Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today's Headlines: At least 34 people killed in two separate Brussels attacks | Brussels Airport explosions leave many dead and second ‘attack’ hits Metro station | Daily Mail Online

Aftermath: A man lies stricken on the pavement as survivors kiss in relief after surviving the bombing at the Metro station in Maelbeek
Aftermath: A man lies stricken on the pavement as survivors kiss in relief after surviving the bombing at the Metro station in Maelbeek - Brussels Airport explosions leave many dead and second ‘attack’ hits Metro station | Daily Mail Online

At least 34 people killed in two separate Brussels attacks

Brussels attacks


At least 34 people killed in two separate Brussels attacks

The Early Edition: March 22, 2016 

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Before the start of business, Just Securityprovides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
Brussels bomb attacks. Several explosions have hit Brussels’ Zaventem airport and the metro system this morning. Thirteen people have reportedly been killed at Zaventem airport and another 15 at the metro explosion. The blast at Maelbeek metro station was close to EU buildings. [The Guardian’s Nadia Khomami;Le Soir]
Belgian broadcaster VRT says that the airport explosion was a suicide attack. Belga news agency reported that shots were fired and shouts in Arabic were heard before the explosions. [Reuters]
Belgium has raised its terror threat to the highest level, the country’s prime minister Tweeting that people should “stay where they are.” [BBC]  Security has been tightened across Europe at airports in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. [France 24]
“Blanket media coverage and calls for revenge just fuel the cycle of violence.” Simon Jenkins offers first thoughts in the wake of the attacks, cautioning the media and western nations to refrain from giving the Islamic State what it is looking for in the reaction to the attacks. [The Guardian]
This story is still developing. Check out the Guardian, the New York Times and Reuters for live updates. Belgian news station VGT has a live news stream available here.
Paris attacks. Belgian authorities are searching for Najim Laachraoui, a fugitive wanted in connection to the Paris attacks; Laachraoui is suspected of playing a critical role in the Islamic State’s recruitment network. [Wall Street Journal’s Valentina Pop et al]
The arrest of Salah Abdeslam has ended a manhunt, but not answered many questions, writes Alissa J. Rubin, providing an overview of the circumstances leading to his capture. [New York Times]
“Coming soon: the Franco-Belgian anti-terror divorce.” Nicholas Vinocur and Carmen Paun comment on the glowing praise shared between the two nations in the wake of Abdeslam’s arrest, opining that “the problem is that such talk barely conceals the mutual frustration that has been building up for months.”
Apple v. FBI. The hearing scheduled for today in the dispute between Apple and federal law enforcement has been postponed; the Justice Department yesterday convinced the federal court to cancel the hearing on the basis of a possible new way to access the iPhone, without Apple’s assistance. [Politico’s Tony Romm and Josh Gerstein]
In a filing with the court, the DoJ said that an “outside party” demonstrated a possible method to the FBI of unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, adding that it must now test the method. [Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi]
If the new method is successful it could “forestall, but is unlikely to entirely head off, a showdown between Silicon Valley and the Justice Department” over encryption, report Katie Benner and Matt Apuzzo. [New York Times]
The development comes as a surprise to many, including Apple’s legal team, reports Spencer Ackerman. [The Guardian]
Encryption is an “important enabler of human rights,” according to a new report from Amnesty International. [NBC News’ Matthew Deluca]
Americans do not trust Apple any more than other tech giants, like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, to protect their information. Sixty percent of respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll are confident Apple would protect their data from hackers. [Reuters’ Jim Finkle]
A former State Department employee has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for an extensive computer hacking, cyberstalking and “sextortation” scheme, the Justice Department announced.
Syria peace talks. The Syrian government is refusing to discuss the future of the Assad presidency at ongoing peace talks in Geneva, head of the delegation Bashar Ja’afari saying that the subject was “excluded,” during a press conference yesterday. [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour]  The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura has described political transition for the country as the “mother of all issues,” adding that the temporary cessation of hostilities will not hold if there is no progress on the political future of the country. [Reuters’ John Irish and Dominic Evans]
Moscow has threatened to unilaterally target those accused of breaking the temporary truce there, adding a “volatile new element” to the conflict which has experienced relative calm in recent weeks, reports Michael Birnbaum. [Washington Post]
The Pentagon has confirmedthe presence of a small Marine base in northern Iraq, staffed solely by Marines, the acknowledgement following an ISIS rocket attack that killed one Marine over the weekend. [New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt]  And Nancy A. Youssef notes that the militant knew “just where to hit” the Marines, despite the fact that the base’s location was supposed to be a secret. [The Daily Beast]
ISIS killed two dozen Syrian naval commandos on the outskirts of Palmyra yesterday, as the Assad regime pushed to reclaim the ancient city from the militant group, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and opposition activists. [Wall Street Journal’s Dana Ballout]
The Islamic State has claimed that a British suicide bomber killed 30 Iraqi soldiers in an attack on a convoy near al-Asad air base in Anbar province yesterday. The Iraqi military quickly rejected the claim, saying the attacker was the only victim of the explosion. [The Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen]
US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out four strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on March 20. Separately, partner forces conducted a further seven strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
The New York Times editorial board comments on the push for self-rule by the Syrian Kurds, exploring the viability of a semi-autonomous zone and the idea floated by others that Syria could be divided roughly into the areas held by the Kurds, the government, ISIS and rebel groups.
