Assad allies say U.S. attack on Syria air base crosses “red lines”

UNTV News   •   April 10, 2017   •   3255


The Syrian Shayrat airfield base is pictured in undated before and after (taken April 7, 2017) satellite imagery, in Homs Syria. ImageSat International N.V. © 2017/Handout via REUTERS

A joint command centre made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday said the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base on Friday crossed “red lines” and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally.

The United States fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday from which it said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched earlier in the week, escalating the U.S. role in Syria and drawing criticism from Assad’s allies including Russia and Iran.

“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,” said the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi (War Media).

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, blamed Russian inaction for helping fuel the chemical weapons attack it had reacted to, saying Moscow had failed to carry out a 2013 agreement to secure and destroy chemical weapons in Syria.

He said the United States expected Russia to take a tougher stance against Syria by rethinking its alliance with Assad because “every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility.”

Rebels and residents in northwestern Idlib province said jets believed to be Russian conducted eight raids on Sunday on the town of Khan Sheikhoun where the chemical attack took place but no casualties were reported.

Raids hit several other rebel-held towns including Saraqeb and Sarmin in the province, where the rebels and activists said incendiary bombs were dropped.

The death toll from an air strike on Saturday on the rebel-held town of Urum al-Joz in Idlib province rose to 19 people, including six children, activists and residents said.

In the southern city of Daraa, jets believed to be Russian escalated strikes on Free Syrian Army (FSA) and jihadist groups on Saturday and Sunday in an attempt to roll back their gains in the Manshiya district where battles have been raging for nearly two months.

PUTIN, ROUHANI SPEAK

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani said in a phone call that aggressive U.S. actions against Syria were not permissible and violated international law, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

The two leaders also called for an objective investigation into an incident involving chemical weapons in Syria’s Idlib and said they were ready to deepen cooperation to fight terrorism, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

Syrian army forces had been losing ground across the country until Russia intervened militarily in September 2015, propping up Assad and protecting its own interests in the region.

Assad has also drawn heavily on foreign Shi’ite militias sponsored by Iran, led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, for his most important gains since the Russian intervention.

The joint command centre also said the presence of U.S troops in northern Syria where Washington has hundreds of special forces helping the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to oust Islamic State was “illegal” and that Washington had a long-term plan to occupy the area.

The regional alliance said the U.S. cruise missile strikes on a Syrian base which Washington said was involved in a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians would not deter their forces from “liberating” all of Syrian territory.

In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. missile strike was a “a strategic error, and a repeat of the mistakes of the past,” the state news agency IRNA reported.

“The Islamic Republic has shown that … it does not back off and its people and officials … do not retreat in the face of threats,” said Khamenei.

Many Syrians opposed to Assad’s rule consider Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iranian-backed troops as occupiers seeking to drive out mainly Sunni Syrians from the areas they live in. They hold Iran and its allies responsible for the displacement of millions outside the country.

They also see Russia as a foreign occupier whose relentless aerial bombardment of rebel-held areas has led to thousands of civilian casualties. Some accuse Moscow of applying a “scorched-earth policy” that targets hospitals, schools and residential areas more than frontlines to break the resolve of the anti-Assad insurgency. —  By Suleiman Al-Khalidi | AMMAN

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Stephen Powell)

Trump issues tough response to China’s treatment of Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

President Donald Trump, hardening his stance on China as he struggles to contain the coronavirus, said on Tuesday (July 14) that he signed a legislation and an executive order to hold China accountable for the “oppressive” national security law it imposed on Hong Kong.

Acting on a Tuesday deadline, Trump signed a bill approved by the U.S. Congress to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security law in Hong Kong.

He said he also signed an executive order aimed at further punishing China for what he called its “oppressive actions” against Hong Kong.

It will end the preferential economic treatment Hong Kong has received for years – “no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” Trump told a news conference.

“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he said.

Taken together, the actions represented a further plunging of U.S. relations with China already strained over the global pandemic, China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, its treatment of Uighur Muslims and massive trade surpluses.

According to a White House fact sheet, the executive order includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.

The former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a law protecting freedoms of speech, assembly and the press until 2047.

The legislation Trump signed calls for sanctions on Chinese officials and others who help violate Hong Kong’s autonomy, and financial institutions that do business with those found to have participated in any crackdown on the city. (Reuters)

China firmly opposes US signing Hong Kong-related act into law

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

China firmly opposes and strongly condemns the U.S. move of signing the so-called “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” into law, said a statement released on the foreign ministry’s website Wednesday.

The U.S. vicious move of slandering the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and imposing sanctions has violated the international law and the basic norms governing international relations and is a gross interference in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.

China firmly opposes and strongly condemns it, said the statement.

The enactment and implementation of the Law is completely in compliance with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law, ensuring sustained and steady progress of the principle of “one country, two systems” as an institutional and legal guarantee. It can safeguard China’s national sovereignty, safety and interests, as well as long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, therefore the law has been endorsed and supported by all Chinese people including our compatriots from Hong Kong, said the statement.

Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region and its affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs. No foreign country has the right to interfere.

China will make necessary responses to protect its legitimate interests, and impose sanctions on relevant personnel and entities of the United States, said the statement.

The U.S. vicious move of signing the so-called “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” into law will lead nowhere, said the statement.

To safeguard China’s legitimate interests, the Chinese side has made necessary response and sanctioned relevant U.S. personnel and entities.

The statement pointed out that China urged the U.S. side to correct its mistake as soon as possible, stop its move of signing the so-called act into law and interfering in China’s internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs.

China will definitely give a firm response if the United States clings obstinately to the wrong course, said the statement. (Reuters)

U.S. gov’t rescinds controversial rule on int’l students: federal judge

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

The U.S. government will rescind a new rule that could have denied international students their stay in the country if they only attend online courses in the coming fall semester, a federal judge in Boston, Massachusetts said Tuesday.

The ruling was issued on July 6 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stating that international students will have to take in-person classes to qualify for a visa, otherwise they will have to leave the country. The Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) then initiated lawsuits against the Trump administration on related issues.

The judge Allison D. Burroughs attended an online hearing together with lawyers from Harvard University, MIT and the government. She said that the agreement reached between the universities and the government would cause the July 6 ruling to be rescinded nationwide. (Reuters)

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