Vladimir Putin could end Syria’s civil war with one phonecall, Britain’s foreign secretary has said.
Calling on the Russians to end airstrikes on moderate Syrian opposition fighters, Philip Hammond said: “There is one man on this planet who can end the civil war in Syria by making a phonecall and that’s Mr Putin.”
He said the political situation in Syria had not changed in the past year. “Whether or not Assad goes or stays ultimately will depend on whether the Russians are prepared to use their influence to remove him. That was exactly the same a year ago,” he said.
Several people have been injured and a cliff has collapsed into the sea on New Zealand’s South Island after a “severe” magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck close to Christchurch, which is still rebuilding following a devastating tremor in 2011.
The earthquake hit shortly after 1pm (11am AEDT) on Sunday, according to GeoNet, which monitors seismic activity in New Zealand.
It was centred 15km east of Christchurch and was 31km deep.
Immediately after the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died Saturday evening, it became clear that the fight to replace the leading conservative justice on the bench is going to be a long and nasty one.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement minutes after Scalia’s death had been confirmed that his vacancy should not be filled until the next president has been chosen. His fellow Republicans, presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, also said the appointment should be delayed until the election is over.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid made it clear he was prepared for the fight. “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” he said in a statement. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
In Obama’s remarks following Scalia’s death, the president made it clear that he intends to put forth a nominee and expects the Senate to fulfill its responsibility by giving the nominee a “fair hearing and timely vote.”
The number of Afghan civilians killed and wounded surpassed 11,000 in 2015 – the highest number recorded since the US-led invasion more than 14 years ago.
The United Nations said in its annual report released on Sunday there were 3,545 civilian fatalities and 7,457 people wounded with children paying a particularly heavy toll, as Afghan security forces faced a surge in attacks by the Taliban and other armed groups.
The total of 11,002 civilian casualties marked a four percent rise over 2014, the previous record high, the report said.
One-in-four casualties was a child, while one-in-10 was female, it said, with the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom calling the figures “unacceptable”.
Israeli forces have shot dead three Palestinian teenagers, in two separate incidents in the occupied West Bank.
In the first incident, the Israeli army shot and killed two 15-year-old boys in Araqa, west of Jenin, after the Israeli soldiers allegedly came under attack.
The Israeli army said in a statement on Sunday that one of the boys was armed with a rifle and shot at the soldiers.
“The perpetrators hurled rocks at passing vehicles west of Jenin. When forces arrived at the scene, an assailant opened fire at the soldiers. The force responded to the shooting and fired towards the attackers, resulting in their deaths,” the statement said.
The teenage victims were identified as Nihad Raed Waked and Fuad Marwan Waked, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Later on Sunday, a 17-year-old Palestinian was also shot dead after an alleged stabbing attack by the Mazmuriya checkpoint north of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the teenager as Naeem Ahmad Safi from Ebideyeh, north east of Bethlehem.
Sunday’s incidents came a day after Israeli troops shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian girl who allegedly attempted to stab soldiers in Hebron.
The ministry said 176 Palestinians have been killed since violence erupted in the occupied territories in early October, with near-daily reports of alleged attacks that result in killings by Israeli security forces.