World Inside

Ukrainian troops evacuate from Mariupol, ceding control to Russia

Publish: 09:18 AM, 17 May, 2022


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Ukraine's military said on Tuesday it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment.

The evacuation likely marked the end of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war and a significant defeat for Ukraine. Mariupol is now in ruins after a Russian siege that Ukraine says killed tens of thousands of people in the city.

With the rest of Mariupol firmly in Russian hands, hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians had holed up beneath the city's Azovstal steelworks. Civilians inside were evacuated in recent weeks, and more than 260 troops, some of them wounded, left the plant for Russian-controlled areas late on Monday.

"The 'Mariupol' garrison has fulfilled its combat mission," the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in a statement announcing evacuations.

"The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel... Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time," it added.

Ukraine's deputy defence minister said 53 injured troops from the Azovstal steelworks were taken to a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk, some 32 kilometres (20 miles) to the east.

Another 211 people were taken to the town of Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar said. All of the evacuees will be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia, she added.

It was not clear how many troops remained in Azovstal. Ukraine's military said efforts were under way to evacuate those still inside.

Reuters saw five buses carrying troops from Azovstal arrive in Novoazovsk late on Monday. Some of the evacuated troops were wounded and carried out of the buses on stretchers. Some 600 troops were believed to have been inside the steel plant.

"We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an early morning address. "There are severely wounded ones among them. They're receiving care. Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive."

Arriving in Novoazovsk in a bus marked with Z, a symbol for Russia's invasion, men could be seen stacked on stretchers on three levels. They stared out the windows without reacting. One man was wheeled out, his head tightly wrapped in thick bandages.

Since Russia launched its invasion in February, Mariupol's devastation has become a symbol both of Ukraine's resistance and of Russia's willingness to devastate Ukrainian cities that hold out.

The first evacuations late on Monday came hours after Russia said it had agreed to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers to a medical facility in Novoazovsk.

LVIV EXPLOSIONS, KHARKIV FIGHTING

Moscow calls its nearly three-month-old invasion a "special military operation" to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

Russia's invading forces have run into apparent setbacks, with troops forced out of the north and the environs of Kyiv in late March. A Ukrainian counterattack in recent days has driven Russian forces out of the area near Kharkiv, the biggest city in the east.

Areas around Kyiv and the western city of Lviv, near the Polish border, have continued to come under Russian attack. A series of explosions struck Lviv early on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

On Monday, Ukraine's defence ministry troops had advanced all the way to the Russian border, about 40 km north of Kharkiv.

The successes near Kharkiv could let Ukraine attack supply lines for Russia's main offensive, grinding on further south in the Donbas region, where Moscow has been launching mass assaults for a month yet achieving only small gains.

PUTIN CLIMBDOWN OVER NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on Monday to climb down from threats to retaliate against Sweden and Finland for announcing plans to join the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.

"As far as expansion goes, including new members Finland and Sweden, Russia has no problems with these states - none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries," Putin said.

The comments appeared to mark a major shift in rhetoric, after years of casting NATO enlargement as a direct threat to Russia's security, including citing it as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine itself.

Soon before Putin spoke, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Finland and Sweden were making a mistake that would have far-reaching consequences: "They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it."

Putin said NATO enlargement was being used by the United States in an "aggressive" way to aggravate an already difficult global security situation, and that Russia would respond if the alliance moves weapons or troops forward.

"The expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that (response) will be - we will see what threats are created for us," Putin said.

Finland and Sweden, both non-aligned throughout the Cold War, say they now want the protection offered by NATO's treaty, under which an attack on any member is an attack on all.

"We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one," Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said, announcing plans to formally abandon militarily non-aligned status - a cornerstone of national identity for more than 200 years.

- Reuters


Ukraine   Mariupol   Troops Evacuate   Russia Control  


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World Inside

Israeli strikes on Gaza City kill dozens, Hamas says

Publish: 02:16 AM, 23 Jun, 2024


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Two Israeli air strikes on buildings in Gaza City have killed at least 38 people and injured many more, Hamas says.

The Israeli military said warplanes had struck Hamas military infrastructure sites and it would provide more details later.

