Jordan military jets pound Islamic State as king comforts pilot’s family

admin   •   February 6, 2015   •   2065

A Royal Jordanian Air Force plane takes off from an air base to strike the Islamic state in the Syrian city of Raqqa February 5, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/PETRA NEWS AGENCY

(Reuters) – Jordanian fighter jets pounded Islamic State targets in Syria on Thursday, before roaring over the hometown of the pilot killed by the militants while King Abdullah consoled the victim’s family.

A statement from the Jordanian armed forces said tens of jets were deployed in the attacks, which destroyed ammunition depots and training camps run by the Islamic State.

Witnesses overheard the monarch telling the pilot’s father the planes were returning from the militant-held city of Raqqa. A security source told Reuters the strikes hit targets in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor as well as near Raqqa.

The show of force came two days after the ultra-hardline Islamic State released a video showing captured Jordanian pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh being burned alive in a cage as masked militants in camouflage uniforms looked on.

“It’s actually the beginning of our retaliation over this horrific and brutal murder of our brave young pilot, but it’s not the beginning of our fight against terrorism and extremism,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said in an interview with CNN later on Thursday.

State television aired footage of fighter jets taking off to carry out the raids. It later broadcast footage of the actual bombing before the jets returned safely to Jordan.

Several men and women were shown writing Koranic verses and anti-Islamic State slogans on what appeared to be the bombs used in the attacks.

“We’re going after them with everything that we have,” Judeh said.

U.S. military aircraft joined the mission to provide intelligence, surveillance as well as reconnaissance and targeting support, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official also said the strikes focused on multiple targets around Raqqa.

Military commanders briefed King Abdullah after the missions about the details of the strikes, state television said. The monarch has vowed to avenge Kasaesbeh’s killing and ordered commanders to prepare for a stepped-up military role in the U.S.-led coalition against the group.

But many Jordanians fear being dragged into a conflict that could trigger a backlash by hardline militants inside the kingdom.

Jordan is a major U.S. ally in the fight against militant Islamist groups, and hosted U.S. troops during operations that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The country is also home to hundreds of U.S. military trainers bolstering defenses at the Syrian and Iraqi borders and is determined to keep the jihadists in Syria away from its frontiers.

“NO HUMANITY”

State television showed a somber King Abdullah sitting alongside the army chief and senior officials while visiting the Kasaesbeh tribal family in Aya, a village some 100 km (60 miles) south of the capital, Amman.

The king, wearing a traditional Arab headdress, was met by cheering crowds with cries of “Long live his majesty the king, long live the king,” in traditional Bedouin chanting.

Thousands of Jordanians flocked to pay their respects. The region’s influential tribes form an important pillar of support for the Hashemite monarchy and supply the army and security forces with manpower.

“You are a wise monarch. These criminals violated the rules of war in Islam and they have no humanity. Even humanity disowns them,” Safi Kasaesbeh, father of the pilot, told the king.

The Jordanian monarch has vowed that the pilot’s death, which has stirred nationalist fervor across the country, will bring severe retaliation against Islamic State.

Hours after the release of the video showing the pilot burning to death, the authorities executed two al Qaeda militants who had been imprisoned on death row, including a woman who had tried to blow herself up in a suicide bombing and whose release had been demanded by Islamic State.

(Writing by Mariam Karouny and Sylvia Westall, additional reporting by Phillip Stewart and Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by Tom Heneghan, Mark Trevelyan and G Crosse)

Trump calls off meeting with Danish prime minister over Greenland comments

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (August 20) he was postponing his scheduled meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in two weeks because of her lack of interest in his offer to purchase Greenland.

“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

A White House official said Trump had dropped the Sept. 2-3 stop in Denmark, a NATO ally. Trump had been due to discuss the Arctic in meetings in Copenhagen with Frederiksen, who took office in June, and Prime Minister Kim Kielsen of Greenland.

He is due to visit Poland on Aug. 31.

Frederiksen said on Sunday the idea of selling Greenland to the United States was absurd after an economic adviser to Trump confirmed U.S. interest in buying the world’s largest island.

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously,” Frederiksen told the newspaper Sermitsiaq during a visit to Greenland.

Trump confirmed to reporters on Sunday that he had recently discussed the possibility of buying Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, although he said such a move was not an immediate priority.

“The concept came up and … strategically it’s interesting,” Trump told reporters in Morristown, New Jersey.

A defense treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the U.S. military rights over the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland.

Trump’s interest in buying Greenland has been met with incredulity and humor. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who recently stepped down as Danish prime minister, tweeted last week: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke.” (Reuters)

(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)

Japan, South Korea, China vow to address diplomatic issues at trilateral summit

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

(L-R) Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono speaking at trilateral summit, commenting on diplomatic issues between three countries| Courtesy: Reuters

China, Japan and South Korea foreign ministers on Wednesday (August 21) vowed to address diplomatic issues at a trilateral summit.

Ties between Japan and South Korea were arguably at their lowest ebb since their relationship was normalized in 1965, hit by a heated feud over the issue of South Korean forced labour during World War Two, which spilled over into a bitter tit-for-tat trade row.

During a joint statement given by all three foreign ministers, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha said that the three countries should “remember to face history” and remove “retaliatory trade measures,” a clear jab at recent measures taken by Japan to remove it from its “white list” of trade partners.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono shied away from commenting directly on the strain with South Korea, instead saying that all three countries should “work closely” in light of diplomatic “difficulties”.

China’s Wang Yi, following Kono’s words, said that China “hopes” Japan and South Korea will take the opportunity to manage their differences constructively during the summit.

This is the ninth such trilateral foreign ministers meeting, the last being three years ago.

From 2008, the three countries had agreed to hold a summit every year to foster regional cooperation. But bilateral tension, including that between China and Japan, has often intervened. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Joseph Campbell, Hyunyoung Yi, Kwiyeon Ha)

Australian bee whisperer extracts 50kg trove of honey hidden in ceiling

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

A treasure trove of honeycombs in the form of a massive bee hive hidden in a ceiling| Courtesy: Paul Wood / Brisbane Backyard Bees

Australian beekeeper Paul Wood removed a treasure trove of honeycombs in the form of a massive bee hive hidden in a woman’s home in suburban Brisbane, Australia.

Wood removed the 50kg (110.2 pounds) of honeycomb, including the 60,000-bee population of the ten-month old hive on Saturday (August 17) at the behest of the house’s owner and transplanted them into what he refers to as a “free range hive” in his backyard.

“Now what happens in Brisbane and probably lots of places around the world, is that when bees swarm, every spring time – that’s their reproduction – and if they can’t find a natural hollow tree as a new home, they quite often go into the cavity walls of houses, or ceilings of houses,” said Wood, owner of Brisbane Backyard Bees.

“They build that beautiful comb – as soon as they move into those cavities, and as you can see, in ten months, they’ve built an awful lot of comb. They’ve also sucked into that cavity 50 kilos of honey and they bred up the numbers to about 50 to 60 thousand bees in that time,” he added.

His video of his removal of the massive hive and its succulent honeycombs from the structure’s ceiling went viral on social media.

Wood and his colleague gently vacuumed the bees into a special box for transportation and removed the honeycombs, straining the honey into jars.

Video obtained by Reuters showed Wood carefully dismantling the hive, piece by piece.

While the bees remain in a temporary hive in Wood’s backyard, he says they will eventually be sent to beekeeping enthusiasts in Brisbane. (Reuters)

(Production: Yi Shu Ng)

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