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‘War crimes’ claim as at least 250 killed in two days in rebel-held Syria enclave

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At least 250 people have been killed over two days of escalating violence in eastern Ghouta as Syrian and Russian airstrikes continue to bombard the rebel-held enclave.

Rockets and artillery fire have been targeting the Damascus suburb in an apparent preparation for a government ground assault.

The UN has described the situation as “beyond imagination”, while Amnesty International said “flagrant war crimes” were being committed.




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Moment Syrian airstrike hits rebel-held suburb

In a major development in Syria’s complex seven-year war, forces loyal to Bashar al Assad were sent to the northern Afrin region, where they came under fire by Turkish forces attacking the Kurdish-controlled area.

The bombardment in eastern Ghouta has led to the worst 48-hour death toll in Syria since a chemical attack in 2013.


Sky's Alex Crawford



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Sky’s Special Correspondent Alex Crawford has the latest

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 106 civilians, including 19 children, were killed in the violence on Tuesday.

It was the second straight day that the civilian death toll topped 100 after 127 people were killed Monday in eastern Ghouta’s bloodiest day in four years.

An injured man covered with blood is seen at a medical point in the besieged town of Douma,
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Rockets and artillery fire have been targeting the Syrian region

The strikes left an important hospital out of action, further limiting the little medical aid that besieged civilians can access.

The Observatory blamed Russian warplanes, saying Moscow carried out its first strikes in three months on eastern Ghouta.

Smoke plumes rise following a regime air strike in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region
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Smoke plumes rise following a regime airstrike in eastern Ghouta

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply alarmed by the escalating situation in eastern Ghouta and its devastating impact on civilians,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert criticised the “siege and starve tactics” of the Assad regime, adding: “The cessation of violence must begin now.”

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<a href='https://www.skysports.com/olympics/live-blog'>Tokyo Olympics Day 6: Quiet start for Team GB on medals front – as world pole vault champ forced out due to COVID</a>

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<a href='https://www.skysports.com/olympics/live-blog'>Tokyo Olympics Day 6: Quiet start for Team GB on medals front – as world pole vault champ forced out due to COVID</a>

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New Zealand is best placed to survive a global collapse of society, study suggests | World News

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New Zealand is the country most likely to survive a collapse of global civilisation, researchers have said.

A study has suggested a combination of ecological destruction, limited resources and population growth could trigger a worldwide breakdown “within few decades”, with climate change making things worse.

A “very likely” collapse would be characterised by the disintegration of supply chains, international agreements and global financial structures, according to researchers at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

Wind turbines at Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire
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Researchers said the UK could increase its use of wind turbines to secure its future

They said problems could spread quickly because of how connected and economically dependant countries are on one another.

Five countries were identified as best placed to maintain civilisation within their own borders: New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

All of them are islands or island continents which have fewer extremes in temperatures and varied amounts of rainfall due to their proximity to oceans.

Researchers said this makes them most likely to have relatively stable conditions in the future, despite the effects of climate change – which is expected to hit subtropics and tropics the hardest.

New Zealand’s ability to produce geothermal and hydroelectric energy, its abundant agricultural land and its low population would allow it to survive relatively unscathed.

Although the UK has generally fertile soils and varied agricultural output, it does not have as much agricultural land available because of its population density, raising questions about future self-sufficiency.

Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy was considered to be a risk as power sources could be “rendered at least partly inoperable” if global supply chains collapse.

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Researchers said this could be mitigated by the nation’s manufacturing capabilities.

Meeting the large population’s energy demands through renewables alone would require very extensive infrastructure, they said, but the UK could increase its resilience by harnessing more energy from wind and water bodies like lagoons or barrages in the Severn Estuary.

Professor Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said “significant changes are possible in the coming years and decades”.

He said: “The impact of climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of drought and flooding, extreme temperatures, and greater population movement, could dictate the severity of these changes.”

Researchers identified pandemics as another risk to societal stability, citing the United Nations’ warning that future pandemics could be even more severe than COVID-19.

Twenty countries were analysed in the report.

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Boris Johnson urges world leaders to dig deep to boost children’s education across globe | Politics News

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Boris Johnson is urging world leaders to dip into their pockets to boost children’s education across the globe and help avoid a “legacy of wasted talent” as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister will host a summit in London on Thursday with the aim of fundraising among governments, business and charities for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The GPE aims to raise $5bn (£3.6bn) over the next five years in order to get 175 million more children into education around the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta at Chequers, the country house of the serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in Buckinghamshire. Picture date: Wednesday July 28, 2021.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will close Thursday’s summit

Ahead of the Summit, Mr Johnson said: “We have a fight on our hands to ensure COVID-19 does not scupper the life chances of millions of children, leaving a lasting legacy of wasted talent.

“Too many children around the world – girls in particular – were already out of school before the pandemic.

“Enabling them to learn and reach their full potential is the single greatest thing we can do to recover from this crisis and build better, greener and fairer societies.

“Today I am urging governments, businesses and philanthropists to invest in the future by fully funding the transformative work of the Global Partnership for Education.”

Girls are feared to be particularly at risk of never returning to school once they have left, with 132 million girls around the world already estimated to be out of school even before the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Thursday’s summit is being jointly hosted with Kenya and will be opened by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo.

The prime minister and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who held bilateral talks at Chequers on Wednesday, will close the summit, along with Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard, who is the GPE’s chair.

World leaders, businesses, UN agencies, charities and youth leaders will join the summit both virtually and in person.

The UK last month pledged £430m to the GPE at the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

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