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Biden White House also ‘responsible’ for Qassem Soleimani killing: Iran

Iran said on Friday the current US administration is also “responsible” for the assassination two years ago of its revered commander Qassem Soleimani, as the Islamic republic started commemorations to mark his death.

Former US president Donald Trump sent shock waves through the region on January 3, 2020, with the targeted killing of General Soleimani, who was commander of the Quds Force, the foreign operation’s arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

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He was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad ordered by Trump, along with his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, infuriating Iran and its allies.

“The US government bears definitive international responsibility for this crime,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter to mark the second anniversary of Soleimani’s killing.

“Undoubtedly, the criminal act of the United States in martyring general #Soleimani is a clear manifestation of a ‘terrorist attack’ that was orchestrated and carried out in an organized manner by the then US government for which the White House is now responsible,” it said, in reference to President Joe Biden’s administration.

Five days after Soleimani’s killing, Iran retaliated by firing missiles at a US air base in Ain al-Assad housing American troops in Iraq, and another near Arbil in the north.

No US troops were killed in those strikes but Washington said dozens suffered traumatic brain injuries from the explosions.

Trump said at the time that the drone strike came in response to a wave of attacks on US interests in Iraq, warning he would hold Iran responsible if such assaults continued.

The foreign ministry’s statement came as Iran prepared on Friday to launch week-long activities to commemorate Soleimani’s killing.
Authorities said the main event of the remembrance will be held on Monday, without elaborating.

They added that on January 7 a display of “Iran’s missile capabilities” will be held.

Iranian officials have pledged repeatedly that Soleimani will be avenged.

On the first anniversary of his killing then judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi — who is now Iran’s president — warned that even Trump was not “immune from justice” and that Soleimani’s killers would “not be safe anywhere in the world.”

During the former US president’s term in office, tensions between Washington and Tehran were at an all-time high.

In 2018, Trump walked away from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

The two countries were also on the brink of direct military confrontations on at least two occasions.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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