Moscow :Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country has already started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria as part of its efforts to ensure the safety of Russian forces in the Arab country.
“The delivery has been started already. And as President [Vladimir] Putin said, after that incident […] the measures which we will take will be devoted to ensure 100 percent safety and security of our men in Syria,” said Lavrov at a press conference following his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.
By “incident,” Lavrov meant the recent downing of a Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defenses, which both Moscow and Damascus blame on the Israeli regime’s fighter jets.
Israeli fighter jets attacking Syrian military posts misled the country’s air defenses into shooting down the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane on September 17, killing all 15 passengers onboard.
Moscow says the Israeli fighter jets were responsible for Syria’s downing of a Russian aircraft as they hid themselves behind it.
Russia says it had suspended the delivery of its S-300 missile defense system for years over concerns raised by Tel Aviv; however, the recent plane crash prompted the Kremlin to press ahead with its earlier plan to deliver the missile system to Syria within two weeks in a bid to boost the Arab country’s air defense capabilities and take “adequate retaliatory measures”.
Shortly after Moscow announced its decision to deliver the missile system, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called President Putin to warn him about the delivery.
In the Monday phone conversation, Netanyahu claimed the delivery of the missile defense system would increase dangers in the region, a statement by his office said.
Tel Aviv has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria, fearing this would prevent its jet fighters from launching illegal aggressions against targets in the Syrian territory.
The US has also called Kremlin’s decision a “major mistake.” US National Security Advisor John Bolton recently warned Russia against the decision, advising it against escalating the already high tensions in the Middle East region.
John Bolton says providing the Syrian military with the advanced Russian air defense system only escalates the already high tensions in the region.
Idlib no safe passage for extremists
Addressing the same press conference on Friday, Lavrov referred to his country’s recent agreement with Turkey over the northern province of Idlib, where both anti-government militants and Takfiri terrorists are living, and said Moscow won’t let terrorists use Idlib as a safe passage to run away.
Based on the deal, Ankara has agreed to separate the armed opposition from radicals and extremists who belong to groups branded as terrorists by the United Nations.
“There is talk that they will be sent off to other hotspots, for example Afghanistan,” Lavrov said, slamming the decision as unacceptable and vowing not to let that happen.
The Russian diplomat underlined that the terrorists have to be eliminated or there has to be a judicial process to punish them.
The leaders of Turkey and Russia said on September 17 they had agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone to separate Syrian government troops from Takfiri militant groups in Idlib. The deal came amid Turkey’s concerns about thousands of terrorists living in the province.
Amid Indo-Pak tension, Navy deployed nuclear submarines, aircraft carrier
New Delhi: Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarine Chakra, 60 ships and nearly 80 aircraft were put on operational deployment by the Indian Navy in the North Arabian sea in the wake of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, officials said.
They said the naval assets were part of a mega exercise but they transited from the area of the drill for operational deployment soon after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that increased tensions between Pakistan and India.
At a tri-services press conference on February 28, the Indian Navy said it was in a high state of readiness to “deter, prevent and defeat” any “misadventure” by Pakistan in the maritime domain, reflecting a sense of its preparedness as well as seriousness of the situation.
“The major combat units of the Indian Navy including the Carrier Battle Group with INS Vikramaditya, nuclear submarines and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode as tensions between India and Pakistan escalated,” Navy Spokesperson Capt DK Sharma said.
The naval assets comprising 60 ships of the Indian Navy, 12 ships of the Indian Coast Guard, and 60 aircraft were part of the theatre level operational readiness exercise (TROPEX 19), which commenced on January 19 in Andaman and Nicobar islands, and was to be concluded on March 10.
However, the Jaish-e-Mohammed sponsored Pulwama attack on February 14 led to the rapid redeployment of ships, submarines and aircraft for operations in North Arabian sea, Capt Sharma said.
“The overwhelming superiority of Indian Navy in all three dimensions — on surface, under-sea and in air — forced the Pakistan Navy to remain deployed close to the Makran coast and not venture out in the open ocean,” he said.
Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, Indian fighter jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26. Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations next day.
Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will assess outcome of the TROPEX in the Kochi naval base on Monday.
The day-long review by Admiral Lanba with all operational commanders is intended to examine the conduct of the exercise and to assess the operational preparedness of the Indian Navy, said the Navy spokesperson.
Exercise Tropex was followed by the largest coastal defence drill — ‘Sea Vigil’ on January 22 and 23 with participation of 13 coastal states and union territories along with all maritime stakeholders.
‘Don’t have any grudge’: Husband of victim says he forgives NZ mosque gunman
Christchurch: A man whose wife was killed in the Christchurch attack as she rushed back into a mosque to rescue him said he harbours no hatred toward the gunman, insisting forgiveness is the best path forward.
“I would say to him ‘I love him as a person’,” Farid Ahmad told AFP. “I could not accept what he did. What he did was a wrong thing.”
Asked if he forgave the 28-year-old white supremacist suspect, he said: “Of course. The best thing is forgiveness, generosity, loving and caring, positivity.”
Husna Ahmad, 44, was killed at the Al Noor mosque — the first of two targeted by the gunman.
Fifty people, at least four of them women, were killed in the attack on the mosques where worshippers had gone for Friday prayers.
Ahmad and his wife emigrated from Bangladesh to New Zealand in 1990 and have one daughter.
When the shooting started, Husna helped several people escape from the women’s and children’s hall.
“She was screaming ‘come this way, hurry up’, and she took many children and ladies towards a safe garden,” Ahmad said.
“Then she was coming back for checking about me, because I was in a wheelchair, and as she was approaching the gate she was shot. She was busy saving lives, forgetting about herself.”
Ahmad, 59, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being hit by a drunk driver in 1998, believes he escaped the hail of bullets because the gunman was focused on other targets.
“This guy was shooting one person two, three times, probably that gave some time to us to move out… even the dead he was shooting them again.”
Ahmad, who was a butcher but now sells homeopathy products, did not see his wife when he left the mosque and only learned of her death after someone photographed her body.
“Her picture was out in the social media, so somebody showed me the picture and I identified quite easily.”
China says 13,000 Xinjiang ‘terrorists’ arrested since 2014
Beijing: China says it has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists in the traditionally Islamic region of Xinjiang since 2014 and broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs.”
The figures were included in a government report on the situation in the restive northwestern territory that seeks to respond to growing criticism over the internment of an estimated 1 million members of the Uighur (WEE-gur) and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.
China describes the camps as vocational training centers and says participation is voluntary. Former detainees say they were held in abusive conditions, forced to renounce Islam and swear allegiance to China’s ruling Communist Party.
The lengthy report issued Monday also says “law-based de-radicalization” in Xinjiang has curbed the rise and spread of religious extremism.