All posts by kalikiri vishnu pal sai

Iran largest state sponsor of terror: Mike Pompeo

Iran largest state sponsor of terror: Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: With India holding to its views on Iran from a geographical perspective, United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday said that Tehran is the largest state sponsor of terror and there is a shared understanding of threat which needs to be deterred.

His remarks came at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who had earlier said that India has a certain perspective on Iran which also comes from India’s geographic location.

“We all know that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and we know that Indian people have suffered from terror around the world. I think there is a shared understanding of the threat and a common purpose to ensure that we can keep the energy at the right prices,” he said.

Pompeo made the remarks in response to a question after Jaishankar said that the global energy supplies should remain predictable and affordable and the visiting US leader was very receptive.

“We have a certain perspective on Iran, obviously from where we are based. US Secretary of State shared with me the American concerns on Iran. Both of us certainly came out much better informed of each other’s concerns in that regard,” Jaishankar said.

ALSO READ | Pakistan’s large-scale terrorism industry prevents it from behaving like ‘normal neighbour’: Jaishankar

The US had, earlier this year, decided not to renew exemptions to India and some other countries from its sanctions for importing oil from Iran. The exemptions ended on May 2.

India is keen on de-escalation of tensions between Iran and the US and has said earlier that it will take a decision on import of oil from Iran based on its energy security and commercial considerations.

India has been speaking to Iranians and asking both sides to de-escalate and refrain from any action that can disturb peace and security.

The situation developing in the region is a matter of great concern to India also because of the presence of the Indian diaspora in the troubled region and it has a strong and legitimate interest that peace is maintained in the region.

The US has imposed new sanctions on Iran following Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone.

Import of oil from Iran is a commercial decision of the companies and they are unlikely to continue it as it could impact their relations with other countries.

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Crowded Democratic primary debate tipped to be a ‘mess’

A stage crowded with 10 candidates, all vying to impress the American public in a virtual speed-dating night: The first Democratic primary debate is predicted to be a “mess”.

On Wednesday at 9pm Eastern Standard Time (11am on Thursday Australian Eastern Standard Time), 10 of the record 24 Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls will take to the stage in Miami, Florida for a spectacle to be watched on NBC by an estimated 20 million people.

Crowded Democratic primary debate tipped to be a ‘mess’

Amy Klobuchar, Jay Inslee, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren; six of the 10 Democrats in the first 2020 group primary debate. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney will each seek to convince American voters they should be the one to take on President Donald Trump.

Peppered with questions about healthcare, student debt, climate change and other hot-button issues, candidates will be given just one minute to respond to each and only 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups. In others words, it is not the time to ramble.

With the candidates desperate to deliver viral sound bites and outshine their competitors — and in so little time — viewers could be in for two hours of chaos.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

“A 10-person debate is a mess,” US Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who participated in the 2016 primaries, told the New York Times.

Democratic candidate Tim Ryan, who’ll face off against Warren, O’Rourke, and the other fellow Democrats, told CNN “it’s going to be speed dating with the American people”.

While some Americans like to get liquored-up to watch the debate (“democratic debate drinking game” was trending on Twitter in the lead-up), anyone taking what the candidates have to say seriously will want to make notes: The following night another 10 potential presidents will take to the stage for debate two. No wonder some choose to get boozed.

To qualify, candidates are required to hit a minimum of 1 per cent support in three qualifying polls. Alternatively, they have to amass 65,000 individual donors before June 12. All but four Democratic candidates qualified, meaning 20 needed to be split over the two-night event.

As for why there is a record number of candidates throwing their hat in the ring, it’s a complex combination of factors. There is no Democratic incumbent seeking re-election and no obvious choice, such as Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election or Al Gore in 2000. Also, an increase in the number of small and medium donations to political campaigns, a trend that rose with Barack Obama in 2008 and skyrocketed with Bernie Sanders in 2016, has made it easier for less popular or well-connected candidates to join and stay in the race.

Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner on June 9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

On night one of the debates, Elizabeth Warren is the only candidate polling in the overall top five. But her popularity could work against her. As a favourite, Senator Warren, 70, has more to lose than her Democratic counterparts who can fairly easily surpass the public’s relatively low expectations of them.

John Delaney, 56, a former member of the House from Maryland, or above mentioned Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, 45, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, are virtual strangers to most Americans with nothing to lose and everything to gain if they perform well.

