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A United States Navy aircraft carrier has arrived in South Korea for a show of force as Washington, Seoul and Tokyo released a joint statement on Monday condemning deepening military ties between North Korea and Russia.

The nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt docked in the port of Busan on Saturday ahead of trilateral exercises with South Korea and Japan in the waters near the peninsula.

The Freedom Edge exercises resulted from an agreement made by the defense chiefs of the US, South Korea and Japan before Russian leader Vladimir Putin made his high-profile trip to Pyongyang last week. But the strongly worded joint statement the three partners released Monday shows the gravity with which they view a new “strategic partnership” between North Korea and Russia made during Putin’s trip.

Besides signing the defense deal with Kim Jong Un, Putin also linked security on the Korean Peninsula to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, threatening to arm North Korea should South Korea provide military aid to Kyiv.

The US, South Korea and Japan “condemn in the strongest possible terms deepening military cooperation between the DPRK and Russia,” the joint statement said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Deepened ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, and the mutual defense pact “should be of grave concern to anyone with an interest in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the global non-proliferation regime, and supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence against Russia’s brutal aggression,” it said.

The joint statement comes after all three partners separately expressed deep concerns over the treaty, including South Korea condemning it and summoning Russia’s ambassador on Friday, a rare diplomatic step that illustrates the soured tensions between Seoul and Moscow.

The aircraft carrier’s presence in Busan is just the latest in a series of US military moves to show Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to its own treaty ally in South Korea.

Earlier this month, US Air Force B-1B bombers participated in a live-fire exercise on the peninsula, the first time in seven years those long-range strike aircraft have dropped live munitions in South Korea.

And last week, a US Air Force AC-130 gunship also performed live-fire strikes on the same range where the B-1s dropped their bombs.

Joint drills with the US have long been a source of frustration and ire for North Korea which has pressed ahead with its illegal nuclear weapons program and missile testing under Kim, who has found a common cause with Putin.

Russia, which once supported sanctions on North Korea, used its veto power in the United Nations earlier this year to shield Pyongyang from further scrutiny and Putin has backed often backed Kim’s narrative.

“This confrontational policy on the part of the US to expand its military infrastructure in the subregion was accompanied by significant increases in the intensity and scale of military drills involving South Korea and Japan that are hostile towards North Korea,” Putin said in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

The visit of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to Busan marks the second time a Nimitz-class carrier has visited South Korea in seven months. The USS Carl Vinson called in Busan last November.

The Roosevelt, with some 5,000 personnel aboard, carries an air wing of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters.

The presence of the Roosevelt and its carrier strike group of supporting warships “demonstrates the solid combined defense posture and resolute will of the South Korea-US alliance to respond to the sophisticating threat from North Korea,” a statement from the South Korean military said.

Neither the US nor South Korea would give details or exact dates of the upcoming Freedom Edge exercise.

But the three have been working more closely together, including recent exercises involving forces from all three countries.

The Pentagon on Sunday gave a clue as to the timing of the Freedom Edge exercise, releasing a statement saying the Roosevelt would be departing the Indo-Pacific theater next week and heading to the Middle East to replace the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Eisenhower left the region on Saturday after more than seven months of operations that included attacks on Houthi targets in Yemen to protect commercial shipping in the region from the Iran-backed group’s missiles and drones.

The movement of the Roosevelt from the western Pacific leaves temporarily only one US carrier in the region, the USS Ronald Reagan, which is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the “intense phase of the war with Hamas (in Gaza) is about to end,” and that the military’s focus could then shift to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where fighting with the Iran-backed group Hezbollah has intensified in recent weeks.

Netanyahu, however, vowed that Israel would continue operating in Gaza until the militant group Hamas was eliminated.

“It doesn’t mean that the war is going to end, but the war in its current stage is going to end in Rafah. This is true. We will continue mowing the grass later,” Netanyahu told Channel 14 Television in his first one-on-one interview with local Israeli media since October 7.

More than a million Palestinians were taking shelter in Rafah before Israel started its air and ground operation in the southern Gazan city, defying calls from the international community not to proceed. Around 800,000 people have since been displaced from Rafah, where conditions have been described by the United Nations food agency as “apocalyptic.”

The city’s border crossing with Egypt — a vital entry point for humanitarian aid — has remained closed since the Israeli military seized it early last month.

And international pressure on Israel’s actions in Gaza have mounted since it started its operation in Rafah. Last month, the UN’s top court ordered Israel to immediately halt its controversial military operation there, calling the humanitarian situation “disastrous.”

