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Air Strike In Syria Kills Three Doctors As Hospital Hit

At least 14 patients and three doctors have been killed in an air strike on a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) says.

Among those killed in the MSF-supported al-Quds hospital was one of the city’s last paediatricians, MSF said. Local sources blamed Syrian or Russian war planes. The Syrian military has denied targeting the hospital. Monitors say attacks by both sides left 34 dead and dozens wounded on Thursday.

Violence in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo, has intensified in recent days, despite a partial truce.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster. The upsurge in violence comes amid reports that the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, is gearing up for a major offensive on the city. The escalation has threatened to derail UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, which resumed last month.

On Wednesday, the UN envoy to Syria urged the US and Russia to intervene “at the highest level” to save the talks.

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North Korea Missile Test Crashes

North Korea has test fired a mid-range ballistic missile which crashed a few seconds after launch, say South Korean military officials.

It is thought to be the second test of the North’s new Musudan missile. An attempt earlier this month also failed. The tests come amid a recent ramp-up in weapons activity as the country prepares for a rare party congress.

Reports suggest it is planning a fifth nuclear test, despite condemnation of its last test in January.

South Korean officials said the mid-range missile launch took place early Thursday morning near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan but the missile “crashed a few seconds later” in the coastal area, reported Yonhap news agency. The incident was captured by a US surveillance satellite.

The Musudan missiles are said to be able to travel up to 4,000km (2,485 miles), within the range of US territories in the Pacific.

No confirmation of the attempt or the failure has come from North Korea, but sources in South Korea say that the movement of two so-called Musudan missiles, mounted on trucks, was detected earlier in the month.

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Salah Abdeslam Extradited To France

Belgium has extradited Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to face trial in France.

He was wounded and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels on 18 March after four months on the run. The 26-year-old French national was born in Brussels and lived there before the Paris attacks. He would be held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in the Paris area, said Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.

The co-ordinated attacks carried out by so-called Islamic State in Paris on 13 November claimed 130 lives and left dozens more severely wounded.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor said Salah Abdeslam had been “surrendered to the French authorities this morning (in execution of the European Arrest Warrant issued by France on 19 March 2016)”. He was then formally placed under arrest. Although he was initially held at a prison in Bruges, he had most recently been in custody at a high-security jail at Beveren, near Antwerp.

Salah Abdeslam is charged in France with participation in terrorist murder and the activities of a terrorist organisation. He was also indicted by Belgian authorities last week over a shoot-out in the Forest area of Brussels in which four police were wounded, three days before he was arrested.

Earlier, French criminal lawyer Frank Berton told French media that he would be taking on Salah Abdeslam’s defence in France following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting between the two last Friday at Beveren.

Mr Berton BFMTV (in French) he hoped the man would be judged “for what he has done and not what he has not done… not for what he represents because he is the last survivor”. Most of the Paris attackers are now dead.

Islamic State Cash Destroyed By Air Strikes

Up to $800m (£550m) in cash held by so-called Islamic State (IS) has been destroyed in air strikes, a US military official says.

Maj Gen Peter Gersten, who is based in Baghdad, said the US had repeatedly targeted stores of the group’s funds.

The blow to the group’s financing has contributed to a 90% jump in defections and a drop in new arrivals, he said.

In 2014, the US Treasury called IS “the best-funded terrorist organisation” it had encountered. In a briefing to reporters, Maj Gen Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the US-led operation against IS, said under 20 air strikes targeting the group’s stores of money had been conducted. He did not specify how the US knew how much money had been destroyed.

In one case, he said, an estimated $150m was destroyed at a house in Mosul, Iraq.

Forces fighting IS received intelligence indicating in which room of the house money was stored. The room was then bombed from the air, Maj Gen Gersten said. While it was difficult to know precisely how much money had been destroyed in total, estimates put the figure at between $500m and $800m, he said.

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Four Civillains Killed In Ukraine

At least four civilians – including a pregnant woman – have been killed in shelling at a checkpoint crossing in east Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels say.

A spokesman for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said 15 people were also wounded, as they crossed between rebel- and government-held territory.

Ukraine’s army denied it carried out any shelling in the area at the time.

The region has seen a spike in violence in recent weeks, threatening a fragile ceasefire between the army and rebels. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said it had been recording “a high number of ceasefire violations” in the Donetsk region alone, listing hundreds of explosions and gunfire heard in both rebel- and government-held areas in recent days. Wednesday’s attack happened in the rebel-controlled village of Olenivka, just metres from a demarcation line separating the two sides.

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