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Selasa, 31 Desember 2019

Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad - The Washington Post

Hundreds of supporters of an Iranian-backed militia surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 29 that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

Supporters of an Iranian-backed militia besieged the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes, breaking into the embassy compound and damaging a reception area before being expelled by Iraqi security forces.

●U.S. diplomats took refuge in a safe room as guards fired tear gas at the invading protesters and tried to put out fires they set.

●President Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating an attack” on the embassy.

●Iraqi security forces later intervened and set up a barricade, but protesters threw gasoline bombs into the compound.

●The Kataib Hezbollah militia vowed to force the embassy to shut down.

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iranian-backed militia shouting “Death to America” broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

Tensions eased somewhat later in the day after Iraqi security forces intervened, erecting a steel barrier at the smashed gate into the compound’s reception area and forcing the protesters to leave. However, protesters outside periodically threw molotov cocktails into the compound and tried to tear down the razor wire atop its walls, as guards inside fired stun grenades at them.

President Trump responded angrily Tuesday to the protesters’ actions, charging that Iran was behind a deadly militia attack that led to the airstrikes and blaming Tehran for the embassy siege.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

A spokesman for the Kataib Hezbollah militia said the demonstrators intend to besiege the embassy until the facility shuts down and U.S. diplomats leave Iraq.

But the angry demonstrators defied appeals delivered over loudspeakers by the group’s leaders not to enter the embassy compound and smashed their way into one of the facility’s reception areas, breaking down fortified doors and bulletproof glass and setting fire to the room.

A U.S. airstrike on Dec. 29 killed or wounded scores of members of an Iran-backed militia that forms part of Iraq’s security forces. Baghdad says it will have ‘dangerous consequences.’

American guards inside the embassy fired tear gas to keep the militia supporters at bay. U.S. troops could be seen nearby and on rooftops, their weapons drawn, but they did not open fire. Embassy civil defense workers just inside the gates attempted to put out the fires with water hoses.

The protesters also smashed security cameras, set two guardrooms ablaze and burned tires. They made a bonfire out of a pile of papers and military MREs (meals ready to eat) found in the reception area, where guards normally search visitors. Kataib Hezbollah flags were draped over the razor wire protecting the embassy’s high walls.

The embassy’s sirens wailed continually as dense black smoke billowed into the air.

Thaier al-Sudani

Reuters

Hashd al-Shaabi fighters set fire on the U.S. Embassy wall in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Inside the embassy, U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers were huddled in a fortified safe room, according to two reached by a messaging app. They declined to give details but added that they felt secure.

By early afternoon, tensions had eased somewhat after an Iraqi army commander showed up and ordered Iraqi security forces, who had initially made no attempt to intervene, to prevent the demonstrators going farther inside the facility. The security forces formed an impromptu buffer between the demonstrators and the American guards inside.

Shortly after that, acting Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed for calm and urged the demonstrators to refrain from entering the compound. He said in a statement that it is the government’s responsibility to protect foreign embassies.

In Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi President Barham Salih separately by phone Tuesday and “made clear the United States will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq,” department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. “Both Abdul Mahdi and Salih assured the secretary that they took seriously their responsibility for, and would guarantee the safety and security of, U.S. personnel and property,” she said.

The embassy compound lies inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which is normally off limits to ordinary people. But earlier in the morning, thousands of people walked unimpeded into the zone to join the demonstrations, as many Iraqi security forces simply mingled with the crowd.

Their chants of “Death to America” carried echoes of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, when Iranian students seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and detained American diplomats and other personnel there for 444 days.

Ahmad al-Rubaye

AFP/Getty Images

U.S. troops watch from inside the U.S. Embassy as Iraqi protesters surround the building in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Many were wearing militia uniforms and carried flags signifying their allegiance to the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which had vowed to retaliate for the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 militia members.

Among the crowd were some of Iran’s most powerful allies in Iraq, including Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization; Qais al-Khazali, who heads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and was once imprisoned by the U.S. military; and Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who spent years in prison in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. Embassy there.

The demonstrators daubed graffiti on the embassy walls signifying their allegiance to Iran: the names of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and powerful Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Other slogans simply read: “America get out.”

Some protesters began erecting tents nearby, indicating that they intend to remain for the long haul. Jaafar al-Husseini, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, said the group plans to encamp outside the embassy until it closes and all U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.

Khalid Mohammed

AP

Protesters destroy a vehicle inside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.

U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to requests for comment, and it was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats or troops are trapped inside the compound, the largest U.S. diplomatic facility in the world. Opened with much fanfare over a decade ago as a symbol of American influence in Iraq, on Tuesday it seemed as much a symbol vulnerability of the United States in an Iraq in which it now has few friends.

The demonstration comes amid an outpouring of rage in Iraq directed against the United States for carrying out airstrikes Sunday against Kataib Hezbollah bases near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The strikes were in response to the death of an American contractor in a rocket attack last Friday on a base housing U.S. troops in Kirkuk. The United States blamed the rocket attack on the Iranian-backed group.

U.S. officials said the airstrikes were “defensive” and aimed at deterring further rocket attacks against U.S. personnel by Iranian allies in Iraq.

But in Iraq they have been widely denounced as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of the rules governing the presence of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops based there to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

U.S. airstrikes launched Dec. 29 against an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq and Syria left dozens dead or wounded.

Sly reported from Beirut.

