Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.
Previous US presidents have urged Europe to take more responsibility for their defense and reduce the burden on US taxpayers of maintaining forces in Europe long after the end of the Cold War – but none as bluntly as President Trump.
Confirming President Trump’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”
The NATO summit in Brussels comes less than a week before President Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among US allies over his proximity to the Russian president.
President Trump’s main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defense budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defense by 2024.
Of NATO’s 29 members, just six meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the UK, Romania and Poland.
At a news conference after the first meetings of leaders at the summit, Jens Stoltenberg insisted that more united NATO than divided it.
“We have had discussions, we do have disagreements, but most importantly we have decisions that are pushing this alliance forward and making us stronger.
“In the history of NATO we have had many disagreements and we have been able to overcome them again and again, because at the end of the day we all agree that North America and Europe are safer together.”
All 29 NATO members released a declaration which reaffirmed a commitment to increase military spending.
The communiqué also condemned “Russian aggression”, including the annexation of Crimea, the use of a nerve agent in southern England and “election interference”.
According to new reports, the US Navy is planning to build sprawling immigrant detention centers on military bases, amid a Trump crackdown at the US-Mexico border.
A draft memo obtained by Time magazine outlines plans to build “austere” tent camps to house 25,000 migrants.
According to the memo, the camps would be built on abandoned airfields in California, Alabama, and Arizona.
A camp near San Francisco is being designed for as many as 47,000 people.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon spokesman said the military had not been asked by the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) to draw up the specific plans, but was engaging in “prudent planning… should the DHS ask for assistance in housing adult illegal immigrants”.
On June 21, the US military said it had been asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children.
The US Navy memo estimates the force would spend $233 million to run a facility for 25,000 people for six-months.
The memo gives a sense of the knock-on effect of a “zero tolerance” immigration policy being pursued by the Trump administration, in an effort to deter migrants from Central and South America from attempting to cross into the US.
A decision by the administration to criminally prosecute every migrant crossing the US-Mexico border led to some 2,300 children being separated from their parents in May and June, and sparked a global wave of outrage.
President Donald Trump eventually backed down in the face of overwhelming public pressure and signed an order to halt the family separations, but he insisted he remained committed to his “zero tolerance” policy.
Migrant children taken from their parents are being held in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Images from one facility in a converted Walmart sparked outrage earlier this week, when they showed children held in wire mesh cages, sleeping on mats with foil blankets.
On June 21, a DHS official said that about 500 children had been reunited with their families since separations began in May, but rights groups remain concern that there is not adequate information to return many young children to their parents.
On June 22, President Trump brought the parents of victims of murders by undocumented immigrants to the White House, where he signed photographs of their late children and invited them to tell their stories.
Kim Yong-chol was scheduled to fly to New York on May 30, after speaking with Chinese officials in Beijing, Yonhap reported, citing diplomatic sources.
The former spy chief would be the most high-profile North Korean official to visit the US since 2000.
The apparent introduction of Kim Yong-chol to negotiations would be significant, as it would underline North Korea’s desire to ensure the talks go ahead.
He has been part of recent high-profile diplomatic overtures by North Korea.
Kim Yong-chol, 72, is a controversial figure in neighboring South Korea, and previously served as a negotiator in inter-Korean talks.
During his time as a military intelligence head, Kim Yong-chol was accused of being behind attacks on South Korean targets, including the torpedoing of a South Korea warship which killed 46 seamen, as well as the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.
As a result of these incidents, the US imposed personal sanctions on him in 2010 and 2015.
Despite reportedly being punished for an “overbearing attitude” in 2016, Kim Yong-chol has continued to hold senior posts in the army and party, and was the head of North Korea’s delegation to the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
He is regularly seen at Kim Jongg-un’s side and has attended meetings with the leaders of China and South Korea, and met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang.
In February, Kim Yong-chol was sent to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he sat close to President Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump.
Of the 280 ex-military people on trial, the court in Izmir also served lesser sentences to a further 52 defendants.
The Izmir court gave 21 people 20 years in prison for “assisting the assassination of the president”, while 31 others were sentenced to between seven and 11 years for “membership of a terrorist organization”, state news agency Anadolu reported.
