Tuesday October 24, 2017
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Terror Strikes Again: Several injured in car bombing in Damascus, Syria

The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations.

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Car bombing in Damascus, several injured. Image Source: aljazeera
  • The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations
  • In another development Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government helicopter gunships dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing at least 12 people
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed trying to establish closer military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Russia to fight extremist groups in Syria

A car bomb exploded in a heavily policed area of Syria’s capital, causing several injuries as well as damage to government buildings, according to Syria’s state media.

Car bombing in Damascus. Image Source: aljazeera
Car bombing in Damascus. Image Source: aljazeera

The explosion took place Monday in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, which houses many security installations.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence in Syria, said the blast was near an Iranian school and caused causalities, but did not give further details.

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Car bombings in the central part of Damascus are relatively rare.

In another development Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government helicopter gunships dropped barrel bombs on residential neighborhoods in Aleppo, killing at least 12 people.

Israeli missiles caused material damage. Image Source: VoaNews
Israeli missiles caused material damage. Image Source: VoaNews

Also Monday, the Israeli military said it struck a target in Syria in response to mortar fire that hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s military said the Israeli missiles caused only material damage.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said any military cooperation between the Untied States and Russia to strike targets in Syria would be transactional and not based on trust. At a news conference at the Pentagon, Carter and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said any cooperation with Russia would include measures to ensure U.S. operation security.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed trying to establish closer military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Russia to fight extremist groups in Syria.

State Secretary John Kerry. Image Source: VoaNews
State Secretary John Kerry. Image Source: VoaNews

Following a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Kerry responded to comments made by Carter and Dunford by saying that he still has some concerns about whether Russia is really prepared to step up and work with U.S. forces in Syria. That’s why, Kerry said, he didn’t publicly announce any kind of cooperation with Russia.

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“Because we’ve been disappointed in the past,” he said.

Kerry said “a lot of homework” still needs to be completed before either Russia or the U.S. makes any public announcements, but discussions will continue to be held “quietly.” He said he hopes to make a public announcement about a plan by the first week in August.

Source: VoaNews

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White House: Judge’s Decision Halting Travel Ban ‘Dangerously Flawed’

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A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.VOA

The White House is reacting furiously to a federal judge blocking President Donald Trump’s latest executive Travel Ban order that would have banned entry to travelers from several countries beginning Wednesday.

“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday shortly after Judge Derrick Watson ruled against restrictions on travelers from six countries the Trump administration said could not provide enough information to meet U.S. security standards.

The travel ban order would have barred to various degrees travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Watson’s temporary restraining order does not interfere with restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.

Justice Department defends White House

The Justice Department “will vigorously defend the president’s lawful action,” the White House said, contending its proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review.

The Justice Department called the ruling incorrect and said it will appeal the decision “in an expeditious manner.”

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.”

Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke
Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

No change for North Korea, Venezuela

The new travel order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the United States,'” Judge Watson wrote in his opinion.

The White House argues that its restrictions “are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”

Officials in the White House are expressing confidence that further judicial review will uphold the president’s action.

Hawaii involved for third time

Consular officials have been told to resume “regular processing of visas” for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a State Department official.

The suit on which Judge Watson ruled on Tuesday was filed by the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii and various individuals.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”(VOA)

 

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

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In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)

 

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Kurdish Red Crescent: IS Attacks Kill at Least 50 in East Syria

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Syrian Democratic Forces
A female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces stands near a military tank in the village of Abu Fas, Hasaka province, Syria. voa

Islamic State suicide attackers killed at least 50 people in a triple car bomb attack on Thursday among a group of refugees in northeast Syria, a medical source in the Kurdish Red Crescent said.

A large number of people were also injured by the three car bombs, the source said.

The attack took place at Abu Fas, near the border of Deir el-Zour and Hasaka provinces, said a war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said earlier that at least 18 people had been killed.

The dead included refugees fleeing the fighting in Deir el-Zour as well as members of the Kurdish Asayish security force, the observatory reported. Syrian state television said dozens had been killed in the attack.

The jihadist group has lost swaths of its territory in both Syria and Iraq this year and is falling back on the towns and villages of the Euphrates valley southeast of Deir el-Zour.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias is pressing it from the north, and a rival offensive by the Syrian army, supported by allies including Iran and Russia, is attacking it from the west.

On Wednesday, Islamic State said it had carried out an attack in the capital, Damascus, where three suicide bombers detonated their devices near a police headquarters, killing two people and wounding six.

Aid agencies have warned that the fighting in eastern Syria is the worst in the country this year and that airstrikes have caused hundreds of civilian casualties.(VOA)