Read more

U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria target Iranian-backed militia, Pentagon says

U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia draw condemnation, retaliation threats in Iraq

Iraq’s military is spreading fake news about protests

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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2019-12-31 14:55:00Z
52780524079410

Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad - The Washington Post

Hundreds of supporters of an Iranian-backed militia surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 29 that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iranian-backed militia shouting “Death to America” broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

Tensions eased somewhat later in the day after Iraqi security forces intevenened, erecting a steel barrier at the smashed gate into the compound’s reception area and forcing the protesters to leave the compound. However, protesters periodically threw molotov cocktails over the compound’s walls and tried to tear down their barbed wire, as guards inside fired stun grenades at them.

President Trump responded angrily Tuesday to the protesters’ actions, charging that Iran was behind a deadly militia attack that led to the airstrikes and blaming Tehran for the embassy siege.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

A spokesman for the Kataib Hezbollah militia said the demonstrators intend to besiege the embassy until the facility shuts down and U.S. diplomats leave Iraq.

But the angry demonstrators defied appeals delivered over loudspeakers by the group’s leaders not to enter the embassy compound and smashed their way into one of the facility’s reception areas, breaking down fortified doors and bulletproof glass and setting fire to the room.

A U.S. airstrike on Dec. 29 killed or wounded scores of members of an Iran-backed militia that forms part of Iraq’s security forces. Baghdad says it will have ‘dangerous consequences.’

American guards inside the embassy fired tear gas to keep the militia supporters at bay. U.S. troops could be seen nearby and on rooftops, their weapons drawn, but they did not open fire. Embassy civil defense workers just inside the gates attempted to put out the fires with water hoses.

The protesters also smashed security cameras, set two guardrooms ablaze and burned tires. They made a bonfire out of a pile of papers and military MREs (meals ready to eat) found in the reception area, where guards normally search visitors. Kataib Hezbollah flags were draped over the barbed wire protecting the embassy’s high walls.

The embassy’s sirens wailed continually as dense black smoke billowed into the air.

Thaier Al-Sudani

Reuters

Hashd al-Shaabi fighters set fire on the U.S. Embassy wall in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Inside the embassy, U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers were huddled in a fortified safe room, according to two reached by a messaging app. They declined to give details but added that they felt secure.

By early afternoon, tensions had eased somewhat after an Iraqi army commander showed up and ordered Iraqi security forces, who had initially made no attempt to intervene, to prevent the demonstrators going farther inside the facility. The security forces formed an impromptu buffer between the demonstrators and the American guards inside.

Shortly after that, acting Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed for calm and urged the demonstrators to refrain from entering the compound. He said in a statement that it is the government’s responsibility to protect foreign embassies.

The embassy compound lies inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which is normally off limits to ordinary people. But earlier in the morning, thousands of people walked unimpeded into the zone to join the demonstrations, as many Iraqi security forces simply mingled with the crowd.

Their chants of “Death to America” carried echoes of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, when Iranian students seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and detained American diplomats and other personnel there for 444 days.

Ahmad Al-Rubaye

AFP/Getty Images

U.S. soldiers watch from inside the U.S. embassy as Iraqi protesters surround thebuilding in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Many were wearing militia uniforms and carried flags signifying their allegiance to the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which had vowed to retaliate for the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 militia members.

Among the crowd were some of Iran’s most powerful allies in Iraq, including Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization; Qais al-Khazali, who heads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and was once imprisoned by the U.S. military; and Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who spent years in prison in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. Embassy there.

The demonstrators daubed graffiti on the embassy walls signifying their allegiance to Iran: the names of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and powerful Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Other slogans simply read: “America get out.”

Some protesters began erecting tents nearby, indicating that they intend to remain for the long haul. Jaafar al-Husseini, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, said the group plans to encamp outside the embassy until it closes and all U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.

Khalid Mohammed

AP

Protesters destroy a vehicle inside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.

U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to requests for comment, and it was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats or troops are trapped inside the compound, the largest U.S. diplomatic facility in the world. Opened with much fanfare over a decade ago as a symbol of American influence in Iraq, on Tuesday it seemed as much a symbol vulnerability of the United States in an Iraq in which it now has few friends.

The demonstration comes amid an outpouring of rage in Iraq directed against the United States for carrying out airstrikes Sunday against Kataib Hezbollah bases near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The strikes were in response to the death of an American contractor in a rocket attack last Friday on a base housing U.S. troops in Kirkuk. The United States blamed the rocket attack on the Iranian-backed group.

U.S. officials said the airstrikes were “defensive” and aimed at deterring further rocket attacks against U.S. personnel by Iranian allies in Iraq.

But in Iraq they have been widely denounced as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of the rules governing the presence of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops based there to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

U.S. airstrikes launched Dec. 29 against an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq and Syria left dozens dead or wounded.

Sly reported from Beirut.

Read more

U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria target Iranian-backed militia, Pentagon says

U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia draw condemnation, retaliation threats in Iraq

Iraq’s military is spreading fake news about protests

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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2019-12-31 14:20:00Z
52780524079410

Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad - The Washington Post

Hundreds of supporters of an Iranian-backed militia surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes on Dec. 29 that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of angry supporters of an Iranian-backed militia shouting “Death to America” attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, trapping diplomats inside in response to U.S. airstrikes that killed or wounded scores of militia fighters.

President Trump responded angrily Tuesday to the protesters’ action, charging that Iran was behind a deadly militia attack that led to the airstrikes and blaming Tehran for the embassy siege.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

A U.S. airstrike on Dec. 29 killed or wounded scores of members of an Iran-backed militia that forms part of Iraq’s security forces. Baghdad says it will have ‘dangerous consequences.’

A spokesman for the Kataib Hezbollah militia said the demonstrators intend to besiege the embassy until the facility shuts down and U.S. diplomats leave Iraq.

