Russia Launches Air Offensive In Syria
- Russia announced a major air offensive in Syria today as Syrian opposition activists reported the first airstrikes in three weeks in the besieged, rebel-held part of the northern city of Aleppo. The offensive began hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump discussed Syria over the phone and agreed on the need to combine efforts in the fight against what the Kremlin called their No 1 enemy "international terrorism and extremism."
- US President Barack Obama's administration has been trying for months to negotiate a cease-fire in Aleppo, the epicenter of the war between President Bashar Assad and rebels fighting to topple him, some of whom receive US aid. Al-Qaida's local affiliate fights alongside the rebels, but the Islamic State group has no presence in Aleppo. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a meeting with Putin today that the operation involves aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which made a much-publicized trip to Syria's shores last month.
- He said Russian warplanes will target ammunition depots, training camps and armaments factories in the rebel-held province of Idlib and the central province of Homs. He did not immediately mention Aleppo. The activists reported strikes in all three places. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean have struck areas in Aleppo and Idlib provinces. The Observatory said airstrikes also struck three neighborhoods in Aleppo city, but had no immediate word on casualties. A Syrian boy plays amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus, on Tuesday.
In a First, CRPF Deploys Women Commandos For Anti-Naxal Ops
- For the first time, CRPF has deployed a team of women commandos in anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand. The 135 women belonging to the 232 battalion's Delta company are currently undertaking operations under the close supervision of CRPF's 133 battalion in Naxal-infested forests on the outskirts of Ranchi near Khoonti area. Sanjay A Lathkar, CRPF IG of Jharkhand, said, "On October 17, a company of woman commandos was for the first time inducted in CRPF to counter Naxal insurgency in Jharkhand. They have started carrying out anti-Naxal operations". Neeraj Pandey, CRPF Commandment of 133 battalion, said, "The women are brave and currently undertaking first hand experience of anti-Naxal operation in forests outside Ranchi.
- They have been provided extensive training in CRPF academies specially for countering Naxals". "Since the induction of women commandos, the strength of our operation in Naxal-infested areas has increased two-fold," Pandey said. The women commandos are second to none and have been given training on a par with men. They are equally able to tackle the Naxal issue, he said. "We wanted to serve our country and that is why we are here. We have resolved to eradicate the Naxal menace completely as it is not only harmful and fatal for people but also affecting the progress of the country," said Shakti Tirkey, Delta company commander who is heading the 135 woman commandos.
Saina Eyes Comeback, Sindhu Aims For Maiden Title In China
- Three months after limping out of the Rio Olympics due to a severe knee injury, Saina Nehwal will be back on the court to test her recovery when the Thaihot China Open Super Series Premier begins here 17 November 2016. Saina, the bronze-medallist at London Olympics, lost in her second match of the Rio Olympics to lower-ranked Maria Ulitina of Ukraine and what followed was a surgery and a long rehabilitation program. After spending some time training under coach Vimal Kumar, Saina decided to give the China Open a shot, a title she had won two years back and finished runners-up in the last edition.
- The Indian will be up against Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, who she has beaten as many as nine times in the past, but the fourth seed knows well that those record won't matter when she walks out to the court 17 November 2016. "Saina is still short of endurance and strength," Vimal had said earlier. While Saina will resume her international journey, young P V Sindhu, who meanwhile became the toast of the nation after becoming the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal at Rio, will look to annex her first super series title.
- After two second round exits, seventh seed Sindhu will hope for better results when she begins her campaign against Chia Hsin Lee of Chinese Taipei. "My training has been very good. I am prepared well. I haven't seen the draw. It doesn't matter I guess since you have to play every good player at some stage. Nobody is going to be easy and everybody will fight till the last point so even if it is a lower ranked player, you have to give your best," Sindhu said. In men's singles, Ajay Jayaram will be up against Zhu Siyuan of China, H S Prannoy will meet Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long Angus and B. Sai Praneeth will face the experienced German Marc Zwiebler in the opening round.
Brazil Handed International Basketball Ban
- Brazil handed international basketball ban Rio de Janeiro: Brazil has been banned from international basketball tournaments for "serious" rule breaches, the sport's world governing body International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said. In a statement on Monday, FIBA said the Brazilian Basketball Federation (CBB) "failed to comply with its obligations" to send youth and senior teams to international competitions, Xinhua news agency reported. The entity said Brazil was also penalised for cancelling a recent world tour event in Rio de Janeiro.
- "The overall financial situation of the CBB does not allow it to finance its operations or to be in good standing in its country," FIBA said, adding Brazil faced "serious institutional, sporting and financial difficulties." In addition, FIBA said Brazil was guilty of allowing third parties to influence the selection of national teams in return for funding. FIBA also said it was owed money by the CBB. The FIBA said it would reassess the suspension at its next meeting in January.
20 Countries Sign ISA Framework Agreement
- Over 20 countries, including Brazil and France, on Tuesday became signatories to the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance -- an initiative that is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The framework agreement of International Solar Alliance (ISA) was opened for signatures here on the sidelines of CoP22 with Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave saying that with this legal framework in place, the ISA will be a major international body headquartered in India. Over 20 countries, including Brazil and France, became signatories to it soon after the process began.
- Indian climate experts termed it as a "good" initiative which will aggregate demand, improve quality and reduce cost of solar energy in developing countries but cautioned that achieving these objectives will require countries to have "confidence" in ISA. "The Framework Agreement of ISA was opened for signature in Marrakech on the sidelines of the CoP22 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This will make ISA an innovative, action oriented and sui generis international and inter-governmental treaty-based organisation that will be registered under Article 102 of the UN charter," an official statement said.