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Drone attack on US forces foiled west of Iraq’s Baghdad

Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Tuesday by Iraq’s air defenses as they approached the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts US forces, west of Baghdad, an official of the US-led international military coalition said.

US officials in recent weeks had warned that they expected an uptick in attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria, in part because of the second anniversary of the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

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A similar attack was foiled on Monday, when Iraqi air defenses downed two drones as they approached a base hosting US forces near Baghdad’s international airport.

Separately, another coalition official told Reuters that the coalition had carried out strikes against an “imminent threat” after they saw several rocket launch sites near the Green Village in Syria.

While this official did not say which country in the coalition carried out the strikes or who was responsible for the launch sites, Iranian-backed militia forces have occasionally targeted US forces in both Iraq and Syria.

The United States is leading the international military coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and in Syria.

There are roughly 900 US troops in Syria and another 2,500 in Iraq.

Soleimani was killed on Jan. 3 2021, in a drone strike near Baghdad airport ordered by then-US president Donald Trump.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that Trump must face trial for the killing or Tehran would take revenge.

Read more: Iran threatens revenge for Soleimani killing if former US President Trump not tried

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China, US Navy in row over guided-missile destroyer in South China Sea


China’s defense ministry said on Friday that it yet again had to monitor and drive away the US Navy destroyer USS Milius that entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.

“We sternly demand the US to immediately stop such provocative acts, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen incidents,” a spokesperson said in a statement from the Ministry of National Defense.

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The US Navy said the guided-missile destroyer was asserting its navigational rights and freedoms.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” the US Navy 7th fleet said in an emailed statement.

US forces operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, the US Navy said.

It was the second straight day of a stand-off between the two super powers amid growing tensions in the South China Sea.

China claims vast swathes of the area that overlap with exclusive economic zones of various countries including the Philippines. Trillions of dollars in trade flow every year through the waterway.

Read more:

China statement false on US destroyer being expelled from South China Sea: US Navy

China’s military says US warship illegally entered waters in South China Sea

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Saudi Arabia on track to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: Minister


Saudi Arabia is on track to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the country’s Deputy Minister for Water told the UN this week.

Dr Abdulaziz al-Shaibani – who headed the Kingdom’s delegation participating in the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York between March 22-24 – said the Kingdom will achieve its goals thanks to the restructuring of the water sector and the development of the National Water Strategy, state news agency SPA reported Friday.

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Saudi Arabia has allocated $80 billion for water projects within the coming years as part of Saudi efforts to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

Dr. Al-Shaibani added that the Kingdom launched Vision 2030 and adopted the National Water Strategy in line with the goals of sustainable development.

The National Water Strategy aims to preserve water resources, protect the environment, and provide high-quality and efficient services.

The objectives of the National Water Strategy are in line with SDG6 in enabling access to clean and safe water globally.

“The Kingdom aspires to provide sanitation services to all by increasing the percentage of the population covered by sanitation services to be more than 95 percent by 2030. Also, KSA established the National Water Efficiency and Conservation Center,” Dr. Al-Shaibani added.

He noted that sustainable and resilient water management was on the G20 agenda during Saudi Arabia’s presidency and stressed that the Kingdom is on the right track to improving water demand management in agriculture to achieve SDG6.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, saw all 193 member countries of the UN unanimously adopt a landmark set of development goals intended to accelerate the world’s efforts to eradicate poverty, end hunger, protect the oceans and address climate change by 2030.

The 17 sustainable development goals are broken down into 169 specific targets that each country has committed to try to achieve voluntarily over the next 15 years.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Global takes the lead in delivering Vision 2030 goals: Report

Saudi Arabia progresses with its 2030 climate action plan: Energy Minister

Saudi Arabia announces 13 new renewables projects in latest move towards net-zero

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South Korea’s Yoon vows to make North pay price for its provocations


South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Friday he will make sure North Korea pays a price for its “reckless provocations”, hours after the North said it has tested a new nuclear-capable underwater attack drone.

North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Friday it tested a new nuclear underwater attack drone under leader Kim Jong Un's guidance this week, as a US amphibious assault ship arrived in South Korea for joint drills.

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The North's state news agency also confirmed it fired cruise missiles during the weapon test and firing drill that took place from Tuesday to Thursday.

During the drill, the North Korean drone cruised underwater for over 59 hours and detonated in waters off its east coast on Thursday, the KCNA said. It did not elaborate on the drone's nuclear capabilities.

The drone system is intended to make sneak attacks in enemy waters and destroy naval striker groups and major operational ports, the KCNA said.

“This nuclear underwater attack drone can be deployed at any coast and port or towed by a surface ship for operation,” the news agency said.

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North Korea says it tested new nuclear underwater attack drone

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