This is VOA news. Via remote, I'm Marissa Melton. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. It's the first visit to Afghanistan since taking up his post as Washington considers whether to comply with the May the 1st deadline for pulling out all troops from the country under a year-old deal it signed with the Taliban. Austin held a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani after arriving in the Afghan capital Kabul from a trip to India. A Pentagon report quoted Austin as saying he visited Afghanistan to "listen and learn" and that he wanted to understand what Ghani's concerns were. An Afghan presidential statement said Ghani and Austin "expressed concern over the high-level of violence" and stressed the need to find a "just and lasting" peace in Afghanistan. Austin declined to comment on whether the Taliban have met the necessary conditions for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country by a May deadline.
Russian jets hit rebel training camps Sunday in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border as Syrian artillery killed seven civilians and injured 14 medics in an attack on a hospital in the area. The sources said a Russian surface-to-surface missile also hit the town of Qah while Russian airstrikes came close to densely populated refugee camps along the border with Turkey.A gas facility was hit near Sarmada city in Idlib province, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The world's largest vaccine producer, the Serum Institute of India, has told at least three countries that their COVID vaccine shipments will be delayed. The institute has informed Brazil, Morocco and Saudi Arabia that the cause of the delay is India's own overwhelming need for the vaccine. India is experiencing a surge of infections. It has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases recorded, with 11.6 million. Only the United States at 29.7 million cases and Brazil at 11.9 million cases have more. The institute has been criticized for selling or donating more vaccines than the number of inoculations that it provided to its own people. Meanwhile, Brazil is in talks with the United States to import excess doses of coronavirus vaccine, according to its Foreign Ministry on Saturday. The South American nation recorded 79,069 new cases in a 24-hour period, according to its Health Ministry. It has reported more than 2,400 COVID-19 deaths. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed three measures to speed the purchase of vaccines. Via remote, I'm Marissa Melton, VOA news.