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State Dept staffer resigns over US' Gaza policy

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Washington, March 28 (IANS) A US State Department staffer responsible for promoting human rights in regions including Gaza has resigned in protest of the continued delivery of weapons from the US to Israel.

Annelle Sheline left the State Department on Wednesday after having served for a year as a foreign affairs officer at the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, according to an editor’s note from CNN proceeding an opinion piece by Sheline in which the employee explained the reason for her resignation.

In the article published on CNN’s website, Sheline blamed the US government for offering support, both diplomatically and militarily, to “atrocities committed” by the Israeli military in the ongoing war in Gaza, and the “killing of Palestinians by armed Israeli settlers” in the West Bank. These actions by Israel “meet the crime of genocide”, she said, citing testimonies by experts on genocide.

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“Unable to serve an administration that enables such atrocities, I have decided to resign from my position at the Department of State,” Sheline said.

Sheline said she had not initially planned a public resignation. “Because my time at State had been so short — I was hired on a two-year contract — I did not think I mattered enough to announce my resignation publicly. However, when I started to tell colleagues of my decision to resign, the response I heard repeatedly was, Please speak for us.”

“Across the federal government, employees like me have tried for months to influence policy, both internally and, when that failed, publicly,” she said.

“My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel and authorized thousands more, even bypassing Congress to do so. We are appalled by the administration’s flagrant disregard for American laws that prohibit the U.S. from providing assistance to foreign militaries that engage in gross human rights violations or that restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid,” wrote Sheline in the article.

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None of Sheline’s posts on X can be seen anymore, with a note on the page of her account saying “these posts are being protected”.

The latest episode followed the stepping down for a similar reason in October of Josh Paul, a senior State Department official in charge of overseeing foreign arms transfers, as well as the self-immolation of US airman Aaron Bushnell in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. in February.

During a press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday, Matthew Miller, the department’s spokesperson, said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken not only “has instructed his team … to make sure people have an opportunity to make their views known, but also has taken those dissenting ideas into account when making policy decisions”.

–IANS

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International

Ukraine strikes Russian missile systems in Crimea

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Kiev, June 13 (IANS) The Ukrainian military carried out missile strikes on Russian missile systems S-300 and S-400 in southern Crimea, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.

The radar of the S-300 missile system stationed near the Belbek airfield was destroyed in the strike, the statement said on Wednesday.

It also added that two S-400 missile systems stationed near Belbek and the city of Sevastopol also came under attack, Xinhua news agency reported.

The strikes caused a detonation of munition in all three areas where Russian anti-aircraft missile divisions are positioned, it said.

On Monday, the General Staff said that Ukrainian forces had struck two Russian S-300 complexes and one S-400 complex in Crimea.

–IANS

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Israel confirms killing of senior Hezbollah commander in Lebanon

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Jerusalem, June 13 (IANS) The Israeli military has confirmed that it killed a senior Hezbollah commander, Sami Taleb Abdullah, in southern Lebanon in an airstrike two days ago.

“As part of the strike, Sami Taleb Abdullah, the commander of the Nasr Unit in Hezbollah, was eliminated,” the military said on Wednesday in a statement, adding that he was “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon”.

The military released video footage of the attack, showing a bombing of a building which, as the military said, was a Hezbollah command and control centre in the town of Jouaiya in Tyre district, Xinhua news agency reported.

The centre was used to direct attacks from southeastern Lebanon against Israel, and 55-year-old Abdullah, known within Hezbollah as Hajj Abu Taleb, was its commander, according to the Israeli military.

Lebanese TV channel Al-Jadeed confirmed the death of Abdullah, adding that three other people were killed and 10 others injured during the attack.

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On Wednesday morning, Hezbollah announced it had launched retaliatory attacks using rockets, drones, and missiles on military sites in northern Israel.

According to the Israeli military, at least 170 projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward Israel.

Israel and Hezbollah forces have been exchanging fire along the Lebanon-Israel border since October 8, 2023.

–IANS

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19 pc children engaged in child labour in Afghanistan: OCHA

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Kabul, June 13 (IANS) Nineteen per cent of children are engaged in child labour in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is trying to prevent child labour and support their families. The Ministry has activated training centres for orphaned children and has provided vocational training along with other assistance to the children,” local media outlet TOLOnews quoted the Ministry’s Spokesperson Samiullah Rahimi as saying on Wednesday.

Folad, an Afghan child working at a brick factory in the Dehsabz district of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, told Xinhua, “I am interested in going to school, but I can’t. We (our family) are in debt, and I’m not able to continue my studies because of poverty. If the government supports my family, I can go to school and continue my lessons.”

Four decades of war and extreme poverty in Afghanistan have forced numerous children to work as child labourers or struggle to make a living on the street from car washing to shoe shining as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

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–IANS

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Sri Lanka to implement national tariff policy next January

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Colombo, June 13 (IANS) Sri Lanka Cabinet approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to implement the national tariff policy in three phases from January 2025, the government’s Information department said.

The competitive environment for investment in Sri Lanka has been adversely affected due to the revision of the tariff policy following the various policies introduced from time to time by the existing governments, the department added on Wednesday as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

It said considering the situation, a technical committee has been appointed to formulate a national tariff policy.

–IANS

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Russia fires missiles, drones at Ukraine

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Kiev, June 13 (IANS) Powerful explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital and other cities across the country as Russia launched an attack with missiles and drones, Ukrainian authorities and media outlets reported.

Russian forces fired 24 Shahed combat drones, four cruise missiles from Tu-95MC bombers, an aeroballistic missile Kinzhal and a ballistic missile Iskander-M at Ukraine during the attack, said the Ukrainian Air Force on Wednesday.

All the projectiles, except for the Iskander-M missile, were shot down, the Air Force said in a post on Telegram, adding that the air defence was operating in the six regions in central, southern, northern and eastern Ukraine, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the Kiev region, a man was injured by the debris of the intercepted missile and a fire erupted in an industrial enterprise following the attack, which also caused damage to a petrol station and a private house, said the Kiev Regional Military Administration.

In the central Dnipropetrovsk region, three people were hurt and nine private houses were damaged, regional governor Sergii Lysak said on Telegram.

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–IANS

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