In his interview, Netanyahu said that he is ready to make “a partial deal” with Hamas to return some hostages still being held captive in Gaza, but he reiterated his position that the war will still continue after a ceasefire “to achieve the goal of eliminating” Hamas.

“I’m not ready to give that up,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister has faced nationwide protests in Israel calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the return of all hostages. On Saturday, families of the hostages took part in the ongoing anti-government protests, including in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya, Caesarea, Raanana, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Gat and the town of Pardes Hanna-Karkur. Many protesters demanded the government accept the hostage release deal.

A US-backed three-phase ceasefire plan proposes “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

Cracks also appear to be deepening between the Israeli government and its military. Netanyahu has come under increasing pressure from members of his government and Israel’s allies, including the United States, to devise a strategy for the post-war governance of Gaza after Israel’s devastating bombardment of the isolated enclave.

In response to the prime minister’s comments, Hamas said the words used by Netanyahu show that he is only looking for a partial agreement and not an end to the war in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s positions are “a clear confirmation of his rejection of the recent Security Council resolution, and the proposals of US President Joe Biden,” Hamas said in a statement.

Hamas continues to insist that any agreement include, “a clear affirmation of a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.”

In Israel, the Hostages Families Forum Headquarters condemned any suggestion of a withdrawal without securing the return of all hostages. “The end of the fighting in the Gaza Strip, without the release of the hostages, is an unprecedented national failure and a failure to meet the goals of the war,” the Forum said in a statement on Monday.

Shifting north

Netanyahu also told Channel 14 Television that “after the end of the intense phase, we will have the possibility to shift some of the power north, and we will do it.”

“First of all, for protection purposes, and secondly, to bring our residents home as well. If we can do it politically, that would be great. If not, we will do it in another way, but we will bring everyone back home – all the residents of the north and the south,” he added.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East, has been carrying out deadly attacks from southern Lebanon targeting areas in northern Israel since October 8, the day after the Hamas attacks on Israel.

Israel has responded to Hezbollah’s attacks with strikes that have killed Hezbollah militants, among them senior commanders.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from their homes in northern Israel due to ongoing conflict. Villages across southern Lebanon have also emptied.

The increase in cross-border attacks in recent weeks has intensified concerns about the possible outbreak of another full-fledged conflict in the Middle East.

US officials have serious concerns that in the event of a full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah, as the Iran-backed militant group could overwhelm Israel’s air defenses in the north — including the much-vaunted Iron Dome air defense system.

Netanyahu was also asked in the interview if his solution to ending the conflict with Hezbollah was via agreement or war.

The prime minister responded, “Look, if there is an agreement, it will be an agreement according to our terms. Our terms are not ending the war, leaving Gaza, and leaving Hamas intact. I refuse to leave Hamas intact. We need to eliminate them.”

Israel launched its war in Gaza following the Hamas attacks of October 7, when militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages. Since then, the Israeli campaign has killed more than 37,000 people, according to the ministry of health in Gaza.

This breaking news story has been updated.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

Six law enforcement officers and a priest have reportedly been killed in what appear to be coordinated attacks by gunmen in Russia’s southernmost Dagestan province.

Attacks have been reported in a church and a synagogue in the city of Derbent and at a synagogue and police traffic stop in the city of Makhachkala. Regional authorities say 12 law enforcement officers have also been wounded, though it is unclear in which city. The two cities are about 120km (75 miles) apart.

Two “militants” have also been killed following the attacks, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on Sunday, citing Dagestan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

A priest was killed in the attack on the church in Derbent, according to the Dagestan Public Monitoring Commission Chairman, Shamil Khadulaev.

“According to the information I received, Father Nikolay was killed in the church in Derbent, they slit his throat. He was 66-years-old and very ill,” Khadulaev said.

He also said a security guard at the church armed with only a pistol was shot. Additional priests have locked themselves in the church and are waiting for help, Khadulaev said.

Meanwhile, the synagogue in Derbent was set on fire with photos showing large flames and plumes of smoke billowing heavily out of a series of windows on at least one floor of the structure.

In what appears to be coordinated attacks that took place around the same time as those in Derbent, a synagogue and a police traffic post in Makhachkala also came under fire.

The Israeli foreign ministry described what it said was “a combined attack” on the two synagogues.

“The synagogue in Derbent was set on fire and burned to the ground. Local guards were killed. The synagogue in Makhachkala was attacked by gunfire, there are no further details,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“As far as is known, there were no worshipers in the synagogues at the time of the attack, and there are no known casualties from the Jewish community,” according to the statement.

The head of the Dagestan Republic, Sergey Melikov, has issued a message on Telegram saying that “unknown persons made attempts to destabilize the social situation. Dagestan police officers stood in their way. According to preliminary information, there are victims among them.”

