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rocket with rotating blades that killed the leader of al-Qaeda

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The United States achieved two important goals in the counterterrorism operation to eliminate al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, carrying out a mission without troops in Kabul and using a type of missile that avoided civilian casualties.

For a year, US officials have said that addressing terrorist threats in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of their troops would be difficult, though not impossible.

The US achieved that goal over the weekend by killing al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri after being hit by a CIA drone.

In the past, these types of airstrikes have unintentionally killed innocent civilians, but for the Kabul operation, the United States carefully chose a type of Hellfire missile that minimized the chance that an attack would cause additional casualties, according to the Associated Press. (AP).

Without public confirmation by US authorities of the use of the Hellfire variant, experts and sources familiar with counterterrorism operations explained that the likely variant was top secret Hellfire R9Xknown by various nicknames such as “bomb knife” or “flying ginsu”.

For Clone Kitchen, a former intelligence analyst, the likely use of the R9X suggests that the US intended to kill al-Zawahiri with “limited chance of death and accompanying destruction and for other relevant political reasons.”

Originally developed as an anti-tank missile in the 1980s, the Hellfire has been used by the military and intelligence agencies for the past two decades to hit targets in Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen, among other places.

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High-precision guided missiles can be mounted on helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles and are widely used in combat operations around the world.

More than 100,000 Hellfire missiles have been sold to the US and other countries, according to Ryan Brobst, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

“This projectile can do enough damage to destroy most targets, such as vehicles and buildings, but does not do enough damage to destroy city blocks or cause significant damage to civilians,” Brobst said.

The US military has regularly used Hellfire missiles to destroy key targets, including high-ranking al-Qaeda leader in Syria last year and al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

For last weekend’s attack, the Americans had several options, such as using a traditional Hellfire, a bomb dropped from a manned aircraft, or a more risky attack using ground troops.

SEALs, the elite force of the US Navy, for example, went to Pakistan in helicopters to shoot down Osama bin Laden in a 2011 offensive.

In this case, the CIA chose to strike with a drone, and while the U.S. intelligence agency does not usually confirm its counterterrorism missions or add details, Joe Biden’s government sources explained that two Hellfire rockets were fired at the balcony of the house where al-Zawahiri lived.in Kabul.

Pictures taken inside the building showed damage to the balcony, but the rest of the house wasafter the attack.

Unlike other Hellfire models, the R9X does not carry an explosive charge. Instead, it has a number six rotating blades that appear on their final approach to the target, Kitchen explained.

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“One of its uses is to open vehicles and other obstacles to reach a target without the use of an explosive warhead,” Clone Kitchen added.

The prevention of collateral damage was presented as the main goal of the US authorities.

Less than a year ago, an American drone using a conventional Hellfire missile hit a car in the Kabul area and killed 10 nearby civilians, including seven children.

On Monday, a government official said the U.S. was investigating the construction of the house where al-Zawahiri stayed to ensure the operation could be carried out without compromising the structural integrity of the building, as well as minimizing the risk of killing civilians, including members of his family. which was in other parts of the house.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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