A spokesman for Gaza's civil defence said a residential block in the al-Shati area, one of Gaza's historic refugee camps, was hit several times. The other strike targeted houses in the al-Tuffah district, the Hamas-run government media office said.

Footage showed people carrying away the wounded and searching for survivors in the wreckage as dust filled the streets.

Earlier reports put the estimated death toll at 42.

Israeli media reported that the air strikes may have been targeting a senior Hamas official.

Hussein Muhaisen, a civil defence spokesman in Gaza City, told AFP that the impact from the strikes was "like an earthquake".

"The whole area was targeted, as you see homes were destroyed. There are still families under the rubble," he said.

"Some of the injured were transferred to the Baptist Hospital, and now we are rescuing others from under the rubble, and the situation is very, very difficult due to the lack of tools and fuel for ambulances."

Meanwhile the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU condemned Friday's shelling of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) offices in Gaza, which the ICRC said had killed 22 people who had sought shelter around its compound.

Mr Borrell called for an independent investigation and for those responsible to be held accountable.

On Saturday the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said an initial inquiry into the shooting in the al-Mawasi area of southern Gaza found there was "no direct attack carried out by the IDF against a Red Cross facility".

It said the incident would be "quickly examined" and the findings presented.

Israel launched a campaign to destroy Hamas in response to an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people - mostly civilians - were killed and 251 others were taken hostage.

More than 37,551 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry.

Its figures do not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but it had reportedly identified 14,680 children, women and elderly people among the dead by the end of April.


(BBC)



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Bangladesh seeks India's support to become member of BRICS: FM

Publish: 02:05 AM, 23 Jun, 2024


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Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today said Bangladesh has sought support from India to become a member of BRICS, a group of emerging-market nations - the acronym stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
 
"If BRICS decides to take a new member or partner, we want to be a part of the BRICS. We have sought support from India to this end (during the delegation level talks),"he said.
 
He briefed media about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's engagements on her two-day state visit to India at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
 
The foreign minister said the delegation level talks featured many issues of bilateral interests that include joint management of 54 common rivers and their water sharing, connectivity, trade, security, border management, introduce of quota for Bangladesh to import essential commodities from India, quick medical visas for Bangladeshis and development of partnership.
 
During the meeting, both sides have expressed their satisfaction as the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India has been strengthening and continuing to reach new height under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the last 15 years and Indian premier Narendra Modi in last 10 years.
 
"Both sides have expressed their willingness to elevate further the relations," Dr Hasan said.
 
Replying to a question, he said that Bangladesh and India have shared 54 common rivers.
 
The matter of forming joint river management for the rivers has prominently come to the delegation-level talks, the foreign minister said.
 
"Joint river management is important as it can help us to fight together the adverse impact of the climate change," he said.
 
Replying to a query, Dr Hasan said Bangladesh is set to import electricity from Bhutan and Nepal and Bangladesh has already signed an agreement with Bhutan to this end.
 
He said Bangladesh has talked about the matter with India and "India gave a very positive response".
 
It is not enough to only produce electricity and it also requires a transmission line to distribute the power, the minister said.
 
Hasan said India has been currently working to set up a transmission line for 3000mw power.
 
"India will facilitate Bangladesh from the transmission line to this end," he said.
 
About killings at boarder, the foreign minister said both Bangladesh and India are politically committed to bring down the boarder killings to zero level.
 
Both the countries have been working to decrease the killings in borders, he said.
 
He continued they have sought to introduce a quota for Bangladesh to import essential commodities such as onion, oil, wheat, and sugar.
 
"We have sought a specific quota for this purpose as they don't stop exporting essential items to Bangladesh," he said.
 
Replying to a query, the foreign minister said Teesta project was also discussed during the bilateral meeting with India.
 
India has expressed its desire to assist Bangladesh in the implementation of the Teesta project, he said, adding that other countries have also expressed their willingness to this matter.
 
Technical committees of both the countries will sit together to pursue the matter, he continued.
 
Dr Hasan also said India has expressed no objection to China to this end.
 
The foreign minister said Bangladesh had sought help from India to send back 12 lakh forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their motherland Myanmar.
 