Melikov said the identities of the attackers are being established, an operational headquarters has been set up and a plan for a counteroperation “Interception” is underway.

He urged the public to remain calm, saying “Panic and fear are what they were counting on in … They won’t get this from Dagestanis!”

The Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Republic of Dagestan said it had launched a terror investigation into the attacks under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

“All the circumstances of the incident and the persons involved in the terrorist attacks are being established, and their actions will be given a legal assessment,” the investigative directorate statement reads.

This is a developing story. More to come.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

The family of an elderly Indonesian man who died during this year’s Hajj is happy he was buried in the holy city of Mecca, his daughter said, as the Southeast Asian nation mourns hundreds of its citizens who perished in extreme heat during the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

More than 1,300 people died on this year’s Hajj with “numerous cases” due to heat stress, according to Saudi Arabian authorities, after more than 1.8 million pilgrims took part despite temperatures soaring to dangerous levels. Authorities in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, said at least 215 Indonesians are among the dead.

“He was asleep and had no symptoms of sickness before. Everyone said he was healthy during the Hajj procession,” she said.

Sentono had registered for the Hajj in 2018 and traveled to Mecca with his 83-year-old wife and neighbors from the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, Jumartiyah said.

“My father was very enthusiastic about going on the Hajj. He wanted to leave immediately,” she said.

Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which requires every Muslim who is physically and financially able to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once in his or her life.

According to Islamic belief, to die and be buried in Mecca is considered to be a blessing, with many Muslims traveling in their old age after having saved for many years to make the pilgrimage.

“We are happy that he was buried in Mecca,” Jumartiyah said, adding that she hoped to visit her father’s grave when she eventually makes the pilgrimage.

Jumartiyah said her mother, Pariyem Prawirodinomo, is healthy and due to return to Indonesia on July 7.

Some 241,000 Indonesian pilgrims were scheduled to make the journey to Mecca this year, according to Indonesian officials – the country’s largest ever quota.

According to data from the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, most of the Indonesians who died on the pilgrimage this year were over age 50.

It is not uncommon for Indonesia to register hundreds of deaths during each year’s Hajj – last year, 773 people died during the pilgrimage, according to records from the ministry.

‘I saw many pilgrims who died’

Extreme heat has been named as a main factor behind the hundreds of deaths and injuries reported this year during the Hajj. Mecca, the holy city that is central for Hajj pilgrims, saw temperatures soar to a record 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51 Celsius) on Monday.

Various authorities have also said the problems have been compounded by the number of unofficial pilgrimages, with the Saudi government saying Sunday that “unauthorized” trips accounted for more than four out of five of the fatalities.

Saudi Arabia requires each pilgrim to acquire one of the 1.8 million available licenses to legally access Mecca. These licenses can cost several thousand US dollars. Unlicensed pilgrims typically don’t travel in organized tour buses with air conditioning or easy access to water and food supplies.

As part of the pilgrimage, the faithful perform a series of rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca, often involving many hours of walking in the scorching heat every day.

Some pilgrims have lamented the poor infrastructure and organization of this year’s Hajj. Even pilgrims on official tours spend the bulk of their day walking outdoors in the heat.

A 44-year-old Indonesian man who only wished to be referred to as Ahmad, recalled seeing many dying from the heat.

“Along the way home, I saw many pilgrims who died. Almost every few hundred meters, there was a body lying and covered with an ihrom (white fabric) cloth.”

“Every time there is a distribution of water from local residents or certain groups, it is immediately overrun by the pilgrims,” he added, saying that he didn’t see health workers or a single ambulance along the road.

In recent decades, the sheer size of Hajj crowds has been a factor in a number of deadly incidents during the pilgrimage, including a stampede that killed hundreds of people in 2015.

However, experts have warned that rising temperatures pose the deadliest threat to pilgrims as heat records tumble in the Middle East – one of the most vulnerable regions to the climate crisis – making mass gatherings riskier.

“Everybody is affected by deadly heat and sadly I am not surprised by (the Hajj) death toll,” he added.

“Spending time outdoors in the extreme Mecca heat is risking death … so I am afraid there will be more deadly Hajj pilgrimages in the future.”

This post appeared first on cnn.com

In the town of Marjayoun in southern Lebanon, around five miles north of the Israeli border, the main square seems almost abandoned.

A few men play billiards in a storefront nestled in a building crowned with life-sized statues of the Virgin Mary and Saint Charbel, a revered Lebanese saint.

They don’t want to talk about the wars and rumors of war that for decades have plagued this predominantly Christian town near the border.

