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00:00 The common household plant that could kill your family pet
00:00 Florida school's officer 'never went in' during shooting
00:00 BREAKING: Donald Trump STRIKES North Korea with ‘LARGE PACKAGE’ to cripple despot regime
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00:00 Terri Irwin shares an emotional tribute to husband Steve
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00:00 BRIT Awards 2018: Mollie King wows in leather mini dress
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00:00 Rapist killer Eric Scott Branch is executed in Florida
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00:00 Jodie Whittaker trades her sonic screwdriver for a hot water bottle while filming the first Doctor Who scenes
00:00 Plastic straws could be banned in Britain after Brexit, says Environment Secretary Michael Gove
00:00 Furious MPs demand answers from the Treasury as Brexit bill could rise by another £5billion
00:00 Donald Trump says teacher’s who arm themselves in class should get bonuses for keeping kids safe
00:00 Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry reveals Labour will give up right to negotiate independent post-Brexit trade deals
00:00 Gethin Jones 'splits' from lingerie model Katja Zwara due to 'busy work schedules'
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00:00 Fury as tax-avoiding lawyer made head of City watchdog 
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00:00 TOM UTLEY on Jennifer Lawrence's decision to fix democracy
00:00 Africa's week in pictures: 16-22 February 2018
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00:00 The common household plant that could kill your family pet
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Dramatic moment US fighter jet obliterates Russian tank in Syria raid that wiped out hundreds of fighters and dozens of Putin’s soldiers

THIS is the moment an American warplane locks on to a Russian tank in Syria and destroys it within an instant.

Footage has been released by the US military showing T-72 tank being destroyed by Reaper drone as it boasted it had killed more than 100 mercenaries from Russia in a series of airstrikes.

 The formidable T-72 tanks is in the sights of the drone
The formidable T-72 tanks is in the sights of the drone

This deadly raids are the biggest direct clash between US and Russian forces since the end of the Cold War and underline the danger of the two sides becoming engulfed in conflict in the Syrian civil war.

The bombing raids were designed to protect rebel fighters in Syria on Saturday against forces loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad which are backed by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

 Within seconds it is a smouldering heap of metal
Within seconds it is a smouldering heap of metal
 The footage also shows another war fighting vehicle being targeted with troops dashing for cover
The footage also shows another war fighting vehicle being targeted with troops dashing for cover
 In this frame a missile or bomb can be seen raining down on them
In this frame a missile or bomb can be seen raining down on them
 A massive explosion follows
A massive explosion follows

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reports needed to be verified.

But analysts believe Russia is using so-called private security firms to avoid deaths among its conscript army which could prove unpopular with its citizens. 

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Russia has told the US there were no Russians in the area of the strike.

But he admitted "Russian contractors" were possibly casualties of the bombing.

 Neither country's government confirmed the incident had resulted in the alleged deaths

AFP - Getty

Neither country's government confirmed the incident had resulted in the alleged deaths

He said: "I don't have any reporting that some non-Russian Federation soldiers, but Russian contractors were among the casualties.

"I can't give you anything on that. We have not received that word at Central Command or the Pentagon."

Russian media said the contractors were part of pro-Assad forces that advanced on oil fields in the eastern Deir el-Zour province and were targeted by the United States.

The reports cited activists who confirmed that at least four Russian citizens were killed in Syria last Wednesday.

During the war in Syria, Russia and the US have maintained a communications channel to avoid collisions between their warplanes and soldiers in the chaotic battlefield.

If Russian deaths from the US strike are confirmed, it would mean the two countries were on the verge of a direct military confrontation in Syria.

The episode could further strain ties between the two countries, which have plummeted to the lowest levels since the Cold War over the Ukrainian conflict, the war in Syria and the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Last week the US unleashed an air and artillery barrage on Syrian government-backed troops after some 300 attackers launched what appeared to be a coordinated assault on Syrian opposition forces accompanied by U.S. advisers in the province of Deir el-Zour.

It said it was in regular communication with Russian counterparts before, during and after the attack, and Russian officials assured coalition officials they would not strike coalition forces.

It said the US strikes, which reportedly killed about 100 of the attackers, were in self-defence.

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