Indian side said China has a role to play to this end, he said.
 
In reply, Bangladesh Prime Minister said she will bring the matter to Chinese government as she will visit China soon, he said.
 
In replying to a question, Mahmud said he himself brought the issue of resolving the existing problem over Indian medical visa for Bangladeshis by cutting the duration of issuing medical visas.
 
Bangladeshis are currently facing problem in getting medical visas as it takes a long time, he said.
 
The Indian Prime Minister already asked the authorities concerned to resolve the problem.
 
India has been working to update their software and issue e-visas to resolve the problem, he said.
 
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India M Mustafizur Rahman and PM's Press Secretary M Nayeemul Islam Khan were present during the briefing.


(Source: BSS)



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World Inside

Assam Flood Hit In10 Districts : 6 Lakh Affected

Publish: 01:57 PM, 02 Jun, 2024


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The flood situation in Assam persisted, affecting over 6 lakh people across 10 districts, officials said on Sunday. 

Heavy rainfall across the state caused rivers such as Kopili, Barak, and Kushiyara to surpass their danger levels, which forcing prompte evacuations to affected people in many areas for safety, they said. 

Among the affected districts are Hailakandi, Hojai, Morigaon, Karimganj, Nagaon, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong West, and Dima Hasao, with a total of 6,01,642 people impacted by the floods.

The death toll from floods and storms since May 28 stands at 15. Nagaon remains the most severely affected district, with over 2.79 lakh people affected, followed by Hojai with 1,26,813 and Cachar with 1,12,265. Over 40,000 displaced individuals are seeking refuge in relief camps across various districts. Multiple agencies, including NDRF, SDRF, local administration, and volunteers, are conducting rescue and relief operations.

Furthermore, road and rail communications are disrupted in several parts of the state. Due to track damage and waterlogging, ten trains scheduled to depart from Saturday to Monday have been canceled, according to a spokesperson from Northeast Frontier Railway's Lumding division.


Assam   Flood  


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World Inside

US, UK launch new wave of strikes against Yemen's Huthis

Publish: 10:17 AM, 25 Feb, 2024


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American and British forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes Saturday against 18 Huthi targets in Yemen, following weeks of unrelenting attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed rebels.

The strikes "specifically targeted 18 Huthi targets across eight locations in Yemen" including weapons storage facilities, attack drones, air defense systems, radars, and a helicopter, a joint statement said.

It was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified "support" to the new round of strikes, the second this month and fourth since the rebels began their attacks on ships in the region.

"The Huthis' now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response," the statement said.

Huthi-run Al-Masirah television reported "a series of raids on the capital Sanaa," while AFP correspondents in the rebel-controlled city in western Yemen said they heard several loud bangs.

"The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways," Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement after the strikes.


"We will continue to make clear to the Huthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries."

Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree was defiant, vowing in a social media statement that the rebels would "confront the American-British escalation with more qualitative military operations against all hostile targets in the Red and Arab Seas."

The UK Ministry of Defence said four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s targeted "several very long-range drones, used by the Houthis for both reconnaissance and attack missions," on Saturday, at a site north-east of Sanaa.

Saturday's operation comes after several merchant vessels were struck this week in the region, including the fertilizer-filled Rubymar, whose crew had to abandon ship after it was hit Sunday and began taking on water.

Apart from the joint operations with Britain, the United States has also carried out unilateral strikes against Huthi positions and weaponry in Yemen, and downed dozens of missiles and drones in the Red Sea.

- Anti-ship missile downed -

Earlier on Saturday, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that an American Navy ship had shot down an anti-ship ballistic missile "launched into the Gulf of Aden from Iranian-backed Huthi controlled areas of Yemen."

The missile "was likely targeting MV Torm Thor, a US-Flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil tanker," CENTCOM said on X, formerly Twitter.

US forces on Friday also shot down three attack drones near commercial ships in the Red Sea and destroyed seven anti-ship cruise missiles on land, CENTCOM said.

The Huthis say they are targeting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

Following previous US and UK strikes, the Huthis declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

The Huthis will "persist in upholding their religious, moral and humanitarian duties towards the Palestinian people, and their military operations will not stop unless the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," military spokesman Saree said.