But the angry demonstrators defied appeals delivered over loudspeakers by the group’s leaders not to enter the embassy compound and smashed their way into one of the facility’s reception areas, breaking down fortified doors and bulletproof glass and setting fire to the room.

American guards inside the embassy fired tear gas to keep the militia supporters at bay. U.S. troops could be seen nearby and on rooftops, their weapons drawn, but they did not open fire. Embassy civil defense workers just inside the gates attempted to put out the fires with water hoses.

The protesters also smashed security cameras, set two guardrooms ablaze and burned tires. They made a bonfire out of a pile of papers and military MREs (meals ready to eat) found in the reception area, where guards normally search visitors. Kataib Hezbollah flags were draped over the barbed wire protecting the embassy’s high walls.

The embassy’s sirens wailed continually as dense black smoke billowed into the air.

Khalid Mohammed

AP

Iraqi security forces stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Inside the embassy, U.S. diplomats and embassy staffers were huddled in a fortified safe room, according to two reached by a messaging app. They declined to give details but added that they felt secure.

By early afternoon, tensions had eased somewhat after an Iraqi army commander showed up and ordered Iraqi security forces, who had initially made no attempt to intervene, to prevent the demonstrators going farther inside the facility. The security forces formed an impromptu buffer between the demonstrators and the American guards inside.

Shortly after that, acting Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi appealed for calm and urged the demonstrators to refrain from entering the compound. He said in a statement that it is the government’s responsibility to protect foreign embassies.

The embassy compound lies inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which is normally off limits to ordinary people. But earlier in the morning, thousands of people walked unimpeded into the zone to join the demonstrations, as many Iraqi security forces simply mingled with the crowd.

Their chants of “Death to America” carried echoes of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, when Iranian students seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and detained American diplomats and other personnel there for 444 days.

Thaier al-Sudani

Reuters

Iraqis set fire to the U.S. Embassy wall in Baghdad on Tuesday to condemn the U.S. airstrikes.

Many were wearing militia uniforms and carried flags signifying their allegiance to the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which had vowed to retaliate for the U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 militia members.

Among the crowd were some of Iran’s most powerful allies in Iraq, including Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization; Qais al-Khazali, who heads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and was once imprisoned by the U.S. military; and Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who spent years in prison in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. Embassy there.

The demonstrators daubed graffiti on the embassy walls signifying their allegiance to Iran: the names of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and powerful Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Other slogans simply read: “America get out.”

Some protesters began erecting tents nearby, indicating that they intend to remain for the long haul. Jaafar al-Husseini, a Kataib Hezbollah spokesman, said the group plans to encamp outside the embassy until it closes and all U.S. diplomats and troops leave Iraq.

Khalid Mohammed

AP

Protesters destroy a vehicle inside the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday.

U.S. Embassy officials did not respond to requests for comment, and it was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats or troops are trapped inside the compound, the largest U.S. diplomatic facility in the world. Opened with much fanfare over a decade ago as a symbol of American influence in Iraq, on Tuesday it seemed as much a symbol vulnerability of the United States in an Iraq in which it now has few friends.

U.S. airstrikes launched Dec. 29 against an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq and Syria left dozens dead or wounded.

The demonstration comes amid an outpouring of rage in Iraq directed against the United States for carrying out airstrikes Sunday against Kataib Hezbollah bases near the Iraqi-Syrian border. The strikes were in response to the death of an American contractor in a rocket attack last Friday on a base housing U.S. troops in Kirkuk. The United States blamed the rocket attack on the Iranian-backed group.

U.S. officials said the airstrikes were “defensive” and aimed at deterring further rocket attacks against U.S. personnel by Iranian allies in Iraq.

But in Iraq they have been widely denounced as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and of the rules governing the presence of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops based there to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

Sly reported from Beirut.

Read more

U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria target Iranian-backed militia, Pentagon says

U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia draw condemnation, retaliation threats in Iraq

Iraq’s military is spreading fake news about protests

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

Let's block ads! (Why?)


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2019-12-31 13:41:00Z
52780524079410

Australia fires: Military to be deployed to help rescue effort - BBC News

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Australian military aircraft and vessels will be deployed to help emergency services in the fire-ravaged states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.

Thousands of people fled to beaches in the south-eastern states on Tuesday as emergency-level fires spread.

In Mallacoota, Victoria, about 4,000 people sought shelter on the coast.

Two more people have been confirmed dead in NSW, bringing the fire-linked death toll to 12.

Authorities say four people are missing in Victoria and another in NSW.

"We've got literally hundreds, thousands of people up and down the coast, taking refuge on the beaches," said Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Mr Fitzsimmons said it was "the worst fire season we have experienced here in NSW".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds have agreed to send military aircraft and vessels at the request of the Victorian government.

The Australian Defence Force will send Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and navy vessels to Victoria and NSW, the two worst-affected regions.

The military is expected to provide humanitarian assistance and carry out evacuations if needed in the coming days.

The US and Canada have also been asked to provide "specialist aviation resources" to help the emergency effort.

In his New Year message, Mr Morrison hailed the "amazing spirit of Australians" but warned that the weeks and months ahead would "continue to be difficult".

The bodies of the latest victims - a 63-year-old man and his 29-year-old son - were found near the town of Corbargo in NSW.

Police said the men, named as Robert Salway and his son Patrick by Australian media, had stayed behind to protect their family home, where their bodies were found on Tuesday.

In Mallacoota, the local fire service said a change in wind direction had taken the worst of the fires away from the town.

"I understand there was a public cheer down at the jetty when that was announced," said chief officer Steve Warrington.

