war, Europe’s most active armed conflict, in which more than 13,000 lives have been lost.

 

The second is the January 8 downing of a Ukrainian commercial airliner by an Iranian missile, which resulted in the death of all 176 passengers and crew on board.

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Donald Trump: I Got Impeached For Making A Perfect Phone Call

The impeachment trial against President Donald Trump began in the US Senate on Thursday, starting with a reading of the charges.

 

John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was then be sworn in to preside over the trial that will determine whether Trump should be removed from office.

 

“All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, President of the United States,” the sergeant at arms announced.

 

I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!

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21-Year-Old Most Deadly Female Cartel Boss Killed In Military Shootout In Mexico

Video footage has emerged showing the dying moments of a female cartel boss after she was fatally wounded during a shootout with police in Mexico.

 

María Guadalupe López Esquivel, known as ‘La Catrina,’ a female member of a cartel hit squad that massacred 13 police officers in October.

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Yusaku Maezawa: Girlfriend Wanted To Fly To The Moon With Japanese Billionaire

A Japanese billionaire has launched an online wanted ad for a girlfriend who will fly around the Moon with him on a SpaceX rocket.

 

Yusaku Maezawa, who recently announced his break-up with a Japanese actress, is accepting applications from “single women aged 20 or over” who want to enjoy life to the fullest.

 

The matchmaking exercise is being turned into a TV show for a web streaming service.

 

The flamboyant entrepreneur said he agreed to the idea due to loneliness in middle age.

 

“I have lived exactly as I’ve wanted to until now,” said Maezawa, who has three children with two women.

 

“I’m 44 now. As feelings of loneliness and emptiness slowly begin to surge upon me, there’s one thing that I think about: Continuing to love one woman,” he said in the ad.

 

Maezawa has also made a pitch on his Twitter account, saying: “Why not be the ‘first woman’ to travel to the moon?”

 

The deadline to apply is January 17, 2020. He will make a final selection by the end of March after going on dates with the applicants.

 

Maezawa, formerly chief of online fashion company Zozo, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan last year, is known for buying pricey art.

 

He is scheduled to make a lunar trip in 2023 or later as the first private passenger on a voyage by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

 

Maezawa also plans to take about half a dozen artists with him on the trip, which will take them around the Moon without landing on it.

Continue reading Yusaku Maezawa: Girlfriend Wanted To Fly To The Moon With Japanese Billionaire

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World Leaders Pour Into Oman To Offer Condolences For Qaboos

Dignitaries pay respects to Sultan Haitham as Gulf state enters second day of mourning after predecessor’s death.

Muscat, Oman – Foreign officials have arrived in Oman’s capital, Muscat, to offer condolences to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the successor to the late Sultan Qaboos who died on Friday after nearly 50 years at the throne.

 

Haitham acceded to power on Saturday after being named by Qaboos in a letter that was opened in the presence of members of the royal family and security services.

Three days of national mourning were declared upon Qaboos’s death at 79, and condolences are currently being accepted at the Al Alam Palace, a ceremonial location in Muscat used to welcome dignitaries.

 

Among the first to pay their respects on Sunday were Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, on behalf of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, and the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Oman has maintained close relations with both nations despite other Gulf countries seeking to push back against the influence of Tehran and Doha in the region.

 

On Saturday, Zarif tweeted in Arabic that Qaboos’s death was “a loss for the region”.

 

Under Qaboos, Oman became a centre for back-door negations between Iran and the United States as well as between representatives of Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia, who have been locked in a devastating conflict since 2015.

 

Sultan Haitham has been welcoming officials from across regional and global divides in a show of the success of his predecessor’s forcing policy, defined as being “an enemy to no one and a friend to all”.

 

These well-wishers included Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Tunisian President Kais Saied and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

 

Haitham also welcomed an envoy of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba, who is the king of Tooro, one of the five traditional kingdoms of Uganda.

