Russia Rejects Reports that US Offered Moscow Secret Ukraine Peace Plan

A Ukrainian serviceman stands at a position close to the border with Belarus, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (AP)
A Ukrainian serviceman stands at a position close to the border with Belarus, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (AP)
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Russia Rejects Reports that US Offered Moscow Secret Ukraine Peace Plan

A Ukrainian serviceman stands at a position close to the border with Belarus, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (AP)
A Ukrainian serviceman stands at a position close to the border with Belarus, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (AP)

The Kremlin on Friday rejected as a "hoax" media reports that US CIA Director William Burns had travelled to Moscow with a secret peace proposal that involved Ukraine ceding a fifth of its territory to Russia.

The Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung's report, which said Burns had made a secret trip to Moscow last month to put forward the plan on behalf of the White House, has also been dismissed by Washington.

Asked whether Burns had travelled to Moscow or put forward a plan that involved Ukraine ceding 20% of its territory, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "That whole report is a hoax."



Russian-Installed Officials Claim Moscow Forces Destroy First US-Supplied Abrams Tank in Ukraine

 A Ukrainian soldier looks out of a shelter at the frontline in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP)
A Ukrainian soldier looks out of a shelter at the frontline in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP)
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Russian-Installed Officials Claim Moscow Forces Destroy First US-Supplied Abrams Tank in Ukraine

 A Ukrainian soldier looks out of a shelter at the frontline in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP)
A Ukrainian soldier looks out of a shelter at the frontline in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP)

Russian-installed officials said on Monday that Moscow's forces had for the first time destroyed a US-supplied Abrams tank in Ukraine, a battlefield claim that drew approving comment from the Kremlin.

Reuters could not immediately verify a video published on social media that purported to show an Abrams on fire.

"From the very beginning, our soldiers said that these tanks would burn just like others," state news agency RIA quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. He was referring to previous instances where Russia says it has destroyed Western weaponry in Ukraine.

The United States began supplying the Abrams to Ukrainian forces last September.


French Court Hands Down Prison Sentences over 2018 Terrorist Attack

Palace of Justice in Paris. (viral photo)
Palace of Justice in Paris. (viral photo)
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French Court Hands Down Prison Sentences over 2018 Terrorist Attack

Palace of Justice in Paris. (viral photo)
Palace of Justice in Paris. (viral photo)

A Parisian court handed down sentences to six men and one woman, ranging from six months to four years behind bars, nearly six years following the terrorist attack in southern France that claimed the lives of four individuals.

On Friday, the French judiciary pronounced these sentences in connection with the assault for which ISIS asserted responsibility, a harrowing event that unfolded in 2018 in the southwest of France.

The attack resulted in the deaths of four individuals, while the assailant, a radicalized young man, was fatally shot by police.

On the morning of March 23, 2018, Redouane Lakdim, a 25-year-old with a history of drug dealing and radicalization, carried out a heinous attack in southwestern France. He first targeted a gathering place for gay individuals, fatally shooting one and injuring another.

Lakdim then proceeded to a supermarket in Trebes, where he killed a 50-year-old butcher and another customer. Brandishing a pistol, Lakdim shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and claimed allegiance to ISIS.

He took an employee hostage, demanding contact with the gendarmerie forces and referencing French military actions in Syria. Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, aged 44, heroically offered himself as a substitute hostage.

Despite being seriously injured, Beltrame succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. Lakdim was subsequently killed in the confrontation.

The courtroom spotlight fell particularly on Marine Pequeño, the extremist girlfriend of the assailant. She received a five-year prison term, with two years suspended, effectively sparing her immediate return to incarceration.

However, this sentence fell significantly short of the eleven years sought by the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office.

Samir Manna, aged 28, faced severe scrutiny as well, as the prosecution pushed for a ten-year sentence, branding him as the accomplice who facilitated the purchase of the knife used in the fatal attack on Beltrame.

Surprisingly, Manna was sentenced to a mere three years behind bars. He is set to walk free after spending five and a half years in pretrial detention. Throughout the proceedings, Manna vehemently denied any knowledge of the extremist intentions of his friend, emphasizing his lack of involvement in radical activities.

The court delivered its harshest judgment against the girlfriend of the attacker, aged 18, sentencing her to eighteen years in prison. This severe sentence was attributed to her complicity in concealing the assailant's plans from authorities.

However, reports from Le Parisien suggest that authorities believe the young woman has renounced extremist beliefs.

