Security experts warn after US killing of top Iranian general.

Security experts warn after US killing of top Iranian general.

Iran’s retaliation for the United States’ targeted killing of its top general is likely to comprise cyberattacks, security experts warned Friday. Iran’s state-backed hackers are already one of the world’s most aggressive and could inject malware which causes significant disruptions to the U.S. public and private sector.

Potential targets include manufacturing facilities, oil and gas plants and transit systems. A leading U.S. cybersecurity official is warning businesses and government agencies to be extra vigilant.

In 2012 and 2013, in response to U.S. sanctions, Iranian state-backed hackers completed a series of disruptive denial-of-service attacks that knocked offline the websites of major U.S. banks including Bank of America in addition to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. Two years later, they wiped servers at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas, crippling hotel and gaming operations.

The destructive attacks on U.S. targets ebbed when Tehran reached a nuclear deal with the Obama government in 2015. The killing early Friday in Iraq of Quds Force commander Gen. Qassam Soleimani – long after Trump scrapped the nuclear deal – completely alters the equation.

“Our concern is basically that things are going to go back to the way they were prior to the agreement,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “There are opportunities for them to cause real disruption and destruction.”

Iran has been doing plenty of probing of critical U.S. industrial systems in recent years – trying to gain access – but has restricted its damaging attacks to targets in the Middle East, experts say.

It is not known whether Iranian cyber brokers have implanted destructive payloads in U.S. infrastructure that could now be triggered.

“It’s certainly possible,” Hultquist said. “But we have not ever seen it.”

Robert M. Lee, chief executive of Dragos Inc., which specializes in industrial control system security, said Iranian hackers have been very aggressive in attempting to gain access to utilities, factories, and oil and gas facilities. That doesn’t mean they’ve succeeded, however. In one case in 2013 where they did break into the control system of a U.S. dam – garnering substantial media attention – Lee stated they probably didn’t know the compromised goal was a tiny flood-control structure 20 miles north of New York City.

Iran has been increasing its cyber capabilities but is not in the same league as China or Russia – that have proved most adept at sabotaging critical infrastructure, seen in strikes on Ukraine’s power grid and elections, experts agree.

And while the U.S. power grid is among the most secure and resilient in the world, plenty of private companies and local governments have not made sufficient investments in cybersecurity and are highly vulnerable, experts say.

“My worst-case scenario is a municipality or a cooperative-type assault where electricity is lost to a city or a few neighbourhoods,” Lee said.

Consider the havoc an epidemic of ransomware attacks has caused U.S. local governments, crippling services as vital as tax collection. While there is no evidence of coordinated involvement, imagine if the aggressor – instead of scrambling data and demanding ransoms – only wiped hard drives clean, said Hultquist.

The only known cybersecurity survey of U.S. local authorities, municipal and county, found that the networks of 28% were attacked at least hourly – and that the exact same percentage said they did not even know how frequently they were being attacked. Even though the study was done in 2016, the authors at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County do not believe the situation has improved since.

The top cybersecurity official in the Department of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs, urged companies and government agencies to refresh their knowledge of Iranian state-backed hackers’ past exploits and methods after Soleimani’s death was announced. “Pay close attention to your critical systems,” he tweeted.

In June, Krebs warned of a rise in malicious Iranian cyber activity, especially attacks using common methods like spear-phishing that could erase entire networks:”What might start as an account compromise, in which you feel you might just lose data, can quickly develop into a situation where you’ve lost your whole network.”

Wysopal said the Iranians are apt to have heard a lot from the 2017 NotPetya assault, which the U.S. and Britain have imputed to state-backed Russian hackers and which caused at least $10 billion in damage globally. The cyberattack to date, it exploited applications after being delivered via an Ukrainian tax software provider and spread on networks without human intervention.

When then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper blamed Iran for the Sands Casino assault, it was among the first cases of American intelligence agencies identifying a particular country as hacking for political reasons: The casino’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, is a big Israel backer. Clapper also noted that the value of hacking for collecting intelligence. North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures in retaliation for a film its leader was mocked by that followed.

The vast majority of the almost 100 Iranian targets leaked online this past year by a individual or group known as Laboratory Dookhtegan – a defector, perhaps – were in the Middle East, said Charity Wright, a former National Security Agency analyst at the threat intelligence firm InSights. She said it’s highly likely Iran will concentrate its retaliation on U.S. targets in the region as well as in Israel and the U.S.