President Erdogan had backed reintroducing the death penalty for coup plotters. He also said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms. Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004.
The Turkish authorities accused a movement loyal to the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of organizing the 2016 plot.
Fethullah Gulen, who has been in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, denies any involvement, and Washington has so far resisted calls from the Turkish authorities to extradite him.
Rebel soldiers had attempted to overthrow the government overnight and plotters tried to detain Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he holidayed in an Aegean resort.
However, he had left 15 minutes before and the coup was thwarted by civilians and soldiers loyal to the president.
A purge followed the coup, in which thousands of public employees from police officers to teachers were sacked or arrested under suspicion of stirring up dissent.
Recep tayyip Erdogan’s critics say he is using the purge to stifle political dissent.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said after visiting the crash site: “There has been an unfortunate aviation accident. The news is not very promising, it seems that there is a high number of victims.”
According to authorities, it’s too early to say what caused the crash, but eyewitnesses on the ground describe seeing the jet burst into flames before crashing into a field close to a wooded area near Havana’s main airport.
Mexico’s transport department said on its website that “during take-off (the plane) apparently suffered a problem and dived to the ground”.
Boeing said that it was ready to send a technical team to Cuba, “as permitted under US law and at the direction of the US National Transportation Safety Board and Cuban authorities”. A US trade embargo has been in force against Cuba for many decades.
Four people survived the crash but one died after being transported to hospital, the director of Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital, Carlos Alberto Martinez, told Reuters.
The three survivors are all women, according to Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma: one aged between 18 and 25, one in her thirties and the third aged 39.
Both the Argentine and Mexican governments have confirmed nationals from their countries were among the dead.
The plane had been leased to state airline Cubana de Aviación by the Mexican company Aerolineas Damojh.
The Mexican authorities said the plane was built in 1979 and had been successfully inspected last November. Mexico has said it was sending two civil aviation specialists to join the investigation.
Aerolineas Damojh, also known as Global Air, has three planes in operation.
Cuba’s deadliest air crash was in 1989, when a Soviet-made Ilyushin-62M passenger plane crashed near Havana killing 126 people on board and another 24 people on the ground.
Exactly what that would entail has remained unclear, but North Korea has invited foreign media to witness the dismantling of its main nuclear test site later this month.
John Bolton recently said North Korea could follow a “Libya model” of verifiable denuclearization, but this alarms Pyongyang, which watched Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi give up his nuclear program only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later.
Kim Kye-gwan’s statement, carried by North Korea’s state media, said that if the US “corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks” and “will have to reconsider” attending the June 12 summit in Singapore.
The official said North Korea did have “high hopes” but that it was “very unfortunate that the US is provoking us ahead of the summit by spitting out ludicrous statements”.
He is known to be highly respected in the North Korean leadership and has taken part in negotiations with the US before. There is very little chance Kim Kye-gwan;s comments were not personally endorsed by Kim Jong-un.
Hours before the announcement, in a sign of growing problems, Pyongyang has also pulled out of a meeting scheduled with South Korea on May 16 because of anger over the start of US-South Korean joint military drills.
Pyonyang had earlier said it would allow them to go ahead, but then called them “a provocative military ruckus” which was undermining its diplomatic efforts.
The sudden change in tone from North Korea is said to have taken US officials by surprise. Analysts said Pyongyang could be trying to strengthen its hand before talks.
The US state department said it was continuing to plan the Trump-Kim meeting, and President Trump is yet to comment.
A 29-year-old man has been killed and other four people wounded in a knife attack in the busy Opéra district of Paris on May 12.
According to witnesses, the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) before being shot dead by police.
ISIS later said one of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
France has been on high alert following a series of attacks in Paris and Lyon. More than 230 people have been killed by ISIS-inspired jihadists in the past three years.
Security forces have identified the attacker as being born in 1997 in the Russian republic of Chechnya, although he was not carrying any identification papers and has not been officially named. Chechnya is a republic in the North Caucasus region of southern Russia.
The republic declared independence in 1991 but Russian troops invaded in 1994 to quash it, sparking a decade-long conflict.
Jihadist groups, including those aligned with ISIS, have long operated in the region.