“Calling it genocide won’t stop it.” William McGurn considers whether Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration that ISIS atrocities constitute genocide is the “prelude to stepped-up” American action against the group, or whether it is “in fact a substitute for such action.” [Wall Street Journal]
President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro make historic meeting. The two leaders “traded criticism of each other’s countries” even as they asserted a mutual commitment to normalizing relations between the US and Cuba, during yesterday’s summit in Havana, report Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Damien Cave. [New York Times]
President Castro demanded the return of “the territory illegally occupied by Guantánamo Naval Base,” stating that relations between the US and Cuba would not be fully normal until this and the removal of the US embargo against Cuba had been accomplished. [The Guardian’s Dan Roberts and Jonathan Watts; Wall Street Journal’s Carol E Lee]
“What political prisoners?” Castro, asked by reporters about political dissidents detained by his government, promised that if they could give him a list of those prisoners they would be “released before tonight ends.” Cuba has responded “intermittently” to similar lists in the past, President Obama told reporters following the summit. [The Hill’s Jordan Fabian; Politico]
Back in the US, reactions to the meeting have been mixed. Eugene Robinson considers that President Obama’s visit to Havana will “almost surely hasten the day when Cubans are free from the Castro government’s suffocating repression.” [Washington Post]  Conversely, Katie Pavlich insists that Obama is “lost in his own naiveté,” tweeting his arrival in Cuba while the Cuban government increases its censorship and oppression of its people. Worse still, she writes, “Obama’s love for Cuba and promotion of “change” in the country has nothing to do with helping the Cuban people” and blames it instead on his “leftist and radical” activism. [The Hill]
President Obama “must not forget the Castro regime’s victims.” Hayes Hunt and Tom Leonard report on the victims of Castro’s regime who have won judgments in the US under statutes such as the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act and the Civil Liability for Acts of State Sponsored Terrorism. They consider that Castro will “most likely insist that all of these judgments be wiped out as part of any final normalization.” [Wall Street Journal]
The UN has acquiesced to China’s request to remove sanctions on four blacklisted ships linked to North Korea’s arms trade. China had obtained assurances from the ships that they would not use North Korean crews, according to US officials. [Reuters]
Desperation and/or miscalculation could soon lead North Korea’s leadership to make a “dangerously wrong move,” writes Gordon G Chang. [The Daily Beast]
The EU military mission’s headquarters in Mali was attacked by “extremists” yesterday, though it is not yet clear which group is responsible for the attack. Al-Qaeda has been responsible for several previous attacks in the area, Mali’s capital Bamako. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone; AP]
US Republicans have introduced legislation aimed at confronting Iran on its behavior over ballistic missile tests. The Iran Ballistic Missile Sanctions Act of 2016,introduced to the Senate late last week, would impose fresh sanctions on missile developers. Unilateral US sanctions are a “good start” to countering Iran’s ballistic-missile program now that the UN has closed the way to international sanctions, says the Wall Street Journal editorial board, adding that it expects that President Obama is likely to oppose the measures.
Saudi Arabia is a “free-rider” ally that exploits “American ‘muscle’” for its “own narrow and sectarian ends,” President Obama has said in an interview. Although Obama has always seen Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries as repressive and contributing to extremism, suggests the New York Times editorial board, it is unusual for a US president to “skewer a friendly government publicly.”
A former high-ranking US diplomat suspected by the FBI of providing secrets to the Pakistani government will not be prosecuted, according to Justice Department officials. Robin L Raphel was the focus of an FBI counterintelligence investigation, agents raiding her home in 2014 and discovering classified materials there. That material turned out to be many years old, officials confirmed. [Washington Post’s Adam Goldman; New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo]
Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Colombian government and Farc rebels to push for a peace accord. Talks are being held in Cuba, and are currently focused on the issue of disarmament, agreement having already been reached on land reform, political participation, the illegal drugs trade and transitional justice. [BBC]
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump outlined a foreign policy position involving significant reduction in US involvement in NATO during a debate before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday evening at which Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was also present to outline her vision for future US involvement with the Middle East and, particularly, Israel. [Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa; Financial Times’ Demetri Sevastopulo and Peter Spiegel; New York Times’ Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman]  Trump also named the first of his foreign policy advisers during his speech, and they are a mixture of the “not well known” and the “controversial,” according to the BBC.
Morocco has requested that the UN close its military liaison office in Western Sahara, according to a UN spokesperson, as tensions between Moroccan authorities and the UN continue to escalate. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee has threatened to issue a subpoena for documents and communications that will shed light on Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s use of a private email account for work during his first few months at the Pentagon, an issue that came to light in December 2015. [The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel]
Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba has been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, including rape – the first time the court has held that large-scale rape is a war crime. [New York Times’ Marlise Simons]
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At least 34 people killed in two separate Brussels attacks

