Monday January 22, 2018
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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
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  • 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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Travel Ban
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)