Civilian casualties in US raid
US special forces have conducted an overnight operation in Syria’s Idlib province. Local witnesses say several civilians, including children, have been killed. The reports suggest at least 12 bodies have been taken out of the rubble, after the assault that lasted for more than two hours. Seven of them were children and three women. Nonetheless, the Pentagon is describing the operation as a successful counterterrorism mission. The target was reportedly a suspected senior al-Qaeda figure. American attack aircraft destroyed a US helicopter that was forced to land after suffering a mechanical problem. But there are no reports on possible American casualties. Last December, the US carried out similar operations in Idlib, and again, Syrian civilians were injured. Washington said it was investigating the case, but so far, no statements about the civilian casualties.
Tensions over Ukraine
The presidents of the United States and France pledge to coordinate their response to what they describe as, Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border. During a phone call, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron agreed to work together closely, both in diplomacy, and in preparations to punish Russia with severe economic costs if it invades its neighbor. They also reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Macron has said before that he might visit Russia to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The US and its allies accuse Moscow of planning to invade Ukraine. But Russia says it has no such intention, and that it’s moving troops on its own soil because it feels threatened by NATO’s eastward expansion.
The Chinese president says the world today is facing multiple challenges, one being the Covid pandemic, and hence, is going through a period of drastic change. Xi Jinping made the comments at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee via a brief video message ahead of the Beijing Olympics, which will officially kick off on Friday. He appreciated the efforts the committee has put into organizing the games in the face of the existing challenges. The Chinese president added the world Olympics body has played a key role in bringing about global solidarity and cooperation to tide nations over, in these difficult times.