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March 22, 2016, 3:40 PM (IDT)
The death toll from two separate terrorist attacks in Brussels rose Tuesday afternoon to 34 – 20 at the Maelbeek Metro station and 14 at the international airport, with scores injured. Belgian security forces are braced for more attacks.

How many terrorists attacked Brussels airport?

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March 22, 2016, 3:52 PM (IDT)
The discovery of an unexploded bomb belt at Brussels airport, after two explosions killed 14 people Tuesday, indicated a team of three bombers. Belgian authorities are trying to disguise the fact that, while one explosion was caused by a suicide bomber in the departure hall, a second bomber was able to reached the tarmac and detonate his belt near the airliners. The discovery of a third unused bomb belt raises two possibilities: 1) That an airport staff employee smuggled the three bomb belts past security and left them at a prearranged spot, so that the terrorists would come out clean from security checks. 2) That the third belt was abandoned either because the third terrorist failed to turn up or changed his mind and ran after dropping it.

Airline attendant traveling to NY flees LAX, leaving behind luggage with 70 pounds of cocaine - New York Daily News

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New York Daily News

Airline attendant traveling to NY flees LAX, leaving behind luggage with 70 pounds of cocaine
New York Daily News
Federal authorities are searching for an airline attendant who was really flying high. The woman left behind luggage holding 70 pounds of cocaine when she bolted from Los Angeles International Airport during a security screen, officials said. It was a ... 
Flight attendant had 70 reasons to run: TSA seizes 70 pounds of cocaine after she kicks off her heels and fleesLos Angeles Times
Officials: Airline worker flees; 70 pounds of cocaine found Chicago Tribune 

Flight attendant runs from security, leaves behind 70 pounds of cocaine cleveland.com
UPI.com-Charlotte Observer-KTRK-TV-WJXT Jacksonville
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Russia Warns of Unilateral Action to Police Syria Cease-fire

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Russia has warned it could take unilateral action beginning Tuesday against those who violate the nearly month-old cessation of hostilities in Syria. The move comes after complaints that the U.S. has been slow to work with Russia on rules for jointly monitoring violations.  The two countries were key in bringing the halt in fighting that applies to pro-government and rebel fighters, but not attacks against terror groups. U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who is leading a...

Obama Addresses Past, Future in Speech to Cuban People

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U.S. President Barack Obama is delivering an address to the Cuban people Tuesday with an expected focus on the complicated history between the two former Cold War enemies, current efforts to normalize ties and his vision for their future relations. Obama first spoke to the act of terrorism in Belgium earlier Tuesday in which more than 20 people were killed. He said the United States stands in solidarity with Belgium "for the outrageous attacks against innocent people." The...

