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Trump says US will withdraw from Syria ‘very soon’

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Washington :President Donald Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from Syria “very soon,” just hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for American troops to remain in the war-torn country.
“We will be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” Trump said o during a speech on infrastructure spending in the state of Ohio.
The US has reportedly more than 2,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria, in addition to several thousand others in the Arab country’s north.
“But we’re going to be coming out of there real soon. Going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be,” Trump said.
Trump also complained that the US has wasted trillions of dollars in Middle East wars, but gets “nothing” in return.
“We spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. And you know what we have for it? Nothing,” Trump declared, promising to focus future US spending on building jobs and infrastructure at home.
“Remember I used to say ‘keep the oil’ as a civilian. We never kept the oil. If we kept the oil, we would have been OK. If we kept the oil, we wouldn’t have ISIS (Daesh), because you know who kept a lot of the oil: ISIS. That’s how they funded themselves. They kept the oil. We didn’t keep the oil. Stupid, stupid,” he said.
Trump’s remarks on pulling out of Syria were made just hours after chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told reporters that “important work remains to guarantee the lasting defeat of these violent extremists”, referring to Daesh.
In January, then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the US military would remain in Syria indefinitely.
A top Russian security official says the US has set up around 20 military bases in areas controlled by the Kurdish militants it supports in northern Syria.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
Syria has on several occasions written to the UN, complaining that the US was flagrantly violating its sovereignty. The US supports militants fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad and has repeatedly attacked Syrian army positions.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova voiced alarm at US plans to fortify its military presence in Syria, saying heavy equipment was arriving at the American base in the eastern town of al-Tanf in Homs Province.
“We are still concerned about reports that the United States and its allies are consolidating their illegal military presence in the territory of sovereign Syria. In particular, heavy military equipment is arriving in the zone established by the United States around the settlements of al-Tanf in the southeast of the country,” Zakharova said.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has on several occasions written to the UN, complaining that the US is flagrantly violating the sovereignty of Syria by targeting residential neighborhoods.
The US also supports militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has directly targeted Syrian military positions.


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International

Israel to name Golan settlement after Trump

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JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to name a new settlement in the occupied Golan after US President Donald Trump in appreciation of his recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty there.
Netanyahu, who has been on a trip to the region with his family for the week-long Passover holiday, said in a video message that he would present a resolution to the government calling for a new settlement named after the US president.
“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he said.
Trump again broke with longstanding international consensus on March 25 when he recognised Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the part of the strategic plateau it seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The decision came only two weeks ahead of a tightly contested Israeli election, which saw Netanyahu win a fifth term in office.
Trump has shifted US policy sharply in Israel’s favour since taking office, most notably by recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel annexed 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan it seized in 1981, a move never recognised by the international community.
Around 18,000 Syrians from the Druze sect — most of whom refuse to take Israeli citizenship — remain in the occupied Golan.
Some 20,000 Israeli settlers have moved there, spread over 33 settlements.

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International

New Zealand PM says no intelligence linking Sri Lanka attacks to Christchurch

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Wellington: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government was not aware of any intelligence suggesting that a devastating attack on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for deadly shootings on a mosques in Christchurch.
Sri Lanka’s junior minister for defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told his country’s parliament that an initial investigation had revealed the coordinated bombings on churches and hotels, which killed 321 people, had been carried out in revenge for deadly shootings in two New Zealand mosques on March 15.
Ardern’s office said the prime minister had seen reports of the minister’s statement.
“We understand the Sri Lankan investigation into the attack is in its early stages. New Zealand has not yet seen any intelligence upon which such an assessment might be based,” a spokeswoman for Ardern said in an emailed statement.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and named what it said were seven attackers who carried them out. It gave no further evidence to support its claim of responsibility.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a news conference investigators were making progress in identifying the perpetrators and believed there could be some links to ISIS.
Sri Lanka’s junior defence minister had earlier told Parliament that two Sri Lankan Islamist groups – the National Thawheed Jama’ut and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – were responsible for the blasts early on Sunday during Easter services and as high-end hotels served breakfast.
He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the killing of 50 people at mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers in March.A lone gunman carried out those attacks. A suspected white supremacist has been charged with murder in connection to the shootings.
“New Zealanders oppose terrorism and extreme violence in all its forms. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, it was the condemnation of the perpetrators of violence and a message of peace that unified us all,” Ardern’s spokespeson added.

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International

Sri Lanka police arrests 40 suspects; death toll climbs to 310

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Colombo: The death toll from Easter Sunday’s horrific terror attacks in Sri Lanka is now 310, a police spokesman said Tuesday. Forty suspects have been arrested so far, he added.

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena gave the military sweeping police powers in the wake of the bombings. A national emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka in the wake of the deadly blasts. Few social media sites have been shut down. Armed security forces are patrolling the largely deserted streets in capital Colombo, even as a curfew went into effect on day 2.

The suicide bombings struck three churches and three luxury hotels Sunday in the island nation’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended in 2009.

 

Meanwhile, officials disclosed that intelligence agencies had warned about the attacks by the radical Muslim group weeks ago. The intelligence document, reports Reuters, said a foreign intelligence agency had warned authorities of possible attacks on churches by the National Thawheed Jama`ut group. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the horrific attacks.

Day after the blasts, Sri Lankan police found 87 bomb detonators at the main bus station in Colombo on Monday.

Thirty-one foreign nationals, including eight Indians, were killed in the blasts.

Security in southern states, especially in churches and religious places, has been strengthened following the terrorist. Security has also been stepped up in sensitive locations in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, and Goa as a precautionary measure.

Seven suicide bombers believed to be members of an Islamist extremist group are suspected behind the horrific blasts. Government’s spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said local Islamist extremist group called the National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) is suspected of plotting the blasts that struck three churches when the Easter Sunday mass were in progress and three five-star hotels.

“All suicide bombers involved in the blasts are believed to be Sri Lankan nationals,” said Senaratne, who is also the Health Minister.

Investigators are now looking whether the group has international support. “There may be international links to them,” he added.

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