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THE US military has released video footage of what it says is a Russian fighter jet clipping its surveillance drone over the Black Sea earlier this week, an incident that has fuelled concern about the US becoming further drawn into the war in Ukraine and led to a series of recriminations in Washington and Moscow. The incident occurred on Tuesday, with two Russian Su-27 fighter jets buzzing the MQ-9 Reaper and dumping fuel on it in what the Pentagon maintains is international airspace. One of the aircraft collided with the propeller on the back of the drone, forcing its operators to bring down the aircraft, US officials said. Russian officials have denied that either fighter hit the aircraft, saying instead that after it was observed having breached a self-declared exclusion zone, the drone made “sharp manoeuvres” and entered “uncontrolled flight” before losing altitude and crashing into the sea. The US said the incident occurred about 80km off the coast of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia seized in 2014. Territorial waters extend 19km from the shore. | Syria THOUSANDS of Syrians demonstrated in the war-ravaged country’s rebel-held north-west on Wednesday, marking 12 years since the start of pro-democracy protests and rejecting any international “normalisation” with Damascus. The brutal repression of the 2011 protests has claimed more than 500 000 lives and left millions displaced internally and abroad. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar alassad for talks this week as the Kremlin sought to mend ties between Damascus and Türkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. | Pakistan A PAKISTANI high court has ordered police to postpone an operation to arrest Imran Khan if he surrenders in court, defusing a surge in violence that saw supporters of the former prime minister fighting pitched battles with security forces. The state information minister, Amir Mir, confirmed the court order. Since Tuesday dozens of Khan’s supporters barricaded his home in Lahore to prevent his arrest, for failing to appear in court on charges of illegally selling state gifts given to him while he was in office. Khan denies the charges. On Thursday, Khan’s legal team filed an appeal in the trial court, pleading for the suspension of the arrest warrants, which was turned down. | US banks THE US banking system “remains sound” despite market anxiety over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told members of Congress this week. The consecutive bank failures are the sector’s biggest casualties since the 2008 financial crisis, prompting US authorities to quickly step in to protect depositors. The US Federal Reserve also announced it would make extra funding available to banks to help them meet the needs of depositors, which would include withdrawals. |