Progressive Texan Beto O’Rourke, and New Jersey Representative Cory Booker, the latter being one of only three black US senators, are household names who could either capitalise on their existing large fan bases, or perhaps not live up to the expectations of supporters.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan addresses the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention on Saturday, June 22 in Columbia, South Carolina. Picture: APSource:AP

Wednesday night marks the first time in US history that more than one woman will be on stage for a presidential primary debate, with Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard joining Elizabeth Warren. The gender diverse line-up could create a dynamic not seen before. Issues that disparately affect women, such as reproductive healthcare, childcare, the gender pay gap and sexual harassment, are more likely to be heard in the forum than in past debates.

Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren at Florida International University in Miami, Florida on June 25. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

During the first debate, Mr Trump will be on Air Force One on his way to the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. For the second debate, he’ll be in meetings at the G20.

Mr Trump told Fox Business Network on Wednesday he’d watch because “it’s part of my life”, but “it just seems very boring. … That’s a very unexciting group of people.”

Still, there’s a chance Mr Trump will find time for a Twitter take-down if he feels threatened.

Insane car park photo shows extent of Boeing’s problems

A Boeing 737 MAX plane has been spotted in an employee carpark following the grounding of the model.

The picture shows the TUI plane taking up at least 60 car spaces in the parking area, with other cars cordoned off by red rope, The Sun reports.

Hundreds of Boeing 737 MAX planes have been grounded around the world since earlier this year due to two crashes that killed hundreds of people.

Insane car park photo shows extent of Boeing’s problems

A TUI plane has been spotted in the Boeing parking area. Picture: KING 5NewsSource:YouTube

Ethiopian Airlines experienced problems shortly after take off, leading to the crash that killed 157 people, while 189 people were killed in a Lion Air crash last year.

Other images shared by Seattle news station KING-TV show a huge Boeing park filled with planes that are now out of commission.

More than 40 planes are parked in one of the images, including jets for American Airlines and Norwegian Air.

More than 40 planes have been left on the ground after they were forced to stop flying. Picture: KING 5NewsSource:YouTube

According to Bloomberg, it costs around $2860 a month per plane to park them, causing further financial issues for the plane manufacturer.

The planes are not due to fly again until August at the earliest, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Despite this, International Airlines Group (IAG) announced plans to buy 200 Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The planes are not due to fly again until August at the earliest. Picture: KING 5NewsSource:YouTube

While not final, the deal is estimated to be worth upwards of $34 billion based on list prices.

IAG, which owns British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL, is one of the largest airline groups in the world.

The company’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, said of the 737 MAX: “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months.”

Mr Walsh, a former 737 pilot, said he would have “no hesitation” in flying on the plane and voiced confidence in its safety.

IAG is planning to buy both the MAX 8, which seats 178 passengers, and the larger MAX 10, which sits 230 passengers.

However, it hasn’t said how the orders would be split.

The plan is for the 200 aircraft to be delivered between 2023 and 2027.

The only UK airlines to fly with Boeing 787 MAX 8 planes are TUI and Norwegian Air.

However, both airlines have reassured passengers their flights will not be affected.

Australia’s second biggest airline, Virgin Australia, has 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8s on order.

Airlines in the US such as United and American have been badly affected — both cancelling scores of flights every day.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

UN Expert Says Western Media Hush Up Assange Case While Russian Outlets Stand for Golunov

UN Expert Says Western Media Hush Up Assange Case While Russian Outlets Stand for Golunov

GENEVA (Sputnik) – UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer voiced his concern over the fact that while some of the Russian media outlets joined their efforts to draw public attention to the controversial arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, Western media failed to report impartially on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“When I see that in Russia, with the Golunov case, three main newspapers can get together and launch a campaign and achieve the result that the government releases the journalist, and actually even fires some of the corrupt officials involved in this case; and then I see in the West that we can’t even get the media to report about facts that are actually crucial for their own survival as independent press agencies, that really extremely concerns me”, Melzer told reporters.

The UN rapporteur also expressed his concern about the fact that some of the world’s most well-known western media outlets and news agencies, including The Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Reuters, among others had refused to publish his opinion piece on Assange’s torture.

“I got either no response, or negative response, and sometimes ‘oh well, this is just not timely right now’ or ‘this is not high on the news agenda’ or ‘this is not precisely what we are interested in.’ I have also offered to participate in a debate, in a ‘hard talk’ on BBC, I said: look, you do not have to agree with my assessment, but you can ask me all the uncomfortable questions you want, a hard talk. But I will ask you as BBC uncomfortable questions as well. They refused. So this is really worrying”, Melzer added.

