english news

‘Russian air strikes kill dozens’ in Idlib


Russian air strikes in northern Syria have killed more than 50 Turkish-backed militia fighters in the mainly rebel-held province of Idlib, reports say. Many others were wounded in the attack, which marks an escalation of violence in the region. A training base for an Islamist group called Faylaq al-Sham was hit.

The assault puts at risk a ceasefire in Idlib, brokered and monitored by Russia and Turkey, which back opposite sides in the war. UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number of dead at 78. Some of the wounded were in a serious condition, and the death toll was likely to rise, the Observatory added. It described the attack – in the Harem region north-west of Idlib city – as the deadliest since the ceasefire came into force in March. The truce brought to a halt a Syrian government offensive on the region which had displaced almost a million people, and has largely held since then. When the ceasefire was announced, Turkey said it reserved the right to “retaliate with all its strength” against any attack by forces allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.(BBC)…[+]

Belgian doctors with coronavirus asked to keep working


Doctors in the Belgian city of Liège have been asked to keep working even if they have coronavirus amid a surge in cases and hospital admissions. About a quarter of medical staff there are reportedly off sick with Covid-19. Now 10 hospitals have requested that staff who have tested positive but do not have symptoms keep working. The head of the Belgian Association of Medical Unions told the BBC they had no choice if they were to prevent the hospital system collapsing within days.

Dr Philippe Devos acknowledged that there was an obvious risk of transferring the virus to patients. One in three people tested are coming back positive with the virus in the eastern Belgian city. Hospitals are transferring patients elsewhere and cancelling non-urgent surgeries, days after Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned the country was close to a “tsunami” of infections where authorities “no longer control what is happening”.(BBC)…[+]

Italian held in France on suspicion of 160 rapes and sexual assaults


A 52-year-old Italian man wanted in Germany on suspicion of carrying out 160 rapes and sexual assaults, mainly on underage girls, has been arrested across the border in France. France’s BNRF brigade for hunting fugitives said he was held last Friday at Rumersheim-le-Haut near Mulhouse. He was wanted in connection with attacks, mainly on the children of his partners, between 2000 and 2014.

Officials said 122 inquires had so far been opened against him in Germany. French reports said that among the offences he was suspected of committing were the rape of his daughter over a number of years. German authorities first alerted their counterparts on 7 October that the suspect had crossed into France. His whereabouts were passed on days later and he was detained on 16 October. He is now being held in Colmar during extradition proceedings.(BBC)…[+]

Rare green puppy ‘Pistachio’ born in Italy

green puppy

This year has been an unpredictable one, to say the least. But things got even stranger for Italian farmer Cristian Mallocci when his dog, Spelacchia, gave birth to a puppy with green fur. The tiny pooch was immediately named Pistachio. The puppy was part of a five-dog litter born at the farm on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Pistachio’s brothers and sisters all had white fur, the same colour as their mother. A dog born with green fur is very rare. It is believed to be a result of the puppy making contact with a green pigment called biliverdin while in the womb. But – in what will come as sad news to many – Pistachio’s colour has already started to fade, and will continue to do so. Mr Mallocci has decided to give away all the puppies, apart from Pistachio, who will help him herd sheep on the farm. Green is a colour of hope and luck, he added – something many of us could do with a little bit more of in 2020.(BBC)…[+]

Donald Trump at debate: Look at India. The air is filthy


Indians have reacted to US president Donald Trump describing the air in India, China and Russia as “filthy” during the final election debate. His remarks drew both anger and introspection, with some Indians asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take notice. Others agreed that capital Delhi’s air was among the most foul in the world. In recent weeks, the city’s air quality has turned “severe”, with residents complaining of breathing difficulties. India’s dreaded pollution season has returned as levels of PM2.5 – dangerous tiny pollutants in the air – in the capital have averaged around 180-300 micrograms per cubic metre in recent weeks, 12 times higher than the WHO’s safe limits.(BBC)…[+]

Trump and Obama mock each other in rival rallies

trump and obama

US President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, have directed blistering attacks at each other during rival rallies. Campaigning for Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Mr Obama likened Mr Trump to a “crazy uncle” and said he emboldened racists. In North Carolina, the Republican president mocked Mr Obama for being wrong about the 2016 election outcome. With 13 days to go until this election, Mr Biden holds a solid lead nationally. But the margin is slimmer in the handful of US states that could go either way and ultimately decide the outcome on 3 November.(BBC)…[+]

Children among dead’ in air strike on school


At least 12 civilians have been killed in an air strike on a religious school in the northern Afghan province of Takhar, local officials say. They said the strike on the madrassa in the village of Hazara Qurluq killed 11 children and their prayer leader.  The Afghan government disputed the account, saying it had killed 12 Taliban fighters in the village. The strike came after more than 30 security force members were killed in a major Taliban ambush in the province. Local officials said 14 others were wounded in the strike late on Wednesday. The imam of the mosque attached to the seminary, Abdul Awal, who was among the wounded and was admitted to hospital, told the BBC that only he and children were in the mosque at the time of the strike.(BBC)…[+]

France extends overnight curfew as cases surge


France will extend an overnight curfew to dozens more areas in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.  “The second wave is now under way,” he said, shortly before the country announced a record 41,622 new cases. The 21:00 to 06:00 curfew will come into force at midnight on Friday, and some 46 million people will now be affected by the measure. Countries around Europe are struggling with rising infection rates. France, Italy, Spain and the UK are all hotspots. “The coming weeks will be hard and the number of deaths will continue to rise,” Mr Castex told a press conference on Thursday. Over the last 24 hours France recorded 162 more deaths. “If we fail to stop the pandemic, we will be facing a dire situation and we will have to mull much tougher measures,” he added. “We still have time to avoid that but we don’t have much time,” he said.(BBC)…[+]

Spain passes one million Covid-19 cases


Spain has recorded more than one million coronavirus cases, becoming the first western European country to pass that landmark figure. On Wednesday the country reported 16,973 infections and 156 deaths in the previous 24 hours. Since its first diagnosed case on 31 January, Spain has now recorded a total of 1,005,295 infections. It is the sixth nation worldwide to report one million cases after the US, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina. Europe has seen a surge in new infections over the last few months, forcing governments to bring in strict new regulations to try and control outbreaks and ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed.(BBC)…[+]

Canada’s Trudeau survives latest confidence vote


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority Liberal government have avoided a potential snap election. The Liberals survived a confidence vote in the House of Commons 180 to 146, with the support of the opposition NDP. The vote on Wednesday was over a Conservative motion demanding a special committee on coronavirus aid spending. It comes a year to the day that Mr Trudeau retained power in a narrow election win.

The political drama concerned an opposition motion seeking to create a special parliamentary committee to probe the Liberal government’s pandemic relief spending. That spending included a controversial and now defunct programme designed to connect post-secondary students to volunteer opportunities. That programme was at the heart of the WE Charity affair, an ethics crisis that cost Mr Trudeau a long-time finance minister. Mr Trudeau has apologised for taking part in a cabinet decision to give WE Charity, which had ties to his family, a contract to administer the programme. The charity pulled out of the programme over the summer.(BBC)…[+]