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Obama, Kerry briefed on attacks in Brussels - Politico

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Obama, Kerry briefed on attacks in Brussels
President Barack Obama has been briefed about the series of explosions that tore through Brussels on Tuesday morning, leaving at least 31 people dead and dozens more wounded. “U.S. officials have been and will continue to be in close contact with their ...
In Cuba, Obama briefed on Brussels attacks U.S. News & World Report 
Obama briefed on Brussels attack while in CubaUSA TODAY 
Obama briefed on Brussels blasts, US officials in contact with Belgian counterpartsReuters

all 110 news articles »

President Obama Delivers Keynote Speech 

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From: TheNewYorkTimes
Duration: 00:00

President Obama spoke at the Gran Teatro in Havana.
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IS Forcing Children to Be Killers, Suicide Bombers

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Islamic State (IS) extremists are training Iraqi and Syrian children as young as eight years old to carry out suicide attacks and fight to kill, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga commanders tell VOA.   “There are training centers, more than two or three, big training centers in Mosul,” said General Sirwan Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga commander fighting IS on the volatile Makhmour frontline.   “They are just starting the training at eight years old to 18 years old.  There are...

Two Explosions Hit Brussels Airport

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Two explosions rocked the main airport in Brussels on Tuesday, injuring more than 100 people, according to a person brief on the incident.

Witnesses describe blood, dust and chaos in Brussels attacks

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At least 26 people were killed Tuesday when bombs exploded in Belgium’s capital — two at the main international airport and one on a downtown subway train near European Union headquarters. Witnesses described chaotic scenes of blood, dust and flying glass as the blasts hit transport hubs in the middle of a busy rush hour. Here are some of their accounts:

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Brussels mayor says at least 20 people died in subway attack near EU headquarters 

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Brussels mayor says at least 20 people died in subway attack near EU headquarters.

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What To Know About the Brussels Terrorist Attacks

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Three explosions hit Brussels on Tuesday morning, the first two at Zaventem airport and a separate blast an hour later on the subway near the European Union headquarters. At least 31 people were killed and scores injured. Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw called all three explosions terrorist attacks. Brussels has gone on lockdown: the airport, metro stations and museums and international train services have been shut down, halted or diverted. Residents were told to remain at home or at their place of work.
The blasts happened at Brussels Airport, around 8am local time. The first explosion tore through the departure hall, while the second happened minutes later at another area of the aiprort. Val Leeuw confirmed that one of the airport explosions was carried out by a suicide bomber, but gave no details about the second blast. According to Reuters, the Belga agency said that there were shouts in Arabic and gunshots shortly before the blasts. Belgian media reported that a Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle was found at the airport.
Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block said 11 were killed and 81 injured at the airport.
Reports initially suggested that the blast took place in front of an American Airlines desk. According to a statement by the airline, all employees were accounted for and no injuries were reported. It also stated: “American Airlines check-in operates at Row 8 of the departure hall, and the explosions did not occur at Row 8”
Daniel Widman, from Sweden, was travelling from Liberia to Sweden. He said: “I was sleeping and I was woken up by people screaming and running. I just followed the crowd. People came running down the stairs. People left their luggage and kept running. We were given no information in the terminal.”
Josh Balser, from the U.S, said:”In Terminal B this guy came running down the hall. I was in the lounge and heard a rumbling so thought something had hit the airport. Then they told us to go to the end of the hallway and eventually some guy was screaming ‘we found guns and ammunition, everybody leave your bags and exit the airport.’ He was airport personnel.”
Images and videos on social media showed shattered windows, fallen ceiling tiles and broken glass scattered around the departure hall. A plume of smoke is also seen rising from the terminal, with passengers fleeing with their bags from the explosion.
Subway station:
Around 9.10 am, a blast hit Maelbeek station in the city centre, a short walk many European Union institutions and offices. Brussels Mayor Yvan Majeur told reporters than the bomb on the subway trained killed 20 and injured over a 100.
“For the moment, what we know is that there was at least one, possibly two explosions; we are still investigating,” Sandra Eyschen, a spokeswoman for the Belgian federal police, told the New YorkTimes. “There are several injured, we don’t have any exact numbers, and, unfortunately, it appears there are some dead, at least one person.”
“There was smoke surrounding the buildings and the smell of burning everywhere,” said Andrew Wilson, a 28-year-old policy official who was inside the E.U. Thon Hotel near the subway station where the blast hit.
“The area I am in has been completely shut down. We’ve been locked inside cafes,” Wilson told TIME, adding that the hotel is being used to house those who were in the Metro station at the time of the explosion.
Speaking to AP, Alexandre Brans, who was wiping blood from his face, described the moments before and after the explosion: “The metro was leaving Maelbeek station when there was a really loud explosion… It was panic everywhere. There were a lot of people in the metro.” Sky broadcast footage showing smoke streaming out of the station and victims being carried on stretchers.
The European Commission has asked its staff to stay indoors, while Reuters reports that Belgium is sending 225 extra troops to Brussels following the explosions.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michels confirmed that, “what we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” adding, “we know there are many dead, many injured.” King Philippe of Belgium condemned the heinous attacks on Brussels.
All stations in the city’s bus, tram and Metro networks have been completely shut down in response to the attacks.
Brussels has been on high alert since the Paris attacks in November when Salah Abdeslam, a suspect, fled to Brussels. He was arrested on Friday.
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Marines Have Deployed to Northern Iraq to Protect U.S. Advisers 