Melzer ended up publishing his piece on Assange on the Medium platform, detailing what he described as psychological torture against the whistleblower. According to the UN rapporteur, the WikiLeaks founder had been repeatedly subject to slander in an attempt to divert public’s attention from the crimes that he had helped to expose.

When asked to comment on the case of killed Saudi-born columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the UN official warned that public’s inaction in that situation would have dire consequences in the future.

“If the public doesn’t wake up soon, we are going to have a lot more of these cases”, Melzer said.

After Golunov’s detention, three leading Russian newspapers issued a joint statement under the same headline for the first time ever, voicing their concern over Golunov’s case and saying that his detention might have been linked to his journalistic work.

Reacting to the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed two police generals in connection with the case, including the one who headed the police department responsible for Golunov’s arrest.

Golunov, who is known to have covered corruption-related stories, was arrested in Moscow on 6 June after police found drugs in his possession. More narcotics were later discovered in his apartment. The journalist has maintained that the illegal substances had been planted on him in retaliation for his investigative work. Golunov was placed under house arrest, but amid a rising public backlash against the case the journalist was released, and all charges were dropped over lack of evidence against him.

Assange, in turn, was arrested in London in April for violating his bail conditions in 2012, when he took refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK capital to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, and is currently serving a prison term in a London jail.

PM Modi Leaves for Japan, to Meet Trump, Macron on G20 Sidelines

PM Modi Leaves for Japan, to Meet Trump, Macron on G20 Sidelines

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 26 June evening left for Osaka, Japan, where he will attend the G20 summit.

PM Modi will hold about 10 bilateral meetings, including with US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Japan this week, sources told PTI on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 26 June evening boarded a plane for Japan’s Osaka, where he will be attending the G20 summit. Ahead of his departure, Modi also tweeted about the upcoming event.

“I look forward to discussing the major challenges and opportunities faced by our world today with other global leaders. Women Empowerment, issues related to digitalization and artificial intelligence, and progress in achieving SDGs and in our common efforts to address major global challenges such as terrorism and climate change form the rich agenda of the Summit,” Modi said in his departure statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold about 10 bilateral meetings, including with US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Japan this week, sources said Tuesday.

Modi, who will attend the 14th G20 summit in Osaka from 28-29 June, will also participate in the Russia-India-China (RIC) and the Japan-America-India (JAI) trilaterals, as well as in the meeting of BRICS leaders.

The prime minister will have about 10 bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump and Macron, the sources said.

Modi’s likely meeting with US President Trump, the first since his re-election last month, is set to attract a lot of attention amid strengthening of strategic ties between the two countries.

President Donald Trump will meet an array of world leaders on the sidelines of this week’s G20 summit in Japan, including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a US official said Monday.

Also on the list are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Trump will also sit down with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for talks that are especially timely given the soaring tensions between the United States and Iran.

The meeting with the Chinese president — which is highly anticipated as the two sides try to reach a deal on trade — is expected to take place on Saturday, the second day of the summit, in Osaka.

After the Group of 20 summit, the Republican president will head to Seoul.

When asked if Trump was planning a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border of North and South Korea, the official neither confirmed nor denied.

Xi arrives for G20 summit, to meet Modi, Trump amid heightened trade tensions with US

Xi arrives for G20 summit, to meet Modi, Trump amid heightened trade tensions with US

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday arrived in Osaka, Japan to attend the G20 summit during which he would hold bilateral talks with world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, amid heightened trade tensions with America, an issue that is likely to dominate the event.

Xi is due to meet Prime Minister Modi during the Informal Summit of the leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and RIC (Russia, India, China) on the sidelines of the June 28-29 event.

The Chinese President is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Vice Premier Liu He, who is also China’s chief negotiator in trade talks with the US, State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Xi is also expected to hold crucial talks with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting over the weekend.

The leaders are likely to discuss the status of the trade agreement and find ways to finalise the deal, which has been stuck for the past several weeks as America alleges that China went back on its commitment from the draft trade bill.

However, before leaving for the Summit, Trump said that the US has Plan B ready if the deal does not go through with China. It would include doing less business with China and taking in billions of dollars from it every month.

Ahead of Xi’s visit, China said the informal meetings of the BRICS and RICs nations would be focussed on opposing unilateralist and protectionist policies of the US.

In the upcoming Osaka summit, President Xi will have informal summit with the BRICS leaders. The discussion topics will fit in well with the agenda of the G20 summit, Zhang Jun, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister, told media here on Monday.

