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UN Confirms Airstrike Hit Syrian Aid Convoy Near Aleppo

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An attack on an aid convoy that killed more than 20 civilians in September near Aleppo, shattering a short-lived truce, was definitively from an airstrike, UN experts said on Wednesday.
“I can verify that the convoy was bombed. In our analysis, we saw that it was an airstrike,’’ Lars Bromley of the UN satellite observation programme (UNOSAT), said.
Bromleym who said the findings were based on satellite images provided to the UN by the U.S. State Department, however, provided no information as to who was behind the September 19 airstrike.
Only the Syrian and allied Russian air forces regularly carry out airstrikes in rebel-held areas of Syria, although the U.S. has also carried out occasional raids aimed at al-Qaeda-lnked forces.
The head of the opposition-leaning Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel-Rahman, said he suspected Russian involvement.
“I have information that Russian planes carried out the attack”, he told dpa without giving details.
The development came as the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said it had officially classified rebel-held eastern Aleppo as a besieged area.
Some 250,000 to 300,000 people are thought to remain in Eastern Aleppo, which has been subject to devastating air raids and artillery shelling, including repeated strikes on its hospitals recently.
The Syrian army said it would “reduce the number of air and artillery strikes” on besieged eastern Aleppo in order to facilitate civilians wishing to leave to safe areas. However, the UN has said that civilians were unable to leave the area due to the presence of the Syrian army at supposed safe crossing points that were announced by Russia at the end of July.
Officials from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the U.S. were due to hold talks in Berlin on the situation in Syria.
“We must find ways to finally end this madness, this killing and dying in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
Besides Steinmeier, no other foreign ministers are expected at the Berlin talks, which will take place at the level of political directors. The humanitarian situation in Aleppo since the collapse of last month’s week-long ceasefire has led UN and western officials to call for urgent action.
On Monday, the U.S. said it was suspending its cooperation with Russia on Syrian issues, accusing Moscow of failing to live up to its commitments and to rein in forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad,
“Not far from Aleppo, airstrikes by suspected Turkish jets on a Kurdish village in northern Syria killed at least 19 civilians. Three children were among the dead in the village of Thalthana, located north-west of the Islamic State-controlled town of al-Bab’’, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
As at the time of the report, there was no comment from Ankara or Washington. Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels entered Northern Syria in August to attack Islamic State and Kurdish militants. In recent weeks the campaign has turned its focus on the jihadist group, after the U.S. urged Ankara, its NATO ally, to refrain from further attacks on the Kurds.
The US has allied with the Syrian Kurds against Islamic State since 2014, and its airstrikes have enabled the Kurdish forces to capture most of the territory the extremist group held along the Turkish border.

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Key Suspect In Haitian President’s Murder Extradited To US

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Rodolphe Jaar, a key suspect in the murder of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise, was yesterday extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic, media reported.
Earlier, media reported that Jaar, a Haitian businessman and convicted drug trafficker, was arrested in the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, the suspect was detained by United States federal agents in Miami upon his arrival from the Dominican Republic, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.
Moise was shot dead at his residence on July 7, 2021, while his wife sustained injuries and subsequently received medical treatment in the United States.
Haitian authorities have detained over 40 suspects in Moise’s assassination, including 18 Colombian citizens and five United States citizens.

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Otto Warmbier’s Family Awarded $240,000

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The family of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died in 2017 shortly after being returned to the United States in a coma, was awarded more than $240,000 in seized assets from Pyongyang, a New York federal court ruled.
Why it matters: The payment is part of a $500 million wrongful death lawsuit, in which Warmbier’s family alleged that North Korea took him hostage, tortured him and was responsible for his death.
Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student at the time, travelled to North Korea in 2015, where he was arrested and accused of stealing a propaganda poster from a restricted area of his hotel.
After publicly confessing to the crime with a script that some experts have said was likely drafted by North Korean officials, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
After a total of 17 months in captivity, he was flown back to the United States on June 13 with severe brain damage that North Korea attributed, without evidence, to botulism, and he died six days later in a Cincinnati hospital.
A federal judge in December, 2018 ruled that North Korea was responsible for Warmbier’s death and ordered Pyongyang to pay his family $500 million.
The big picture: The $240,000 awarded by the Northern District Court of New York last week was seized from the country’s Korea Kwangson Banking Corp after the government and bank did not respond to multiple court orders and notices.

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‘Why Schumer Picked A Filibuster Fight He Couldn’t Win’

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Chuck Schumer doesn’t typically lead his caucus into losing votes that divide Democrats. He made an exception for election reform.
The Senate majority leader has run a 50-50 Senate for a year now, longer than anyone else. The whole time, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have consistently communicated to Schumer that he wouldn’t get their votes to weaken the filibuster, no matter the underlying issue. But his decision to force the vote on the caucus anyway – and get 48 Democrats on the record for a unilateral rules change dubbed “the nuclear option” – will go down as one of Schumer’s riskiest moves as leader.
The New Yorker was a defender and wielder of the filibuster while serving as minority leader during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Democrats’ year of work on writing elections and voting legislation – and GOP opposition to an effort designed to undo state-level ballot restrictions – turned Schumer into a proponent of scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, at least for this bill.
He and most of his members have endorsed what they see as a limited change to chamber rules. Even so, Schumer has set the table for a future majority with a slightly bigger margin, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, to follow through where he fell short and perhaps go further.
Schumer gave Manchin months of space to work on a compromise elections bill, despite activists pushing him to move quicker. The leader’s insistence on a vote that will split his caucus has only trained more ire on the West Virginian and Sinema of Arizona, whom he needs to execute the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Yet Schumer says he had no choice.
“We sent our best emissary to talk to the Republicans. That was Joe Manchin. And we gave him months,” Schumer said in an interview on Wednesday. “The epiphany that occurred on a rules change? He didn’t even get any bites.”
Though social spending, coronavirus relief and infrastructure have at times consumed the Senate this Congress, no topic has riveted Democrats like voting and election reform. Schumer designed Democrats’ first version of the bill “S. 1” – denoting it as the party’s top priority. Even when senators were digging into other legislation, Schumer was still maneuvering on elections, convening weekly meetings with a small group of senators for months.

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