Iran is widely believed to have been behind a catastrophic 2012 assault on Aramco, the Saudi oil company, that wiped the data from more than 30,000 computers. It was also a casualty of this Stuxnet computer virus. First uncovered in 2010, it ruined thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program and is widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli invention.

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PM calls for revolutionising engineering science and innovation at India Science Congress

PM calls for revolutionising engineering science and innovation at India Science Congress

Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, today emphasised the need to revolutionise the landscape of Indian science, innovation and technology and stated both technology and logical temperament were needed to provide a new direction to the country’s socio-economic development process.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that science and technology had a great part to play in linking society and to bring about equality. As an example, the developments in the area of communication and information have ended a large supply of privilege by producing cheaper smartphones and data. For this reason, even a common man has gained confidence he is not alone and he can also connect with the Government and talk to it directly. We need to promote and strengthen these kinds of changes”.

Inaugurating the 107th session of the Indian Science Congress, which began at Bengaluru now, he said the common man has also been a witness to advancement in the area of rural development and noticed that technology and great effective governance was behind the success of big welfare programmes from Swachcha Bharat Abhiyan to Ayushman Bharat.

In this respect, he pointed that the Government had set a record yesterday by disbursing money under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to six crore people in the nation simultaneously. “How did it happen? It was because of Aadhar enabled technology”, he said.

He also pointed out that the Government has been able to speed up the execution of various projects using the techniques of geo-tagging and information science and increasingly fill the gap between schemes and beneficiaries with the help of real time monitoring systems.

He claimed that the Government was continuing its efforts to guarantee ease of doing science and efficiently use information technology to reduce’red tape’ and said water governance might be a new frontier of research with the Government starting a programme on water called Jal Jeevan mission.

There is, he said, a need to develop cheaper and more effective technologies for water recycling and reuse, create scientific solutions for using domestic wastewater in agriculture, create high-quality seeds which required lesser quantity of water, and generate technologies to make the optimal use of the information in soil health cards.

Besides, he called for research to find alternatives to single-use plastic and to extract and recycle metals from electronic waste and said the technology that could be developed could be then transferred to medium, small and micro-enterprises. “Lot of opportunities are available to set up startups devoted to promoting the notion of green, circular and sustainable market in villages. Household wastes and agricultural residue are creating the problem of contamination in villages. We have to come out with methods to convert them. We want to reduce the import of crude oil by at least 10 per cent.

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Kota Kids Died From Hypothermia Lacked Equipment: Report

Kota Kids Died From Hypothermia Lacked Equipment: Report

The sorry state of Kota’s J.K. Lon Hospital is represented in a government-appointed panel’s report which indicates that around 105 kids died in a span of more than a month as a result of cold shivering in the hospital as it lacked everything a standard hospital should have.

The committee formed by the Rajasthan government to probe the lacunae in the hospital leading to the deaths of kids has confirmed in its report that infants died due to hypothermia, a medical emergency that occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C). The normal body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C). Even as the kids in the hospital continued to die in the winter, biting cold, the hospital did not have stocks of lifesaving equipment, said the report.

The newborns should have body temperature of 36.5 degree celcius; hence they were stored on warmers where their temperature stays normal. However, as the hospital lacked functional warmers, their body temperature continued to plummet.

The report stated that 22 nebulisers from 28 were dysfunctional, 81 infusion pumps out of 111 were not working and the same was the story with para monitors and pulse oxymeters.
What made the matters worse was that the absence of oxygen pipeline at the hospital due to which oxygen was supplied to kids with the support of cylinders.

The ICU wasn’t fumigated for months, the report said.

“The children continued to die in December as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot celebrated the launch of’Nirogi Rajasthan’ effort in the state,” said former health minister Rajendra Rathore.

“The nursing workers, already under-staffed, prefer to stay idle while ward boys rule the roost from the J.K. Lon Hospital,” said an official.

Also, the hospital staff continued with the whitewash in wards where infants suffering from pneumonia were admitted for oxygen.

According to sources, there was no record of 40 heaters. A hospital official said despite Rs 6-crore funds lying with the hospital, no purchase was made.

To him, a gesture suited for the grim situation prevailing in the hospital, a green carpet was given on Friday, when state Health Minister Raghu Sharma visited the hospital. The carpet was rolled back, after drawing criticisms.

A woman died the same day when Sharma visited the hospital as the officers were busy getting the walls cleaned.

Former Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said uncontrolled transfer of experts on political grounds has deprived of availing the best services, the patients.

He said the current government has not had yearly repair contracts of the equipment purchased under its tenure. “There is not any medical review arrangement for the equipment purchased,” Rathore said.