About a dozen "emergency-level" blazes stretch across NSW and Victoria.

Several holiday spots along the coast have been cut off and the main road in the region - the Princes Highway - has been closed.

At midnight on Tuesday, Sydney's A$6m (£3.1m; $4.2m) fireworks display, renowned worldwide, went ahead despite calls for it to be cancelled given the scale of the bushfire crisis.

Temperatures exceeded 40C (104F) in every state and territory at the start of the week, with strong winds and lightning strikes bolstering the flames.

Meteorologists say a climate system in the Indian Ocean, known as the dipole, is the main driver behind the extreme heat in Australia.

What has happened in Mallacoota?

Residents fled to the beach or took up shelter in fortified homes when they heard the warning siren go off at 08:00 local time on Tuesday.

"It should have been daylight but it was black like midnight and we could hear the fire roaring," said David Jeffrey, a local business owner. "We were all terrified for our lives."

The fire was kept back from the shore, where firefighters had gathered for a last line of defence, by the change in wind.

Victoria's state emergency commissioner Andrew Crisp told reporters there were "4,000 people on the beach".

Many of those trapped on the beach could be forced to spend the night there.

Fire chief Warrington said there had been "significant property losses" across the entire East Gippsland region in the past days.

Authorities said bushfire had destroyed 43 properties in Gippsland, where more than 400,000 hectares have been burned.

Hundreds of massive blazes have destroyed millions of hectares in the eastern states of Australia since September.

  • Are you affected by the fires? Let us know by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Residents in the NSW holiday towns of Bermagui and Batemans Bay also fled on Tuesday morning to the waterfront or makeshift evacuation sites near the shore.

Locals told the BBC they had "bunkered in" as the front approached, raining ash on the beaches.

"It was bloody scary. The sky went red, and ash was flying everywhere," said Zoe Simmons in Batemans Bay.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

A "freakish weather event" killed a volunteer firefighter on Sunday, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). He was the third volunteer firefighter to have died.

Samuel McPaul, 28, was a newlywed who was expecting his first child. Powerful winds near the NSW-Victoria border - generated by the fires - lifted his 10-tonne truck off the ground and flipped it over, the service said.


'Ground blanketed in ash'

Lucy Martin, BBC News, Merimbula

For many Australians, the final days of 2019 have been a tense and worrying time. The smoke hanging in the sky day after day is a constant reminder of communities on fire.

Some are staying inside to avoid the thick, acrid smoke, while others are cancelling holidays or taking long detours to avoid roadblocks.

Here in Merimbula, on the New South Wales coast, the sun has been blotted out, casting a deep orange haze in the sky. People on the street are describing it as apocalyptic.

The smoke is now so thick it's almost impossible to drive. The ground is blanketed in ash and supermarkets are packed with people stocking up with supplies.

Holidaymakers should be swimming and hiking today, but they're checking into evacuation centres or planning escape routes.


Have you been told to evacuate? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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2019-12-31 13:30:00Z
52780530786337

Happy New Year! Watch cities around the world ring in 2020 (LIVE) | USA TODAY - USA TODAY

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2019-12-31 12:56:06Z
CCAiC2Q3ZzJlNHJ5V1BvmAEB

U.S. Embassy in Iraq stormed by protesters - CBS This Morning

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2019-12-31 12:20:43Z
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Baghdad protests: Demonstrators try to storm US embassy following strikes - CNN

Two sources at the demonstration witnessed the attempt to break into the embassy, adding that security personnel fired tear gas to repel the attack. Video and photos on social media show demonstrators smashing the windows of the embassy and burning items outside its walls.
Iraqi protesters set a sentry box ablaze in front of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The pro-Iranian demonstrators were mostly from Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a coalition of predominantly Shiite militias. Three leaders of powerful militia groups were also seen at the protest, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who heads the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah, which was targeted by the American strikes on Sunday.
The US carried out five airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah. At least 25 people were killed and 51 wounded in the strikes, the first significant US military response to Kataib Hezbollah's deadly rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets in recent weeks.
Pro-Iranian Iraqi protesters demonstrate outside the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
US officials said the strikes were carried out with F-15 Strike Eagle fighter planes and targeted weapons storage facilities and command and control locations used by Kataib Hezbollah, among others. The Pentagon said the locations had been used "to plan and execute attacks" on joint US-Iraq forces.
The airstrikes and protests have created new tensions between allies Washington and Baghdad, with Iraqi police and soldiers among the killed and wounded. They come at a time of unrest as mass protests across Iraq challenge the nation's precarious government.
A proxy war between the US and Iran just moved a step closer
Baghdad warned Monday that its relations with the US were at risk following the strikes.
Questions have also been raised as to whether Iraqi forces allowed the protesters to reach the US embassy, a highly fortified building in a ares that is usually restricted.
The strikes and protests also come at a time of high tensions between the US and Iran, and have stoked fears of a new proxy war in the Middle East.
Washington has tightened the economic squeeze on Tehran this year through its "maximum pressure" campaign, while Iran has responded with what it calls for "maximum resistance," including reducing its compliance to the international nuclear deal.
The Trump administration pulled the US out of that deal in May 2018, sparking a campaign of provocation between the two nations.

