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BREAKING: Syrian army ‘reaches mountain overlooking Palmyra’

Syrian army poised to retake Palmyra.

Alexander Mercouris

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The Syrian army’s offensive to retake the ancient city of Palmyra – captured by ISIS in December – seems to be about to bear fruit.

According to the highly reliable Al-Masdar news agency, the Syrian army has reached the northern foothill of the Jabal Hayyal mountain southwest of Palmyra, overlooking the ancient city.

Once the whole mountain is captured then ISIS’s position in the city will become indefensible.  Given that ISIS is reported to have already pulled back most of its fighters from the city and its surrounding areas, this should happen within the next few days.

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Amesbury poisoning: what we know so far

If they want to turn this into another blame Russia case, the timing couldn’t be worse.

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The good news at this point is that the brits haven’t started pointing fingers at Russia yet.  The couple have no known history or background that would point to a reason as to why anybody would single them out for such an attack. Some of the theories floated around at this point in time are that they could have been exposed to remnants of Novichok from the Skripal event. I personally find this a bit silly as the nerve agent Novichok degrades rather quickly, even if it is in a sealed off environment.

BBC reports

The couple, believed to be Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill at a house in Amesbury on Saturday and remain in a critical condition.

Police say no one else has presented with the same symptoms.

There was “nothing in their background” to suggest the pair were targeted, the Met Police said.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it could not be confirmed whether the nerve agent came from the same batch that Mr Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were exposed to.

But he said the possibility was “clearly a line of enquiry”.

Mr Basu said no contaminated items had yet been found, but officers were putting together a “very detailed examination of [the couple’s] movements” in order to determine where they were poisoned.

He added that members of the public should not pick anything up if they don’t know what it is.

“We have no idea what may have contained the nerve agent at this time,” he said.

The Counter Terrorism Policing Network is now leading the investigation, working with Wiltshire Police.

The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera said: “The most likely hypothesis is that this is leftover Novichok from the attack on the Skripals back in March.”

Chemical weapons expert Richard Guthrie said it was possible that the Novichok which poisoned the Skripals may have been disposed of “in a haphazard way”.

If the couple had come across it in a syringe or pot, it might have been better preserved, he told BBC Breakfast.
England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, said: “I want to reassure the public that the risk to the general public remains low.”

The Skripal episode meant officials had a “well-established response” in place, she said.

“As before, my advice is to wash your clothes and wipe down any personal items, shoes and bags, with cleansing or baby wipes before disposing of them in the usual way.

“You do not need to seek advice from a health professional unless you are experiencing symptoms, as any individual who had been significantly exposed at the same time would by now have symptoms.”
On Saturday, paramedics were called twice to the property in Amesbury – in the morning, after Ms Sturgess had collapsed, then later the same day, after Mr Rowley had also fallen unwell.

“It was initially believed that the two patients fell ill after using possibly heroin or crack cocaine from a contaminated batch of drugs,” Wiltshire Police said.

The news that Novichok was to blame was announced following analysis at the defence research facility at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

As a precautionary measure, sites in Amesbury and Salisbury, believed to have been visited by the couple before they fell ill, have been cordoned off.

There is no evidence to suggest either visited the sites that were decontaminated following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Local residents have been warned to expect to see an increased police presence – including officers wearing protective equipment.
Security correspondent Gordon Corera said the poisoning was “hugely significant” as the public “will be worried about public health”.

He added: “Perhaps this is some of the Novichok prepared for the attack [in Salisbury in March] and discarded – maybe somewhere like a park, a house – and maybe these two came across it.”

He added it could give counter-terrorism investigators new leads on where the nerve agent was “brought and put together” before the attack on the Skripals.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said his thoughts were with the two individuals affected and thanked the emergency services and staff at Salisbury District Hospital.

He said the events follow “the reckless and barbaric attack which took place in Salisbury in March”.

“The government’s first priority is for the safety of the residents in the local area but as Public Health England has made clear, the risk to the general public is low,” he said.

“Tomorrow [Thursday] I will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra in relation to the ongoing investigation.”

Only time will tell where this will go. If they want to turn this into another blame Russia case, the timing couldn’t be worse. Right in the middle of the World Cup and the meeting between Trump and Putin right around the corner. Let us hope for the recovery of the victims and that no more cases of this occur

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Breaking: Amesbury Police confirm novichok used to poison couple

It is amazing that a stunt like this is being pulled again

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Taken from the Salisbury Journal

A MAN and woman in critical condition in hosital were exposed to the same nerve agent used to poison the Skripal, police have confirmed.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu confirmed the substance was Novichok.

Details to follow

 

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BREAKING: Ecuadorian court orders ‘preventive detention’ of former president Correa

Correa is being sought out for arrest on charges that have, so far, no substantiation

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Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is being accused of participating in a failed kidnapping attempt of an opposition leader, Fernando Balda, back in 2012. On these accusations, the National Justice Court of Ecuador has approve a request from the Chief Prosecutor’s office to place the accused, Correa, in preventive detention. Since Correa is presently in Belgium, a request is being issued to interpol to apprehend Correa and to extradite him to Ecuador.

telesur reports:

The Chief Prosecutor’s office requested on Tuesday the “preventive detention” of former president Rafael Correa.
The National Justice Court of Ecuador approved preventive detention for former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

The Chief Prosecutor’s office requested on Tuesday the “preventive detention” of Correa, currently residing in Belgium, and ordered Interpol to be notified for his capture and extradition.

The court is accusing the former president, who led a popular progressive political movement called the “Citizens’ Revolution” in Ecuador for a decade, of “illicit association” and the kidnapping of Fernando Balda. Evidence has yet to be publicized for these accusations.

Correa tweeted that the Chief Prosecutor has breached the National Assembly’s mandate by requesting preventive detention without “providing a single piece of evidence.”

“How much success will this farce have at the international level?” Correa said. “Don’t worry, everything is a matter of time. We will overcome!”

At the time of the alleged kidnapping attempt, Balda was wanted on charges of attempting to overthrow the government for his part in a failed coup attempt in Ecuador back in September of 2010. Balda was shortly thereafter deported from Colombia for failing to obtain immigration permission from the Colombian government.

Once back in Ecuador, Balda was convicted for conspiracy to overthrow the government to one year in prison. Now that Correa is no longer the president of Ecuador, Balda is alleging that he illegally made use of public funds to arrange a kidnapping attempt on him while he was on the run in Colombia.

However, no such evidence has materialized to that effect. But, what we are witnessing is a seditious ex-convict, deported illegal immigrant, lodging allegations that the president tried to kidnap him. The charges brought by Balda are being portrayed as though Correa’s alleged kidnapping attempt was little more than a politically motivated attempt to eliminate his opposition.

However, now that Correa is no longer in the chief political office, and the opposing right wing party is now in charge, Correa, who led a leftist government critical of American interventionism in South America, is being sought out for arrest on charges that have, so far, no substantiation.

Meanwhile, another march is being called for in protest of the government’s right wing policies against labour rights, healthcare, education, and other issues in addition to Correa’s right to freedom from political persecution is under way, after two previous such demonstrations were repressed by the government, which is now led by a president who used to work with the United Nations on disability issues..

 

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