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ISIS shoots down chopper near Palmyra, 2 Russian military instructors killed

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Islamic State militants have downed a military helicopter near Palmyra, Syria, killing two Russian pilots on board. The helicopter had been attacking the advancing terrorists at Damascus’ request when it was taken down, according to the Russian defense ministry.

“On July 8, Russian military pilot-instructors Evgeny Dolgin and Ryafagat Khabibulin, were conducting a calibration flight on a Syrian Mi-25 (export version of the Mi-24) helicopter loaded with ammunition in the province of Homs,” the official statement from the Ministry of Defense reads.

“The crew received a request from the Syrian command group to help defeat the advancing terrorists and fire for effect. The captain of the aircraft, Ryafagat Khabibullin, made the decision to attack.”

The Ministry of Defense stated that due to the skillful actions of the crew the terrorists were thrown back and the attack had been thwarted.

However, their helicopter was shot down by terrorists as it was turning to head back to the base.

“Having spent their ammunition, while turning back to the base, the helicopter was shot down by terrorists from the ground and crashed in an area controlled by the Syrian government. The crew did not survive,” Russia’s defense ministry said, adding that both pilots will posthumously receive state awards for their actions.

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported, citing a source in the Russian military, that the helicopter had been downed with the aid of an American TOW antitank missile system.

“According to reports, terrorists used the American TOW system to down the helicopter, which, having exhausted its ammunition, was on the course back to the base at an extremely low altitude,” the source is quoted as saying.

Friday’s tragedy puts the number of Russian military casualties in Syria at 10.

In June, serviceman Anton Erygin suffered fatal wounds after falling under militant fire while guarding a Russian center for reconciliation convoy in Homs province.

Earlier in April, Russia paid its respects to Lt. Aleksandr Prokhorenko, who called in artillery fire on his own position after being surrounded by the terrorists near the Syrian city of Palmyra.

 

source : rt.com

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Argentina declares three-day national mourning for Maradona

The former star player and coach, most recently of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata football team, underwent surgery following a stroke in early November.

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Buenos Aires: The Argentina government has declared three days of national mourning for the death of football legend Diego Armando Maradona, the office of the presidency has said.

“The President of the Nation will decree three days of national mourning from the day (of his death),” according to the statement on Wednesday evening, reports Xinhua news agency.

Maradona died due to cardiorespiratory arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

His body did not show “any sign of violence” and everything indicates that he died of “natural causes,” the prosecutor general of the Argentinian town of San Isidro, John Broyad, said.

According to Broyad, Maradona passed away “around 12:00” local time (1500 GMT) Wednesday at his home in the neighbourhood of San Andres, on the northern outskirts of the capital.

In statements to the press, Broyad said that “at 16:00 (local time) the work of the Forensics Police began” on the body of the former footballer.

“No signs of criminality were evident, no signs of violence,” said the prosecutor.

In addition, he reported that an autopsy would be carried out at the morgue of San Fernando Hospital, to “reliably determine the causes of death”.

The former star player and coach, most recently of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata football team, underwent surgery following a stroke in early November.

On October 30, Maradona had celebrated his 60th birthday.

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Diego Maradona (1960-2020): When death felt like a tackle from behind

In India, the 1986 World Cup was where all games were shown live for the first time. And since he made that World Cup his own, Maradona straddled a line between legend and God in a country he wouldn’t visit till 2008.

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Diego Maradona, the shanty-town boy who became a supernatural footballer before his life went into a downward spiral of addiction and myriad health issues for over 30 years, died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He turned 60 on October 30.

Maradona had looked death in the eye a number of times and when he underwent successful surgery for a subdural haematoma recently, his fans would have been forgiven for thinking the worst had passed. In 2004, doctors said his heart was functioning at 40% efficiency. Back then, Maradona pulled through and went on to coach Argentina in the 2010 World Cup where amid the constellation of the planet’s football star, he — in a sharp suit, a diamond stud glinting from an ear and a wristwatch on either hand — was the cynosure till Argentina were gobsmacked by Germany one day after Holland sent Brazil home.

Life, it seemed, was sucked out of that World Cup because the curtains had come down on Maradona’s performance. At press conferences — where once he climbed over the dais to bearhug a journalist who then became the story — and on the pitch where his last memorable act was possibly burying his face on son-in-law Sergio Aguero’s back as Germany scored another goal in that 4-0 rout.

The year 2004 wasn’t the only time he had flirted with death and had the world praying and believing in a miracle. One year later, he had a gastric bypass surgery to help deal with obesity. And as a boy he had survived falling into a pit where he could have drowned. On turning 45 at a party with 400 friends for company, Maradona had said: “I am 45. And I am alive,” wrote Marcela Mora y Araujo, who translated his autobiography “El Diego” in The Observer. “He’s a crazy little giant who dices with death and toboggans unto hell on a daily basis,” wrote Araujo in the introduction to the autobiography.