 

Omani state media was not covering the condolences live on Sunday and issued the same few lines on each meeting: Officials had offered their sincere condolences and sympathy on the death of Qaboos, calling on God to have mercy on his soul. They also wished “patience and solace” to the new sultan, the royal family and the Omani people.

Queen Elizabeth: Qaboos was ‘a good friend’

Sultan Haitham also welcomed the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles and the country’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, as well as the chief of staff of the British army, General Nicolas Carter.

 

Oman state media earlier in the day said the sultan had received a cable of condolences from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who said in a statement on Saturday that Sultan Qaboos was a “good friend” and that she was “deeply saddened” by his death.

 

Queen Elizabeth had visited Oman in 2010 and said it remained a “cherished memory”.

 

Oman has long enjoyed close ties with the UK, dating back to Qaboos’s accession to power in 1970 in a bloodless coup against his father that was heavily backed by the UK.

 

“His devotion to Oman, to its development and to the care of his people was an inspiration,” Queen Elizabeth said.

 

“He will be remembered for his wise leadership and his commitment to peace and understanding between nations and between faiths.”

 

Trump: Qaboos ‘friend to all’

While no US envoy had arrived in Muscat to pay condolences as of Sunday afternoon, US President Donald Trump said in a statement that Sultan Qaboos had undertaken “unprecedented efforts to engage in dialogue and achieve peace in the region.

 

He also said Qaboos had been a “friend to all” and a “true partner and friend to the United States, working with nine different American presidents.”

 

Oman has long been a partner of the US, including in military cooperation through an agreement that has allowed the US to use Omani bases.

 

“Sultan Qaboos will truly be missed. Let us take comfort in knowing that his powerful legacy will live on,” the statement said.

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Libyan Forces Loyal To Haftar Announce Conditional Ceasefire

Ceasefire might prove hard to maintain following escalation of fighting around Tripoli, Sirte and nature of alliances.

Fighters in eastern Libya loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar have announced a ceasefire in the western region, which includes the capital Tripoli, starting 00:01am on Sunday (22:01 GMT), conditioned on acceptance by their rivals, a spokesman said.

 

Forces loyal to Haftar have been battling forces aligned with the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) – with the aim of capturing Tripoli – since April.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) on Thursday rebuffed a call by Turkey and Russia for the warring parties to declare a ceasefire amid clashes and air raids in a conflict drawing increasing foreign involvement and concern.

However, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a video statement late on Saturday that the LNA accepted a truce in the west “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire.”

He warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response”.

 

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said the fact that the warring factions agreed to a ceasefire did not mean an end to hostilities.

 

“[This is] especially with the UN-recognised government demanding that Haftar’s forces pull out from southern Tripoli as a prerequisite to any settlement in this conflict,” he said.

 

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the ceasefire and make a room for peaceful efforts to address all disputes through a Libyan-Libyan dialogue”.

 

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside the eastern forces.

‘International unity needed’

Anas El Gomati, an analyst working on Libya, told Al Jazeera that the international community needed to find a unified position over the deadly conflict.

 

He said: “When we think that there is so much disunity in the international community, they have to have a conference about finding a unified position amongst themselves before they can even bring Libyans to the table. That’s the main issue here.”

 

A senior GNA official said on Thursday that it welcomed any credible ceasefire proposal but had a duty to protect Libyans from Haftar’s offensive.

 

Any ceasefire will probably be hard to uphold after a recent escalation in fighting around Tripoli and the strategic coastal city of Sirte, and given the fractious, loose nature of Libya’s military alliances.

 

Forces loyal to Haftar said this week they had taken control of Sirte in a rapid advance preceded by air raids.

 

Earlier on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks would be held in Berlin, adding that Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role to help find a solution.

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Anger After Iran Admits Downing Plane: All The Latest Updates

Crowds in Tehran call on leadership to resign after Tehran admits it mistakenly downed plane with 176 people on board.

Protesters in Iran’s capital, Tehran, have demanded the resignation of senior leaders following the admission of authorities – after days of denials – that Iranian forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board.

