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Airstrike carried out so it wouldn’t hurt Russia’s long-term plans in Syria: US military official

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The airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump against a Syrian airfield appears to have been conducted to minimize long-term damage to Russian efforts there.

Two U.S. Navy destroyers fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles early Friday in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack American officials believe was launched by Syrian aircraft at civilians in a town held by rebels, reported Voice of America.

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The Trump-ordered strike reportedly targeted Shayrat Airfield, and U.S. officials warned Russian troops there but not the Kremlin, VOA reported.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, citing an unnamed U.S. military official, said the airfield’s runway was deliberately not targeted so Russian military efforts would not be effected.

The official also told Babb the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the raid were precision, and not cratering, to minimize damage.

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The same official told Babb the airstrike hit a couple dozen Syrian military aircraft, ammunition storage facilities and other airbase infrastructure.

No chemical weapons were hit during the strike, the official said.

Russia described the attack as an “act of aggression” and said relations with Washington would likely deteriorate.

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A Russian warship armed with cruise missiles advanced Friday afternoon toward the USS Ross and USS Porter, which launched the airstrike from the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Russian news agency TASS claims the frigate was headed on a routine trip toward a logistics base in Tartus, Syria.

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The U.S. has led an international coalition conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria since 2014, which began under former President Barack Obama and has continued under the Trump administration.

This week’s airstrike marks the first direct military action taken against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia intervened in the country’s civil war in September 2015 after an official request from the Syrian government, and the Obama administration has accused Russia of ″flagrant violations of international law″ during the conflict.

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The Kremlin plans to create a permanent naval base at Tartus, which it leases from Syria, as part of an effort to expand its military presence in the coastal nation.


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Italy’s COVID-19 death toll tops 10,000 despite long coronavirus lockdown

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The coronavirus toll in Italy shot past 10,000 on Saturday and showed little sign of slowing despite a 16-day lockdown.

The 889 new fatalities reported in the world's worst-hit nation came a day after it registered 969 deaths on Friday -- the highest single toll since the COVID-19 virus emerged late last year.

Italy now looks certain to extend its economically debilitating -- and emotionally stressful -- business closures and the ban on public gatherings past their April 3 deadline.

"Is it time to reopen the country? I think we have to think about it really carefully," civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

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2020 Election

Joe Biden has one key coronavirus question he wants answered: ‘Where are the tests, Mr. President?’

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Despite the inability to hold campaign rallies, the 2020 presidential campaign is continuing in spite of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

With the response to coronavirus being the top public policy discussion in America, all eyes are focused on President Donald Trump's actions.

Trump had promised the nation that he would set up COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites in the parking lots of big-box retailers but has so far failed to deliver.

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Banks are causing a cash crisis by tightening lending standards during coronavirus crisis

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Major banks in America are tightening access to credit as coronavirus shutdowns put households across America in dire financial shape, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

"Banks and financial-technology firms are starting to toughen their approval standards for new loans to consumers and small businesses. That means many people could find it hard to get credit just when they most need it, as the novel coronavirus pandemic puts thousands out of work," the newspaper reported.

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