Gehlot in December celebrated one year of the formation of his government and launched the’Nirogi Rajasthan’ campaign.

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Imran Khan stated that “Nanakana Sahib is untouched and safe”

Imran Khan stated that “Nanakana Sahib is untouched and safe”

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday rejected reports that Gurudwara Nanakana Sahib near Lahore was desecrated by particular groups. It is considered as one of the most holy Sikh websites.

Foreign Office at a midnight announcement said the provincial authorities in the Punjab province have advised that there was a scuffle in town of Nankana Sahib on Friday between two Muslim groups.

Attempts to paint this episode are motivated. Most importantly, the Gurudwara remains untouched and undamaged. All insinuations to the contrary, especially the claims of acts of desecration and destruction and desecration of the holy place, aren’t just untrue but also mischievous,’ said the FO.

The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan’s special care expanded to the minorities, consistent with the vision of this Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, it said.

According to some press reports, a mob attack took place. The reports indicated that hundreds of angry residents at Nankana Sahib pelted the Sikh pilgrims with stones on Friday. India’s External Affairs Ministry said members of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan have been subjected to acts of violence in the sacred city of Nankana Sahib.

‘India condemns these wanton acts of desecration and destruction of the holy location. We call upon the government of Pakistan to take immediate actions to guarantee safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community,’ the MEA said in a statement. ‘Strong action must be taken against the miscreants who indulged in desecration of the sacred Gurudwara and assaulted members of the minority Sikh community,’ it stated.

The MEA reported the reprehensible activities followed the forcible abduction and conversion of a Sikh girl who was kidnapped from her home in the city of Nankana Sahib in August last year.

In a tweet, Singh appealed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure that the devotees stranded at the gurudwara are rescued from the mob.

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Europe not ‘useful’ as could be over Soleimani killing: Mike Pompeo

Europe not ‘useful’ as could be over Soleimani killing: Mike Pompeo

Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that Washington’s European allies had not been”as helpful” as he expected over the US killing of Iranian army commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Pompeo called officials worldwide to explore the attack, which was commended by US President Donald Trump’s Republicans and close ally Israel, but elsewhere met with sharp warnings it may inflame regional tensions.

“I spent the past day and a half, two weeks, talking to partners in the region, sharing with them what we were doing, why we were doing it, seeking their help.

They have been fantastic,” Pompeo stated in an interview with Fox News.

“And talking to our partners in other places that have not been quite as good. Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they might be,” he said.

US officials stated Soleimani, who had been blacklisted by the US, was killed when a drone hit his car near Baghdad’s international airport.

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron urged those involved to act with”restraint” while British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said de-escalation would be key.

“The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to know what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well,” Pompeo said.

“This was a fantastic thing for the entire world, and we’re urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is attempting to do to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation,” he added.

Pompeo said earlier in the day that when he was killed in the attack, action that threatened citizens was being planned by Soleimani. (AFP) CPS

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Chinese automaker all set to come in Indian Market

Chinese automaker all set to come in Indian Market

Chinese automaker into the market via a post on its India Twitter page. We will showcase its variety of cars at the 2020 Auto Expo and already know that the firm is currently looking for a location to set up its facility.

For the India run of the GWM, we assume that the Haval brand are the focus. The Provider’s page shows the H6, along with the Ora R1 and the flagship. The H9 is closest to SUVs like the Fortuner and Endeavour. In its home market, it is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol motor good for 217PS and 324 Nm. This pairs using a ZF-sourced eight-speed auto plus a four-wheel-drive system with low range.

The Haval H6 is a monster, similarly proportioned to the MG Hector. Like that SUV, this too is quite tech-heavy and includes a fully digital instrument cluster, dual-zone air-conditioning, a suite of driver assistance systems, panoramic sunroof and LED lighting, among other things. The H6 includes two engines in China. The first of them is a 1.5-litre unit with 163PS and 280Nm. The other is a 2.0-litre unit with 190PS and 340Nm. Both come with a DCT.

The Ora R1 is the proposition. In the Chinese market, prices for the R1 beginning at RMB 59,800 or just over Rs 6 lakh after government subsidies. It is going to be the EV available, if launched here. The specs are encouraging, the R1 uses a range of over 300 kmph and a 35 kWh battery.

Great Wall Motor is an important player in the automobile market. It is the biggest seller of SUVs and pickup trucks in that country and sells about 10 vehicles a year. The company was established in 1984, and has been one of the few independently owned Chinese car firms to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The GWM headquarters are located in Baoding, Hebei, China. Since 1998, when its Steed pick-up became the bestseller in its segment, it sells more than 1 lakh units in the domestic market alone, the company has grown quite fast.

