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WA shark attack: authorities try to identify predator after teenage surfer killed

Police say surfboard will be analysed after third person killed in shark attack in Western Australia in less than a year

Authorities have so far failed to identify the shark that bit the leg of a 17-year-old Western Australian girl, who died on Tuesday after suffering major blood loss.

The teenager, who was surfing with her father during an Easter family holiday, is the third person to die after a shark attack in WA in less than a year.

She was mauled at the popular surf break Kelp Beds, near Wylie Bay, in Esperance, just before 4pm on Monday as her mother and two sisters watched in horror from the beach.

The girl was bitten on the leg, suffered massive blood loss and died at Esperance hospital a couple of hours later. The family is from Singleton, near Mandurah.

Esperance police acting senior sergeant Ben Jeffes said the girl was a competent surfer. Her broken surfboard has been recovered and will be analysed to determine what kind of shark it was.

What we have now are the debris which make a complete board, Jeffes told ABC radio on Tuesday. It will be sent to scientists at the Department of Fisheries for examination.

Theres a real sense of sadness and loss in the community here, its just terrible, Jeffes said.

Professional local fisherman Neville Mansted said it was a tragedy.

Theres a lot of people in shock, he told local Perth radio 6PR. It was one of my favourite surf spots but I think I might be crossing it off the list, together with a few other places.

The Shark Smart WA website recorded two public shark sightings in the Esperance area last week.

A medium-sized white shark was seen 150m offshore at Two Mile Beach in Hopetoun and another was seen 300m offshore at Crazies Reef.

The fact that there was a couple of sightings out there during the week, and with Easter coming on, I cant believe that somebody hasnt done something, like a fisheries patrol, Mansted said. Trouble is, nobody seems to be interested because its not them thats being bitten. Thats the tragic part.

Mansted said WA needed shark nets.

The fatal attack has revived debate about measures to protect the public from sharks in WA. The fisheries minister, Dave Kelly, confirmed drum lines were not deployed following the attack, because the new Labor government did not believe they made beaches safer.

The fact that drum lines werent deployed this morning, I think you can safely say, was a result of the change in policy from the election, the West Australian reported him as saying.

We made it clear in opposition that we dont see the merit in automatically deploying drum lines in these circumstances. This morning the beach is closed, the beach is clear, theres no one in the water. Its a reasonably remote location so there is no purpose served this morning by deploying drum lines.

The beach at Wylie Bay remained closed on Tuesday and the Department of Fisheries was conducting beach and water patrols. Surfers and swimmers have been told not to go into the water for at least two days.

The Esperance shire president, Victoria Brown, said she had been inundated with people asking how they could help.

In June last year, shark attacks resulted in the deaths of surfer Ben Gerring at Mandurah and diver Doreen Collyer at Mindarie Marina in Perth.

In 2014, Sean Pollard lost his right hand and left arm above the elbow.

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Iran can’t be forced out of Syria — but it can be contained

(CNN)The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons has been met with a decisive response from the US.

Russia denounced Thursday’s airstrike on the Shayrat airfield, but is unlikely to counter-escalate, while the international community has generally responded positively.
Whether the Trump administration will escalate its involvement in Syria remains unclear, but if it decides to do so, then it should also prepare for a confrontation with Iran.

      CNN Exclusive: US Military operation over Syria


    It is Iran and its proxies, not Russia, that dominate realities on the ground, and it is from the ground that Syria’s future will be determined and where the post-conflict environment will be shaped.
    Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, has spoken of discarding the Iranian presence and influence in Syria.

    Complex network

    However, Iranian influence cannot be eliminated in Syria, as there is not a single Iranian proxy to target, but rather an extensive network of leaders, fighters, resources and weapons that span across the region and into Afghanistan.
    Since the Iranian regime entered the Syrian conflict in 2012, a plethora of Iranian-backed militia groups have consolidated their hold on the ground. Through these groups, the balance of power has shifted in the regime’s favour and, in the process, to their Iranian patrons.

      U.S.: ‘There is leverage’ in Syria


    This should come as no surprise. Iran has spent almost four decades nurturing and consistently dedicating resources to armed groups that could either enhance the regime’s influence in the region or, at the very least, weaken its rivals.
    Iran’s clerical rulers, since their assumption of power in 1979, have established and worked with armed groups across the Arab world.
    In the 1980s, the Iranian regime established Lebanon’s Hezbollah, along with Iraqi Shia insurgent groups who fought the Baath regime — some of whom today constitute Iraq’s most powerful militias and political actors.
    It has provided support to components of the Palestinian movement, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
    In the 1990s and early 2000s, jihadi groups such as Ansar al-Islam — the previous incarnation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and so called Islamic State — also used Iranian territory as a launching pad for terrorist attacks in neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Shrewd investment

    Iran’s investments are paying dividends.
    While many were not prepared for the emerging regional order, in which armed groups are the providers of security or dominate the local environment because of conflict and state fragility, Iran has decades’ worth of experience in trying, testing and learning from the proxy warfare that is currently engulfing the Arab world.

      Analyst: Iran joins talks to set terms in its favor


    Lebanon’s Hezbollah has played a decisive role in Syria since it captured the strategic town of Qusayr in 2013. Iraqi Shia militias have flooded to Syria to fight alongside the regime, many of them battle-hardened from their experience fighting American and British personnel in Iraq.
    The Shia militias that Iran established in Iraq were organized and financed by Tehran; they were given their own identities and, therefore, the chance to acquire their own local resources and support bases.
    These groups have become integrated into Iraq’s political system and now have affiliates in Syria that are firmly entrenched in the areas they control.
    These affiliates have also started to establish local support and support from Shia throughout the region who fear that the overthrowing of Assad constitutes an existential threat to the Shia as a whole, fears that Iran exploits.

    Wide-ranging influence

    Iran’s influence in Syria, therefore, has a cultural and religious dimension, which adds to the complexity of combating it. Rather than focusing on defeating Iran in Syria, the US must focus on containing it.

      U.N.: We need serious Syria talks, not ‘talk about talk’


    It started to do that on Thursday: America’s presence reassures its friends and worries its enemies. While their confidence may have been high before, Iran and its proxies will now be looking over their shoulders in Syria.
    Countering Iran effectively will require long-term approaches to a complex and constantly evolving problem. The US must match the dedication and resources that Iran has invested: that means establishing a foothold in Syria.
    Establishing the safe zone that the Trump administration is considering and that its allies have called for will effectively constitute a buffer zone against Iranian influence. It is no longer simply a moral imperative to pursue such a zone but also a strategic imperative.
    Syria’s future will most likely be a federal model where power is devolved to different regions. Iran’s strategy for Syria is accordingly set out in a way that allows it to dominate, such governing structures.

    Iraq strategy repeated

    It should come as no surprise if Iran attempts to integrate its proxies and the territories they currently control into the post-conflict political system and institutionalize them into the state, as it has done with its proxies in Iraq.
    Whether it is on the ground or at the negotiating table, the US can leverage its presence in Syria to prevent Iran from attempting to institutionalize its proxies.
    A safe zone that acts as a buffer against Iranian influence will enable that and ensure Iran does not have a free-hand in shaping Syria’s future.
    While Moscow has influence in Syria, its hands are tied. From the Iranian perspective, it would be counter-intuitive to withdraw militias who provide it with unparalleled influence and these militias, in any case, far outnumber and outweigh the forces that Russia has deployed on the ground.
    However, the Assad regime and Iran are becoming increasingly assertive and have started to move away from Russia’s sphere of influence.
    That presents an opportunity for the US to coordinate its actions with the Russians as it attempts to contain Iran’s influence in Syria.

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