The judicial source told French media the suspect had no criminal record and that his parents had been held for questioning. Another source told Reuters the suspect was not previously known to police.
The suspect is believed to be a French national.
This is thought to be the first time an assailant of Chechen origin has carried out a terrorist attack in France.
France is home to some 30,000 people of Chechen origin.
France’s Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the man who died was a 29-year-old passer-by, but gave no further details.
The four who were injured have also not yet been named. AFP news agency, citing sources, said a 34-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were seriously hurt, while a 26-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were slightly wounded.
Gérard Collomb said none had life-threatening injuries.
The attacker began stabbing passers-by at about 21:00 local time.
Eyewitnesses described him as a young man with brown hair and a beard, dressed in black tracksuit trousers.
The attacker tried to enter several bars and restaurants but was blocked by people inside.
Police first tried to stop the assailant with a stun-gun before shooting him dead, nine minutes after he began the attack.
No sitting US president has ever met a North Korean leader.
According to the White House, the American citizens detained in North Korea were freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the summit, which President Trump earlier said he thought would be a “big success”.
The key issue expected to be discussed is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program – over which Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un furiously sparred in 2017.
North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests since 2006, despite international condemnation and sanctions, saying it needs the weapons for its own security.
The US wants North Korea to give up its weapons program completely and irreversibly.
Ahead of the meeting, Kim Jong-un has pledged to stop nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, and also to shut down a nuclear test site.
However, analysts caution that Kim Jong-un is unlikely to easily abandon nuclear weapons that he has pushed so hard to obtain, and that “denuclearization” means something quite different to both sides.
The US and Singapore have a close relationship. Singapore has diplomatic ties with North Korea but suspended all trade with the country in November 2017 as international sanctions were tightened.
Other locations which had been considered for the Trump-Kim summit included Mongolia and the Korean border’s demilitarized zone (DMZ).
North Korea has historically used its foreign prisoners as leverage in its diplomatic dealings.
One of the detainees was jailed in 2015, the other two have been in prison for just over a year. Their convictions have been widely condemned as political and an abuse of human rights.
The last American to be freed – Otto Warmbier, who was jailed for stealing a hotel sign – was released last year but was fatally ill, and died shortly after returning home. The cause of death remains unexplained.
Mike Pompeo said a “good relationship” was formed at the first meeting in April, which marked the highest level US contact with North Korea since 2000.
A state department official travelling with Mike Pompeo said the US would also be “listening for signs from North Korea that things have substantially changed” with the nation’s nuclear ambitions.
Last month, President Trump stunned the international community by accepting North Korea’s suggestion for direct talks – it will be an unprecedented move for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.
President Trump referred to Mike Pompeo’s latest visit while announcing that the US was withdrawing from the nuclear agreement with Iran.
President Donald Trump has announced he will withdraw the US from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.
Calling it “decaying and rotten”, President Trump said the deal was “an embarrassment” to him “as a citizen”.
Going against advice from European allies, the president said he would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.
Iran has responded saying that it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.
“I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to be ready to start the enrichment of uranium at industrial levels.”
Image source Flickr
Hassan Rouhani said he would “wait a few weeks” to speak to allies and the other signatories to the nuclear deal.
According to the Treasury, economic sanctions would not be re-imposed on Iran immediately, but would be subject to 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods.
In a statement on its website, the Treasury said sanctions would be re-imposed on the industries mentioned in the 2015 deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft exports, precious metals trade, and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes.
The UK, France and Germany – who are also signatories to the deal – have said they “regret” the American decision.
The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU was “determined to preserve” the deal.
However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he “fully supports” President Trump’s “bold” withdrawal from a “disastrous” deal.
Donald Trump had previously complained that the deal only limited Iran’s nuclear activities for a fixed period; had failed to stop the development of ballistic missiles; and had handed Iran a $100 billion windfall that it used “as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression” across the Middle East.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was involving in negotiating the deal, tweeted that pulling out of it risked “dragging the world back to the brink we faced a few years ago”.
The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) saw Iran agree to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium – which is used to make reactor fuel, but also nuclear weapons – for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years.
Iran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb.
