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Up to a third of the $6.7bn (£5.2bn) in Pentagon funds Donald Trump has identified to spend on a US-Mexico border wall has already been spent, officials have revealed. During his emergency powers declaration last month, the US president announced he would divert billions of dollars from other Department of Defense projects towards the wall, in order to circumvent Congress. It included $3.6bn (£2.8bn) in unspent military construction money, as well as $2.5bn (£1.9bn) in counterdrug funds and $600m (£462m) from an asset forfeiture account – the latter two not dependent on the emergency delaration.
Russia on Friday accused the United States of using aid deliveries to Venezuela as a ploy to carry out military action against President Nicolas Maduro's government. "A dangerous provocation, instigated and led by Washington, is planned for February 23," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, pointing to efforts by opposition leader Juan Guaido to pick up US aid being stockpiled on the Colombian border. Guaido's plans to try to bring the aid across the border are aimed at provoking clashes, she said, to provide "a convenient pretext for conducting military action".
Trucks loaded with civilians left the last Islamic State enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as U.S.-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded jihadists. Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket. The village is all that remains for Islamic State in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.
China said Friday it was against forcefully sending "so-called humanitarian assistance" to Venezuela, warning it could spark conflict in the crisis-torn country. China has loaned billions to Venezuela and has remained committed to President Nicolas Maduro even as the country has fallen deeper into economic crisis. Foreign aid mostly from the US has piled up on Venezuela's borders as the Maduro government refuses to let it into the country.