Speaking briefly with reporters following a meeting with top U.S. military officials on Thursday, United States President Donald Trump said that we are in the “calm before the storm.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has admitted that he learned about North Korea possessing a nuclear bomb as early as the early 2000s, five years before it conducted its first nuclear test. Putin made the revelation during a plenary session of the first Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow.
NATO is engaging in aggressive military buildups in Eastern Europe close to Russia’s borders that indicate preparations for a potential major conflict in the region, all the while waging a “demonizing” campaign of Russia’s own military excercises, the Russian permanent representative to NATO said.
“It is clear for us that such activities not only ensure a reinforced military presence of the allies in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders but in fact represent an intensive mastering of a potential theater of military operations, accompanied by the development of necessary infrastructure, the representative, Aleksandr Grushko told reporters on Thursday.
Grushko noted that over 40,000 troops will be engaged in various NATO exercises in Eastern Europe between the months of June and November.
A delegation of the Cuban embassy in Syria, led by business manager Pablo Ginarte, visited the Yussef Azmeh military hospital in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria on Thursday.
Hospital director Brigadier General Ghassan Haddad said that despite Western sanctions, military hospitals in Syria remain operational. He explained that numerous injured people were treated at the hospital between 2013 and 2015, adding that seven cases of military personnel injured by chemical attacks and toxic gases perpetrated by terrorist groups around Damascus were also treated.
“For Syrians, it is World War III,” said Haddad, who spent four years receiving medical training at Charing Cross Hospital in London. He also lamented how depressed he felt when he saw several young men whose bones were destroyed by bombs and bullets from heavy weaponry.
One of those wounded by a bomb, 20-year-old Ali Ibrahim, recalled that he and seven other soldiers attempted to defuse a bomb in a Damascus building during heavy fighting. However, the bomb “blew up and one of us was killed and all the others wounded.”
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend dashed hopes that the impending collapse of the Islamic State group might mean the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, when he said on Tuesday that the United States is “interested” in maintaining a US military presence in Iraq after the eventual defeat of the Islamic State group.
“I would anticipate that there will be a coalition presence here after the defeat of the Islamic State group,” the general said on Tuesday. “This fight is far from over… there’s still hard work to be done.”
He said decisions over post Islamic State group plans for a U.S. presence in the country are in a “final decision-making” stage.
He claimed that US coalition forces were needed to prevent a “replay” of 2011 when U.S. forces began to withdraw from Iraq following a decade of bloody, devastating invasion and occupation. With Iraq left in a destabilized condition, the Islamic State group quickly rose up as a regional power.
The United States is threatening to use its “considerable military forces”against the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.
The security council session convened to discuss the international response to the DPRK’s launch of a successful ballistic missile test earlier this week, which Haley said “shows that North Korea does not want to be part of a peaceful world.”
Speaking at the session, Haley said that the DPRK’s “actions are quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution. The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies. One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced on Thursday that it will be sending several thousand more troops to Afghanistan, saying they did not see an end to the operations “in the near future.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told press that the 13,000 troop force currently occupying Afghanistan was “too low,” and that several thousand more troops will be added to operation “Resolute Support” through 2017 “and beyond.”
“Our military authorities have requested a few thousand more troops for the mission in Afghanistan and today I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanstan,” the Secretary General said Thursday.
“We do not believe that this operation in Afghanistan will be simple and we do not think it will be peaceful this year or next or in the near future,” he continued.
Saudi Arabia has donated $67m to fight the cholera outbreak in Yemen.
Saudi’s new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who recently replaced his cousin as next in line to the throne, ordered the donation.
“Saudi Arabia is committed to working closely with our aid partners to effectively address the cholera and general humanitarian situation in Yemen,” said Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, an adviser at the royal court and general supervisor of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.
“We will continue to work with our partners across a broad range of humanitarian and relief efforts for the people of Yemen,” he added.
Ironically, Saudi Arabia has contributed to the instability – and by extension the cholera outbreak – in Yemen as part of the Arab coalition participating in the military offensive.
As a result of the ongoing conflict, more than 14.5 million people in Yemen do not have regular access to clean water and sanitation. The sewers in the capital stopped functioning on 17 April, according to the BBC.
And ten days later, cholera had broken out.