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2019-12-31 12:14:00Z
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Baghdad protests: Demonstrators try to storm US embassy following strikes - CNN

Two sources at the demonstration witnessed the attempt to break into the embassy, adding that security personnel fired tear gas to repel the attack. Video and photos on social media show demonstrators smashing the windows of the embassy and burning items outside its walls.
Iraqi protesters set a sentry box ablaze in front of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The pro-Iranian demonstrators were mostly from Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a coalition of predominantly Shiite militias. Three leaders of powerful militia groups were also seen at the protest, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who heads the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah, which was targeted by the American strikes on Sunday.
The US carried out five airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah. At least 25 people were killed and 51 wounded in the strikes, the first significant US military response to Kataib Hezbollah's deadly rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets in recent weeks.
Pro-Iranian Iraqi protesters demonstrate outside the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.
US officials said the strikes were carried out with F-15 Strike Eagle fighter planes and targeted weapons storage facilities and command and control locations used by Kataib Hezbollah, among others. The Pentagon said the locations had been used "to plan and execute attacks" on joint US-Iraq forces.
The airstrikes and protests have created new tensions between allies Washington and Baghdad, with Iraqi police and soldiers among the killed and wounded. They come at a time of unrest as mass protests across Iraq challenge the nation's precarious government.
A proxy war between the US and Iran just moved a step closer
Baghdad warned Monday that its relations with the US were at risk following the strikes.
Questions have also been raised as to whether Iraqi forces allowed the protesters to reach the US embassy, a highly fortified building in a ares that is usually restricted.
The strikes and protests also come at a time of high tensions between the US and Iran, and have stoked fears of a new proxy war in the Middle East.
Washington has tightened the economic squeeze on Tehran this year through its "maximum pressure" campaign, while Iran has responded with what it calls for "maximum resistance," including reducing its compliance to the international nuclear deal.
The Trump administration pulled the US out of that deal in May 2018, sparking a campaign of provocation between the two nations.

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2019-12-31 11:59:00Z
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Thousands Flee to Shore as Australia Fires Turn Skies Blood Red - The New York Times

SYDNEY, Australia — As the fire stalked toward the coastal town of Mallacoota, the daytime sky turned inky black, then blood red. Emergency sirens wailed, replaced later by the thunder of gas explosions. Thousands of residents fled their homes and huddled near the shore. There was nowhere else to go.

On the last day of the warmest decade on record in Australia, the country’s east coast was dotted on Tuesday with apocalyptic scenes like the ones in Mallacoota, a vacation destination between Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia is in the grip of a devastating fire season, with months of summer still to go, as record-breaking temperatures, strong winds and prolonged drought have ignited huge blazes across the country.

In Mallacoota, residents in boats shared footage of themselves on social media wearing masks and life vests as they waited in the eerie light. Others opted to stay and defend homes, likening burning trees to “exploding infernos” and describing the roar of the blazes.

In Batemans Bay, four hours north, residents sat on folding chairs along the beach, life rafts at the ready, as a fire encircled the town and burned homes. To the south, in Cobargo, a father and son died in a blaze as they tried to protect the family home, bringing the death toll to at least 11 in this season’s fires.

With several blazes burning out of control, thousands were stranded in evacuation centers in other towns along the coast as firefighters told people to stay put. Tens of thousands of people were without power, the Australian military was authorized to deploy aircraft and naval vessels, and the government requested firefighting help from Canada and the United States.

In Sydney, where heavy smoke from fires has obscured the sun many days this summer, officials rejected calls to cancel the city’s signature New Year’s Eve fireworks display after the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales approved the celebration.

Still, the service’s commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said on Tuesday that this fire season was one of the worst ever, with more than 900 homes destroyed in New South Wales and millions of acres burned. One blaze has reached the western part of Sydney.

The fires have been so fierce that they have created their own weather systems and forced volunteer firefighters to work around the clock. On Monday night, a volunteer firefighter died after a phenomenon called a fire tornado — turbulence caused by extreme rising heat — in New South Wales caused a 10-ton fire truck to roll over.

The firefighter, Samuel McPaul, 28, was due to become a father in May. He was the third volunteer firefighter to die this fire season; the other two were fathers of young children.

In Mallacoota, just over the border in the state of Victoria, residents had spent Monday night preparing to evacuate. As the fire approached, some gathered at a community center, while others climbed into boats in bodies of water.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one man filming his escape on a boat.

Ida Dempsey of Melbourne, who spends Christmas every year in the area with her family, also took refuge on the water.

“We couldn’t see a thing. It was pitch black,” Ms. Dempsey said. “We had face masks; the smoke was very bad.”

She commended fire officials for keeping people calm. “If we didn’t have a plan, I would have panicked a bit more,” she said.

In Batemans Bay, said James Findlay, who grew up there, the fire came so quickly that there was no hope to save his family home.

“Everything’s gone,” he said.

His parents, Mr. Findlay said, were in shock.

“People have lost their homes, their farms, and people have lost their lives,” he said.

“If this isn’t some kind of a sign that more should be done, then I don’t know what is.”

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2019-12-31 09:42:00Z
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Crowd shouting 'down USA' attempts to storm US Embassy in Baghdad, report says - Fox News

Hundreds of Iraqis attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday after holding funerals for the 25 fighters from an Iran-backed Shiite militia killed in U.S. airstrikes earlier this week, the Associated Press reported.

Reporters for the AP described a chaotic scene on the ground and reported that the crowd shouted,  “Down, down USA!”

Security guards were seen retreating to the inside of the embassy as the protesters hurled water bottles and smashed security cameras outside the embassies, the report said.

The U.S. military carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday — days after a U.S. defense contractor was killed in a rocket attack.

