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Israel Dismisses Report About Spying on White House, ‘Other Sensitive Locations’ in DC

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Elad Strohmayer, spokesperson for Israel’s DC Embassy, has dismissed the claims of Tel Aviv’s possible espionage on the White House calling the allegations “absolute nonsense”. 

“Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period”, the spokesperson said.

The Israeli prime minister’s office also denied running any intelligence operations on US soil, insisting that it’s a forbidden practice.

“[It’s] a blatant lie. There is a longstanding commitment and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the US. This directive is strictly enforced without exception”, the bureau responded.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declined to comment on the report, while the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service haven’t responded to a request for comment yet.

The media outlet Politico published a report on 12 September, citing anonymous former senior US officials, saying that the US found cell-phone surveillance devices near the White House and “other sensitive locations” in DC. One of the officials said that following a thorough forensic analysis, the FBI and other agencies pointed the finger at Israel.

According to Politico’s sources, the devices, called “StingRays” and intended to mimic regular cell towers, were meant to spy on the Trump administration although it is so far unclear if these attempts were successful. The revelation, however, hasn’t led to any scandal in US-Israeli relations or any consequences for Tel Aviv, according to the cited sources.  

The security of Donald Trump’s communications remains in question with several media outlets reporting the POTUS using unsecure cell phones in talks with friends and confidants. A New York Times October 2018 piece even claimed that Beijing has been spying on the US president’s calls with the latter slamming the report as totally “incorrect”.

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Erdogan says he will not declare ceasefire in northern Syria

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear to U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey will never declare a ceasefire in northern Syria and will not negotiate with Kurdish forces it is fighting in its offensive into the region.

Turkey forged ahead with its offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria on Tuesday despite U.S. sanctions and calls for it to stop, while Syria’s Russia-backed army moved on the key city of Manbij that was abandoned by U.S. forces.

The YPG, the key component of the forces who fought Islamic State, is seen by Ankara as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish separatist insurgents in Turkey.

On Monday, Trump announced sanctions on Turkey to punish it for the offensive. On Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a ceasefire and halt its offensive.

However, speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said the offensive would continue until it reaches its aims, and added that he was not worried about sanctions.

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Woman killed in Russian apartment building blast

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A woman died and other young woman sustained injuries when a five-story building partially collapsed following an explosion in Russian village of Novonezhino.

Around 17 apartments were damaged when the ceiling slab, wall and the stair case of the building collapsed, Emergency Department said.

“The people were evacuated, 17 apartments were damaged. Seven elders have been transferred to temporary accommodation center,” the authorities said.

Rescue crews were searching for people who are believed to be trapped under the rubble. Rescuers were assisting the residents save their pets and belongings from the damaged apartments.

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Greek Church recognizes autonomy of Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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The leading figures of the Church of Greece decided at a meeting this weekend to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece recognized the autonomy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in line with a request by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios

The Orthodox Times says the Greeks’ formal recognition will take place October 19 in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine present.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople, generally considered the spiritual headquarters for Orthodoxy, granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine independence in January in a move that was adamantly resisted by Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine installed its first metropolitan, Epifaniy, at a ceremony in Kyiv on February 3 in a process that further established the new church body’s independence

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