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Trump warns Russia of missile strike in Syria

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Washington, April 11: US President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday that it should “get ready” for a missile strike on Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the rebel-held city of Douma that Washington has blamed on the Syrian regime.

Since the suspected chemical bombing that killed 70 people in Douma on Saturday, Trump ramped up his threats to take military action in Syria, alleging Russian complicity in the attack, which both Moscow and Damascus have vehemently denied.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’,” Trump tweeted. “You shouldn’t be partners with a ‘Gas Killing Animal’ who kills his people and enjoys it!”

The US President had described the Douma attack as “sick” and criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He had threatened that there would be a “big price to pay” for the deaths.

The Syrian-American Medical Society said over 500 people had been found with symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent” and the World Health Organisation demanded access to the area to verify reports from its “health cluster” partners that 70 people had died, the BBC reported.

Yevgeny Serebrennikov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian upper house’s Defence Committee, said on Wednesday that Russia would respond immediately if its military in Syria gets hit by a possible US airstrike, according to Sputnik news agency.

After the attack, Trump and his Defence Secretary James Mattis cancelled travel plans. The US and Western allies said they agreed to work together.

Also, Russia used its veto to block a US resolution at the UN Security Council to set up an independent probe into the alleged chemical attack.

IANS

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5 killed in France building fire

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Paris, Feb 27 (IANS) Five people were killed and seven others injured in a building fire in the French city of Strasbourg on Thursday, the local fire service said in a statement.

According to local media, firefighters responded to the incident at 1.16 a.m. after receiving an alert that there was smoke in the seven-storey building, Xinhua news agency reported.

Some 23 people were rescued and the fire was brought under control.

The cause of the blaze was under probe.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Mayor Roland Ries of Strasbourg have expressed their condolences to the victims and their families on social media.

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US Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross eyes strengthening economic ties with Pakistan

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US President Donald Trump and Pak PM Imran Khan

Islamabad, Feb 27 : US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited Pakistan and explored areas where both countries could renew their economic partnership and step up efforts to enhance economic, trade and investment ties, the media and government officials said on Thursday.

During his visit on Wednesday, the US official along with his trade delegation held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, and Abdul Razak Dawood, advisor to the premier on commerce, textile, industry and production, and investment, reports Xinhua news agency.

Khan said that Ross’s visit would help in realizing the shared vision of Pakistan-US leadership to transform the bilateral relationship into a broad-based, multifaceted and economic-centred partnership.

The Prime Minister also underscored the need to “take full advantage of trade and investment opportunities” in Pakistan, stressing the importance of enhancing business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.

During his separate meeting with Dawood, the Commerce Secretary said that several American companies hoped to enhancing their investments in Pakistan, adding that Islamabad and Washington would have to collectively work to promote the volume of their bilateral trade.

“We want to play our full part in the progress and development of Pakistan,” Ross said.

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India calls USCIRF remarks on Delhi violence ‘misleading’

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

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Delhi Violence

New Delhi/Washington, Feb 27 : India on Thursday hit back at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), by calling their scathing remarks on the Delhi violence “factually inaccurate and misleading”.

The USCIRF had said that the Delhi violence in which over 30 people were killed, was specifically targeted against Muslims.

Rebutting their comments, the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said: “We have seen the comments made by USCIRF, sections of the media and a few individuals regarding recent incidents of violence in Delhi. These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicising the issue.”

The government said that the law enforcement agencies were working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy.

“Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” the statement added.

Earlier, USCIRF had expressed “grave concern over the ongoing violence taking place in Delhi” and accused India of “targeting and potentially disenfranchising Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards”.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava in a statement had said: “According to reports, several mosques have also been set alight or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area. This unrest comes in the wake of widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act following its passage in December 2019.”

“The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue,” Bhargava said, adding that the Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all of its citizens.

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said the ongoing violence in Delhi and the reported “attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing”.

One of the essential duties of any responsible government, he said, is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith.

“We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.”

In its annual report last year, the USCIRF classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a “country of particular concern (CPC)”, under the International Religious Freedom Act.

The ongoing violence in North-East Delhi erupted after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters on Sunday.

Besides the casualties, over 200 others have been injured in the deadliest violence in the national capital in decades.

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