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Military jet fighters conducted "precision defensive strikes" on five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, Jonathan Hoffman, a spokesperson for the Pentagon told Fox News. Two defense officials added that Air Force F-15 jet fighters carried out the strikes.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strikes send the message that the U.S. will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

Fox News'  Nicole Darrah and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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2019-12-31 09:24:58Z
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Carlos Ghosn: Ex-Nissan boss flees Japan for Lebanon - The - The Washington Post

Issei Kato Reuters Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo on April 25, 2019. Ghosn said he had escaped “injustice” in Japan, where he faced accusations of financial misconduct, and is now in Lebanon.

TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn, the former boss of the Nissan-Renault car alliance, said on Tuesday he had left Japan where he was awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct and arrived in Lebanon.

It was not clear how Ghosn, who is of Lebanese descent and holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian citizenship, had departed Japan. The 65-year-old was released on bail in Tokyo in April but placed under close surveillance and ordered to surrender his passports.

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” Ghosn said in a statement.

“I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.”

One of Ghosn’s Japanese lawyers said they were still holding his Lebanese, French and Brazilian passports, as required by the terms of his bail, and called his actions “inexcusable.”

“We don’t know any more than has been reported,” Junichiro Hironaka told reporters, in remarks broadcast by NHK. “It was like a bolt from the blue. We are surprised and puzzled.”

Ghosn’s treatment since his arrest in November 2018 has thrown an unflattering spotlight on Japan’s justice system, and prompted concerns in boardrooms around the world. Sympathy was high among the general public in Lebanon, and its government had complained publicly about Ghosn’s humiliating treatment behind bars.

Ghosn, one of the world’s most successful and charismatic auto executives, was accused of financial misconduct and underreporting his income. But his initial 23-day detention was extended to 108 days as prosecutors rearrested him several times while he was still behind bars, a common tactic used in Japan to extract confessions and widely criticized as amounting to “hostage justice.”

[Former Nissan, Renault boss Carlos Ghosn rearrested on fresh charges in Japan]

He was released in March, then rearrested again in April just after announcing plans to hold a news conference, before finally being granted bail under strict conditions, including that he not speak to his wife. Writing in The Washington Post in April, Carole Ghosn said her husband had been kept in solitary confinement, with the lights on around the clock, and subjected to interrogation at all hours of the night and day without access to his lawyers.

The case prompted questions about whether a Japanese executive would have faced the same treatment, and why Ghosn and U.S. citizen Greg Kelly were the only Nissan board members arrested, when the company’s Japanese executives should also have known about Ghosn’s compensation arrangements.

Mark Lennihan

AP

Carlos Ghosn at the New York International Auto Show in April 2015.

Ghosn and his lawyers say the allegations were trumped up as part of a conspiracy among Nissan, government officials and prosecutors to oust Ghosn and block his plans to force through a closer merger between the Japanese automaker and its alliance partner, Renault.

Equally, though, there have been concerns raised about Ghosn’s management.

In dismissing Ghosn in 2018, Nissan said its investigations revealed misconduct ranging from understating his salary to transferring $5 million of company funds to an account in which he had an interest.

Renault, initially supportive of its former boss, announced in April after an internal investigation that it had found evidence of “questionable and concealed practices and violations of the group’s ethical principles.” At the time, Renault said it would halt Ghosn’s pension and reserved the right to bring action against him in the courts.

[Japanese court grants bail to former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after nearly four months in jail]

Ghosn earned a reputation as one of the auto industry’s top executives after turning around the fortunes of Renault and Nissan and bringing the two companies together in a three-way alliance with Mitsubishi.

But his efforts to forge closer links between Renault and Nissan ran into opposition from within the Japanese company, and many experts say that may have been a factor in his downfall.

His reputation for streamlining Renault’s operations won him the nickname “Le Cost Killer,” while his success in turning Nissan around from near bankruptcy earned him the moniker “Mr. Fix It.” His efforts made him enormously popular in Japan, with blanket media coverage and even a manga comic produced about his life. However, his lavish lifestyle and relatively high pay were sources of controversy.

Inevitably, there was intense speculation about how Ghosn could have left the country without the authorities’ knowledge.

Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Keisuke Suzuki visited Beirut earlier this month where he met with the Lebanese president and foreign minister.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was still “looking into the matter to ascertain the status of affairs” and could not comment at the moment. A senior official told NHK that the ministry was not aware of Ghosn’s departure.

“Had we known about it prior to his departure, we would have reported that to the legal authorities,” the official was quoted as saying.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, and given public support for Ghosn there it is unlikely any attempt to extradite him would be successful.

Akiko Kashiwagi contributed to this report.

simon.denyer@washpost.com

Read more

Former Nissan, Renault boss Carlos Ghosn rearrested on fresh charges in Japan

Japanese court grants bail to former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after nearly four months in jail

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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2019-12-31 07:09:00Z
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Ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn flees Japan - CNN

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2019-12-31 06:44:08Z
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Senin, 30 Desember 2019

British woman, 19, could face prison after Cyprus court finds her guilty of lying about gang rape - Fox News

A 19-year-old British woman who had accused a dozen young Israelis of gang-raping her at a hotel in Cyprus is now facing up to a year in prison after a court found her guilty of lying about the entire ordeal.

The woman, who was convicted Monday on a charge of causing public mischief, could also face a $2,000 fine, according to the BBC. But she is now arguing that police in the island country coerced her into making a false confession — a claim they are pushing back against.

Her lawyers plan to appeal the verdict, telling the BBC that the court violated European human rights laws by basing their conviction in part on a retraction statement the woman gave while she had no attorney present.

A 19-year-old British woman, center, covers her face as she leaves from the Famagusta court after her trial, in Paralimni, Cyprus, on Monday.