 

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for Kyiv, Ukraine, crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday. It happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

“You, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, are directly responsible for this,” he said in a statement.

 

“If you were aware and you let military and security authorities deceive people, then there is no doubt you lack the attributes of constitutional leadership.”

 

Iran ‘deceived the entire world’: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran “lied intentionally” about the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752.

 

“They knew from the start that they had downed it. They knew that it was an unintentional downing, but lied intentionally,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

Canada’s Trudeau to attend plane crash victim memorial

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to attend what is expected to be the country’s largest memorial to the victims of the Ukrainian airliner shot down in Iran.

 

Trudeau’s office confirmed on Saturday that the prime minister will address the memorial service, due to be held in a basketball arena that seats 1,700 people in the western city of Edmonton. Thirteen of the victims lived in Edmonton.

 

Memorials are also planned on Sunday in Toronto.

 

Top Iran Guard briefs Parliament over downed jet

Iran’s top Guards commander, Major General Hossein Salami, briefed Parliament in a closed-session about Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s retaliation and the downing of the airliner, semi-official news agency ISNA said.

 

Reparation for victims depends on ‘Tehran-Kyiv settlement’: IRNA

An official from the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation said reparation for victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 depends on a settlement between Iran and Ukraine “due to the process of the air disaster”, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

 

Hassan Razaeefar said the plane was insured by a Ukrainian company, which would usually cover the plane, the passengers, and their belongings on board.

 

“Normally the contractors pay reparation, but taking into consideration the fact that this crash was not normal, the two countries need to reach a settlement,” Razaeefar said, according to IRNA.

 

Iranian newspapers pay tribute to crash victims

Newspapers in Iran paid tribute to those killed in the Ukrainian passenger plane while heaping pressure on the country’s leadership amid growing public anger.

EU’s diplomatic chief urges ‘de-escalation’

The EU’s diplomatic chief criticised Iran for briefly detaining the British ambassador to Tehran, calling for “de-escalation”.

 

“Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must. The EU calls for de-escalation and space for diplomacy,” Josep Borrell tweeted.

 

UK envoy denies taking part in Iran protest before arrest

Rob Macaire, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Tehran, denied that he took part in a demonstration that erupted at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down.

 

“Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Rob Macaire wrote on Twitter, saying he left “after 5 minutes, when some started chanting”.

 

Macaire added he was detained for half an hour “after leaving the area”.

IRGC head ‘briefing parliament’

The chief of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was briefing Parliament over the killing of Soleimani, Tehran’s retaliation and the subsequent downing Ukrainian airliner, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

 

Major General Hossein Salami was addressing the members of the Majles in a closed session, ISNA reported.

 

Twitter users decry Trump’s Tweets

Twitter users criticised Trump for saying he stood in solidarity with the Iranian people, noting that he previously threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites “very hard” as tensions between the two nations escalated earlier this month.

 

“How about you sit down and mind your own business?!” one Twitter user said.

“Only on planet Trump can you ban Iranians from visiting their family in the US, deny them access to life-saving drugs, threaten to bomb their cultural heritage, and then claim that you are in solidarity with them,” another Twitter said, referring to US sanctions against Iran and the US administration’s Muslim ban.

 

Trump ‘monitoring protests’ in Iran

US President Donald Trump told Iranians in tweets in both English and Farsi that he stands by them and is monitoring the demonstrations.

 

“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you,” he tweeted.

 

“There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching,” he added.

 

“We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” he said.

Britain’s ambassador to Iran briefly arrested

The United Kingdom confirmed its ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested briefly by Iranian authorities during demonstrations in Tehran. He was accused of “inciting” the protesters in front of the Amir Kabir University on Saturday.

 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrest was a “flagrant violation of international law” and repeated calls for Iran to de-escalate tensions.

 

“The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment,” Raab said in a statement. “It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”

 

Truth about Iran crash could not be hidden: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy

The findings by Ukrainian experts in Iran meant the truth about the crash could not be concealed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address.