President Moon Jae-in’s spokesman said that Kim Jong-un had stated he “would carry out the closing of the nuclear test site in May”.
Yoon Young-chan added that the North Korean leader had also said he “would soon invite experts of South Korea and the US to disclose the process to the international community with transparency”.
President Moon Jae-in’s office also said North Korea would change its time zone – currently half an hour different – to match that of South Korea.
North Korea has so far made no public comments on the issue.
Situated in mountainous terrain in the north-east, the Punggye-ri site is thought to be North Korea’s main nuclear facility.
The nuclear tests have taken place in a system of tunnels dug below Mount Mantap, near the Punggye-ri site.
Six nuclear tests have been carried out there since 2006.
After the last nuclear test, in September 2017, a series of aftershocks hit the site, which seismologists believe collapsed part of the mountain’s interior.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency Kim Jong-un made an apparent reference to these reports, saying: “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that they are in good condition.”
The information about the Punggye-ri site has been gathered mainly from satellite imagery and tracking the movement of equipment at the location.
Kim Jong-un has become the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
In a moment rich with symbolism and pomp, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un shook hands at the border.
Kim Jong-un said it was the “starting point” for peace, after crossing the military line that divides the peninsula. He also pledged a “new history” in relations with his neighbor.
His visit comes just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea.
Much of what the summit will focus on has been agreed in advance, but many analysts remain skeptical about North Korea’s apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in were met on April 27 by an honor guard in traditional costume on the South Korean side. The leaders walked to the Peace House in Panmunjom, a military compound in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries.
The North Korean leader then invited the South Korean president to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the pair stepped back into South Korea – all the while holding hands.
It was an apparently unscripted moment during a highly choreographed sequence of events.
When the first session ended, the pair separated for lunch and Kim Jong-un returned to North Korea in a heavily guarded black limousine.
When he returned in the afternoon, the leaders took part in a ceremony consisting of the planting of a pine tree using soil and water from both countries.
Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in shoveled soil on the roots of the tree and unveiled a stone marker featuring their names, official titles and a message that read: “Planting peace and prosperity.”
The Korean summit will conclude with the leaders signing an agreement and delivering a joint statement before dinner. The banquet will be held on South Korea’s side and the menu is as symbolic as the other rituals.
According to local sources, Kim Jong-un will serve Swiss potato dish rosti – a nod to his time studying in Switzerland – along with North Korea’s signature dish of cold noodles, and North Korean liquor.
Kim Jong-un is accompanied by nine officials, including his powerful and influential sister Kim Yo-jong.
The Korean meeting – the first between Korean leaders in more than a decade – is seen as a step toward possible peace on the peninsula and marks the first summit of its kind for Kim Jong-un.
The summit carries promise for both Koreas with topics being discussed ranging from nuclear technology and sanctions to separated families, and is seen as an opportunity to foster economic co-operation.
Ahead of talks with President Moon at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, Kim Jong-un said: “I feel that [we] have fired a flare at the starting point… the moment of writing a new history vis-à-vis peace, prosperity and North-South relations.”
He also wrote in a guestbook: “A new history begins now.”
The White House has expressed hope that the talks will achieve progress towards peace ahead a proposed meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in the coming weeks – an unprecedented move.
Talks are likely to focus on reaching an agreement on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has advanced significantly since the last summit more than a decade ago.
South Korea has warned that a deal to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons will be “difficult” to achieve.
Kim Jong-un announced last week that he was suspending nuclear tests.
The move was welcomed by the US and South Korea, although Chinese experts have indicated that North Korea’s nuclear test may be unusable after a rock collapse following its last nuclear test.
As well as addressing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in are expected to discuss a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, as well as economic and social issues.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying that Tehran would “most likely” abandon the accord if the US pulled out.
Referring to the 2015 accord which he described as “insane”, President Trump said: “They should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron agreed that Tehran’s influence in the region must be part of negotiations.
The French president also stressed that – as well as controlling Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade as envisaged by the current agreement – a fresh deal would need to cover its nuclear activities longer-term, as well as its ballistic missile program.
Emmanuel Macron talked about working with President Trump to build a “new framework” in the Middle East – and especially in Syria.