A 19-year-old British woman, center, covers her face as she leaves from the Famagusta court after her trial, in Paralimni, Cyprus, on Monday. (AP)

POLICE INVESTIGATING CYPRUS SERIAL KILLER RECOVER THIRD SUITCASE CONTAINING HUMAN REMAINS

The legal saga began in July when the woman alleged that 12 young Israelis gang-raped her at a hotel in Ayia Napa, a resort town in Cyprus. Her mother told the BBC last month that her daughter was visiting the country for work and started suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the alleged incident.

During the investigation, police in Cyprus arrested all of the men accused in the attack – but they later were released and allowed to return home.

Prosecutors reportedly told the court that 10 days after the woman made the gang-rape claims, she willingly wrote and signed a statement retracting them.

The judge presiding over the case said the woman initially falsely reported being raped because she was “embarrassed” that some of the men had used their phones to record her having sex, according to the BBC.

Yet her lawyers said the videos show her having consensual sex with one individual from the group while telling others who were trying to enter her room to leave, the station adds.

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The woman was arrested and spent around a month in prison prior to the start of the trial, before being released on bail.

She has not been allowed to leave the island since and her family spent Christmas there with her, the BBC reports. Her sentencing is scheduled for early January.

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2019-12-30 13:55:39Z
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calls for "offensive measures" - CBS This Morning

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2019-12-30 13:23:16Z
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Iran warns of 'consequences' after US strikes in Iraq and Syria - CNN

The US has "openly shown its support to terrorism and shown its negligence to the independence and national sovereignty of countries," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mosavi , according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
"It must accept responsibility of the consequences of the illegal attacks," added Mosavi.
At least 25 people were killed and 51 wounded in the airstrikes that targeted five facilities controlled by Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria on Sunday.
Kataib Hezbollah is a militia group that falls under the Iran-backed Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.
The strikes represent the first significant US military response in retaliation for attacks by the militia group that have injured numerous American military personnel, according to US officials.
Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant and political group with links to Iran, also condemned the US airstrikes.
Lebanon's Hezbollah called the attack "a blatant violation on the sovereignty, security and stability of Iraq and the Iraqi people," in a statement released on the group's al-Manar TV Monday.
"This aggression reaffirms that the American administration wants to strike the underlying potential powers of the Iraqi people which is capable to confront ISIS and the powers of extremism and crime," the statement read.
US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia
"The American administration reveals its true face as an enemy to Iraq and the interest of the Iraqi people and their aspiration for freedom, true sovereignty and a secured future," it continued.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman described the strikes against the group as "precision defensive strikes" that "will degrade" the group's ability to conduct future attacks against coalition forces.
Tensions between the US and Iran have increased over 2019 as Washington tightened the economic squeeze on Tehran through its "maximum pressure" campaign and Iran responded with what it calls for "maximum resistance."
Tehran's resistance has taken the form of gradually reduced compliance to the international nuclear deal that the US left in May 2018 and a campaign of regional provocation that began escalating in May.

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2019-12-30 12:29:00Z
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Iran warns of 'consequences' after US strikes in Iraq and Syria - CNN

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  1. Iran warns of 'consequences' after US strikes in Iraq and Syria  CNN
  2. US conducts airstrikes in Iraq, Syria after contractor killed, American troops injured in rocket attack  Fox News
  3. Trump Finally Fires Back at Iran  Wall Street Journal
  4. US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia  CNN
  5. US: Military strikes target militia in deadly Iraq attack  Business Insider Nordic
  6. View full coverage on Google News

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2019-12-30 11:42:00Z
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He Jiankui: Chinese gene-editing scientist jailed for 3 years - CNN

He Jiankui shocked the world in 2018 when he announced that twin girls Lulu and Nana had been born with modified DNA to make them resistant to HIV, which he had managed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 before birth.
He, an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said at the time that he was "proud" of the achievement. He later claimed that a second woman was pregnant as a result of his research.
But he was condemned by many of his peers, with the experiment labeled "monstrous," "unethical," and a "huge blow" to the reputation of Chinese biomedical research. Many people within the scientific community raised ethical concerns, including the level of consent He had obtained from the parents of the babies, and the level of transparency around gene editing.
On Monday, the Shenzhen Nanshan District People's Court sentenced He to three years behind bars and a 3 million yuan ($430,000) fine, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
China suspends scientists who claim to have produced first gene-edited babies
According to the court's findings, He became aware of potential economic gains from human embryo gene-editing technology in 2016, Xinhua reported. He worked with two medical researchers, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, to use gene-editing technology to produce babies that were resistant to HIV.
"The court held that the three defendants failed to obtain a doctor's qualification and pursued profit, deliberately violated the relevant national regulations on scientific research and medical management, crossed the bottom line of scientific and medical ethics, and rashly applied gene-editing technology to human-assisted reproductive medicine, and disrupted the medical treatment," Xinhua reported. "The nature of their behavior is serious and has constituted the crime of illegal medical practice."
Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan ($143,000), while Qin was given a suspended sentence of one year and six months in prison and fined 500,000 yuan ($71,600). According to Xinhua, all three defendants pleaded guilty in trials that were closed to the public to protect individual privacy.
All three defendants have reportedly also been banned from engaging in human-assisted reproductive technology services for life.
Editing the genes of embryos intended for pregnancy is banned in many countries, including the United States. In the United Kingdom, embryos can only be edited for research purposes with strict regulatory approval. It is unknown whether the procedure is safe or, if used in pregnancy, whether it can have unintended consequences for the babies later in life or for future generations.
In January this year, investigators from Guangdong Province Health Commission said that He had conducted the work "in pursuit of personal fame and fortune, with self-raised funds and deliberate evasion of supervision and private recruitment of related personnel." The authorities also said He forged ethical review documents and blood tests to circumvent a ban on assisted reproduction for HIV-positive patients.
China has invested heavily in gene-editing technology, with the government bankrolling research into a number of world "firsts," including the first use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 in humans in 2016 and the first reported use of gene editing technology to modify nonviable human embryos in 2015.

