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Russia provides support to US backed Syrian opposition

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Russia has provided air cover to a leading Western-backed opposition group in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said, calling for closer coordination with the US allied coalition comments that may reflect Moscow’s desire to narrow its differences with the West over the Syrian crisis.

At the same time, Putin vowed to further modernize Russia’s military and said its forces in Syria will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.

Speaking at a meeting yesterday with top Defense Ministry officials, Putin said while supporting the Syrian government forces, Russia has backed some units of the Free Syrian Army, a Western-backed opposition group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army.

“Several (FSA) units totaling more than 5,000 people, along with regular troops, are conducting offensive operations against terrorists in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa,” Putin said.

“We have provided air support for them as well as the Syrian army, helping them with weapons, ammunition and supplies.”

While Putin sounded unequivocal, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a few hours later that the president meant to say that Russia is sending weapons and supplies to Syrian government forces and not the FSA, but provides air cover to both.

Peskov’s statement could be an attempt to assuage Assad, who calls the FSA and other moderate opposition groups “terrorists.”

Putin and his officials said before that Russia had cooperated with the FSA, but the group’s representatives have denied that.

If confirmed, Russian support for the FSA will represent a major policy shift for Moscow, which has been accused by the West of striking moderate rebels to back up Assad instead of its declared goal, the Islamic State group.

Asked to comment on Putin’s claim, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that “it’s unclear to us also, whether these claims of support for the FSA are true.”

He reaffirmed that “the vast majority of airstrikes conducted by Russian military aircraft are against opposition groups to Assad and not aimed at ISIL.”

India

US offers to mediate between China, India on border row

The offer for arbitration came a day after both China and Pakistan issued blatant threats of war on India’s both fronts. The Pakistan Army also initiated an unprovoked ceasefire violation with intense mortar-shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Balakote sector of Poonch district in Jammu & Kashmir, early Tuesday.

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Donald Trump

New Delhi/Washington, May 27 : The US on Wednesday revealed that it has offered to mediate in the ongoing standoff between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

In his morning tweet, US President Donald Trump said that the White House has “informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

Though China has been aggressive against India at the border in the eastern sector in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, its latest offensive at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector in Ladakh has resulted in Indian and Chinese soldiers locked in a face-off in Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

The offer for arbitration came a day after both China and Pakistan issued blatant threats of war on India’s both fronts. The Pakistan Army also initiated an unprovoked ceasefire violation with intense mortar-shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Balakote sector of Poonch district in Jammu & Kashmir, early Tuesday.

On Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping, was quoted by state news agency Xinhua, saying “It is necessary to explore ways of training and preparing for war” and “to step up preparations for armed combat, to flexibly carry out actual combat military training, and to improve our military’s ability to perform military missions.” His statement was preceded by a decision to increase the budget for the Chinese military by 6.6 per cent.

China’s close ally, Pakistan expressed similar views threatening war. Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his second visit in a month, to the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday, said “Kashmir is a disputed territory and any attempt to challenge disputed status, including any political-cum-military thought related to aggression will be responded with full national resolve and military might,” threatening that “disturbing strategic stability matrix in South Asia can lead to dire consequences”.

“Pakistan Army is fully alive to the threat spectrum and will remain ever ready to perform its part in line with national aspirations,” he warned.

Both China and Pakistan which have occupied portions of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir have aggressively opposed India’s bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories last year.

Though China has already built heavy infrastructure on the occupied territory, it is now suddenly objecting to the infrastructure development work that India has been carrying out on its side of the LAC.

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Disaster

Global COVID-19 cases cross 5.6 mn: Johns Hopkins University

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,955), France (28,533), Spain (27,117), and Brazil (24,512).

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COVID-19 cases

Washington, May 27 : The overall number of global coronavirus cases have crossed 5.6 million, while the death toll increased to 350,876, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Wednesday evening, the total number of cases stood at 5,609,079, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is also reaching a grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Currently, the country has 1,681,418 confirmed cases and 98,929 deaths, both tallies accounting for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

In terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 391,222 infections.

Meanwhile, the UK ranked second after the US with 37,130 COVID-19 deaths, the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (32,955), France (28,533), Spain (27,117), and Brazil (24,512).

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Disaster

Bangladesh Covid toll mounts to 544

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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Coronavirus in South Korea

Dhaka, May 27 : With 22 fresh deaths due to the pandemic , Bangladesh Covid-19 toll surged to 544, health authorities said on Wednesday.

The total corona cases in the country soared to 38,292 after 1,541 COVID-19 cases were detected in the 24 hours till 8 a.m. (local time) on Wednesday, according to the health directorate.

As per bd news 24, another 246 patients were released by hospitals in the same period, raising the number of recoveries to 7,925, DGHS Additional Director General Nasima Sultana said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The rate of recovery from the disease in Bangladesh currently stands at 20.70 per cent while the mortality rate is 1.42 per cent, according to government data.

A total of 8,015 samples were tested at 48 authorised labs across the country in the last 24 hours, Nasima added.

Globally, over 5.6 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 350,752 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

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