Journalists are a bother, one grumbles, and goes back to the game.

On the other side of the square, a woman in her thirties comes out of a grocery store with a small bag.

“Marjayoun is very nice, it’s fantastic,” the woman, Claude, tells me. “But the shelling scares us.” That’s all she wants to say.

Throughout the day, occasional thuds of incoming and outgoing fire echo through the streets.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon have risen sharply since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing military campaign by Israel in Gaza. The Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah has been firing missiles, mortars and drones into Israel, and Israel has returned that fire.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the mountainous border have fled as concerns intensify about the possible outbreak of another full-fledged war.

On the Lebanese side, residents of Shia-majority towns like Kafr Kila, Adaisa, Aita Al-Shaab and Aitaroun have almost all left. Frequent Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages have reduced many of these communities to rubble.

Marjayoun, in comparison, has been mostly spared.

The town was the headquarters of the Israeli-armed and funded South Lebanese Army (SLA), a Christian-led proxy militia, during Israel’s decades-long occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended 24 years ago after a protracted guerilla war with Hezbollah.

When Israel pulled out in 2000, many of Marjayoun’s inhabitants fled south across the border to Israel, fearful of being accused by fellow Lebanese citizens of being collaborators with Israel.

Their departure, along with Lebanon’s collapsed economy, fear of yet another prolonged conflict, the absence of a functioning state and emigration have sapped Marjayoun of people and prosperity.

Yet, more than two decades later, some residents still cling to their ancient town and vow not to leave.

“I feel this area has a geographical curse. There has always been tension,” Edouard Achy told me. “The threats are coming from both sides of the border. Tensions are increasing day by day. Everything points to something about to happen.”

Is he going to leave, I ask.

He shrugs. “After more than eight months of this situation, people just want calm and quiet,” he says.

His sister, Amal, and her family have come to church to say a special prayer to mark 40 days since her mother died. Dressed in black with a crucifix around her neck, she brought large loaves of bread and bags of buns to share with the congregation.

Amal exudes a strong connection with her hometown, but wonders how much longer it will be safe as the clouds of war gather overhead.

“We’re staying put, and God willing, we’ll continue to stay,” she insisted. “The south is the Holy Land. The Messiah tread here two thousand years ago.”

She paused and sighed. “But if things escalate to war and it reaches here like it did before, with some shelling, of course, like others, we’ll have to leave,” she said.

‘In war, everyone loses’

Half an hour away, in the mostly Druze town of Hasbaya, 85-year-old Abu Nabil sweeps the street outside his shop.

The Druze faith is an offshoot of Islam, with adherents found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Jordan.

A pious man with a gentle smile and a bushy white moustache, he looks on the bright side of life. “The Lord is merciful to us,” he says. “We can sleep in our homes. We eat. We drink. No one goes hungry.”

Since his birth, Abu Nabil saw Lebanon gain its independence from France in 1943, prosper during the 1960s, become engulfed by civil war, invaded and partially occupied by Israel for decades, and partially occupied by Syria, also for decades.

He has seen the country emerge from civil war, embroiled in war again with Israel in 2006, wracked by a string of high-profile assassinations, convulsed by a short-lived revolution in 2019, followed by economic collapse, and now once again, on the brink of full-scale war with Israel.

“War is ruinous,” he says, grasping my hand. “In war, everyone loses, even the winner.”

Across the street, young men drink coffee from small paper cups while smoking cigarettes. They don’t want trouble, they say, declining to be interviewed.

The worry here, and in many parts of Lebanon, is that if you speak out against Hezbollah, there could be a price to pay. Some people do, some politicians do, but when Hezbollah lives nearby, it’s best not to take the risk.

“Gaza is not my war, and I don’t want to pray in Jerusalem,” one of the men insisted.

Another said one of reasons not one Israeli missile, bomb or artillery round has landed in Hasbaya is because young men act as a sort of armed community watch, making sure no one, neither Hezbollah nor Hamas, fires anything at Israel. It’s not their turf and they’re not welcome here, they say.

Down the hill, there’s a traffic jam on the road leading out of Hasbaya west towards Marjayoun. Cars crawl at a snail’s pace, drivers sticking their heads out to see what it’s all about.

A large group of men, women and children stand around a new white stone building, all dressed in their best. Parked in front is a shining white convertible, the bonnet covered with bouquets of flowers and a license plate reads, in English, “Newly Married.”

A group of men arrives in traditional Druze clothing—with small turbans, vests and low-crotched trousers—carrying drums and horns.

As people leave the building, musicians strike up a raucous tune with a heavy beat and high notes, while others twirl prayer beads over their heads.