He said he did not know whether President Trump would extend the May 12 deadline, adding: “I can say that we have had very frank discussions on that, just the two of us.”
President Trump earlier warned Iran against resuming its nuclear program.
“They’re not going to be restarting anything. They restart it they’re going to have big problems, bigger than they’ve ever had before,”
On April 23, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened “severe consequences” if the US withdrew from the deal.
Meanwhile, Javad Zarif said just hours before the Trump-Macron summit that a probable response would be to restart the enrichment of uranium – a key bomb-making ingredient.
Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful civilian purposes.
Ten people have been killed and other 15 injured after driver of a rented van ploughed into pedestrians in northern Toronto on April 23.
Canadian police are questioning the suspected driver, named as Alek Minassian, 25.
He was not previously known to authorities, police said.
According to officials, the incident appeared to be deliberate but the motive was not clear.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said the “tragic and senseless attack” had brought him “great sadness”.
Meanwhile, an officer has been praised for not opening fire during a tense standoff with the suspect, who claimed to be armed.
Video broadcast on CBC News showed a man pointing what appeared to be a gun at officers and shouting “kill me”.
The officer tells the man to “get down” and when the suspect says he has a gun, the officer repeats: “I don’t care. Get down.”
The suspect was then arrested without shots being fired.
Canadian police said the white rental van mounted the kerb on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue at about 13:30 local time on April 23 and drove into pedestrians along a 1.24 mile stretch.
Pictures from the scene showed bodies covered in orange sheets along the van’s route. Debris and items of clothing were scattered across the pavements and road.
The van was brought to a halt by police several streets away and was quickly surrounded.
The suspect was arrested 26 minutes after the first emergency call was made to the police.
Police said Alek Minassian was from the northern Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill and was not previously known to authorities.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said: “The actions definitely looked deliberate.”
Public safety minister Ralph Goodale said there “would appear to be no national security connections” and Canadian broadcaster CBC cited government officials as saying he was not associated with any known terror groups.
Alek Minassian had previously attended a school for students with special needs in north Toronto, former classmates said.
Van rental company Ryder System Inc confirmed that one of its vehicles was involved and said it was co-operating with authorities.
The incident happened while foreign ministers of the G7 leading industrialized nations – Canada, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – were holding talks in Toronto.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the G7 meetings would continue on April 24 as planned.
Mike Pompeo’s trip was the highest level meeting with a North Korean leader since 2000 when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, in Pyongyang.
In 2014, the then-head of National Intelligence James Clapper visited North Korea in a secret mission to negotiate the release of two US citizens. James Clapper did not meet Kim Jong-un during his trip.
President Trump stunned the international community last month by accepting North Korea’s suggestion for direct talks. It would be unprecedented for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.
Donald Trump said the summit would take place either in early June or “a little before that” and that several sites were under consideration but that none of them were in the US.
Analysts have speculated that a location for talks could be the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea, Beijing, another Asian country, Europe or even a vessel in international waters.
North Korea has been isolated for decades because of its well-documented human rights abuses and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of international laws and UN sanctions.
Pyongyang has carried out six nuclear tests, and has missiles that could reach the US.
However, South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in February gave an unexpected window for diplomacy and in the weeks since there have been a flurry of visits to North Korea from China, South Korea and now the US.
President Trump’s estimate that a meeting could take place in June or earlier appears to be one the administration is taking seriously.
However, news of Mike Pompeo’s visit is also likely to overshadow the other key diplomatic balancing act under way, which is the important relationship with Japan, a key US ally and neighbor of North Korea.
There have been fears in Tokyo that President Trump’s plans for bilateral talks could sideline Japan and Shinzo Abe is currently in Washington for talks with the US leader.
Relations between the two men appeared cordial on this, the second time that President Trump has welcomed Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort.
On April 17, President Trump insisted that the two countries were “very unified on the subject of North Korea”, and PM Shinzo Abe praised the president’s handling of the North Korea issue.
However, observers say Shinzo Abe’s goal for his US trip will be to persuade President Trump as much as he can not to sway from the West’s hard line on North Korea.