The leaders will have good discussions and exchange of view to enhance cooperation to meet major challenges facing the international community, uphold multilateralism and oppose protectionism, he said.

The other topics of discussion at the BRICS leaders informal meeting will include cooperation on economy, political issues, security and people to people exchange to further deepen cooperation among the BRICS nations, he said.

Highlighting the importance of meetings between Xi, Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zhang said that given the current international landscape, the meeting between the three leaders is also of significance. As you know China’s relations with Russia and India are showing sound momentum of growth .

While informal meetings of the BRICS and RIC take place in all the multilateral summits, Chinese officials say the Osaka meetings assumes significance as all major countries besides India, China and Russia faced trade and tariff related frictions with US.

Talking about the meeting of the leaders of the RICs nations, Zhang said the three leaders also maintained close exchanges at different multilateral forums.

Under the current circumstances, it is important for the three countries to strengthen coordination on major global issues and jointly uphold multilateralism, oppose protectionism and deepen cooperation on multilateral and international affairs to make important contribution to the global peace, he said.

US Senate Passes $4.6Bln Border Humanitarian Aid Bill

US Senate Passes $4.6Bln Border Humanitarian Aid Bill

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US Senate passed on Wednesday its own version of the $4.6-billion southern border humanitarian aid bill that will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Earlier, the Senate rejected a similar measure passed in the House of Representatives.

The Senate voted 84-8 to pass the measure that seeks to address the influx of migrants arriving at the US border with Mexico before funding runs out in July.

The Senate bill, unlike the House bill, provides additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Department.

Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump said he talked to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the chamber’s humanitarian aid bill that was passed on Tuesday. The bill secures $4.5 billion in emergency spending to address the crisis at the border, including funding for legal assistance; food, water and medical services; and support services for unaccompanied children.

Trump said in an interview that he was not happy with the House humanitarian aid bill as it does not include any money for border protection.

Caravans of migrants from Central American countries began moving toward the United States through Mexico last fall. Trump has called the surge of arrivals a crisis and declared a national emergency in February to secure funds for constructing a border wall.

Boris Johnson says chances of no-deal Brexit are ‘a million-to-one’

Boris Johnson says chances of no-deal Brexit are 'a million-to-one'

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson, the favorite to become British prime minister, said the chances of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal are “a million-to-one” even as he repeated his promise to leave the bloc without a deal by the end of October.

Conservative Party leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt waves as he leaves his home in London, Britain, June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The race to replace Prime Minister Theresa May has heated up this week, with the foreign minister Jeremy Hunt stepping up his criticism of Johnson, who has warned that he would execute a so-called no-deal Brexit if he fails to agree a deal with the EU.

More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, Brexit is dominating the race to become leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister.

The winner could face a battle with parliament, which rejected May’s deal three times and is opposed to a no-deal exit.

At an election hustings on Wednesday, Johnson said the chances of leaving the EU without an agreement are remote because there is was a new mood among leaders on the continent and parliament to pass a revised Brexit deal.

“It is vital that we are prepare for a no-deal outcome if we are going to get the deal that we need. I don’t think that is where we are going to end up, I think it is a million-to-one against,” he said.

DO OR DIE BREXIT

His comments came just a day after he promised to leave the EU at the end of October “come what may, do or die”, raising fears among more moderate lawmakers in parliament that he will attempt to push through a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier, Hunt took aim at rival Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to take Britain out of the EU no matter what, saying this stance could destroy Brexit and the government.

Hunt, who also wants Brexit to happen at the end of October but would extend the deadline if a deal was in sight, said it could open the way to opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn winning a new election.

“If we do it in this kind of ‘do or die way’, the risk is that we’ll just trip into a general election because parliament will stop it, as they did in March, and then we’ll have Corbyn in Downing Street, and there will be no Brexit at all,” Hunt told BBC radio.

The two contenders are now hoping to win over the governing Conservatives’ around 160,000 members, whose votes will ultimately decide who becomes prime minister.

Both contenders say they do not want a no-deal Brexit, but concede that, if needed, they would lead Britain out of the bloc without a deal with differing levels of enthusiasm – a scenario businesses say could cripple the world’s fifth largest economy.

Labour, and other opposition parties have said they will not allow a new government to preside over a no deal, with some lawmakers suggesting the new prime minister could face a no confidence motion almost immediately.

“We’re confident that no deal can be prevented in parliament,” said a spokesman for Corbyn. “We will use whatever means necessary to prevent a no deal outcome.”