The bride, Fatin, in a long lacy dress, and the groom, Taymour, emerge into the sunlight, and everyone cheers.

I decide not to interfere with annoying questions about Israel, Hezbollah, impending war, death, destruction and displacement. Everyone is happy, enjoying the bright June afternoon, the noise, the presence of friends and relatives. “Why spoil such a beautiful day?” I think.

Looking at the festivities, you’d never guess that Israeli forces are only about five miles away and that, not far from here, deadly projectiles are being hurtled back and forth across the border.

The irony, however, was not lost on one man, who leaned over with a chuckle, “We’re celebrating here while war is around the corner.”

This post appeared first on cnn.com

Saudi Arabia said Sunday that more than 1,300 people died on this year’s Hajj pilgrimage – with “numerous cases” due to heat stress and “unauthorized” trips accounting for more than four out of five of the fatalities.

“The health system addressed numerous cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care. Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301,” the Saudi government said in a statement as it released its first official figures.

The statement said 83% of those who died were “unauthorized to perform Hajj” and “walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort.” There were “several elderly and chronically ill individuals” among the deceased, it said, adding that the families of all the dead had now been identified.

Extreme heat has been named as a main factor behind the hundreds of deaths and injuries reported this year during the Hajj. Mecca, the holy city that is central for Hajj pilgrims, saw temperatures soar to a record-setting 125 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. Various authorities have also said the problems have been compounded by the number of unofficial pilgrimages.

Saudi Arabia requires each pilgrim to acquire one of the 1.8 million available licenses to legally access Mecca. These licenses can cost several thousand US dollars. Unlicensed pilgrims typically don’t travel in organized tour buses with air conditioning or easy access to water and food supplies.

The Saudi government also appeared to suggest the unauthorized nature of many of the trips had been a factor in how long it had taken to issue an official death toll as this had complicated the identification process.

“Identification completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and honoring the deceased, with death certificates provided,” the statement said.

Some pilgrims have lamented the poor infrastructure and organization of this year’s Hajj. Even pilgrims on official tours spend the bulk of their day walking outdoors in the scorching heat.

Egypt to clamp down on illegal pilgrimages

The announcement from Saudi Arabia comes as the Egyptian government vowed to revoke the licenses of 16 Hajj tourism companies involved in making illegal pilgrimages to Mecca and refer the company’s managers to the public prosecutor amid fears hundreds of Egyptians are among the dead.

Egypt’s decision was made in a cabinet meeting on Saturday after a report highlighted the dubious nature of how some tourism companies operate.

The official toll among Egyptians stands at 31, but it is being reported by Reuters news agency and other outlets that as many as 500 to 600 Egyptians died during the pilgrimage.

The report, which was reviewed by cabinet, said some operators had not issued correct visas, so holders could not enter the holy city of Mecca and were instead forced to enter “through desert paths on foot.” It also accused some companies of failing to provide proper accommodation, leaving tourists exposed to the heat.

In the meeting, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly offered his “sincere condolences and sympathy” to the families of the deceased pilgrims committing to providing them with the necessary support.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries on a quota system and Saudi Arabia requires each pilgrim to acquire one of the 1.8 million available licenses to legally access Mecca.

But as the cost of one of these licences costs several thousand US dollars, many pilgrims try to access the site illegally and typically don’t travel in organized tour buses with air conditioning or easy access to water and food supplies.

The timing of the Hajj is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar which this year has fallen during scorching temperatures in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims made this year’s journey in extreme temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Along the way home, I saw many pilgrims who died. Almost every few hundred meters, there was a body lying and covered with an ihrom [white fabric] cloth.”

“Every time there is a distribution of water from local residents or certain groups, it is immediately overrun by the pilgrims,” he added, saying that he didn’t see health workers or a single ambulance along the road.

As part of the pilgrimage, the faithful perform a series of rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca, often involving many hours of walking in the scorching heat every day.

The exact death toll for the total number of deaths in this year’s Hajj may still rise, as governments are only aware of pilgrims who have registered and travelled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

At least five people were killed and over 100 injured when missile fragments scattered over beachgoers during a Ukrainian strike on the city of Sevastopol in Russia-occupied Crimea, authorities say.

“Unfortunately, we currently have 124 victims, of which three [are] dead children and two [are] dead adults,” Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a post on Telegram that Ukraine carried out the attack using “US-supplied ATACMS operational-tactical missiles equipped with cluster warheads.”

Four missiles were shot down by Russian air defense but another “deviated from its flight trajectory in the final section due to the impact of air defenses, with the warhead exploding in the air over the city,” the post added.

