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Russia intends to build military base in Syria, claims US

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Washington: Russia’s recent military build-up in Syria indicated that it intended to create a military base in Syria, the Pentagon said.

“We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia (Syria’s coastal province) and the air base there that suggests that it intends to establish some sort of a forward air operating base,” Xinhua news agency quoted Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis as saying on Monday.

Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA
Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA

Davis said the Pentagon was closely monitoring the build-up, but declined to provide further details regarding the Russian military personnel and equipment being flown to Syria.

While calling Russia’s military support to the Syrian government “unhelpful and risk,” Davis declined to comment on whether the US-led coalition had invited Russia to join the air campaign against IS.

“We have said before that we would welcome Russian contributions to the overall global effort against (the IS),” he said.

The New York Times on Monday reported at least seven giant Russian Condor transport planes had taken off from Russia during the past week to Syria and passed through Iranian and Iraqi airspace, citing US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the US pressure, Bulgaria, a NATO member, had already closed its airspace to the Russian planes.

However, the Iraqi government had so far yet to take actions and still kept the airspace open to Russian planes despite being urged by US diplomats to follow Bulgaria’s example earlier this month.

(IANS)

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US Dollar Weakens Amid Gloomy Economic Data

The Australian dollar rose to $0.7105 from $0.7094.

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US Dollar
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, fell 0.15 per cent at 96.9817 in late trading. Pixabay

The US dollar declined as the allure of the greenback diminished amid a slew of downbeat economic data.

In late New York trading on Thursday, the euro rose to $1.1299 from $1.1269 in the previous session, and the British pound decreased to $1.2801 from $1.2850 in the previous session, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Australian dollar rose to $0.7105 from $0.7094.

The US dollar bought 110.47 Japanese yen, lower than 110.99 Japanese yen of the previous session. The US dollar was down to 1.0047 Swiss franc from 1.0088 Swiss franc, and it increased to 1.3281 Canadian dollars from 1.3250 Canadian dollars.

US Dollar
The Australian dollar rose to $0.7105 from $0.7094. Pixabay

US retail sales in December fell 1.2 per cent from the prior month, the worst drop in nine years, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday.

The unexpected decline, which came after a downwardly revised 0.1 per cent increase in November, signals a weaker economic momentum.

ALSO READ: US Charges Former Air Force Intel Officer With Spying for Iran

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, fell 0.15 per cent at 96.9817 in late trading. (IANS)