 

He also said he had agreed with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on the beginning of joint work to decode the black boxes of the Ukrainian plane that was shot down this week. He also urged Ukraine’s international partners to remain united and persistent until the investigation was complete.

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Thousands Evacuated As Restive Philippine Volcano Rumbles

Taal volcano near the capital, Manila, draws many tourists for its picturesque lake setting.

A volcano near the Philippine capital of Manila has spewed a massive cloud of ash into the sky, forcing the precautionary evacuation of thousands of residents, authorities said.

 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Sunday raised the alert level at the rumbling Taal volcano, 65km (40 miles) south of Manila, to “level 3”, indicating “magmatic unrest” that could lead to a “hazardous eruption in weeks”.

The highest alert is level 5, hoisted when magmatic eruption is under way.

 

The institute said it was strongly recommending that people evacuate the area around the volcano, which is on an island in the middle of Taal lake, and two nearby “high-risk” municipalities in Batangas province as it warned of “possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami”.

“We have to be on alert because we can see an increase in the phreatic explosions,” Renato Solidum, head of the institute, said.

 

The country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told reporters that an evacuation of the area has begun, led by local government officials.

 

About 8,000 residents were at risk and needed to be immediately evacuated, according to the council, citing the institute’s data and recommendations.

 

The local disaster office said it had evacuated more than 2,000 residents living on the volcanic island, which lies inside a bigger lake formed by previous volcanic activity.

 

The volcano spewed ash that generated a 1km (0.6 mile) plume that later triggered ashfall in nearby communities, the institute said.

 

“We were having lunch when we heard rumbling. We saw the volcano erupting. It rained and some small pebbles fell to the ground,” Jon Patrick Yen, a restaurant customer in Tagaytay, a nearby city, told Reuters news agency.

 

“I did not expect to see such spectacle. We just went by to eat,” Yen added.

 

Taal Volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines, is a popular destination that attracts many tourists for its picturesque crater lake. Taal also has the distinction of being the only active volcano in the world within a lake on an island. It last erupted in 1977.

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Bomb Attack Targets Worshippers At Quetta Mosque, Killing 14

Senior police official among dead as bomb explodes at mosque packed with dozens of people offering sunset prayers.

On Tuesday, at least two people were killed and more than 14 wounded after an improvised explosive device mounted on a motorcycle exploded in a market area.

 

That attack was claimed by Baloch separatist groups, who have been leading an armed uprising for independence for the ethnic Baloch areas of Balochistan province.

 

The province is Pakistan’s largest and is rich in mineral resources, but its rugged terrain and arid climate also make it the country’s least densely populated region.

 

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday.

 

“The roads are not safe anyway, but now we’re not even safe in our mosques,” said Azmatullah, who was wounded in Friday’s bombing.

 

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

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Trump: US Imposing New ‘Powerful’ Sanctions On Iran after Strikes

Trump says no US troops hurt in Iran strikes, Tehran ‘appears to be standing down’.

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq did not harm any US troops stationed there and damage was minimal, an outcome he said showed Tehran wanted to de-escalate a standoff.

 

Iran “appears to be standing down”, Trump said at the White House.

 

He announced the US would immediately impose more “powerful” sanctions on Iran.

The comments were Trump’s first televised remarks since Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops. He also said there were no Iraqi casualties.

“The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent,” Trump said.

 

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated dramatically last week after Trump ordered the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

 

Iran said Wednesday’s attacks were in revenge for the killing of Soleimani. It warned the US against retaliating for the strikes.

 

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran’s attacks were a “slap on the face” of the US and said US troops should leave the region.

 

Tehran’s foreign minister said Iran took “proportionate measures” in self-defence and did not seek an escalation.

Trump had previously threatened to “fully strike back” if Iran attacked any US citizen or site belonging to the US.

 

Trump on Wednesday said the US will continue to look at options to respond to the attacks, but did not elaborate. He said he will ask NATO “to become much more involved” in the Middle East.

