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Justin Trudeau says evidence indicates Ukrainian plane was shot down by Iranian forces

CBS News quoted US intelligence sources as saying a satellite detected infrared “blips” of two missile launches, followed by another blip of an explosion.

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Ukrainian airplane Crash

Washington, Jan 10 : Iran mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian plane that crashed on Wednesday near Tehran with 176 people on board, US media report.

US officials say they believe the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was hit by a missile, CBS said.

In separate reports, CBS News and Newsweek said US and Iraqi intelligence officials were confident the Ukrainian plane was brought down by a missile fired by Iran, reported BBC.

CBS published a brief report on Twitter, saying the officials were confident the plane was shot down.

It said this information was based on US intelligence, which sources said picked up signals of a radar being turned on. US satellites also reportedly detected two missile launches shortly before the Ukrainian plane exploded.

Meanwhile, Newsweek quoted US and Iraqi officials as saying they believed the aircraft was hit by a Russia-built Tor M-1 surface-to-air missile system, known as Gauntlet by Nato.

Two Pentagon officials assessed that the incident was accidental, Newsweek added.

It quoted sources as saying that Iran’s anti-aircraft systems were probably active following its attacks on the US airbases.

Ukraine earlier said it was examining whether a missile strike brought down the aircraft – but Iran ruled this out, BBC reported.

The crash came just hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

CBS News quoted US intelligence sources as saying a satellite detected infrared “blips” of two missile launches, followed by another blip of an explosion.

Meanwhile, Newsweek quoted a Pentagon and senior US intelligence officials, as well as an Iraqi intelligence official, as saying they believed the Ukrainian plane was hit by a Russian-made Tor missile.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that “I have my suspicions” over the plane. “Somebody could have made a mistake,” he said.

Amid tensions heightened by the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on 3 January, Iran has said it will not hand over the recovered black box flight recorders to Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, or to the US.

Under global aviation rules Iran has the right to lead the investigation, but manufacturers are typically involved.

Middle East

Israeli air force strikes multiple targets in Gaza in response to ‘explosive balloons’

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Israel has carried out a series of airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for multiple explosive and incendiary balloons launched from the enclave over the past few weeks.

The targets included an alleged “weapons production site and a military compound,” the IAF said amid reports of explosions in the central Gaza Strip, as well as near Khan Younis in the south.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Earlier on Saturday, a rocket propelled grenade attached to several balloons was found in the Negev Desert some 70 kilometers from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave, according to Israeli media.

Israel Defense Forces vowed to “continue operating against attempts to harm Israeli civilians.”

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Middle East

Iraqi Shia leader calls for scheduled pullout of US troops

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

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Iraq Protest
Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against U.S. presence and violations in Iraq. PIC Credit : @Cropperboyce

Baghdad, Jan 24 : Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from the country through peaceful means.

Al-Sadr made the call in a letter sent to a massive rally of Iraqis in al-Jaderiyah district, central Baghdad, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We will try to pursue all peaceful political, economic, social, cultural and popular means,” the leader said.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, mainly al-Sadr’s followers, gathered to reject the presence of US troops in Iraq, in response to an earlier call by al-Sadr.

If the primary goal, which is to schedule the withdrawal of the US forces, is fulfilled, the peaceful means will continue until full withdrawal is realized, al-Sadr said in the letter.

He said full withdrawal can only be achieved by closing all American military bases on Iraqi soil, closing the headquarters of American security companies and ending their work in Iraq, and closing the Iraqi airspace to the military and intelligence flights of the US forces.

He also called on cancelling all security agreements with the US due to the absence of an international balance in them since concluded, and they were approved during the years of the American occupation of Iraq after 2003.

Referring to the sporadic attacks on facilities and military bases housing US troops, al-Sadr pledged a “pause of all resistance” until the withdrawal of the last American soldier from Iraq.

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

On January 5, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces, two days after an American drone attack on a convoy near the Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising.

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Middle East

Killing of Soleimani disgrace for US: Khamenei

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Ali Khamenei

Tehran, Jan 17 : While leading the Friday prayers for the first time since 2012, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the January 3 killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone attack, was a “disgrace for the US”.

“They stealthily and cowardly assassinated Gen. Soleimani in a terrorist fashion. This resulted in a disgrace for America,” Khamenei said as he led the prayers in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque, where huge crowds of worshipers had already gathered from early Friday morning.

Regarding the January 8 Iranian missile attack on two military bases in Iraq that houses US troops which was in retaliation of Soleimani’s death, Khamenei said that Tehran’s response “dealt a blow to the American prestige”, reports Press TV.

The attack was a “military blow, but more important it was a blow to the American grandeur”, he added.

Khamenei also lashed out at British, German and French leaders who admitted this week to have launched a process that could lead to European sanctions being reimposed on Iran.

“You are too small to bring the Iranian nation to its knees,” he said.

Meanwhile, massive anti-US protest rallies were expected to be held after the prayers.

The last time Khamenei led Friday prayers in Tehran was in 2012 on the 33rd anniversary of the country’s Islamic Revolution.

Friday’s prayer service also came in the wake of widespread protests over the January 8 downing of the Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 by an Iranian missile shortly after it took off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

The protests erupted across Iran after the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on January 12 admitted that the plane had been mistaken for a “cruise missile” during heightened tensions with the US.

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