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Russia fires cruise missiles at ISIL targets in Syria

Four Kalibr cruise missiles, launched from warships in the Mediterranean, hit their targets near Palmyra, Kremlin says.

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Russia fires cruise missiles
Russia said the US, Turkey and Israel had been given prior warning of the strikes [Reuters]

Two Russian warships fired several cruise missiles at Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) targets in Syria from the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, the first such strikes announced in months.

The frigate Admiral Essen and submarine Krasnodar carried out four strikes against ISIL targets near the city of Palmyra, the Russian military said in a statement.

The missiles were intended to eliminate a stockpile of artillery that had been moved from Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria, the statement said.

“All the targets were hit,” the statement continued, without specifying when the strikes occurred.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was briefed on the successful strikes by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Kremlin said.

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Russia’s capital, Moscow, said the strikes, which came a day after the US conducted what it said was a successful shooting down of a mock intercontinental ballistic missile, could by seen as a show of force by the Russian army.

“Russia generally drops ‘dumb bombs’ in Syria, because it’s cheaper, but every time it wants to send out a demonstration of military capabilities it ups the sophistication of its strikes,” he said.

Information channels

Moscow said that the militaries of the US, Turkey and Israel “were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through existing communication channels”.

Challands said that none of these countries has particularly close alliances with Russia – but they do have agreements on things like information sharing.

“What Russia has done here is that these information lines continue to operate, but at the same time that Russia is able and willing to act independently,” he said.

Russia has been conducting a bombing campaign since 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad and has a naval contingent deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster its firepower.

Moscow has, however, not announced any strikes from the sea in recent months as it focuses on pushing a fragile truce between the government and rebels.

The ceasefire does not include UN-designated terrorist groups, including ISIL.

 

America

US to revoke visas of Saudi officials implicated in death of Jamal Khashoggi

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

BREAKING: The United State to revoke visas of some Saudi officials implicated in death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Pompeo also said during a press conference that the State and Treasury departments are looking at the possibility of sanctions meant to target those responsible for human rights violations.

The announcement comes after President Trump called the kingdom’s efforts to hide Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the “worst cover-up ever,” stepping up his rhetoric as frustrations directed at Riyadh grow.

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Middle East

Khashoggi’s murder was planned affair: Erdogan

The President said that information and evidence show that Khashoggi fell victim to a brutal murder.

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Ankara, Oct 23 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said that the country’s security services have evidence that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was a planned affair.

He made the remarks while speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) here, reports Hurriyet Daily News.

“Turkish security services have evidence that the murder was a planned affair. Turkey and the world will only be satisfied when all the planners and perpetrators are held to account,” the President said.

“Other countries must participate in the investigation.”

Erdogan claimed that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, first came to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on September 28 to get his marriage documents. The “roadmap” to kill Khashoggi started with this visit.

He said that a day before Khashoggi disappeared on October 2, a group of three Saudis landed in Istanbul and went to the consulate while another team visited the Belgrad Forest near the city and the neighbouring Yalova province.

“On October 2, another group came and this 15-member team went to the consulate and removed the hard disks of security cameras there. Khashoggi’s went inside that afternoon and never appeared again while his fiancee waited outside,” Erdogan said.

It was later found that 15 Saudis including intelligence officers and forensics experts came to Turkey ahead of Khashoggi’s visit.

“I spoke to (Saudi) King Salman on October 14 and formed a joint investigation team. This is how our officials could enter the consulate and the consul’s residence… Seventeen days after the killing, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate.

“We held another phone call and they told us that 18 Saudis, including people from the 15-member team we exposed, were arrested in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

The President said that information and evidence show that Khashoggi fell victim to a brutal murder.

“We have strong evidence that the killing was intentional, not accidental. Now we expect them to punish all those who played a part in the murder.”

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Saudi Foreign Minister pledges ‘fair probe’ into Khashoggi’s death

Al-Jubeir said 18 people had been detained and six senior government officials had already been dismissed as a result of the investigation.

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Jakarta, Oct 23 (IANS) Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, who is in Indonesia on an official visit, said on Tuesday that the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be thoroughly investigated and those responsible would be punished.

“Our commitment is to seek that the investigation is thorough and complete and that the truth is revealed,” said Al-Jubeir at a joint press conference in Jakarta with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

“We will see to it … that procedures and mechanisms are put in place to ensure that something like this can never happen again,” he was cited as saying by Efe news.

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had expressed his concern over the incident to Al-Jubeir during a meeting at the presidential palace in Bogor, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia had sent a team to Turkey for a joint investigation and “uncovered evidence of a murder” in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies, disappeared after he entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his marriage.

Al-Jubeir said 18 people had been detained and six senior government officials had already been dismissed as a result of the investigation.

The Saudi diplomatic head said there were discrepancies between what the Saudi embassy in Turkey reported and what actually happened.

A video, obtained and broadcast by CNN on Monday, purportedly showed a Saudi agent walking out of the consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, spectacles and a fake beard, in an apparent attempt to disguise himself as the slain Saudi journalist.

A Turkish official identified the man in the video as Mustafa al-Madani, who was allegedly part of what investigators said was a hit squad, sent to kill the journalist.

After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia has given a shifting narrative of what happened to the journalist.

The Kingdom admitted last week that Khashoggi was killed in the Istanbul consulate, saying his death was the result of a “fistfight”. Later, a Saudi source close to the royal palace told CNN that he died in a chokehold.

On Sunday, Al-Jubeir described Khashoggi’s death as a “murder” and a “tremendous mistake”.

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