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Friday, Feb 24th

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‘Blackwater Air’ Is Back, and Flying for U.S. Special Forces

Blackwater is backA mercenary air force that became a symbol of the U.S. occupation of Iraq is back in action—this time in Central Africa, supporting a shadowy American U.S. Special Forces commando operation targeting the Lord’s Resistance Army.

In late January, a source on the ground in Central African Republic spotted a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter with the registry number N408RC carrying American Special Forces troops. The LRA, a cultish band of thieves and rapists led by warlord Joseph Kony, is most active in the forested region where Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo meet.

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UN: Coalition air raids kill 18 civilians in Helmand

UN Coalition raid kills women and children in AfghanistanCivilians, mostly women and children, were killed last week in air raids by coalition forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province, an initial United Nations inquiry suggested.

On Thursday and Friday, as many as 18 civilians died in air strikes in Helmand's Sangin district, according to a statement released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Sunday.

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U.S. Commando Dies In Yemen Raid That Kills Around 30 People

Southern YemenA U.S. commando died in a dawn raid in southern Yemen on Sunday that killed around 30 people including al Qaeda suspects and civilians, the U.S. military and local Yemeni officials said.

It was the first combat casualty of the Trump administration and its first operation in the war-damaged Arabian Peninsula nation against a powerful al Qaeda branch that has been a frequent target of U.S. drone strikes.

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Guterres: Thousands of child soldiers fight in Somalia

Somalia's child soldiersUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed alarm at reports that children may constitute a large part of the force recruited and used by the armed al-Shabab group in Somalia.

In a report to the Security Council circulated this week, the UN chief said al-Shabab used children in combat, with nine-year-olds reportedly taught to use weapons and sent to frontlines. Children were also used to transport explosives, work as spies, carry ammunition or perform domestic chores, Guterres said.

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Afghanistan funds abusive militias as US military 'ignores' situation, officials say

Afghanistan funds abusive militiasThe US military and the CIA are turning a blind eye as Afghanistan’s spy agency spends foreign donor money on militias which are committing human rights abuses that help destabilise the fragile country, according to local and western officials.

The Afghan national directorate of security (NDS) arms strongmen ostensibly to fight the Taliban and other militants. But some militia leaders use their new power to fight local turf wars, including against elected government officials, rather than insurgents.

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Iraqi troops retreat after Mosul hospital battle

Iraq troops retreat after hopital battle in MosulIraqi troops who seized a hospital deep inside Mosul believed to be used as an Islamic State military base have retreated after a fierce counter-attack, giving up some of their biggest gains in a hard-fought seven-week campaign to recapture the city.

The soldiers seized Salam hospital, less than a mile (1.5 km) from the Tigris river running through central Mosul, on Tuesday but pulled back the next day after they were hit by six suicide car bombs and "heavy enemy fire", according to a statement by the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces.

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UNHCR: 3,000 fleeing Iraqis seized by ISIL

Fleeing IraqisFighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have reportedly captured up to 3,000 fleeing villagers in northern Iraq, according to the UN refugee agency, or UNHCR.

In its daily report on events in Iraq, UNHCR said on Friday that 12 of the captives were thought to had been executed by ISIL, also known as ISIS.

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