PM Shinzo Abe has repeatedly sought to portray a close personal relationship with President Trump and was the first foreign leader to meet him in New York after his election victory in 2016.
At a Pentagon briefing shortly after President Trump’s announcement, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets that had been struck: a scientific research facility in Damascus, allegedly connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs; a chemical weapons equipment storage and an important command post, also near Homs.
Syrian state TV said government forces had shot down more than a dozen missiles, and claimed only the research facility in Damascus had been damaged.
It also said that 3 civilians had been injured in Homs.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters there were no reports of US losses in the operation.
In his earlier address, President Donald Trump had said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
However, Secretary James Mattis said that “right now, this is a one-time shot”. Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed the wave of strikes had ended.
Gen. Joseph Dunford said the US had specifically identified targets that would “mitigate” the risk of Russian casualties. However, the Pentagon said that Russia – which has forces on the ground in Syria in support of the government – had not been given advance notice of the targets.
On the same time, UK PM Theresa May confirmed British involvement, saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.
She also said the strikes were not about “regime change”.
According to the UK ministry of defense, UK strikes carried out by four Tornado jets hit one of the targets mentioned by the Pentagon – a military site near the city of Homs which is believed to have housed precursor materials for chemical weapons.
France President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed his country’s participation in the operation.
“Dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons,” President Macron said of the Douma incident a week ago – adding that “the red line had been crossed”.
Syria has denied carrying out the Douma attack and Russia had warned that Western military strikes would risk starting a war.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dispatched a fact-finding mission to the site of the alleged attack in Syria. Investigators were due to start their probe on April 14.
Sana, Syria’s official state news agency, called the western action “a flagrant violation of international law”.
It said: “The American, French and British aggression against Syria will fail.”
A US official told Reuters that Tomahawk cruise missiles were being used against multiple locations in Syria.
President Donald Trump has said that Russia should “get ready” for missiles to be fired at its ally Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on April 7.
The president tweeted: “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and <<smart>>!”
Senior Russian figures have threatened to meet any US strikes with a response.
The Syrian government denies mounting a chemical attack on Douma.
In one his tweets on April 11, President Trump called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “gas killing animal”.
In another, President Trump painted a dark picture of US-Russia relations but said it did not have to be that way.
He tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”
Meanwhile, the US, UK and France have agreed to work together and are believed to be preparing for a military strike in response to the alleged chemical attack at the weekend.
Syrian opposition activists and rescuers say government aircraft dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals on Douma.
According to the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS), which operates in rebel-held areas, and local aid workers, more than 500 people had been treated for symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.
On April 11, the UN’s World Health Organization demanded access to verify reports from its partners, which include SAMS, that 70 people had died – including 43 who showed “symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals”.
Meanwhile, a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is due to deploy to Syria “shortly” to determine whether banned weapons were used.
The town of Douma, the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus, was under renewed assault from Syrian and Russian forces last week.
Image source Flickr
Rebels have now been evacuating Douma under an agreement involving the Russian military.
Russia said it would deploy military police to Douma on April 12 and that the situation there had stabilized.
Several senior Russian figures have warned of a Russian response to a US attack, with Alexander Zasypkin, Moscow’s ambassador to Lebanon, repeating on April 11 a warning by the head of the military that missiles would be shot down and their launch sites targeted if they threatened the lives of Russian personnel.
Also on April 11, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked whether the aim of Western strikes might be “to quickly remove the traces of the provocation… [so] international inspectors will have nothing to look for in terms of evidence”.
Addressing new ambassadors in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said the world was becoming more chaotic. He said he hoped common sense would prevail and that the situation would stabilize.
President Putin said Russia would “keep all its international obligations in full”.
On April 10, President Trump cancelled his first official trip to Latin America so he could focus on Syria.
On April 11, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US was still assessing the chemical attack and that the US military stood ready “to provide military options if they are appropriate as the president determines”.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron said any strikes would “not target allies of the [Syrian] regime or attack anyone, but rather attack the regime’s chemical capabilities”.
However, The Times newspaper reports that the UK’s PM Theresa May has urged President Trump to provide more evidence of the suspected chemical attack.
A US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is in the Mediterranean Sea.
