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SOURCE: REUTERS

Iran said on Saturday its military had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane killing all 176 aboard, saying air defences were fired in error while on high alert in the tense aftermath of Iranian missile strikes on US targets in Iraq. Iran had previously vigorously denied bringing the plane down. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who until Saturday kept silent about the crash, said information should be made public.

Wednesday’s crash heightened international pressure on Iran after months of friction with the United States and tit-for-tat attacks. A US drone strike had killed a top Iranian military commander in Iraq on January 3, prompting Tehran to fire at US targets on Wednesday. Continue reading

SOURCE: AFP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday “multiple” intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner after it took off from Tehran, killing all 176 on board, including 63 Canadians. Trudeau’s comments came as images posted on social media increasingly pointed to a catastrophic mistake by Tehran’s air defense batteries bringing the down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 in flames Wednesday.

Citing information from allies as well as Canada’s own intelligence, the prime minister said the plane appeared to have been hit by an Iranian surface-to-air (SAM) missile. Continue reading

SOURCE: REUTERS

The U.S. government believes Iran accidentally shot down a Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday. Citing an extensive review of satellite data, one official said the U.S. government had concluded with a high degree of certainty that Iranian anti-aircraft missiles brought down the plane.

The officials said the plane had been tracked by Iranian radar before the missiles were fired. The data showed the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 (BA.N) bound for Kiev was airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected, one of the officials said. Continue reading

SOURCE: ENS

In the game of cricket there are many ways in which a batsman can get out. However, everyone feels sorry when a batsman gets out inadvertently hitting his own wicket while attempting to play a shot.

Imran Khan of Pakistan made his debut as his country’s leader with a sterling reputation garnered in his career as a cricketer. All his fans expected the Kaptan (Captain)—the sobriquet his admirers affectionately use for him—to make waves, earn laurels and carve new records in his new vocation, just as he had excelled in cricket. However, Imran recently hit his own wicket and Pakistanis—friends and foes of his—are agog: Why did he do it? Continue reading

SOURCE: REUTERS

Iranian state television said on Wednesday that at least 80 “American terrorists” were killed in attacks involving 15 missiles Tehran launched on U.S. targets in Iraq, adding that none of the missiles were intercepted. State TV, citing a senior Revolutionary Guards source, also said Iran had 100 other targets in the region in its sights if Washington took any retaliatory measures. It also said U.S. helicopters and military equipment were “severely damaged”. It did not provide evidence of how it obtained that information.

Iran launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing has raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. Continue reading

SOURCE: BBC

At least two airbases housing US troops in Iraq have been hit by more than a dozen ballistic missiles, according to the US Department of Defence. Iranian state TV says the attack is a retaliation after the country’s top commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike in Baghdad, on the orders of US President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon says at least two sites were attacked, in Irbil and Al-Asad. It is unclear if there have been any casualties. “We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. Continue reading

SOURCE: PTI

Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, on Tuesday passed three crucial bills to give extension to Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for another three years. Bajwa, a close confidant of Khan, was to retire on November 29 last year at the end of his three-year original term but Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the 59-year-old Army chief another extension of same length citing regional security situation through a notification on August 19.

However, the Supreme Court on November 28 suspended the government order, observing that there is no law to give extension to the Army chief’s tenure. But the apex court granted a six-month extension to Gen Bajwa after being assured by the government that Parliament will pass legislation on the extension/reappointment of an army chief within six months. Continue reading

SOURCE: DAWN

An aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed while on a routine operational training mission crashed near Mianwali, PAF confirmed on Tuesday.

Both pilots, Squadron Leader Haris bin Khalid and Flying Officer Ibaadur Rehman, aboard the PAF FT-7 aircraft lost their lives in the crash. A board of inquiry has been ordered by the Air Headquarters to determine the cause of the accident. The last trainer plane crash was reported in October 2019 when a Mushshak trainer aircraft belonging to the Army Aviation crash-landed in a paddy field near Wazirabad in Gujranwala district. However, both pilots aboard the plane remained safe. Continue reading

SOURCE: MSN

More than two years after conducting its population census in 2017, Pakistan has failed to release the data pertaining to minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Christians etc.According to the data available on the website of its official census conducting body – Pakistan Bureau of Statistics – the total population of the country has been pegged at 20.77 crore. However, the religion-wise data hasn’t been revealed yet. Sources said that the deadline for publishing the data was March 2018.

As per the 1998 census – the last census and currently, the only official data available – the minority community constituted 3.72 per cent of Pakistan’s total population. Continue reading

SOURCE: HT

Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif, author of the book “A case of exploding mangoes” claimed that intelligence officials raided the offices of his Urdu publisher and confiscated all copies of the translated version of his 2008 bestseller. Hanif tweeted that persons, claiming to belong to the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI), barged into the offices of Maktaba Daniyal. They threatened its manager and sought “information about our whereabouts”. He said they would come back tomorrow to get lists of booksellers selling the novel.

Published in 2008, the book is a comical account of General Zia-ul-Haq’s final days and conspiracies behind the plane crash which killed him in 1988. Despite the widespread praise, more than a decade passed before the novel was translated into Urdu. Continue reading

SOURCE: SPUTNIK

Russian military aircraft design bureaus are continuing work on a range of totally new bombers, fighters, and interceptors, with development taking place under tight wraps.

The 2020s will be a decade of firsts for Russian air power, with the country finally expected to move away from derivatives of upgraded Soviet-era aircraft to totally new ‘from-the-ground-up’ Russian-made designs, while also revisiting long-abandoned concepts, independent defence publication Military Watch Magazine says. Continue reading

SOURCE: AFP

President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.In a tweet defending Friday’s drone strike assassination of a top Iranian general in Iraq, Trump said 52 represents the number of Americans held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for more than a year starting in late 1979.

Trump said some of these sites are “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Continue reading

SOURCE: HT

US President Donald Trump has decided to resume a military training programme for Pakistan that was cut off in 2018 while retaining a suspension in security-related aid, the top American diplomat for South Asia has announced. The resumption of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) for Pakistan was announced through a tweet by principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs Alice Wells early on Saturday morning, about seven hours after secretary of state Mike Pompeo called Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to discuss the fallout of the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Wells said in the tweet that Trump authorised the resumption of the IMET programme for Pakistan to “strengthen mil2mil (military-to-military) cooperation on shared priorities & advance US national security”. Continue reading

SOURCE: AFP

US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, who died in Baghdad “in a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad,” the Pentagon said. “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” the Department of Defense said.

Following Soleimani’s death, Trump tweeted an image of the US flag without any further explanation. The strike, which occurred at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday in Iraq, also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force. Continue reading

SOURCE: Washington post

Eight Taiwanese military officers, including the chief of the general staff, were killed Thursday when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed while transporting them to a new-year inspection at a military base on the island’s east coast. The crash came barely a week before general elections that are likely to return independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen to power. Tsai’s campaign office said she would suspended electioneering for three days so she could respond to the incident in her capacity as commander in chief of the armed forces.

“My deepest condolences go out to the outstanding servicemen lost in today’s helicopter crash, as well as their families,” Tsai wrote on Twitter. “We will do everything we can to help their families in this time of loss & investigate the cause of the crash.” Continue reading