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Bushfires 2 More Killed, Sweep Across Southeast Australia

Bushfires 2 More Killed, Sweep Across Southeast Australia

Sydney: Bushfires burned dangerously out of control on Australia’s east coast on Saturday, fuelled by soaring temperatures and strong winds which had firefighters fighting to save lives and property, and authorities said the worst of conditions was yet to come. By late afternoon, Victoria had 17 fires rated at evacuate or crisis warning amounts and New South Wales had 12 rated emergency, with more than 100 others burning across the countries. ‘we are still to hit the worst of it and We are in for a long night,’ NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at an afternoon briefing. ‘It’s a very volatile situation.’

Authorities have said conditions could prove to be worse than New Year’s Eve, when fires burnt massive tracts of bushland and forced tens of thousands of residents and summer holidaymakers to seek refuge on beaches. Since the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) upgraded its emergency warnings on the flames, it delivered the identical blunt advice to people who had not evacuated at-risk regions:’It is too late to leave. Seek shelter.’ One fire in southern NSW was creating its own thunderstorm, the RFS said, which created new threats as lightning strikes could set off fresh fires.

As the fires worsened, residents used social websites to post photos of the sky turning black and red from the smoke and glare of the flames, such as in the Victorian town of Mallacoota, where around 1,000 people were evacuated by sea on Friday. The government announced an unprecedented call up of army reservists to support firefighters as well other sources including a navy ship equipped for humanitarian relief and disaster. Andy Gillham, the incident controller in the Victorian city of Bairnsdale, said the area had avoided the worst of the flames on Saturday but stressed this was an exceptional fire season. ‘In a normal year, we would start to see the fire season kick off in a big way around early January and we’re already up to a million hectares of burnt country.

This is a marathon event and we expect to be busy handling these fires for the next eight weeks,’ he said. Following are highlights of what is going on across Australia: – Temperatures topped 45C (113F) in a lot of the Sydney metropolitan area, with Penrith recording a high of 48.9C (120F) in accordance with the Bureau of Meteorology. Canberra, the national capital, recorded a temperature of 44C just after 4 pm, and that the chief minister said was a record for the territory. – A late southerly wind change expected on Saturday will dramatically lower temperatures, but it will also bring wind gusts of 70-80 kmh (43-50 mph) that are likely to fan the strength and unpredictability of fires which have already isolated cities, with major streets and highways being closed.

In South Australia, two people died on Kangaroo Island, a popular vacation spot not far off the shore, taking the national toll from this week’s fires to 12. Twenty-one people remain unaccounted for in Victoria, down from 28 reported on Friday. – South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said over 100,000 hectares of Kangaroo Island, about one quarter of its total area, had been burnt, but weather conditions have improved after Friday’s fires. – The first of thousands of residents and vacationers stranded on a beach in Mallacoota in southeastern Australia landed near Melbourne on Saturday following a 20-hour journey by ship.

A ship, carrying about 1,000 people, is expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon. – The focus on Saturday is preventing loss of life, authorities said. National parks have been closed and people urged earlier this week to evacuate large parts of NSW’s south coast and Victoria’s north eastern regions, magnets for holidaymakers at the summit of Australia’s summer school holidays. – National death toll in fire season, which started in September, is 23, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. – Morrison confirmed that his trip to Japan and India scheduled for mid-January had been postponed due to the fires. – greater than 5.25 million hectares (13 million acres) of land has been burnt this fire season. (Reuters)

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Asleep since 2014: How domestic press, Congress & BJP awakened to Kota child deaths only now

Asleep since 2014: How domestic press, Congress & BJP awakened to Kota child deaths only now

At the government-run JK Lon Hospital in Kota, Rajasthan, 100 children died in December. This became the big news stage with people calling to lack of equipment and attention the hygiene levels in the hospital. And with it came the blame game between Congress’s Ashok Gehlot and the BJP all week.

What many did not see was that the hospital’s previous records, which showed that 963 children had died in 2019, most of them infants. But this was the lowest figure in five years – on average, nearly 1,100 infants had been dying every year since 2014. The startling figures and the belated media policy are why Kota’s JK Lon Hospital’s baby deaths is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.

How come it caught the attention of the national media today if the present situation has persisted for at least five decades?