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. has set up a small Marine artillery outpost in northern Iraq to protect a nearby Iraqi military base, expanding the number and the combat exposure of American troops in the country as Iraqi security forces plan and prepare for a counteroffensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in Mosul.
It is the first such base established by the U.S. since it returned forces to Iraq in 2014 in response to ISIS’s takeover of Mosul and other areas of northern and western Iraq, Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon Monday. He said it should not be considered a combat outpost because it is located behind the front lines and is not initiating combat with the militants.
“Their primary mission is to protect, obviously, Americans,” Warren said, referring to the U.S. advisers at an Iraqi base near Makhmour. He declined to reveal the number of U.S. advisers but said it is fewer than 100. He said the Marine outpost, dubbed Fire Base Bell, is “several hundred meters” from the Iraqi base.
It did not take ISIS fighters long to notice the additional Marines. On Saturday, they fired two rockets at the site, killing one Marine.
The addition of an artillery unit of close to 200 Marines reflects thorny decisions ahead for the Obama administration, which is intent on avoiding the appearance of an expanding U.S. combat mission in Iraq more than four years after President Barack Obama pulled U.S. troops out of the country. That political reluctance is further fueled by pockets of vocal opposition in Iraq to any increase in the number of American forces there.
The sensitivity over force numbers has added a layer of confusion to the troop totals. The White House has capped the number at about 3,870, but that total doesn’t include as many as 1,000 forces who are exempt because of the military’s personnel accounting system.
For example, although Fire Base Bell is surrounded by wire and fortified with four 155mm howitzers, the Marines there are not included in the troop totals because their deployment is considered a temporary assignment. Officials have said the Marines, who are members of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are likely to return to their ship at some point but would probably be replaced by rotations of other troops on similar short-term deployments.
Other troops not included in the official total are those working at the embassy, those assisting with foreign military sales to Iraq and those involved in other defense support missions. As an example, Warren is not included in the total because his assignment is considered short-term.
The Marine fire base has also proven to be vulnerable.
A member of the unit, Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, California, was killed by rocket fire Saturday. Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said several other Marines were wounded in the attack. Warren said Monday that some of the wounded were quickly returned to duty and an undisclosed number of others were evacuated to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
At a news conference in Cuba on Monday, Obama expressed his condolences.
“It’s a reminder that even as we embark on this historic visit, there are U.S. armed service members who are sacrificing each and every day on behalf of our freedom and our safety, so I’m grateful to them,” the president said.
On Monday, a small number of ISIS fighters got close enough to the Marines’ outpost to target them with small arms, Warren said. He said no U.S. personnel were wounded in that attack, but two ISIS fighters were killed.
In response to questions, Warren said the Marines’ mission is defensive and is considered part of the advise-and-assist mission the U.S. military is undertaking on the Iraqi military base located near Makhmour, between the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. The Iraqis are preparing ground combat forces for an eventual mission to recapture Mosul. Warren said the Marines began arriving at the fire base about two weeks ago.
U.S. military officials said there is currently no plan for the Marine artillery unit to be used in any offensive mission to retake Mosul, but they wouldn’t rule it out. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
The existence of the Marine base was announced Sunday, one day after Cardin’s death. Warren said the military delayed the announcement to protect the security of the troops as they moved into place. And he said that, also for security reasons, he could not disclose the exact number of Marines at the fire base but that it was a “company,” which normally numbers between 100 and 200 troops.
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Assad’s Future Will Not Be Discussed at the Syrian Peace Talks, Damascus Says 