Meanwhile, other defendants faced convictions for their inadvertent support of the attacker, such as accompanying him to procure weapons, unaware of his true intentions


Conservatives Unite in Tehran to Maintain Parliamentary Control

Iranians pass by a booth displaying campaign posters on Saturday (AFP)
Iranians pass by a booth displaying campaign posters on Saturday (AFP)
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Conservatives Unite in Tehran to Maintain Parliamentary Control

Iranians pass by a booth displaying campaign posters on Saturday (AFP)
Iranians pass by a booth displaying campaign posters on Saturday (AFP)

Key factions within the Iranian conservative camp have agreed on a joint list for the upcoming legislative elections in Tehran. This agreement comes amidst efforts by authorities to encourage voter turnout.

Government sources reported on Sunday that the “Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces” political alliance, led by current parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and the hardline “Front of Islamic Revolution Stability,” have agreed on a unified list of candidates.

They aim to maintain control over 30 constituencies in Tehran and its suburbs.

Ghalibaf, a former Revolutionary Guards commander, will lead the list alongside Morteza Aghatehrani, a hardline cleric and current member of parliament.

The joint list has been confirmed as final by both sides. There were discussions between the factions before reaching this agreement.

Despite earlier reports suggesting a change in Ghalibaf’s electoral district, he remains at the forefront of the conservative list in Tehran.

Some conservative figures have voiced concerns about the increasing number of electoral lists, which could boost the chances of independent or moderate-conservative aligned candidates.

Confirmation of Ghalibaf’s candidacy in Tehran came alongside news that a member of his team, Deputy Mohsen Dehnavi, had agreed to withdraw. This decision followed allegations of bribery involving an Iranian factory owner.

Efforts to encourage voter turnout have intensified amid concerns over public discontent and economic challenges due to US sanctions.

These elections follow widespread protests in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini during police custody over a veiling dispute.

President Ebrahim Raisi hopes for a robust parliament to support the people and government, while Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian sees every vote as a statement of Iran’s standing internationally.

Key players in the reformist camp are leaning towards staying out of the elections after their main candidates refused to run, demanding certain conditions be met first.

However, former conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari, with support from moderates, recently announced the formation of the “Voice of the People” electoral list, which includes some reformists, moderates, and independents.

Last week, prominent reformist activists criticized a statement signed by 110 reformist activists, some living outside Iran, urging participation in the elections.


Security Council ‘Perhaps Fatally’ Undermined by Gaza, Ukraine Deadlock, Says UN Chief

Dust and smoke from airstrikes engulf Palestinians walking along Al Rashid road after crossing from the northern Gaza Strip into the south of Gaza city, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
Dust and smoke from airstrikes engulf Palestinians walking along Al Rashid road after crossing from the northern Gaza Strip into the south of Gaza city, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
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Security Council ‘Perhaps Fatally’ Undermined by Gaza, Ukraine Deadlock, Says UN Chief

Dust and smoke from airstrikes engulf Palestinians walking along Al Rashid road after crossing from the northern Gaza Strip into the south of Gaza city, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
Dust and smoke from airstrikes engulf Palestinians walking along Al Rashid road after crossing from the northern Gaza Strip into the south of Gaza city, 25 February 2024. (EPA)

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday deplored how the UN Security Council had failed to respond adequately to the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying the conflicts had "perhaps fatally" undermined its authority. 

Speaking at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Guterres said the UN Security Council often found itself deadlocked and "unable to act on the most significant peace and security issues of our time". 

"The Council's lack of unity on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel's military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, has severely – perhaps fatally – undermined its authority," he said. 

"The Council needs serious reform to its composition and working methods." 

The United States last week again vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Israel's offensive against Gaza. 

It was the third US veto of a draft resolution since the start of the current fighting on Oct. 7. 

An estimated 1.5 million Gazans are crammed in tents and other makeshift shelters in the town of Rafah on the border with Egypt, most of them having fled their homes further north to escape Israel's offensive. 

Guterres, who described Rafah as the core of the humanitarian aid operation in the Palestinian enclave, said a full-scale Israeli assault there would have devastating consequences. 

"An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there; it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programs." 

The flow of aid entering Gaza from Egypt has dwindled, and a collapse in security has made it increasingly difficult to distribute the food that does get through, according to UN data and officials. 


UK Conservatives Suspend Lawmaker for Making Islamophobic Statements 

British lawmaker Lee Anderson walks towards 10 Downing Street in December. (Reuters)
British lawmaker Lee Anderson walks towards 10 Downing Street in December. (Reuters)
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UK Conservatives Suspend Lawmaker for Making Islamophobic Statements 

British lawmaker Lee Anderson walks towards 10 Downing Street in December. (Reuters)
British lawmaker Lee Anderson walks towards 10 Downing Street in December. (Reuters)

Britain's Conservative Party suspended one of its lawmakers, Lee Anderson, on Saturday after he said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was “under the control of Islamists”.

Khan, the first Muslim to be mayor of London and a member of the opposition Labour Party, is a frequent target of Conservative criticism for his handling of policing in Britain's capital, including regular pro-Palestinian marches.