So it wasn’t surprising that the Maradona of 2006 had again made way to a bloated version of the genius who slalomed his way past England in the 1986 World Cup to score one of the most memorable goals of the competition ever. In Russia in 2018, the version of Maradona that filled fans with dread was seen in the World Cup when he had to be helped from his seat during the Argentina-Nigeria game. He blamed it on wine and said he was fine and we got on with our lives. So when news broke of his heart attack at home in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, it felt like a tackle from behind. How could death win this round?

In India, the 1986 World Cup was where all games were shown live for the first time. And since he made that World Cup his own, Maradona straddled a line between legend and God in a country he wouldn’t visit till 2008. In Egypt, bandits released a group of Argentine tourists on realizing they were from Maradona Country, writes Jimmy Burns, in “Hand of God” . But at least he had played a friendly there. He had not in Kolkata, where the Salt Lake stadium spilled over to see him move in a car. In Bangladesh he had not either, but it didn’t matter. Seeing God, the hero of the 1990 World Cup too and in the bit part he played in 1994 before failing a drug test, felt like an act of fulfillment itself.

Maradona’s rise coincided with football transforming into a billion dollar industry, in whose crosscurrents he found himself for most of his playing career. Except possibly the time at Napoli, where he handheld a team trod upon by the rest of the country to European glory. Two Serie A titles, two second-place finishes an Italian Cup and the UEFA Cup immortalized him in the city. It was while he was at Napoli that Maradona transformed from being an artful dodger to a messiah.

It was also where he came in contact with the Cammora, the city’s crime syndicate. It was where he became a cocaine addict. With Maradona, you see, the sublime and the ridiculous are never mutually exclusive, they exist cheek by jowl. Just as life and death did with him till the final blow on Wednesday.

“Maradona,” Burns begins in ‘Hand of God’, “is the story of a natural-born football talent who grew up to believe he was God and suffered as a result. It was on the pitch where he was the happiest, away from all his troubles, he had said. But while doing what he loved since his uncle gifted him a ball when he could barely walk, he also became a hero for the downtrodden, his ‘Hand of God’ epitomizing — justifying too perhaps — the chicanery that they needed to deal with life’s unfair hand. That magical left foot drew you to him, his outspokenness then endeared him to you.

“Poor old Diego. For so many years we have told him repeatedly, ‘You’re a God’, ‘You are a star’, ‘You are our salvation’ that we forgot to tell him the most important thing: ‘You are a man.’” The words of Jorge Valdano, Maradona’s Argentina teammate in the 1986 World Cup, sums up a life extraordinary.

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Joe Biden declares his administration ‘ready to lead the world’

“We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality.”

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New York: Joe Biden, who is to assume the presidency in January, has announced a policy of reasserting US world leadership as he introduced his foreign policy and national security teams.

The officials he is designating for the key roles in his administration are “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies, and ready to stand up for our values,” he declared on Tuesday in Wilmington while outlining his foreign policy.

In talking to world leaders, he said, “I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.”

Biden was a critic of Trump’s brand of “America First” that prioritised the nation’s needs and was against military interventions abroad like in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere that the Democrat had advocated or been a party to.

By strengthening ties with allies and working with them, Biden said that he will “truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay.”

Those he has picked for his team “embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” he said.

In resetting the foreign policy, he said, “Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.”

The pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken said of his approach to foreign policy, “We must proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. We cannot flip a switch to solve them.”

He added, “We need to partner with others. But also, confidence, because America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.”

Jack Sullivan, who will be the national security adviser, said, “We will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism.”

Without mentioning China by name, Biden spoke of the looming “competition for the future” and said the US would have to “do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.”

But also, he said, “We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality.”

Biden gave high priority to the environment and climate change as he introduced his high-powered envoy for the issue, John Kerry, a former senator, candidate for president and secretary of state.

“For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings,” he said. “The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.”

He added, “I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change. But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.”

Kerry’s remarks indicated the Biden administration will be pressuring other to do more to fight climate change.

He said, “No country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States, for all our economic might, is responsible for only 15 per cent of global emissions. The world must come to this table to solve this problem.”

The US, however, has only 4.22 per cent of the world population.

He said that all the nations must increase their commitments to cutting greenhouse gases at the UN climate change conference next year in Glasgow “or we will all fail, together”.

Biden welcomed the decision by the Trump administration’s General Services Administration on Monday to provide his transition access to information for a “peaceful transition of power” to enable him “to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.”

Meanwhile, Trump made a rare appearance since the election for what was probably his shortest news conference to celebrate the stock market barometer, the Dow Jones Average, crashing through the 30,000 mark even though he had predicted that the market would crash if Biden won. He spoke about 60 seconds and left without answering the questions shouted at him.

Later, he conducted the annual faux ritual of the president “pardoning” a turkey from slaughter for the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal that features the bird as the main course.

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