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ISIS leader believed killed in raid, say reports

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi reportedly dead.

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File photo of the ISIS leader via social media.

The leader of so-called Islamic State Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed in a military operation carried out by the United States, several international and U.S.-based news organizations reported early on Sunday.

LIVE: Trump expected to confirm al-Baghdadi’s death

Reuters reported that a raid had occurred targeting the reclusive figure, who has rarely been caught on camera. Newsweek cited sources saying he was killed. The U.S. military is working to confirm the death with DNA tests.

An announcement from U.S. President Donald Trump related to foreign policy is expected to come at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. He tweeted earlier that “something very big has just happened”.

The operation took place in northwest Syria, CNN reported, citing dual sources, adding that he reportedly triggered a so-called “suicide vest” and killed himself.

Al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate in 2014 as Islamic State militants took large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

It comes as the Trump administration conducts a significant withdraw from Syria, a move that preceded a Turkish military operation into the northeast, a region dominated by Kurdish political and military control.

Kurdish forces were instrumental to a U.S.-backed international effort to drive the so-called Islamic State caliphate out of area. Some 10,000 Kurdish fighters were killed during a three year offensive.

Current maps of Syria show only slivers of ISIS territory remaining, but up to 18,000 fighters have remained persistent in Syria and Iraq while the group grows in other areas of the world.


An unexpected raid

It was United States Special Operations commandos that carried out what The New York Times reported was a “risky raid” in northwestern Syria on Saturday against what their sources described as a “senior terrorist leader”.

Another source said it was so-called Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was believed to be the target for the mission, an operation approved by President Donald Trump, U.S. commander-in-chief.

Commandos and analysts were working to confirm the identity of the terrorist who Times sources said triggered his explosive vest, committing suicide. Al-Baghdadi has been reported killed in the past but then appeared to be alive after the claimed incidents.

Several reports said the raid took place in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province, located many hundreds of kilometres from the north Syria-Iraq border where he was believed to be hiding out. ■

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United States

Basketball great Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

The L.A. Lakers star won five championships.

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File photo.

Basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a California helicopter crash on Sunday along with at least one of his daughters and seven others, reports and officials said.

LIVE: Coverage from CBS News

A fire broke out sending his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter spiralling out of an overcast sky above Calabasas and killing all five on board. It has been widely reported that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore is among the dead.

During a brief initial press conference on Sunday evening, authorities said that there were nine killed in the crash. Police received a call at 9:47 a.m. that a helicopter may have crashed, officials said.

The Bryants were on their way to Mamba Academy for basketball practice, reports say.

Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman, said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating. Sikorsky says it is cooperating with authorities to find out the cause of the crash.

Photo of the crash scene via Twitter.

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, sevens months.

The L.A. Lakers star is considered one of greatest basketball players of all time. He spent his entire 20-year National Basketball Association career with the California team.

Bryant, 41, won five championships and was an 18-time all-star. He is known for scoring 81 points in a single game.

The basketball great’s final tweet was sent out on Saturday evening, congratulating LeBron James for taking his position as third on the ladder in overall career points.

Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 but began a new career in Hollywood. In 2018, he won an Oscar along with director Glen Keane for the animated short film “Dear Basketball”, the L.A. Times reports.

IGNITE Vice President Ryan Stafford, who represents Lakeshore Campus, posted a tribute to the basketball legend on his Instagram Story.

Obituary

The following obituary was posted by Reuters news agency:

“A transcendent star who went straight from high school to the game’s biggest stage, Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers and was the face of the franchise during his 20-year career.”

“Bryant, a small forward and shooting guard, averaged 25 points during his career and twice led the NBA in scoring.”

“He was an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the jersey numbers 24 and 8 – both of which were retired by the Lakers – and continued the ‘Showtime’ tradition of the storied franchise that has been home to the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.”

U.S. President Donald Trump called the development “terrible news”. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Bryant “will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”

An NBA game taking place at the time the news broke took a moment of silence and soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. made a “24” symbol with his fingers after scoring a goal on Sunday. ■

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Trudeau outlines plan to pass trade deal

CUSMA will come before parliament.

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File photo.

After the new North American free trade deal approved by U.S. Senate, the Canadian government plans to ratify the deal next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Tuesday in a news conference after a three-day cabinet retreat in Winnipeg, saying that it’s the government’s utmost priority to push forward with the Canadian-U.S.-Mexico agreement, known domestically as CUSMA, as millions of jobs depend on the new trade pact.

“On Monday, we will present a ways and means motion, and on Wednesday we will table legislations to ratify the deal,” said Trudeau, describing what will take place next week.

In order for the Liberals to pass this legislation in a minority government, they will neeed the support of another party in the House of Commons. Trudeau had expressed is hopes that all parties will negotiate and cone on ratification together.

“What we are doing is reminding everyone in the House and across the country of how important it is to secure the most important trading relationship for future generations.”

CUSMA has been on the top of the list of government priorities that were discussed during the cabinet meetings in Winnipeg.

The cabinet ministers also listened to expert guest speakers, who discussed other important matters including the fight against climate change, the current state of the country’s economy and pressing global affairs, among other critical matters facing the new minority government.

The trade deal, a result of a year of sometimes rocky negotiations with with the Trump administration, has been passed in the U.S. Senate and is awaiting the president’s signature. It has also been approved in Mexico.

Justin Trudeau said in Winnipeg “we are going to make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible.”

Conservatives who are the main opposition, are generally supportive of the deal, but have vowed to grill the Liberals over its specifics when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday. ■

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United States

Weinstein charged with rape, sexual assault

The disgraced media mogul faces up to 28 years in prison for these charges alone.

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File photo of Harvey Weinstein via PBS.

A Los Angeles district attorney on Monday charged disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein with raping a woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.

If Weinstein is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 28 years in prison.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement, reported Reuters.

It comes the same day that Weinstein is on trial for a separate but similar case in New York. ■

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