On April 10, the UN Security Council failed to approve moves to set up an inquiry into the alleged attack on Douma.
As permanent members of the council, Russia and the US vetoed each other’s proposals to set up independent investigations.
The US-drafted resolution would have allowed investigators to apportion blame for the suspected attack, while Russia’s version would have left that to the Security Council.
The OPCW’s fact-finding mission will not seek to establish who was responsible for the attack.
In response Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, denied his country’s involvement in the attack and demanded “material proof” from Britain to support its charge.
The US ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington stood in “absolute solidarity” with the UK, citing the “special relationship” between the two countries.
The mass expulsion is the largest since 31 were ordered out in 1985 after double agent Oleg Gordievsky defected.
Former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital after being found slumped on a bench on March 4.
Russia refused to meet Theresa May’s midnight deadline to co-operate in the case, prompting her to announce a series of measures intended to send a “clear message” to Russia: expelling 23 diplomats; increasing checks on private flights, customs and freight; freezing Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents; ministers and the Royal Family boycotting the FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year; suspending all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the UK and Russia and planning to consider new laws to increase defenses against “hostile state activity”.
Kim Jong-un is hosting a dinner for two South Korean delegates, the first time officials from Seoul have met the North Korean leader since he took office in 2011, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
The dinner has been confirmed by a South Korean presidential spokesman.
The South Korean delegation is in Pyongyang for rare talks partly aimed at restarting dialogue between North Korea and the US.
Relations between North Korea and South Korea have warmed following the PyeongChang Winter Games.
In an unprecedented move the delegation includes two ministerial-level envoys – intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security adviser Chung Eui-yong.
According to the North Korean state radio, the delegation was met by Ri Son-gwon, North Korea’s reunification chief, who led talks in the weeks before the Winter Olympics.
During the two-day visit, the South Korean group will focus on establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and Pyongyang.
Chung Eui-yong had earlier told a press briefing he would deliver President Moon Jae-in’s “resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North… [and] to denuclearize the Korean peninsula”.
On March 3, President Donald Trump said that the US would be prepared to meet North Korea, but reiterated that Pyongyang would first have to “denuke”.
However, North Korea – which has said it wants to talk to the US – said it was “preposterous” for the US to insist on preconditions.
It’s remains unclear who would represent the US in any such meeting.
The top US diplomat on North Korea Joseph Yun announced his decision to retire earlier last week, a departure which could hamper the Trump administration.
The relationship between the US and North Korea were particularly tense before the Winter Olympics, with both countries repeatedly threatening each other with total destruction.
The US has distanced itself from the North Korean overtures during the Games.
VP Mike Pence has said there is “no daylight” between the US and its regional allies on the need to “continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program.
In a recent interview, President Donald Trump has warned that Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue.
The president also told the Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace.
He angered Palestinians in December when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Donald Trump also threatened to withhold aid unless Palestinians agreed to talks.
The interview was published on February 11.
Asked by editor-in-chief Boaz Bismouth when the US would present its peace plan, President Trump said: “We will see what happens. Right now the Palestinians are not into making peace, they are just not into it. Regarding Israel, I am not certain it, too, is interested in making peace so we will just need to wait and see what happens.”
Asked whether Israeli settlements would form part of the peace plan, the president said: “We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”
More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
President Trump said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had been a highlight of his first year in office.
Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital but the Palestinians want East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will no longer accept the US as a mediator following the controversial recognition of Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli military, one of its F-16 fighter jet has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire after an offensive against Iranian targets in Syria.
The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted: “Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel.”
Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.
Israel was carrying out strikes after the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was intercepted.
Syria accused Israel of “aggression”, as Israel then launched more strikes.
In a statement, the Israeli military said “a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.
It said the drone was identified quickly and was “under surveillance until the interception”.
The drone went down on Israeli territory and was “in our possession”, IDF spokesperson Brig Gen Ronen Manelis said.
The military said that in response the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”. It said the mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed.
After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.
It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down near Harduf for other reasons.
Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defenses opened fire in response to an Israeli act of “aggression” against a military base on February 10, hitting “more than one plane”.
Meanwhile, Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – dismissed as “lies” Israeli claims that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace, news wires report.