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Russia deploys chemical defense troops to Italy – Defence Blog

Russia reportedly is deploying its Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence or RChB Defense to Italy.

Russia has loaded nine Il-76 cargo planes that flew to Italy, with eight mobile medical teams, medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks. Moscow also sent about 100 military specialists in virology and epidemics, one special military laboratory and 20 mobile disinfection vehicles.

Mobile complexes with equipment for diagnosis and disinfection were delivered to the Italian Air Force Practitioner de Mare airbase, located 30 kilometers south-west of Rome, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

In photos released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, the doors of military trucks bore signs with heart-shaped Russian and Italian flags that read: “From Russia with love” in Russian, Italian and English.

Putin spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, saying the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to help the worst hit Italian regions.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.


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US to withdraw troops from three Iraq bases amid growing tensions

The US Army is set to pull out of three military bases in Iraq as it scales back operations amid escalating tensions with Baghdad and Iran.

Troops will withdraw from al-Qaim and two smaller bases as part of a move to reduce the US presence in the country and safeguard military personnel.

A formal handover of the bases and military equipment to coalition forces is expected to take place this week.

It comes against a backdrop of intensified rocket attacks on foreign troops that has been blamed on Iranian-backed militias. The US also plans to withdraw from Qayara Airfield West, known as Q-West, and Kirkuk, but will retain five outposts in Iraq. A coalition statement said: “As a result of the success of Iraqi security forces in their fight against Isis [Islamic State], the coalition is re-positioning troops from a few smaller bases. 

“These bases remain under Iraqi control and we will continue our advising partnership for the permanent defeat of Daesh [Islamic State] from other Iraqi military bases.”

The pullout from al-Qaim would remove the only US outpost on the border between Syria and Iraq with the area now controlled by Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces and Iraqi troops. The town was one of the first in the country to fall to Islamic State in 2014 but was reclaimed by Iraqi soldiers in November 2017. The move comes amid worsening relations with both Tehran and Iraq after a US contractor was killed in a rocket attack in December. The US retaliated by launching a drone strike in Baghdad on the Iranian elite forces general Qasem Soleimani, killing him and Iraqi militia leader Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 3 in a strike that brought Washington and Tehran to the brink of conflict.

The killings led to a vote by Iraq’s parliament to expel all foreign troops from the country amid worsening relations between US and their coalition partner.

Last Wednesday two Americans and British Royal Army Medical Corps medic L-cpl Brodie Gillon were killed in a multiple rocket attack on the Taji airbase, near Baghdad. A second wave of 33 rockets hit on Saturday injuring dozens more. Iraqi media today reported a fresh attack on a base that hosts foreign troops, Basmaya camp, south of Baghdad, which has been a key coalition training base since 2015.

It also emerged US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi to do more to protect coalition troops in the wake of the attacks. He  warned that the US would defend itself if attacked in the region, and later tweeted: “These actions will not be tolerated and the groups responsible must be held accountable by the government of Iraq.”

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Pentagon concerns spike in pro-Russian sentiment among U.S. troops – Defence Blog

The U.S. military officials have concerned the spike in pro-Russian sentiment among the households of military members.

More than 1,000 U.S. adults responded between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points to the second annual national defense survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Almost 46% of the households of military members viewed Russia as an ally even considering the increase in tension between the two countries.

The Voice of America has reported that while a majority, 71% of all Americans and 53% of military households, still views Russia as an enemy, the spike in pro-Russian sentiment has defense officials concerned.

“There is an effort, on the part of Russia, to flood the media with disinformation to sow doubt and confusion,” Defense Department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason told VOA.

“This is not only through discordant and inflammatory dialogue but through false narratives designed to elicit sympathetic views,” she said, adding, “we are actively working to expose and counter Russian disinformation whenever possible.”

The Deutsche Welle reported that in order to manipulate public discussions, especially in times of elections or referendums, information providers controlled by the Kremlin have purposefully disseminated disinformation, extremely hyperpartisan news and populist narratives. This is not an extension of pluralism of opinion through balanced and objective information that is acceptable in the sense of a free public sphere, but rather illegitimate interference.

These novel disinformation campaigns exploit the increased information overload experienced by people in the digital world. They flood the information space with a multitude of lies, half-truths or absurd news.

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the Russian propaganda uses every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to users’ interests to influence they.

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US mulling 14,000 more troops for Mideast: report

Washington (AFP) – The United States is weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The mulled deployment would include “dozens” more ships and double the number of troops added to the US force in the region since the beginning of this year, the Journal said, citing unnamed US officials.

It said President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop boost as early as this month.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the report to AFP.

The move would come after a series of attacks on shipping vessels and a drone and missile attack on Saudi oil installations in September blamed on Iran.

Washington has already ratcheted up its military presence in the Gulf and expanded economic sanctions on the country, elevating tensions across the region.

In mid-November the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz in a show of force aimed at reassuring allies worried about the Iran threat.

In October Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops.

Earlier Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is willing to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear program if the United States first drops sanctions, which have hampered the country’s economy and may have contributed to recent domestic turmoil sparked by fuel price hikes.

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