VOA NEWS

June 8, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news.



Two top U.S. intelligence officials told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday they did not feel inappropriately pressured by President Trump to publicly disavow possible Russian collusion with Trump aides in last year's election. However, that is as far as they would go.

The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and the National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers told the committee they would not discuss details of their White House meetings with the president in recent months. They refused to respond to a news report that Trump asked them to publicly state there was no evidence his aides had colluded with Russian officials.

Rogers denied feeling any pressure from the president to publicly downplay any Trump campaign connection to Russian officials.

"In the three plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so."

Coats' and Rogers' testimony comes as a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said 56 percent of American adults think Trump is interfering with several Russia investigations.



Iran's Revolutionary Guards are blaming Saudi Arabia for a pair of terror attacks Wednesday at symbolic locations in Tehran.

Tehran's police chief was quoted in Iranian media as saying five suspects had been arrested in connection with the attacks that left at least 12 people dead and 42 others wounded at Iran's parliament and a shrine to the late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.



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The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Party militia in the north of Syria is competing with Shiite militias and other forces aligned with the government of President Bashar al-Assad to retake the Islamic State-held town of Raqqa. The terrorist group calls the town its capital in Syria.

U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia forces chanted as they advanced toward the northern outskirts of the Islamic State-held town of Raqqa in northern Syria, attempting to set foot inside the city and dislodge the militant group from its so-called capital.

The U.S. envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, Brett McGurk, said Wednesday in Baghdad that the battle for Raqqa will "only escalate" as the group loses control of its northern Iraqi stronghold of Mosul. He added that the fight for Raqqa will be a "difficult and very long-term battle."

Edward Yeranian, for VOA news, Cairo.



Suspected Boko Haram militants have attacked Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria, triggering loud explosions and causing civilians to flee.

Heavy gunfire was reported Wednesday in the Jiddari Polo neighborhood of the Borno state capital.

But a spokesman for the Nigerian army said the attackers "have been neutralized. Situation cool and calm."

Maiduguri is the epicenter of the eight-year-long fight against Boko Haram but has been largely free of violence for the past two years. However, attacks have continued since then, with suicide bombers hitting the outskirts of Maiduguri.



Debris has been found from a military plane in Myanmar that was carrying more than 100 people. It went missing on Wednesday.

The plane was carrying mostly family members of military personnel.



South Africa's ruling African National Congress has been hurt by a new wave of corruption allegations targeting President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma's term as the party's leader expires at the end of the year but he is at the center of the recent allegations.

Top party officials said Wednesday that the end may be nearing for the increasingly unpopular leader, and a party spokesman says the party does not tolerate corruption.

It has called for a judicial commission of inquiry.



Drug deaths in the U.S. rose at the steepest level ever to the highest level in recorded history in 2016, claiming more than 60,000 lives. Early data suggests deaths from opioids and other drugs will continue to increase in 2017.

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.



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