On Wednesday hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside parliament, during a chaotic vote over whether to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and the exact language to use.

The speaker of the lower house of parliament, Lindsay Hoyle, said he broke with usual parliamentary procedure for the vote because of previous threats of violence some lawmakers had received due to their views on the conflict.

Speaking on Friday to the television channel GB News, Anderson said: “I don't actually believe these Islamists have got control of our country. But what I do believe is they've got control of Khan and they've got control of London. He's actually given our capital city to his mates.”

Khan - who regularly speaks of the importance of fighting antisemitism and misogyny - told reporters that he regarded Anderson's comments as racist and Islamophobic and that they would “pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.

Amid growing criticism of Anderson's remarks on Saturday, the Conservative Party said it had decided he could no longer represent them in parliament.

“Following his refusal to apologize for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP,” a spokesperson for Simon Hart, the government minister in charge of party discipline, said.

Anderson, a former Conservative Party vice chairman, said he understood the decision to suspend him.

“I will continue to support the government's efforts to call out extremism in all its forms - be that antisemitism or Islamophobia,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

A survey conducted from Feb. 16-18 by Savanta showed that 29% of Britons believed the Conservatives had a problem with Islamophobia, the most of any major political party.


US Airman Sets Himself on Fire Outside Israeli Embassy in Washington

In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)
In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)
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US Airman Sets Himself on Fire Outside Israeli Embassy in Washington

In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)
In this image taken from video, police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)

US military service member set himself on fire, in an apparent act of protest against the war in Gaza, outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Sunday afternoon, authorities said, according to Reuters.

The man was transported to an area hospital after the fire was put out by US Secret Service officers, DC Fire and EMS posted online.

The man remains in critical condition, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said Sunday afternoon.

An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the incident involved a active duty airman.

Local police and Secret Service are investigating the incident.

Israel's embassy has been the target of continued protest against the war in Gaza.

The war in Gaza has led to pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests in the United States.

The protests started after Oct. 7 when Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched a cross-border attacks, that according to Israeli counts have killed 1,200 Israelis and seized 253 hostages.

Since then, Israeli forces have waged a military campaign against the coastal enclave, laying much of it to waste, with nearly 30,000 people dead, according to Palestinian health officials.


31,000 Ukrainian Troops Killed Since Start of Russia's Invasion, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during 'Ukraine. Year 2024' conference, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during 'Ukraine. Year 2024' conference, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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31,000 Ukrainian Troops Killed Since Start of Russia's Invasion, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during 'Ukraine. Year 2024' conference, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during 'Ukraine. Year 2024' conference, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action in the two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Zelenskiy said that the number was far lower than estimates given by Russian President Vladimir Putin's government.
“31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about. But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us”, Zelenskiy said at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian leader said that he wouldn't disclose the number of troops that were wounded or missing. He also said that “tens of thousands of civilians” had been killed in occupied areas of Ukraine, but said that no exact figures would be available until the war was over.
“We don’t know how many of our civilians they killed. We don’t,” he said.
It's the first time that Kyiv has confirmed the number of its losses since the start of Russia’s full-scale war on Feb. 24, 2022.
Russia has provided few official casualty figures. The most recent data from the Defense Ministry, published in January 2023, pointed to just over 6,000 deaths, although reports from US and UK officials put that number significantly higher.
A US intelligence report declassified in mid-December 2023 estimated that 315,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine. If accurate, the figure would represent 87% of the roughly 360,000 troops Russia had before the war, according to the report.
Independent Russian news outlet Mediazona said Saturday that about 75,000 Russian men died in 2022 and 2023 fighting in the war.
A joint investigation published by Mediazona and Meduza, another independent Russian news site, indicates that the rate of Russia’s losses in Ukraine is not slowing and that Moscow is losing about 120 men a day.


Ukraine Expects $11.8 Bln in US Economic Aid in 2024

In this grab taken from video released by the head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin's telegram channel on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, walks past damaged buildings, after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine. (Head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin telegram channel via AP)
In this grab taken from video released by the head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin's telegram channel on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, walks past damaged buildings, after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine. (Head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin telegram channel via AP)
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Ukraine Expects $11.8 Bln in US Economic Aid in 2024

In this grab taken from video released by the head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin's telegram channel on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, walks past damaged buildings, after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine. (Head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin telegram channel via AP)
In this grab taken from video released by the head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin's telegram channel on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, walks past damaged buildings, after Russian forces completed their takeover of Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine. (Head of the Russian-controlled Donetsk region Denis Pushilin telegram channel via AP)

Ukraine expects to receive $11.8 billion in economic support this year from the United States, its prime minister said on Sunday.

Denys Shmyhal said during a televised conference in Kyiv that he was hopeful that US lawmakers would approve long-awaited economic and military aid.