Johnson played down the likelihood that he would prorogue, or suspend, parliament until the Brexit deadline to prevent lawmakers blocking a no-deal Brexit, but did not entirely rule it out.

“I’m not attracted to archaic devices like proroguing,” he said.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Hunt, during the hustings, also took the opportunity to dismiss one of Johnson’s ideas that Britain could negotiate a standstill agreement to prevent trade tariffs with the EU if it left with no deal.

Hunt said he was not accusing Johnson of lying but said that his proposals under an international mechanism of Article 24 of the GATT Treaty could not realistically be introduced.

“We’ve got to knock this Gatt 24 thing on the head. You can only get an agreement not to introduce tariffs if both sides agree to that,” he said.

Reporting by Kate Holton, Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison, Jon Boyle and Tom Brown

US working to ensure India’s energy needs are met: Mike Pompeo on Iran oil sanctions

US working to ensure India's energy needs are met: Mike Pompeo on Iran oil sanctions

The US Secretary of State also warned Iran to not take US lightly.

Amid heightened tensions between US and Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spelled out what the new US sanctions on Tehran mean for India as well as for the world.

India, the third biggest oil importer in the world, is heavily dependent on Iran to meet its energy needs. In fact, two-thirds of India’s crude oil comes from the Central Asian nation.

Speaking about the energy crisis that India is staring at if US-Iran tensions prevail, Mike Pompeo assured that India has nothing to worry about and that US will ensure that India’s is fully supplied with crude oil at affordable prices.

“We are working diligently to make sure that India is fully supplied with crude oil at a good price,” Mike Pompeo said while speaking exclusively with India Today Group Editor Raj Chengappa.

Mike Pompeo, who is currently on a visit to India, also said that the US is trying its best to de-escalate tensions with Iran. He said that if the conflict escalates it will be because of Iran.

“America has done everything to descalate. If there is conflict, war it will be because of the Iranian side made that choice. I hope they don’t,” he said.

The US Secretary of State also warned Iran to not take US lightly.

“I hope they don’t mistake President Trump as someone who will not protect American interests across the world,” Mike Pompeo added.

Mike Pompeo also mentioned the Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz – two vital waterways in the Persian Gulf region through which 20 per cent of the world, including India’s oil travels. US has in the past accused Iran of attacking oil tankers passing through these waterways.

On Wednesday, Mike Pompeo called on the international community to protect these waterways.

“I hope the world defends that waterway that is so central to the Indian economy. Prime Minister Modi spoke about it. The world needs to ensure there is free and open navigation in that waterway,” he said.

Mike Pompeo said that all US wants is for Iran to allow open navigation through the channels, following which tensions between the two nations will simmer down.

“When we do that in a serious way we will deter Iranian aggression. We will get Iran to behave like we have asked them to. Nothing special. We just want to act like a normal country. That’s not much to ask,” he said.

Rescue workers among 9 killed in Syria air raids: monitor

Rescue workers among 9 killed in Syria air raids: monitor

For representational purposes

BEIRUT: Two rescuers were among nine civilians killed in Russian and regime airstrikes Wednesday on violence-plagued northwest Syria, a war monitor said, in the latest attack against relief workers in the region.

The two civil defence workers, known as the White Helmets, were killed after Russian air strikes hit their ambulance in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The rescue group said a “double-tap attack” by Russian warplanes had “targeted” rescue workers repeatedly as they were evacuating injured civilians from the town.

Five other volunteers were also wounded, the group said.

The latest attack came nearly one week after regime air strikes on an ambulance in the town of Maaret al-Numan killed three rescue workers.

“The world continues to fail to protect us and other humanitarian workers,” the group said in a statement on social media.

ALSO READ | Two rescuers among 14 civilians killed by Syria regime fire: Monitor

Seven other civilians were killed Wednesday in a series of regime air strikes on several parts of the Idlib region, which is home to around three million people, the Britain-based war monitor said.

One more civilian succumbed to wounds sustained days ago during regime air strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, it said.

In the north of nearby Hama province, jihadist rocket fire killed one girl on Wednesday, state news agency SANA said.

Idlib and parts of neighbouring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces were supposed to be protected by a buffer zone under an September agreement between Russia and Turkey.

But the region has come under increased bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally since former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham seized most of the province at the start of the year.

Violence spiked in April, leaving more than 470 civilians dead, according to the Observatory.

The flare-up has also displaced 330,000 others, according to the United Nations, sparking fears of one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Syria’s eight-year conflict.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of protests against President Bashar al-Assad.