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2019-12-30 10:48:00Z
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Top Iraqi militia leader warns of strong response to U.S. air strikes - Reuters.com

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A top Iraqi militia leader warned of a strong response against U.S. forces in Iraq following air strikes in Iraq and Syria overnight that hit several bases of his Iranian-backed group and killed at least 25 people.

A combination of images depicts what the U.S. military says are bases of the Kataib Hezbollah militia group that were struck by U.S. forces, in the city of Al-Qa'im, Iraq December 29, 2019 is seen in this handout picture provided by the U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. Department of Defense/Handout via REUTERS

The U.S. military carried out air strikes on Sunday against the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, officials said.

Iraqi security and militia sources said at least 25 militia fighters were killed and at least 55 wounded following three U.S. air strikes in Iraq.

“The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain and our response will be very tough on the American forces in Iraq,” senior commander Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, said late on Sunday. Iran said it strongly condemned the raids as “terrorism”.

Mohandes is a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups mostly consisting of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias that was formally integrated into Iraq’s armed forces.

He is also one of Iran’s most powerful allies in Iraq and formerly headed Kataib Hezbollah, which he founded.

Iraqi security sources said on Monday that U.S. forces in Iraq’s northerly Nineveh province were ramping up security overnight, with U.S.-led coalition jets circling the perimeter of its military bases in Mosul and Qayarah.

‘INSOLENT ATTACK’

Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington -Iraq’s two main allies - since last year when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

The air strikes come at a troubled time of protests in Iraq with thousands taking to the streets to condemn, among other things, militias such as Kataib Hezbollah and their Iranian backers. They also demand an overhaul of a political system they see as corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed in unrest as security forces have sought to quell anti-government demonstrations.

The PMF bolstered Iraq’s security forces during their battle to retake a third of the country from Islamic State, helping secure victory against the militants.

They were later formally integrated into Iraq’s official security structure and also wield large political influence.

There was no immediate comment from the Iraqi government on the air strikes. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who is backed by Iran and its allies, resigned last month as the protests continued but has remained in office in a caretaker capacity.

Iraq’s Fatih alliance, which holds the second-largest number of seats in parliament and largely consists of militia leaders, called the air strikes an attack on Iraq’s sovereignty.

“The insolent attack by American forces on security forces which targeted the 45th and 46th brigades of the Popular Moralization Forces in the Qaim area is an attack on national sovereignty and on Iraq’s dignity,” it said in a statement.

Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite group Hezbollah, also backed by Iran, also condemned the air strikes, calling them a blatant attack on Iraqi sovereignty, security, and stability.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Additional reporting by Eric Knecht in Beirut and Jamal Badrani in Mosul; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by William Maclean

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2019-12-30 09:19:00Z
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He Jiankui: Chinese gene-editing scientist jailed for 3 years - CNN

He Jiankui shocked the world in 2018 when he announced that twin girls Lulu and Nana had been born with modified DNA to make them resistant to HIV, which he had managed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 before birth.
He, an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said at the time that he was "proud" of the achievement. He later claimed that a second woman was pregnant as a result of his research.
But he was condemned by many of his peers, with the experiment labeled "monstrous," "unethical," and a "huge blow" to the reputation of Chinese biomedical research. Many people within the scientific community raised ethical concerns, including the level of consent He had obtained from the parents of the babies, and the level of transparency around gene editing.
On Monday, the Shenzhen Nanshan District People's Court sentenced He to three years behind bars and a 3 million yuan ($430,000) fine, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
China suspends scientists who claim to have produced first gene-edited babies
According to the court's findings, He became aware of potential economic gains from human embryo gene-editing technology in 2016, Xinhua reported. He worked with two medical researchers, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, to use gene-editing technology to produce babies that were resistant to HIV.
"The court held that the three defendants failed to obtain a doctor's qualification and pursued profit, deliberately violated the relevant national regulations on scientific research and medical management, crossed the bottom line of scientific and medical ethics, and rashly applied gene-editing technology to human-assisted reproductive medicine, and disrupted the medical treatment," Xinhua reported. "The nature of their behavior is serious and has constituted the crime of illegal medical practice."
Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan ($143,000), while Qin was given a suspended sentence of one year and six months in prison and fined 500,000 yuan ($71,600). According to Xinhua, all three defendants pleaded guilty in trials that were closed to the public to protect individual privacy.
All three defendants have reportedly also been banned from engaging in human-assisted reproductive technology services for life.
Editing the genes of embryos intended for pregnancy is banned in many countries, including the United States. In the United Kingdom, embryos can only be edited for research purposes with strict regulatory approval. It is unknown whether the procedure is safe or, if used in pregnancy, whether it can have unintended consequences for the babies later in life or for future generations.
In January this year, investigators from Guangdong Province Health Commission said that He had conducted the work "in pursuit of personal fame and fortune, with self-raised funds and deliberate evasion of supervision and private recruitment of related personnel." The authorities also said He forged ethical review documents and blood tests to circumvent a ban on assisted reproduction for HIV-positive patients.
China has invested heavily in gene-editing technology, with the government bankrolling research into a number of world "firsts," including the first use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 in humans in 2016 and the first reported use of gene editing technology to modify nonviable human embryos in 2015.

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2019-12-30 07:41:00Z
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