Russia said on Sunday that its forces had taken more advantageous positions near Avdiivka and Donetsk after President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to push further into Ukraine after two years of full-scale war.
Russia's defense ministry said its troops had pushed back Ukrainian forces near Klishchiivka, Dyleyevka and Kurdiumivka in the Donetsk region and taken better positions near Avdiivka which fell to Russia earlier this month.
"In the Donetsk direction, units of the Southern grouping of troops improved the situation along the front line and defeated formations of the 22nd, 28th and 92nd mechanized brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the areas of the settlements of Klishchiivka, Dyleyevka and Kurdiumivka," it said.

"In the Avdiivka direction, units of the Center group of forces occupied more advantageous lines and positions, and also defeated manpower and equipment of the 3rd Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the 107th Air Defense Brigade."
The ministry said Russian troops had repelled seven Ukrainian counter-attacks in the area. A total of 77 Ukrainian drones were destroyed, the ministry said.


Ukraine's Top General, Defense Minister Visit Posts Near Front Line

FILE PHOTO: Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
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Ukraine's Top General, Defense Minister Visit Posts Near Front Line

FILE PHOTO: Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

Ukrainian army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov visited command posts near the front line to analyze the battlefield and boost defenses, the top general said on Sunday.
Kyiv's military is struggling to stave off Russian forces along the sprawling front line as Moscow's full-scale invasion passes its two-year mark.
"We analyzed the current situation in detail and discussed the necessary further steps, primarily the protection of troops from drones and strikes by aerial bombs as well as the strengthening of certain areas of the front," Syrskyi posted on Telegram along with images of himself and Umerov meeting commanders.
Syrskyi, who did not say when the visit took place, added that "the situation is complex and requires constant monitoring".
Russian forces last week captured the strategic eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka after a months-long assault and are pressing on several other areas along the front line, Ukrainian authorities say.

Kyiv's strategic industries minister said on Sunday Ukraine tripled its weapons production last year and 500 companies are now working in the country's defense sector.

Oleksandr Kamyshin said during a televised address that the figure included 100 state and 400 private companies and that Ukraine this year plans "to considerably increase ammunition production."

Ukraine also announced Sunday destroying 16 out of 18 attack drones launched overnight by Russia.

The air force said the Iranian-made drones had been shot down over eight regions across central, western and southern Ukraine, including the capital region.


Trump Wins South Carolina, Beating Nikki Haley in Her Home State

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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Trump Wins South Carolina, Beating Nikki Haley in Her Home State

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Donald Trump easily defeated Nikki Haley in South Carolina's Republican contest on Saturday, extending his winning streak as he marches toward a third consecutive presidential nomination and a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden.

The former president had been widely favored to win the Southern state, despite his litany of criminal charges and Haley's status as a native of South Carolina who won two terms as governor.

The big win bolstered calls from Trump's allies that Haley, his last remaining challenger, should drop out of the race.

But Haley, who outperformed expectations based on opinion polls, defiantly insisted she would fight on at least through "Super Tuesday" on March 5, when Republicans in 15 states and one US territory will cast ballots.

Trump won with 59.8% support against 39.5% for Haley with 99% of the expected vote tallied, according to Edison Research. Statewide opinion polls before Saturday had given Trump an average lead of 27.6 percentage points, according to the tracking website 538, Reuters reported.

"Forty percent is not some tiny group," Haley said of her vote share. "There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an alternative."

Trump has dominated all five Republican primary contests thus far - in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, the US Virgin Islands and now Haley's home state - leaving Haley with no evident path to the Republican nomination.

Trump gave his victory speech in Columbia, the state capital, minutes after the polls closed and did not mention Haley, claiming his party's mantle as he looked ahead to November's general election.

"I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now," he said.

In recent days Haley had notably sharpened her attacks on Trump, questioning his mental acuity and warning voters he would lose the general election to Biden.

But there is scant evidence that a majority of Republican voters is interested in any standard-bearer except Trump.

Immigration, which Trump has made a focus of his campaign, was the number one issue for voters on Saturday, according to an Edison exit poll. Some 39% cited that issue, above the 33% who said the economy was their top concern.

Approximately 84% of voters said the economy is not so good or poor, highlighting a major potential weakness for Biden in November's general election.

Once again, however, exit polls also pointed to Trump's own vulnerabilities. Nearly one-third of voters said he would be unfit to serve as president if he were convicted of a crime.

Trump's first criminal trial is scheduled to begin on March 25 in New York City. He is charged with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign.

He faces three other sets of charges, including a federal indictment alleging he conspired to reverse Biden's election victory in 2020. Trump has pleaded not guilty in every case and claimed, with no evidence, that the charges stem from a Democratic conspiracy to derail his campaign.