Anger over Israel's devastating campaign in Gaza -- which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 -- has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.



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World Inside

Israel strikes Gaza's Rafah as truce talks under way

Publish: 01:54 PM, 22 Feb, 2024


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Israel launched air strikes Thursday on southern Gaza's Rafah after threatening to send troops into the city, where around 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter from around the territory.

Global powers trying to navigate a way to end the Israel-Hamas war have so far come up short, but a US envoy was expected in Israel on Thursday to try to secure a truce deal.

International concern has spiralled over the high civilian death toll and dire humanitarian crisis in the war sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack against Israel.

More than four months of relentless fighting and air strikes have flattened much of the Hamas-run coastal territory, pushing its population of around 2.4 million to the brink of famine, according to the UN.

International concern has in recent weeks centred on Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, where more than 1.4 million people forced to flee their homes elsewhere in the territory are now living in crowded shelters and makeshift tents.

The last city untouched by Israeli ground troops, Rafah also serves as the main entry point via neighbouring Egypt for desperately needed relief supplies.

Israel has warned it will expand its ground operations into Rafah if Hamas does not free the remaining hostages held in Gaza by next month's start of the Muslim holy month Ramadan.

- 'My daughter' -

The war started when Hamas launched its attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Hamas militants also took about 250 hostages -- 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed at least 29,313 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory.

War cabinet member Benny Gantz said Israel's operation in Rafah would begin "after the evacuation of the population", although his government has not offered any details on where civilians would be evacuated to.

In the early hours of Thursday, AFP reporters heard multiple air strikes on Rafah, particularly in the Al-Shaboura neighbourhood.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said early Thursday that 99 people had been killed around Gaza during the night, most of them women, children and elderly people.

Abdel Rahman Mohamed Jumaa said he lost his family in recent strikes on Rafah.

"I found my wife lying in the street," he told AFP. "Then I saw a man carrying a girl and I ran towards him and.... picked her up, realising she was really my daughter."

He was holding a small shrouded corpse in his arms.

- 'Possibility of progress' -

Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, was expected to arrive in Israel Thursday -- his second stop in the region after Egypt as part of US efforts to advance a hostage deal and broker a truce.

Hamas's chief Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo for talks as well, according to the group.

Israel's Gantz said there were efforts to "promote a new plan for the return of the hostages".

"We are seeing the first signs that indicate the possibility of progress in this direction."

Matthew Miller, US State Department spokesman, said Washington was hoping for an "agreement that secures a temporary ceasefire where we can get the hostages out and get humanitarian assistance", but declined to give details on ongoing negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the army will keep fighting until it has destroyed Hamas and freed the remaining hostages.

Israel's parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a proposal by Netanyahu to oppose any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The vote came days after the Washington Post reported that US President Joe Biden's administration and a small group of Arab nations were working out a comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

It included a firm timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the report said.

Separately, a report by an Israeli group that fights sexual violence said Hamas's October 7 attack also involved systematic sexual assaults on civilians, based on witness testimonies, public and classified information, and interviews.

The report came the same week UN rights experts called for an independent probe into alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinian women and girls -- which Israel rejected as "despicable and unfounded claims".

Israeli officials have repeatedly alleged the militants committed violent sexual assaults during the attack -- something Hamas has denied.

- 'Waiting for death' -

Combat and chaos have stalled sporadic aid deliveries for civilians in Gaza, while in Khan Yunis -- a city just north of Rafah -- medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said an Israeli tank had fired on a house sheltering their employees and families.

Two relatives of MSF staff were killed and six others injured, it said, condemning the strike in the "strongest possible terms".

When contacted by AFP about the incident, the Israeli army said its forces had "fired at a building that was identified as a building where terror activity is occurring", adding that it "regrets" harm to civilians.

In the same town, the Palestinian Red Crescent said another hospital was also hit by "artillery shelling".

Israel has repeatedly said Hamas militants use civilian infrastructure including hospitals as operational bases -- claims that Hamas has denied.


Israel Strikes   Gaza's Rafah  


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