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Russia joins Assad-led government forces against IS in Syria

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This image is for representation purpose only. Photo Credit: english.pravda.ru

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Beirut: In a move that could further complicate the crisis in Middle East, the Russian forces are reported to have joined the government forces led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in their fight against the Islamic State (IS).

This image is for representation purpose only. Photo Credit: www.theway.co.uk
This image is for representation purpose only. Photo Credit: www.theway.co.uk

Three Lebanese sources on the condition of anonymity confirmed this on Wednesday to Reuters but added that the number of Russians involved in the civil strife are still very small, according to an Economic Times report.

Russian government believes that Assad-led Syrian government should be involved in the larger fight against the IS that now controls large parts of Syria. But, US government sees Assad as a part of the problem itself.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke again to his Russian counterpart regarding increasing Russian military involvement in Syria and warned them that it could further complicate the situation and make way for more violence.

The ET report quoted White House spokesman Eric Schultz as saying: “We would welcome constructive Russian contributions to the counter-ISIL (i.e. Islamic State) effort, but we’ve been clear that it would be unconscionable for any party, including the Russians, to provide any support to the Assad regime.”

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Russian Lawmakers Come Up In Support For Bill on ‘Sovereign’ Internet

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

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The coat of arms of Russia is reflected in a laptop screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 12, 2019. Pixabay

Russian lawmakers backed tighter internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia’s internet and be used to stifle dissent.

The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament.

The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

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The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament. Pixabay

The legislation was drafted in response to what its authors describe as an aggressive new U.S. national cybersecurity strategy passed last year.

The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.”

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter.

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The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.” Pixabay

The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

The legislation, which can still be amended, but which is expected to pass, is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its internet segment.

Also Read: Now Russian Telecom Watchdog To Direct Facebook, Twitter to Localise Users’ Database

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in the last five years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.(VOA)