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UN report slams US and allies for failing to protect civilians and violating international law

The report’s mixed conclusions are indicative of a UN which is a deeply compromised international body.

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The United Nations Syria Commission has found that the United States and its allies have not taken adequate steps to protect against multiple civilian casualties.

Today’s report states,

“The Commission is gravely concerned about the impact of international coalition airstrikes on civilians”.

In describing US violations of established international law in Syria, the UN Commission report said,

“(The) forces of the United States of America failed to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects when attacking a mosque, in violation of international humanitarian law.

…ongoing Syrian Democratic Forces and international coalition offensive to repel [Islamic State or IS, formerly ISIS] has displaced over 190,000 persons, and coalition airstrikes have reportedly resulted in significant numbers of civilians killed and injured”.

Beyond this information, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has repeatedly stated that US presence in Syria is illegal according to international law. US forces and those of their allies have not been authorised by the UN to conduct any military action on Syrian soil and likewise, they are not acting in accordance with the Syrian government. By contrast, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah forces are acting with the permission and cooperation of the Syrian government.

RT recently interviewed Syrian civilians who had escaped from the besieged city of Raqqa which is suffering doubly under both ISIS occupation and illegal US bombardment which the UN has recently condemned.

According to a former resident of Raqqa,

“We were directly targeted by the coalition after their reconnaissance craft filmed us, it was at a low altitude.

It was very clear that there were no insurgents in that area, there were kids playing in the streets and we were bringing water from a water tap, sipping drops. We were filmed, then directly targeted after hours. Our house and the civilian houses around us were directly targeted”.

Another eyewitness told RT about America’s use of the chemical weapon white phosphorous in Syria. He said,

“It has been said that the coalition used white phosphorus in the Faros neighbourhood of Raqqa. It was the aircraft. Who else would do that? It should be the aircraft. It targeted a civilian neighbourhood and the close-by areas”.

READ MORE: America’s hypocritical war crimes continue in Syria, Iraq and beyond

The Syrian government has recently written to the United Nations asking for compensation from the US and its allies for the destruction they have wrought on the country, including regarding the use of white phosphorus chemical weapons in Raqqa. The US also stands accused of using these chemical weapons in Iraq.

In many ways, the UN remains structurally deadlocked on the issue, due to the ideological prism through which the US continues to view the Syria crisis. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the US has gone a long way to attempt and influence the UN in favour of a clearly biased version of general events in Syria, but particularly those relating to the infamous alleged chemical weapons incident from the 6th of April, 2017.

While the deaths and injuries of civilians as a result of US airstrikes on Syria are a prima facie reality as is the fact that the US has no legal mandate, the events surrounding the chemical weapons incident in Idlib in April are far less clear.

After initially believing that Syrian airstrikes in Idlib may have hit a chemical weapons storage facility belonging to local terrorists, Russia has more recently concluded that the ‘attack’ was a staged event, after investigating the aftermath of the incident.

Russia has reached this conclusion due to the fact that no one in the area requested nor attempted to obtain an antidote for exposure to the highly toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) refused to conduct an investigation on-site in Idlib, citing safety concern due to the substantial terrorist presence which remained in Idlib after April. Russia continued to request such an investigation and even offered help insure the safety of investigators, but the offer was never taken up by the OPCW.

This, combined with the fact that there remains no credible evidence of a Syrian instigated chemical attack in Idlib or for that matter any actual chemical attack at all, Russian concluded that the incident was a terrorist organised false flag designed to frame the Syrian government for a crime which it could not have committed, as the international community has accepted a 2013 OPCW report and accompanying investigation which confirmed that Syria has given up its entire chemical weapons stocks by 2014.

READ MORE: Russia submits resolution to UN on chemical weapons attack in Syria

Syria has further repeatedly stated that it has never used such weapons, even prior to 2014 when Syria possessed such weapons which were initially sought as a deterrent to Israel’s nuclear weapons.