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‘No Survivors’ After Ukrainian Airliner Crashes Near Tehran

State television reports that all passengers of the Boeing 737 plane heading to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv were killed.

A Ukrainian airliner with 176 passengers and crew on board has crashed near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. Iran’s state television said all those on board, most of whom were Iranians, were killed.

 

According to Iranian media, the Boeing 737-800 jet crashed early on Wednesday near Parand, a suburb southwest of the capital Tehran, shortly after takeoff.

 

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when a fire struck one of its engines, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry.

 

The pilot then lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into the ground, Biniaz said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

 

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Images posted on social media also indicated that there were no survivors. Earlier reports had said there were 180 people on board.

 

Journalists from The Associated Press news agency who visited the site saw debris scattered across farmlands and human remains lying among shattered pieces of the aircraft. Rescuers in masks shouted over the noise of hovering helicopters as they worked.

According to Flighradar24 flight tracker, the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was scheduled to take off at 5:15am (01:45 GMT), heading for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

 

However, the departure was delayed by almost an hour as it took off at 6:12am (02:42 GMT).

 

A video posted by Iran’s ISNA news agency showed a faint glow of light flickering in the dark shortly before a huge fireball was seen.

 

Photos posted online by ISNA also showed the plane’s wreckage scattered all over the ground as emergency personnel inspected the area.

 

“An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced. We will give more reports in upcoming bulletins,” Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman of the Iranian Aviation Organisation told reporters in Tehran.

 

Ali Abedzadeh, head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, later said that Tehran will not hand over to the US the recovered black box of the plane.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy extended his condolences to the families of the victims as Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed the death toll.

 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif following the crash.

 

“Agreed to coordinate further actions of our investigation groups closely to determine the cause of the terrible plane crash,” he tweeted.

 

Staff at Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv, where the flight was headed, told AP that passengers on this flight are usually Iranian students returning to Ukraine after winter holidays. Two Canadian passport holders of Iranian origin were also among the dead.

 

Swedish nationals also perished in the crash, according to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

 

In a statement, Boeing said it was “aware of the media reports” of the incident, and that it was “gathering more information”.

 

Meanwhile, the airline president, Evgeny Dykhne said the plane that crashed was one of the company’s best planes, and had just been inspected on Monday.

Company vice president Igor Sosnovsky added that the plane had reached a height of 2,400 metres when the accident happened.

 

“The chances of a mistake by the crew are minimal.”

 

The incident comes just hours after Iran launched a retaliatory attack on two US military bases in Iraq.

 

The Boeing 737-800 is a common single-aisle, twin-engine jet used for short- to medium-range flights. Thousands of these planes are used by airlines around the world.

 

Introduced in the late 1990s, it is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly 10 months following two deadly crashes.

A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in accidents over the years.

 

In March 2016, a FlyDubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 people on board. Another 737-800 flight from Dubai, operated by Air India Express, crashed in May 2010 while trying to land in Mangalore, India, killing more than 150 people on board.

 

In recent years, Iran has seen several plane crashes.

 

In early 2019, a Boeing 707 military cargo plane crashed in bad weather west of the Iranian capital, killing 15 of the 16 passengers.

 

In February 2018, an Iranian passenger plane with 65 people on board crashed during a flight from Tehran to Yasuj.

 

In 2014, an Antonov-140 plane with 48 people on board crashed shortly after the takeoff from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, killing 39 people.

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Iran Fires Missiles At US Aargets In Iraq

Iran has fired more than a dozen rockets at two Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, the Pentagon confirmed.

 

The rockets fired at the Ain al-Asad base in Anbar province and a base in Erbil early on Wednesday came amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran following the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in  Iraq  last week. Iran had pledged severe retailiation.