Video footage posted on X shows the aftermath of the strike, with wounded civilians seen being carried from the beach in stretchers before being loaded into vehicles. Beachgoers, some of them still in their swimwear, can be seen evacuating the area.

One of victims killed in the Ukrainian strike was the daughter of Oleg Averyanov, Deputy Mayor of Magadan. Yuri Grishan, the Mayor of Magadan, said Averyanov’s daughter Sofia was nine and on vacation with her parents in Sevastopol.

The casualties were partially caused by the timing of the strike, which came “at a time when civilians, some were returning from work, some had already gone to the beach with their children,” according to Governor Razvozhayev, who has announced a day of mourning.

According to eyewitnesses on the ground, there was no air raid siren which warned of the attack. Many local residents also took to the comment section of official posts to express their dissatisfaction about the air raid siren not alerting them to an incoming attack.

In response to Ukraine’s attack on Sevastopol, the Russian Ministry of Defense said “such actions will not go unanswered,” saying responsibility for the attack lied with Washington.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin is in constant contact with Sevastopol authorities, adding that the Russian government’s priority is to provide all necessary assistance to victims, RIA says.

Crimea has been occupied by Russia since its forces annexed the peninsula in 2014. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, it has come under sporadic attack from Ukrainian forces.

Before Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Sevastopol – the largest city in Crimea – was a popular tourist destination for Russians. Even after the outbreak of war, Russians have continued to flock to the coastal city despite the dangers.

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As Britain edges closer toward its general election on July 4, the polls tell the same story they have for most of the past three years: This is a country screaming out for change.

The situation has been dire for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak since he took office in late 2022. His governing Conservative Party – whose 14 years in power have been defined by the political gambles of austerity, Brexit and radical economics – fell behind the opposition Labour Party in the polls around November 2021, and the gap has only widened since.

Barring a major shock, Labour leader Keir Starmer will be the person walking through the famous black door of 10 Downing Street in less than three weeks’ time.

Starmer has promised to be the agent of change that Britain needs. He has pledged to grow the country’s economy by reforming planning laws and investing in a new industrial strategy. He has said he will set up a national wealth fund with £7.3 billion ($9.3bn) of public money that will help pay for the transition to net zero emissions.

An £8.3bn publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy, will see the United Kingdom’s energy grid decarbonized by 2030. Starmer says all this can be achieved without raising income taxes, though there are no commitments on other levies, such as capital gains tax, which is paid on money made from selling assets, including property and shares.

The rest of the Labour manifesto combines a mix of modest centrism mixed with soft socialism. It includes imposing taxes on private schools to help pay for state education and windfall levies on energy companies to fund the transition to clean energy. There are also commitments on workers’ rights, cutting waiting lists for health care and also controlling immigration.

Critics on the right say that Starmer will need to raise taxes to fund his plans, while skeptics on the left say his manifesto is not bold or ambitious enough to change Britain for the better.

This is a Britain, of course, that has had record-high inflation over the past two years, watched interest rates skyrocket, seen the pound sink to a record low against the dollar, is still in a cost-of-living crisis, has had the longest waiting times for medical operations in recent history and has spent the past eight years in political turmoil following the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

In short, this is a long list of things to sort out in a five-year term when public finances are in disarray. The question for Starmer, should he win, is whether the mess is too big for him to fix and whether he has the political skill to bring about the change he has promised.

Who is Keir Starmer?

On paper, the 61-year-old Starmer looks like a classic establishment figure.

Once a leading human rights lawyer, he became Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 2008, running the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales – a high-profile job for which he was knighted, making him the first ever Labour leader to enter the job with the prefix Sir to their name.

Starmer, however, is – by the standards of modern political leaders – from relatively humble beginnings.

Born in 1962, Starmer grew up in a small town to the south of London. His father was a toolmaker who worked in a factory, his mother was a nurse who suffered with severe physical disabilities, which ultimately led to one of her legs being amputated.

While Starmer has never claimed to have suffered poverty, he has talked of financial struggles that affected his family, as well as the learning difficulties that held back his younger brother.

Clearly, these early experiences shaped Starmer’s politics. He has talked about noticing people looking down on his father for working in a factory or bullying his brother. His parents were political, naming their eldest after the first Labour leader in parliament, Keir Hardie.

Starmer chose to study law at the University of Leeds, before completing a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford. He initially thought he would have a legal career working for trade unions, but as his politics evolved in line with his studies, he became increasingly interested in human rights.

What does he believe?

Starmer has been on something of a journey since entering politics. He was elected to Parliament in 2015 at the age of 52 and entered the shadow cabinet a little over a year later.