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The ongoing peace talks to negotiate an end to the civil war in Syria will not include a discussion on the future of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, his government’s top representative said Monday.
Bashar Ja’afari, the head of the Syrian delegation at the talks, said his government is focused on stopping terrorist groups in the region and insisted the ongoing dialogue has “nothing to do” with Assad staying in power, Reuters reported.
“The [terms of] reference of our talks do not give any indication whatsoever with regard to the issue of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said.
According to Reuters, U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura responded by warning that the refusal to discuss changes in government could jeopardize an already tenuous cease-fire brokered last month. Although the break in hostilities and the resumption of humanitarian aid is currently holding, he said, “neither of those can be sustained if we don’t get progress on the political transition.”
The disagreement in the peace talks comes as Russia, which recently announced it would withdraw from Syria and suspend its air strikes in the country, reported six cease-fire violations on Monday.
The High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella group representing several Syrian opposition parties at the talks, has accused the government of dragging its feet by rejecting discussions of Assad.
“It is not possible to wait like this,” the group’s spokesman Salim al-Muslat said, “while the regime delegation wastes time without achieving anything.”

Brussels Bombing Reveals Europe’s Security Dilemma

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It was the nightmare scenario European officials have warned about for months: Tuesday’s deadly assault on Brussels that killed at least 31 people involved simultaneous, coordinated attacks on key infrastructure sites in the heart of the E.U.’s administrative capital. The bloodshed sent a chill through European capitals, where officials for months have expressed deep anxieties about potential terror attacks by groups such as ISIS.
The attacks hit at least two major public sites. Shortly after rush hour at 8 a.m., two explosions rocked the departure hall of Brussels’ Zaventem Airport, the country’s international airline hub, killing at least 11 people and injuring 81, according to Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block. Witnesses told Belgian media they heard Arabic being spoken immediately before the blasts, while other witnesses said that the blast erupted close to a check-in desk for an American Airlines flight.
One hour later, another blast exploded in the Maelbeek Metro station in central Brussels, killing 20 people and injuring over 100. The Maelbeek station services the modern headquarters for the 28-nation E.U., where heads of state and top officials shuttle in and out for high-level meetings at least once a week, in a complex of office buildings and conference rooms. Hundreds of civil servants work at the E.U. headquarters full-time, and many were commuting to work during the morning rush hour when the blast erupted shortly after 9 a.m.
Belgium’s government raised its terror-threat risk to the maximum level, summoned top anti-terrorism officials to a crisis meeting, and appealed to people to stay home. Officials shut the airport and Metro system, and canceled high-speed Eurostar and Thalys trains linking the city to London, Paris and Amsterdam. Reeling from the attacks, Belgian Prime Minister told reporters there were “many dead,” in which he described as “a blind, violent and cowardly attack.”
For intelligence officials and police, Tuesday’s attacks are a major blow after months of their anti-terrorist operations, not only in Belgium but across the continent. France tightened security at its airports, and Paris officials announced that the Eiffel Tower would be lit on Tuesday evening in Belgium’s national colors, to honor the dead.
Scores of armed police have conducted street-by-street searches in Brussels for months, in an attempt to dismantle a network of jihadists that have taken root in the capital. The country has been on high alert since the Paris attacks last November 13, which involved about 10 jihadist gunmen-suicide bombers. At least five attackers came from one small corner of the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, just six stops from the Maelbeek station where the bomb exploded.
By late Tuesday morning no group had claimed responsibility for the attack. But the timing might be linked to the arrest last Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the only alleged perpetrator of the Paris attacks that is believed to still be alive. Belgian police finally nabbed Abdeslam last Friday, cornering him in a safe house in the heart of Molenbeek, a district heavily populated by second- and third-generation North African immigrant families.
In an interview on the weekend, Molenbeek’s first deputy mayor Ahmed al-Khannouss told TIME local officials had the names of 85 residents who they believe have fought with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq since 2012, and returned to Europe. “We need to figure out who is dangerous and who is not,” al-Khannouss said. On Monday Belgian officials named two accomplices of Abdeslam who were still on the run, plus a third who was killed in a shootout with police last Tuesday, in a separate part of Brussels.
In recent interviews with TIME, some intelligence experts said they feared that Europe could face further coordinated attacks like Paris, which killed 130 people and for which ISIS claimed responsibility. “What we expect is a multicity, multitarget attack at the same moment, and it will have terrible consequences,” Claude Moniquet, a retired agent for France’s external intelligence service DGSE, who now runs a private intelligence company in Brussels, told TIME in a recent interview.
Officials have centered their scrutiny on those who have been battle-trained abroad, and who might be under instructions to return to Europe to fight at home; several of the Paris attackers had returned from ISIS training in Syria, and had hatched the Paris plot from a rear base in Molenbeek.
But in recent days, E.U. leaders have warned that the number of people who could potentially wage terror appears larger than they previously estimated.
While police celebrated Abdeslam’s capture last Friday, their relief was tempered by the fact that a web of supporters and accomplices had apparently helped hide him for months—a group that still remains at large. “This is not over,” French President François Hollande told a press conference in Brussels on Friday night, adding that there the “wide, extensive” network of jihadists was bigger than French and Belgian investigators had believed in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks more than four months ago.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told a public panel discussion in Brussels on Monday that police had uncovered “many weapons, heavy weapons” during police raids last week that culminated in Abdeslam’s arrest. He said at least 30 jihadists remained at large in the city, and that Abdeslam had told interrogators in custody that he had been “ready to resume something in Brussels,” after apparently backing out at the last minute from his plan to blow himself up during the Paris attacks.
But despite Belgium’s maximum terror-alert level, tracking down the remnants of the jihadist network will not be easy—in part because the outlines of the network are becoming more and more blurred. Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January, 2015, intelligence experts have warned that jihadists have tapped into Mafia-type organized crime, with highly sophisticated smuggling operations, for logistics support like transporting people, issuing fake identity papers or selling weapons. “Where there is money to be made, there is always a business opportunity for organized crime,” says Yan St-Pierre, CEO and counter-intelligence advisor for the Modern Security Consulting Group, a private intelligence company in Berlin. “If they sell weapons to terrorists or someone else, it makes no difference, and often they are in the position to have access to smuggling,” he told TIME on Tuesday.
The mingling of two entirely separate worlds—organized crime and violent Islamic extremism—has hugely complicated the task of tracking down suspects. “This makes the situation extremely difficult for intelligence, because it is two different networks with two different logics,” Moniquet said by phone on Saturday. “And there is a clannish mentality, where if a friend comes and says ‘help me,’ you will do it without question.”
The deep budget cuts during Europe’s economic recession this decade presents another major challenge in dismantling terror networks, according to St-Pierre. He says E.U. governments are increasingly relying on high-tech surveillance methods, which are less costly than hiring people who can monitor every possible terror suspect. “Because of the cuts over the last five or six years, there are less and less people involved” in surveilling terror suspects, St-Pierre says. “They have to play catch-up, so it creates massive problems. The terrorists have adapted.”
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World Leaders and More Respond to Brussels Attacks