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Russian Military Pays Respects To Soleiman Assassinated By The US

The commander of the Russian Group of Forces in Syria led a delegation to Iran’s Syria embassy mourning ceremony

 

A military delegation from a group of Russian troops in Syria visited the Iranian embassy to pay tribute and express condolences to the Iranians in connection with the death of General Soleimani, commander of the Kods IRGC Iran, as a result of the American strike. Wreaths were laid from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and directly from our group of forces in Syria.

In the photo from the Iranian embassy as part of the delegation, the commander of the group of forces (forces) of the Armed forces of the Russian Federation in the Syrian Arab Republic, General Alexander Chayko.

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Iran’s Nuclear Site Hit By Earthquake Of 4.9 Magnitude – Foreign Affairs

Magnitude 4.9 earthquake strikes 30 miles from Iran’s sole nuclear power plant just two weeks after a similar quake in the region

 

The 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck about six miles southeast of Borazjan in Iran’s south-west early on Wednesday, with a depth of six miles experts reported

Location of the quake is about 30 miles from the nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

 

It came on the same the day Iran attacked U.S. troops with missiles and a passenger plane carrying 176 people crashed after taking off from Tehran.

 

It is the second earthquake to hit the region in the last two weeks after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the same area near the power plant on December 26.

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Seyed Hassan Nasrallah: US Soldiers In Middle East Will Go Home In Coffins

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2019-03-11 09:44:12Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com

US soldiers and officers would return home in coffins in retaliation for the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleiman, secretary General of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, has said.

 

“When the coffins of American soldiers and officers begin to be transported … to the United States, (President Donald) Trump and his administration will realize that they have really lost the region and will lose the elections,” Nasrallah said in a televised address from Beirut.

 

Nasrallah noted that the response to the assassination of General Soleimani was not only Iran’s responsibility, but also that of the entire axis of resistance.

 

Nasrallah added that attacks on US military forces in the Middle East will be “fair punishment” for the crime, listing US bases, naval ships and military personnel.

 

The Hezbollah chief further noted that US act of terror marks the start of a new phase for the entire Middle East.

 

“The targeted killing of General Soleimani and Muhandis is the begging of a new era not for Iraq or Iran, but for the whole region,” Nasrallah said.

“We are witness to a heinous crime whose perpetrators are well-known. US President Donald Trump said he had ordered the (drone) strike (on the airport in Baghdad, Iraq).”

 

“More than three years into his presidency, Trump has failed to accomplish the goals he had defined at the beginning of his tenure. Previous US attempts to assassinate General Soleimani had ended in failure. All of Trump’s forms of pressure to subdue Iran have also failed to realize that goal,” he stated.—NaijaNoWell News

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Anti-War Protesters Gathered Outside The White House (Photos)

Anti-war protesters gathered outside the White House this weekend to denounce the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani last week. See the message they are delivering.

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Iran Sets $80m Bounty On Trump’s Head, Eyes White House As Target

Iran is mobilising its citizens to donate a dollar each to raise $80million to be used as bounty for Donald Trump’s head.

 

An NBC News reporter, quoted an unidentified organizer for the funeral procession for Gen Qassem Soleimani, as calling on all Iranians to donate $1 each ‘in order to gather an $80million bounty on President Trump’s head’.

 

He spoke during a funeral procession for General Qassem Soliemani in Mashad.

 

‘We can attack the White House itself, we can respond to them on the American soil. We have the power, and God willing we will respond in an appropriate time,’ the organiser said, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency.

 

Earlier on Sunday, Iranian MP Abolfazl Abutorabi threatened to launch an attack on American soil in response to the president’s warning that any strike on American interests in the region will bring massive retaliation.

 

‘When someone declares war do you want to respond to the bullets with flowers? They will shoot you in the head,’ he added.

 

Abutorabi’s threat was made during an open session of parliament in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, and just days after Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Tehran’s overseas clandestine and military operations as head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport.

 

Following massive funeral marches in Iraq, Soleimani’s body was flown to the city of Ahvaz in southwest Iran on Sunday.