READ MORE: SYRIAN GOVERNMENT–We have never used chemical weapons

In spite of clear evidence to the contrary, the UN Commission has adopted the unilateral US narrative stated,

“All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Shaykhun at around 6:45am on 4 April”.

It is an unfortunate reflection on the compromised nature of the United Nations that a UN Commission has made a statement in line not with any investigation at or near the location of the alleged attack, but rather with a US narrative predicating on conveniently denying what Barack Obama’s administration signed off for when Obama accepted that since 2014, there have been no chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian government.

In spite of this, the Idlib incident is largely an academic issue as since April, Syria and its partners in the war against terrorism, have liberated vast swaths of territory from groups like al-Qaeda, FSA and ISIS.

The recent breaking of the ISIS siege against Deir-ez-Zor has been a watershed moment in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, one which marks the beginning of the end of ISIS as force that is capable of putting up meaningful resistance on the battle field.

By contrast, the US crimes against international law in Raqqa which the report cites, are an ever present and ongoing threat to the civilians of Syria.

While US ideology still controls the wider MSM narrative on the Middle East, Washington dictates increasingly little in respect of what is happening on the ground in Syria. This is all the more crucial as the US had decided to back Wahhabist extremists in a battle against a secular, multi-faith government in one of the ancient cradles of world-civilisation, a civilisation which the terrorists operating against the Syrian government have threatened and continue to do so, in places like Libya and beyond.

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Tim Webb
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Tim Webb

The crucial fact here is precisely that stated by Lavrov; ie the US and its lapdogs have no business being in Syria whatsoever; their presence is a flagrant breach of international law; and the UN must either state this publicly and strongly, and demand their immediate and unconditional withdrawal, or disband itself, as being an accomplice after the fact.

margarida
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margarida

THE USA HAS BECOME A LAWLESS COUNTRY THAT HAS NO RESPECT FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL LAW WHEN IT GOES AGAINST THEIR FOREIGN POLICIES. It is time the world takes action and does something to stop continuing this trend. Today we are allies tomorrow we could become foes for not accepting to comply as we have up to now ………It is a risk we too well know we cannot afford to take. Look at Iraq, Libya, Syria, and all others that have come underfire..

Wayne Blow
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Wayne Blow

All terrorist orgs., are backed, trained, and weaponized by USA scum-bags!!!!

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“United States … have not taken adequate steps to protect against multiple civilian casualties” They NEVER have. Starting with carpet bombing during WWII in Europe, NOT only in Germany, but also in France, Netherlands and Yugoslavia. The US bombing in Normandy in 1944, killed 70,000 civilians. They always “liberated” … ruins. The total number of houses completely destroyed in Normandy by the “Allies” bombings was 432,000, partly destroyed houses – 890,000. Caen, Normandy in ruins after bombings of July 8th and 9th, 1944: Belgrade was bombed by US/UK air forces on April 16 and 17, 1944, the Orthodox Easter Day.… Read more »

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Ghost town: Raqqa “liberated” by US air force. Vietnam redux: “We have to destroy a village, in order to save it” – American general
https://youtu.be/lJEoC_Cpzs0

Trauma2000
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Trauma2000

This is sickening. First the U.$. and France and Britain arm, train and fund Terrorists so that they can try and pretend that attacking a country has nothing to do with NATO. To achieve that they train the Terrorists to kill civilians and force them to flee for their lives hoping to deprive the country of human capital. Then, because the Assad government now appears to be winning; and despite NATO pretending not to notice for 5 years; they now decide that they need to “Fight” the same “Terrorists” (sorry, Moderate Rebels) that they used to arm, fund, train and… Read more »

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

‘It’s not liberation of the city, but destruction’ – Raqqa-based journalist

cap960
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cap960

Russia killing civilians is a crime…our western warmongers killing civilians is collateral damage. Therefore the UN will do nothing else but write reports and allow the US to keep on bombing countries that refuses to follow our exceptional orders. Because we all know how easily insulted our exceptional get when you come up with the words “No more wars”.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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Massacre in Crimea kills dozens, many in critical condition

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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