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World leaders and senior figures expressed compassion and concern to the attacks in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and injured dozens more on Tuesday morning, when blasts went off at Brussels Zaventem Airport and on the city’s subway.
Months after attacks in Paris by Islamic extremists left 130 dead, French President Francois Hollande called the events an attack on all of Europe.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said the Eiffel Tower would be lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag.
“I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help,” British Prime Minister David Cameron posted on Twitter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the blasts “show once more that terrorism knows no borders and threatens people all over the world,” the AFP reported, citing a Kremlin statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Peter Altmeier called for solidarity with Belgium, in a tweet. “Terrorists will never win.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed his solidarity in the “dark hours” of the attacks. “Belgium is not alone,” he said in a tweet shared by the German Foreign Office.
Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the attack and their families.
“He expresses his deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who are contributing to relief, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in the ordeal,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said in a statement, the New York Times reported. “The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence that causes so much suffering and implores God for the gift of peace.”
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is traveling in Cuba, was briefed on the attacks Tuesday morning, and the White House was communicating with Belgian officials about the explosions, the Associated Press reported.
“The United States stands with people of Belgium. We are ready to support the investigation as appropriate.” John Kirby, Department of State spokesman, said in a statement.
Republican Donald Trump was the first U.S. presidential candidate to weigh in on the attacks.
“Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels wss (sic),” Trump posted on Twitter. “Not anymore, it is from a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!”
In the wake of the Paris attacks in November, Trump called for increased surveillance on American Muslims and proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country.
Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would be unrealistic to shut down U.S. borders in response to the attacks.
“I think we’ve got to recognize that the threat posed by the modern incarnation of terrorism is one that we have to be vigilant against. I know that Americans have every reason to be frightened by what they see,” she said in an interview on Good Morning America, adding that the U.S. should tighten security.
“The wave of terror that has been unleashed in Europe and elsewhere around the world are attacks against our very way of life and against the democratic values upon which our political systems have been built,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement, adding that the U.S. must strengthen its alliances and reject deadly acts of terror.
“We must redouble our efforts with our allies to identify, root our and destroy the perpetrators of such acts of evil,” he said.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the attacks in Brussels are not isolated incidents.
“They are just the latest in a string of coordinated attacks by radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated by those who are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam,” the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement.
“Radical Islam is at war with us,” he said, vowing to defeat it as president.
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Zika outbreak: Where is the virus spreading? 