 

Video from the scene shows a casket wrapped in an Iranian flag being unloaded from a plane as a military band plays and the crowd angrily chanted ‘Death to America’

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Israel Praises Trump For Soleimani Killing, Places Military On High Alert

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered its military on high alert as he expressed strong support for President Trump on Friday, less than a day after the U.S. killed top Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport.

 

Netanyahu called the U.S.’s recent attacks on Iran a “just struggle,” adding that President Trump should be praised for his actions, which likely thwarted future attacks on American citizens.

 

“Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” he told reporters after returning from a recent trip to Greece.

 

“Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks,” he said.

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3000 U.S. Soldiers Deployed To The Middle East After Soleimani’s Death

The United States has deployed nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Middle East as reinforcements in the volatile aftermath of the killing of an Iranian general in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump.

 

The soldiers are in addition to about 700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne who deployed to Kuwait earlier this week after the storming of the US Embassy compound in Baghdad by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters.

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Iran Hackers Hack Into American Government’s Website

Iran hacks US government website’ warning ‘this is just the beginning’

 

A US government website has been targeted by hackers claiming to be from Iran.

 

The website for the Federal Depository Library Program, fdlp.gov, showed a picture of Donald Trump being punched in the face, along with a message from ‘the Islamic Republic of Iran’.

 

Below the President’s bleeding face were the words ‘Hacked by Iran Cyber Security Group Hackers’ and ‘this is only a small part of Iran’s cyber ability’.

 

The chilling warning said ‘martyrdom was (Suleimani’s)… reward for years of implacable efforts’.

 

‘With his departure and with God’s power, his work and path will not cease and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and blood of the other martyrs,’ it said.

 

However, a US government spokesperson said ‘there is no confirmation’ this attack came from Iran, the Mirror reports.

 

It comes after the President warned the US will target 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacks Americans over the killing of their top general, Qassem Soleimani.

 

He said the number 52 was symbolic of the number of American hostages taken by Iran ‘many years ago’.

 

In a series of sinister tweets Trump warned that some of those targets were ‘high level’ and important to Iranian culture.

 

He said: ‘Iran itself will be hit very fast and very hard. The USA wants no more threats!’

 

Iran has vowed harsh vengeance over a US airstrike in Baghdad that killed leader of the Quds force general Qassem Soleimani.

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Iran Hoists The Red Flag Which Is A Traditional Symbol For War

Iran has declared war in a very old and traditional way. First time in centuries that they have hoisted the red flag. For them this means revenge and war.

 

Watch: First Time In The History of Iran, Red Flag hoisted Over The Holy Dome Of Jamkarān Mosque,Iran.

This is one of the most significant Mosques of Iran

 

Red Flag: A Symbol Of Severe Battle/War To Come.

 

What is written on the flag is “Ya Lisaaraat-al-Hussain”. which translates to “Vengeance for Hussain(‘s blood)”

 

Video below

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Iran Identifies 35 US Targets For Retaliatory Strikes After Soleimani’s Death

Iran threatens 35 targets for retaliatory attacks after General Soleimani’s death, including US warships in the Gulf and Tel Aviv – as White House says it expects a revenge strike ‘within weeks’

 

*The potential threat was raised by General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Guards in the southern province of Kerman

*Some of the potential targets include ships in the Gulf, as well as Tel Aviv

*Abuhamzeh said: ‘The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there’

*Iranian officials and Soleimani’s supporters have vowed vengeance against the United States for their role in the airstrike

*A congressional staffer said the White House expects Iran to retaliate ‘within weeks’

 

An Iranian official says at least 35 U.S. targets have been identified for retaliatory strikes after the country’s president chillingly vowed to exact revenge for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani.

 

Targets include ships in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and Tel Aviv.

 

Abuhamzeh said vital American targets in the region had been identified a ‘long time ago’.

 

‘The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there … some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv are within our reach,’ he said, according to Reuters.

 

A retaliation attack from Iran could be seen ‘within weeks’ either at home or abroad, a senior congressional staffer told Time.