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Syrian Conflict Update: Australia expresses regret over botched Syrian airstrikes

Australian prime minister expresses regret over the botched aircraft operation

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The airstrike operation which went wrong claimed the lives of 900 syrian soldiers. Image Courtesy:VOA
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  • Australia has expressed deep regret for its part in a botched airstrike in Syria that killed scores of Syrian government soldiers and endangered the fragile ceasefire in the region.
  • Australian defense officials have said the operation was targeting an Islamic State vessel that it had been following for some time.
  • It is reported that about 900 Syrian soldiers were mistakenly killed during the raid near a military port.

Australia has expressed deep regret for its part in a botched airstrike in Syria that killed scores of Syrian government soldiers and endangered the fragile ceasefire in the region. The attack was led by the U.S. military that said the coalition believed it was targeting positions of the so-called Islamic State.

The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he regretted the loss of life and injury but will not speculate about why the air strike in eastern Syria went so badly wrong. It is reported that up to 90 Syrian government soldiers were mistakenly killed during the raid near a military airport.

Australian defense officials have said the coalition operation was targeting what was thought to have been an Islamic State fighting unit it had been tracking for some time.

Speaking in New York, where he is attending the United Nations’ General assembly, Turnbull told reporters the airstrikes were aborted as soon as the mistake came to light.

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“There were Australian aircraft involved in the operation. As soon as the commanders were advised that there were Syrian government forces affected the operation was discontinued and we regret the loss of life,” said Turnbull.

The strikes, which were abandoned when Russian forces notified the Americans, have increased tensions in a complex conflict. Analysts believe the botched raid will strain relations between Washington and Moscow, which have vastly different agendas in Syria.

Canberra has deployed six warplanes to the U.S.-led mission in Iraq and Syria, where it began bombing militant positions a year ago.Official defense department figures show Australian fighter jets have carried out 1,689 missions over Iraq and 42 over Syria.

Australia’s Air Task Group also includes an early warning aircraft and a transporter.

(VOA)

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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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400 mn using Facebook Watch, now available on desktop. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)