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The World Health Organisation has declared a global emergency in response to the spread of Zika - but which countries are currently affected by the virus?

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Brussels explosions: who are the likely terror suspects behind the attack? 

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Police may focus on Najim Laachraoui and Mohamed Abrini, both also suspects in Paris terror attacks

Brussels explosions: Everything we know so far at midday on Tuesday 

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With three blasts in Brussels this morning, we recount everything we know so far about the latest Europe terror outrage

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How the Brussels attacks unfolded at the airport and on the metro 

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Brussels is rocked by explosions at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station, believed to be linked to the arrest of top Paris atrocity suspect Salah Abdeslam

Brussels explosions: Suspects may have been shielded by criminal underworld 

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Area where Paris suspect Abdeslam stayed on run for four months is full of "look-outs" employed by local drug gangs

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Brussels attacks: Terrorism could break the EU and lead to Brexit 

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Another shocking security lapse in Brussels makes the arguments for European unity and ideals harder to defend

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Brussels explosions: Security stepped up at Belgian nuclear plants 

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Fears nuclear plants may be next target after terror cell secretly filmed senior official

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U.S. commander apologizes for hospital bombing in Afghanistan

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KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan apologized on Tuesday for the American bombing of a hospital last year that killed 42 people and wounded 37 more.

Assad May Bet That Russia and the West Need Him More Than He Needs Them 

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President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, center, in Damascus last week. Speculation has swirled about whether Russia’s next move is to force Mr. Assad to make a substantive political compromise to end the war.

Brussels Attacks: What We Know and Don’t Know

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A briefing with the latest information.

Shocking Footage of Attacks in Belgium 

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From: itnnews
Duration: 01:15

Shocking footage of the aftermath of attacks in Brussels. Report by Jessica Wakefield.

Brussels Attack Survivors: 'I Thought It Was The End Of The World' 

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From: itnnews
Duration: 01:19

Survivors from the Brussels attacks in Zaventem airport speak about their experience.
Report by Jessica Wakefield.

Blasts leave ‘scores’ dead at Brussels airport and metro station

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The attacks raised fears of reprisal strikes after the arrest of key Paris terror suspect.

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Page 6

Western Europe has seen a string of attacks in recent years

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Deadly attacks Tuesday at the Brussels airport and a metro station in the city are the latest in a string of attacks in Europe in recent years. Here are some of the most recent major ones:...

brussels attacks news - Google Search

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Story image for brussels attacks news from USA TODAY

Brussels terror attacks: What we know now

USA TODAY-2 hours ago
Attorney General Loretta Lynch was briefed on the Brussels attacks early Tuesday and was coordinating how the FBI and other federal law ...
Brussels Attacks: What We Know and Don't Know
New York Times-40 minutes ago
Brussels Airport and Metro Explosions: Suicide Attacker Suspected
Featured-<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a>-56 minutes ago
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Low Oil Price Dents Gulf Economies as Riyadh Seeks $8B Loan

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:36

Saudi Arabia is reported to be seeking a multibillion-dollar bank loan to shore up its finances as plunging world oil prices take their toll on the economy. But Saudi Arabia is not the only Gulf oil producer in trouble; others in the region are in a far more precarious position. More from Henry Ridgwell.
Originally published at - http://www.voanews.com/media/video/3239688.html

FBI may have found way to unlock terrorist's iPhone, sidestepping legal dispute 

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US government was due to face Apple in court on Tuesday in landmark case that pits civil liberties against security and could make everyday encryption redundant

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The Latest: Raul Castro hosts state dinner for Obamas

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The Latest on President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba (all times local):

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Barack Obama says he would be willing to meet Fidel Castro - so why won't it happen? 

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Barack Obama is the first American president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years. Yet, unlike most visiting presidents, it seems unlikely he will meet Fidel Castro

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