Jeremy Corbyn, then the Labour leader, made Starmer his Brexit chief following the 2016 referendum.

Corbyn is a controversial figure in British politics and serving in his top team is still something that haunts Starmer. Corbyn had historically been on the far left of the Labour Party. Prior to becoming leader in 2015, Corbyn had at various points in his long career supported nuclear disarmament, and withdrawal from NATO, and said it was a “tragedy” that Osama bin Laden was killed rather than put on trial.

Starmer was in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet for the 2017 and 2019 general elections – something the Conservatives bring up regularly as evidence that he is a threat to national security, having tried twice to make Corbyn prime minister.

However, Starmer has since kicked Corbyn out of the Labour Party following an investigation into antisemitism during Corbyn’s time as leader. Starmer has also said that he supported Corbyn knowing he would lose. Pressed on that point in a BBC “Question Time” program, he said Corbyn “would be a better prime minister” than “what we got” in Boris Johnson. Starmer also argues that he has brought Labour back to a position of electability.

The polls suggest that is true, but critics of Starmer on the left say that he used Corbyn and his wing of the Labour Party to win the party leadership in 2020 – committing to several left-wing positions such as nationalizing public services, scrapping university tuition fees and reversing Conservative welfare reforms – only to abandon those pledges once he got closer to power.

Starmer has at various times responded to accusations that he has drifted politically by saying that he puts his country before his political party, and that it’s only possible to change things if you are in power.

Can Starmer change Britain?

Whether you think Starmer’s current plan is unambitious, dishonest, or exactly what Britain needs, it’s impossible to push through policy without political and personal capital.

Dominic Grieve, a Conservative politician who served as attorney general while Starmer was DPP, speaks glowingly of this period.

Grieve added that Starmer was able to be an effective manager because “he is not bogged down with years of political ideology or baggage. He can see what is wrong and can address it.”

Much as Starmer’s allies might see this as a strength, his opponents, from both sides of politics, see it as a weakness.

To those on the right, Starmer is a man who will say anything to get in power. He is someone who in their eyes will support Corbyn, who is anti-NATO and has repeatedly been accused of being a terrorist sympathizer, to get what he wants and is a danger to Britain.

To the left, he is someone who doesn’t have the conviction to make radical changes and, once in office, will not be materially that different to a Conservative leader.

If current polling is accurate, Starmer will win a historic and enormous majority in the House of Commons. But the future may not be so simple. Given the current state of Britain’s finances, the circumstances of Labour’s probable victory and, even Starmer’s own personality traits, it might mean he doesn’t have quite the blank check that a leader with virtually no opposition in parliament would typically enjoy.

An inability to turn that parliamentary power into tangible results at a time when voters are crying out for something different could mean that five years from now, his moderate, safety-first center-left program may ultimately be seen as just as big a political gamble as any of those the Conservatives took in the past 14 years.

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Extensive flooding has stranded about 1.8 million people in northeast Bangladesh, following weeks of heavy rains that have submerged homes and devastated farmland, according to state media and humanitarian agencies.

Video shows large swathes of Sylhet city and the nearby town of Sunamganj underwater in the second wave of flooding to hit the region in less than a month, state-run news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) reported Saturday.

The widespread flooding was triggered by prolonged torrential rain and water runoff from the hilly regions upstream on the border with India, which caused four rivers to swell beyond their danger marks, the Water Development Board said last week, according to local media.

Villagers in the hardest-hit low-lying areas of Sylhet could be seen wading through chest-deep water and heaping their belongings into piles to protect them from the muddy waters.

There is concern for those trapped by floodwaters who now face food shortages and a lack of clean water, according to local media.

About 964,000 people in Sylhet and 792,000 in Sunamganj had been affected by the flooding and authorities said they had set up more than 6,000 shelters to help the displaced, BSS reported.

Among them are 772,000 children who were in urgent need of assistance, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday. More than 800 schools had been flooded with 500 more used as flood shelters, the agency said.

“As waters rise, children are the most vulnerable, facing heightened risks of drowning, malnutrition, deadly waterborne diseases, the trauma of displacement, and potential abuse in overpopulated shelters,” Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh, said in a statement.

International development organization BRAC said it was helping to deliver emergency food and health support to hundreds of families in Sylhet and Sunamganj. It said about 2.25 million people have been affected by the flash floods, which have left 12,000 people in the region without power.

Khondoker Golam Tawhid, program head of BRAC’s Disaster Risk Management Program said flooding in the country is “becoming more dangerous” with “huge losses to livelihoods, biodiversity and infrastructure — and interruption to schooling and health services.”

