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Iraqi forces capture deputy of IS slain leader Baghdadi

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(Last Updated On: October 11, 2021)

Iraq has captured Sami Jasim, a high-ranking member of Islamic State (ISIS) in charge of the group’s finance and a deputy of slain leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Twitter on Monday.

“While our [Iraqi security forces] heroes focused on securing the elections, their [Iraqi national intelligence services] colleagues were conducting a complex external operation to capture Sami Jasim,” he said, without providing further details of the operation.

Baghdadi was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria in 2019.

The U.S. State Department had at the time offered a reward for information leading to the location of Islamic State leaders it identified including Jasim.

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Colin Powell has died of COVID complications

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19.

In a statement posted to Facebook, his family said, “We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”

Powell was the one most notable Black figure in Washington for decades. A Vietnam vet, he rose to become an army four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War.

In 1996 he considered running for president, but was dissuaded by his wife who worried for his safety.

He later served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. It was in that capacity that he famously stood before the United Nations and made the case for invading Iraq based on the claim that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

The evidence proved wrong. No weapons were found. Powell later admitted that his presentation was rife with inaccuracies provided by others in the Bush administration. He called a “blot” that would always be a part” of his record.

Powell was known as a moderate Republican and pragmatist. He broke with the GOP to endorse Barack Obama’s candidacy and would criticize his party’s shift toward anti-immigrant and isolationist policies.

The Powell family says he was fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Colin Powell was 84 years old.

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More than 20 dead after floods in south India

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

At least 22 people were killed after heavy rains lashed the south Indian state of Kerala over the weekend, officials said, Reuters reported.

Rainfall across the state led to flash floods and landslides in several areas, with the Indian army and navy called out to rescue residents.

According to the report some 13 of those were killed after a landslide in Kuttikkal village, officials and eyewitnesses said.

“There were four landslides that happened there yesterday, the hill behind me, which brought water and other items downwards,” a local resident told Reuters partner ANI on Sunday, standing in front of now-barren hillside.

P.K. Jayasree, the top government official in Kottayam district where the landslide took place, said almost half of the casualties were from a single family, Reuters reported.

“One family completely lost six members,” he said.

Light rainfall across the state is expected to continue, although weather alerts in many areas had been withdrawn, the state’s disaster management committee said in a statement.

Kerala was also a victim to the worst floods in a century in 2018 that had killed at least 400 people and displaced around 200,000.

India, with 1.3 billion people, relies on rainfall to support its population, many of whom live rely on farming. But excessive rainfall can cause floods, landslides and water-borne diseases, read the report.

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Hezbollah says it won’t be dragged into war after Beirut bloodshed

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2021)

The deadly clashes that broke out in Beirut on Thursday amounted to a “massacre” and its perpetrators should be held to account, the pro-Iranian al-Mayadeen TV cited a Hezbollah representative in the Lebanese parliament as saying on Sunday.

“What the criminals … did is a massacre and it will have important ramifications,” MP Hassan Fadallah said, according to the Beirut-based channel.

“Those who incited, planned … and opened fire should be held to account all the way up to the top.”

On Friday the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah said it would not be dragged into civil war even as it stepped up accusations against the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party it says killed seven Shi’ites in Beirut’s bloodiest street violence in years.

The accusation, denied by the LF, underlines worsening sectarian tensions after Thursday’s violence which began as people were gathering for a protest called by Hezbollah against the judge investigating last year’s Beirut port blast.

The probe into the catastrophic blast appears in increasing doubt, fuelled by a bitter political dispute over the lead investigator’s attempts to question officials who include Hezbollah allies.

The violence, which erupted at a boundary between Christian and Shi’ite Muslim neighbourhoods, has added to concerns for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons and grappling with one of the world’s sharpest ever economic meltdowns.

The Lebanese Forces condemned the violence on Thursday which it blamed on Hezbollah “incitement” against Judge Tarek Bitar, the investigator.

The sound of gunfire could be heard across Beirut during funerals on Friday.

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