Care’s politics

All political parties would be wise to keep in mind that the number of deaths of children in Kota under both Congress’ Ashok Gehlot government and BJP’s Vasundhara Raje authorities have been nearly 1,100 each year on an average. Number of kids – 1,260 – had died in 2015.

No wonder many are asking the national and regional media have raised this issue of child deaths in Kota only now. Some local reporters have been highlighting issues like lack of hospital equipment, shortage of staff and overall poor hygiene levels, though some reporters have even surreptitiously donated heaters. However, the news of these deaths remained neighborhood. The media took its time to report on this.

The hospital is and facilities and the equipment are inadequate. Out of the sanctioned list of 533 equipment necessary for treating patients, only 213 are in a working condition while the remaining 320 are broken. There’s absolutely not any end to the amount of items that are wrong with the JK Lon Hospital: a single bed crammed with four patients, pigs encircling the hospital construction, wards with windows that don’t have any glass, and ventilators which do not usually do the job, each one is used for two babies.

Nearly all patients in Kota’s JK Lon Hospital have no other choice but to endure and come from poor backgrounds. Many also come in nearby districts and lose each day’s work because they are farmers, welders, and contractual labourers. They are the ones to bear the brunt of overworked and exhausted doctors and guards that are moody. More often than not, they don’t understand the treatment their children need or what they are going through, and they cannot afford private hospitals. But it is a system where everybody blames each other and passes the dollar — from doctors to the hospital superintendent to the state government and the central authorities.

The Kota child deaths are a manifestation of India’s fractured health system where children die due to lack of oxygen supply, infants die after consuming litchi on empty stomachs, and many others die daily for various other ailments.

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Another fatal airstrike in Iraqi state TV, Baghdad & Iranian militias assert US behind it

Another fatal airstrike in Iraqi state TV, Baghdad & Iranian militias assert US behind it

Baghdad: Iran promised to seek revenge for a US airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed the mastermind of its interventions across the Middle East, and the U.S. said Friday that it was sending thousands more troops to the region as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

The death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, marks a significant escalation in the standoff between Washington and Tehran, which has careened from one crisis to another since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions. 24 hours after the attack on Soleimani, Iraqi officials and militias in Iraq reported another airstrike.

An Iraqi government official reported a strike on two vehicles north of Baghdad but had no information on casualties. Another security official who witnessed the aftermath described vehicles that were charred and said five people were killed. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

State television and the press arm of the Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces reported the strike.

An American official who spoke on the condition on anonymity denied the U.S. was supporting the reported attack.

The targeted attack against Soleimani and any retaliation by Iran could spark a conflict that engulfs the entire area, threatening U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Over the last two decades, Soleimani had assembled a network of heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel’s doorstep. We take comfort Trump said of Soleimani.

The United States said it was sending almost troops into the Middle East, reflecting concern about Iranian retaliation. The U.S. also urged Americans to leave Iraq immediately after the airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport that Iran’s state TV said killed Soleimani and nine others.

Approximately 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the battle against Islamic State militants. Defense officials who discussed the new troop movements spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon.

A Pentagon official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly said the U.S. also had put an Army brigade on alert to fly into Lebanon to protect the American Embassy.

The announcement about sending more troops came as Trump said Soleimani’s killing wasn’t an effort to start a battle with Iran.

We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to begin a war, Trump said, adding that he doesn’t seek regime change in Iran.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed harsh retaliation’ following the airstrike, calling Soleimani the worldwide face of resistance.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the killing a crime’ and said his nation would take revenge. Iran summoned the time delivering a letter to pass to Washington, the Swiss envoy.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif known as the U.S. assault a cowardly terrorist action and said Iran has the right to react in any method and any time.

However, the attack could act as a deterrent for Iran and its allies to delay or restrain any possible response. Trump said possible targets had been identified and the U.S. was prepared.

The killing promised to further strain relations with Iraq’s government, which is allied with both Washington and Tehran and has been deeply worried about turning into a battleground in their competition. Iraqi politicians close to Iran called for the country to order U.S. forces out.

The U.S. Defense Department said it killed the 62-year-old Soleimani since he had been actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.’ Additionally, it accused Soleimani of approving orchestrated violent protests in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The attack, on an access road near Baghdad’s airport, was completed early Friday by an American drone, according to a U.S. official.

Soleimani had just disembarked from a plane arriving from either Syria or Lebanon, a senior Iraqi security official said. The explosion tore apart his body and that of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces. A senior politician said the ring that he wore identifyed Soleimani’s body. Others killed include five members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard and Soleimani’s son-in-law, Iranian state TV said.

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