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After Houthi attacks, senior US general in UAE to bolster defenses

US Marine General Frank McKenzie arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for talks on efforts to bolster the Gulf state's defenses after a series of missile attacks launched by Houthi fighters in Yemen.

In recent weeks, the Iran-aligned Houthis have waged an unprecedented string of largely failed missiles strikes on UAE targets that have triggered Emirati and US air defenses and seen American troops briefly taking shelter.

The attacks have thrown a spotlight on so-far unsuccessful UN-led efforts to broker an end to the war in Yemen, which since 2015 has pitted the Houthis against a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

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McKenzie, who oversees US forces in the Middle East as head of Central Command, said he moved up his planned visit in response to the Houthi attacks, hoping to underscore the US commitment to the Gulf state's defense.

“I think it's a very worrisome time for UAE. They're looking for support. We're here to help them to provide that support,” McKenzie told reporters shortly before landing in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced a US deployment of advanced F-22 fighter jets and a guided missile destroyer, the USS Cole, to partner with the UAE navy ahead of a port call in Abu Dhabi.

McKenzie said the F-22s would provide the UAE with “one of the best look-down radars in the world,” capable of identifying targets including land attack cruise missiles and drones.

The USS Cole will operate in waters around the UAE, he said, keeping a lookout for shipments of illegal contraband.

The US military has so far described its support to the Emirates as bilateral and defensive assistance

Asked about the latest Houthi missile attacks, McKenzie said they could have been prompted by a range of scenarios, including as a response to battlefield setbacks.

“Hard to know all the Houthi reasons behind this,” he said. “I think the Houthis aren't used to losing ground in Yemen.”

Washington accuses Tehran of supplying high-end weaponry to the Houthis.

“Medium range ballistic missiles that were fired from Yemen and entered UAE were not invented, built, designed in Yemen,” McKenzie said. “All that happened somewhere else. So I think we certainly see the Iranian connection to this.”

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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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