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U.S. officials confirm Israel hit Syria after suspected Ghouta chemical attack

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President Donald Trump on Sunday warned there would be a “big price to pay” after Saturday’s suspected poison gas attack in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed in that assault, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.

Trump blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack.” In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.

In his tweets Sunday, the president called Assad an “animal” and delivered a rare personal criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump has declared his intent to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in the coming months, despite resistance from many of his advisers.

 A map showing Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Bing Maps

Trump was expected to meet with senior military leadership later Monday, as his new national security adviser, John Bolton, assumes his post. Bolton has previously advocated significant airstrikes against Syria.

The Syrian government denied the chemical weapons allegations, calling them fabrications.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called reports of the attack a “provocation.” He said the Russian military visited the site of the suspected attack and found no traces of the chemicals.

First responders entering apartments in Douma late Saturday said they found bodies collapsed on floors, some foaming at the mouth. The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense rescue organization said the victims appeared to have suffocated.

More than 500 people, mostly women and children, were brought to medical centers complaining of difficulties breathing, foaming at the mouth and burning sensations in the eyes. Some had bluish skin, a sign of oxygen deprivation, according to a statement, symptoms consistent with chemical exposure.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said the overnight airstrike resulted in a number of casualties but provided no specific figures. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through a network of activists on the ground, said 14 died, including Iranians and also three Syrian officers.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu: Hamas ‘will pay heavy price’ as violence continues | World News

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Hamas “will pay a heavy price for their belligerence” as the country steps up its attacks on the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military destroyed a building used by the militant group, killing at least three militants, as Palestinian rockets continued to fall on parts of Israel.

It is the heaviest fighting between the two enemies since 2014.

A man in Gaza is comforted after one of his relatives died in the violence
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People in Gaza mourned loved ones killed in the violence

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address: “We are at the height of a weighty campaign.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad paid… and will pay a very heavy price for their belligerence.”

He said Israel would “continue to attack with full force”, adding: “This campaign will take time”.

“With determination, unity and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel.”

Israeli medics treat a man injured in the airstrikes. Pic: AP
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Israeli medics treat a man injured in the airstrikes. Pic: AP

Five Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, and dozens of people were injured.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the health ministry, with more than 200 people wounded.

The violence began last weekend at the al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians who threw stones and chairs back at them.

At times, police fired stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.

Streaks of light are seen in Ashkelon as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel
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Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from Gaza

On Monday evening, Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza and the conflict escalated rapidly.

Hamas’ exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh, blamed Israel, saying: “It’s the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire, and the flames reached Gaza.”

Hamas said it had fired 210 rockets towards Tel Aviv and its suburbs, where residents had to run into air raid shelters as sirens blared and anti-rocket interceptors were seen overhead on Tuesday.

Homes in Gaza shook under the weight of the Israeli attacks, with at least 30 explosions in just minutes early on Wednesday.

Palestinians and Israeli police clash at al-Aqsa mosque o n Jerusalem Day.
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Palestinians and Israeli police clashed at al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem Day.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately.

“We’re escalating towards a full scale war.

“Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.

“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. The UN is working with all sides to restore calm.

“Stop the violence now.”

A number of factors have stoked tensions in the decades-long conflict to their worst in years, said Sky’s correspondent Mark Stone earlier this week.

An Israeli app that monitors rocket fire shows the extent of the attack in Tel-Aviv
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An Israeli app that monitors rocket fire shows the extent of the attacks in Tel-Aviv

Palestinians were angry at an Israeli police decision, at the start of Ramadan, to barricade the seating area outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

There is also the issue of Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighbourhood where Palestinian families are fighting a court battle with Jewish settlers who want to take their homes, claiming the land is historically theirs.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it as their own, but most of the international community considers it to be occupied land.

Monday was also Jerusalem Day, marking the moment when Israel took control of the city.

A march by hundreds of nationalist Israelis was changed on Monday evening to avoid going through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

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Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce partnership with Procter & Gamble – a company she once called sexist | US News

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Decades after criticising Procter & Gamble as a child, the Duchess of Sussex and her husband have announced a partnership with the firm.

Meghan and Harry’s Archewell Foundation confirmed a long-term relationship with the American multi-national consumer goods company on Tuesday.

It will focus on gender equality, inclusive online spaces, resilience and impact through sport.

As an 11-year-old, Meghan had written to Procter & Gamble to complain about the sexist language used in a TV advert.

Her letter-writing campaign objected to a dish soap commercial which included the line: “Mothers around America are fighting greasy pots and pans”.

She appeared in an interview with Nick News in 1993 to talk about her campaign, saying she was “furious” about the advert.

She added: “When they heard this, the boys in my class started saying: ‘Yeah that’s where women belong – in the kitchen’.”

Meghan successfully lobbied the firm to change the line from “mothers around America” to “people all over America”.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, holding their son Archie, meets with Anglican Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, and his wife Leah in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. The royal couple are on the third day of their African tour. (Henk Kruger/African News Agency via AP, Pool)
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Harry and Meghan and their son Archie now live in the US. Pic: AP

Announcing the partnership, the Archewell website said: “Archewell Foundation believes that with community, and through compassionate service to others, we can unleash systemic cultural change.

“In service of doing this, and building more compassionate communities, Archewell Foundation announced a multi-year global partnership today with Procter & Gamble.”

The website said the partnership would “elevate the voices of adolescent girls” to ensure “their point of view and lived experience is heard at the tables where decisions are made”.

It also vowed to work with men and boys to encourage gender equality.

On their son Archie's birthday the couple called for vaccine equality
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On their son Archie’s birthday the couple called for vaccine equality

The foundation said it will build on joint aspirations with P&G, which it worked with in support of Global Citizen’s Vax live concert, in aid of the international COVID-19 vaccination effort.

Procter & Gamble owns brands such as Oral B, Gillette, Pampers and Tampax, and reported net sales in 2019 of $67.7bn (£47.8bn).

On its website, it said: “We’ve also been inspired by the mission of the Archewell Foundation and its founders, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, that with community, and through compassionate service to others, we can drive systemic cultural change, benefiting everyone.”

Harry and Meghan quit as senior working royals in March last year.

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Greece: £257,000 reward offered to catch killers who strangled British mother, 20, in her Athens home | World News

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A €300,000 (£257,000) reward is being offered by the Greek government to track down burglars who strangled a British woman next to her baby in Athens.

The 20-year-old victim was sleeping with her husband and 11-month-old child when three men broke into their home in the Glyka Nera suburb before dawn after killing the family’s dog, said reports.

The young mother was tied up and strangled, while her 32-year-old husband, a pilot, was bound and gagged.

He survived Tuesday’s “barbaric” attack and managed to loosen his ties before calling police.

The burglars escaped with money and jewellery, while the baby was unharmed.

Greece’s minister responsible for public order, Michalis Chrisochoidis, described the woman’s killing as “particularly heinous”.

“One rarely encounters such barbarity in Greece, in Greek society, even among criminals,” he said.

The victim was born in Greece but had a British passport, according to police, who said she was married to a Greek man.

Two teams of detectives are investigating the deadly incident.

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