“Bangladesh is used to flooding, but climate change is making floods more intense and less predictable, making it impossible for families to stay safe, let alone plan ahead,” Tawhid said.

Meanwhile, fish farmers have faced significant losses as floodwaters wash away thousands of farms and ponds, with local media reporting an economic toll of over $11.4 million.

Densely populated and low-lying Bangladesh is prone to seasonal rains, flooding and cyclones.

But the South Asian country is one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of the human-caused climate crisis, studies show. As extreme weather events become more frequent and severe as a result of the climate crisis, the humanitarian and economic impacts to Bangladesh will continue to deteriorate.

By 2050, 13 million people in Bangladesh could become climate migrants and severe flooding could cause GDP to fall by as much as 9%, according to the World Bank.

The latest bout of heavy rains and floods came as the region had barely recovered from widespread flooding in late May following Tropical Cyclone Remal, which lashed Bangladesh and southern India and impacted about 5 million people.

“For many, this will change the course of their lives, leaving them without homes and schools and forcing them to move to temporary shelters for who knows how long,” said Sultana Begum, Save the Children’s regional humanitarian advocacy and policy manager for Asia, in a statement.

“Everything we are hearing points towards these kinds of extreme weather events getting worse and worse. And we have certainly not seen two bouts of severe flooding happen in such quick succession before. Make no mistake, the climate emergency is already making its mark on India and Bangladesh, and it is robbing children of their homes, families, food, water, and access to education and healthcare.”

Rohingya vulnerable

Monsoon rains and landslides have also affected southern Bangladesh, where about a million people from the Rohingya Muslim community are living in the world’s biggest refugee camps, having fled persecution and violence in neighboring Myanmar.

At least 10 people, including three children, died from mudslides and heavy rainfall in the refugee camps near Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday, according to Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

Many Rohingya refugees live in bamboo and tarpaulin shelters perched on hilly slopes that are vulnerable to strong winds, rain, and landslides.

Save the Children said about 8,000 people in 33 camps have been impacted by the torrential downpours, which have destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 shelters.

The humanitarian group noted that the monsoon season in Bangladesh has only just started and will last for the next two months, with the potential to bring more heavy rains, landslides and flooding.

Landslides, heavy rains and flooding have also hit the neighboring Indian state of Assam, affecting more than 4 million people, according to Save the Children.

At least 31 people have died in the floods and landslides since May 29 in the state, according to local police and disaster management authorities.

Some immediate relief for northeast Bangladesh is in sight, however, as the rains began to ease and there are signs that floodwaters were starting to recede, local media reported.

The Bangladesh Water Development Board said Saturday that water levels of the major rivers in the northeast were falling and the trend could continue over the coming days if further rains hold off.

“Overall improvement of the flood situation in various low-lying areas under districts of the northeastern part of the country may continue in next 72 hours,” it said.

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The Israeli military strapped an injured Palestinian man to the hood of a military vehicle during an operation on Saturday in the occupied West Bank.

Video shows the man lying across the front of the Israeli jeep as it drove through a neighborhood of Jenin. The man appeared slumped on the hood of the vehicle as it drove past Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) ambulances.

The PRCS said the Israeli military had prevented its crews from providing first aid to an injured man in the Jabarat area of Jenin.

“They then placed the injured person on the front of a military jeep and detained him before later allowing our crews to transfer him to the hospital,” the PRCS said.

The man’s condition and identity are unknown.

In response to questions about the incident, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Saturday that its forces violated “orders and standard operating procedures” and an investigation would be launched.

“The conduct of the forces in the video of the incident does not conform to the values of the IDF. The incident will be investigated and dealt with accordingly,” the IDF said in a statement.

The IDF said the incident happened Saturday morning during counterterrorism operations to apprehend suspects in the Wadi Burqin area west of Jenin. It said the man was a suspect who was injured and apprehended after an exchange of fire.

He was transferred to the Red Crescent to receive medical treatment, the Israeli military added.

There has been an uptick in violence in the occupied West Bank since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza began in October, following the militant group’s unprecedented and deadly attacks on Israel.

More than 500 Palestinians, including over 100 children, have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Almost three quarters of those fatalities took place during operations by Israeli forces, the UN agency said.

As well as Israeli military raids in the West Bank, there has been an increase in violence carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.

More than 700,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in settlements that are considered illegal under international law and widely seen as one of the main obstacles to a two-state solution.

Last Friday, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on the Israeli group Tzav 9 for disrupting humanitarian convoys headed to Gaza, the latest punitive measure taken under an executive order targeting those perpetrating violence in the West Bank.

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