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Newly released child soldiers in South Sudan. Photo: Steganie Glinski / AFP / Getty Images

South Sudan’s elite are using the country’s main revenue source, oil, to fund militias and atrocities in the country, according to documents obtained by The Sentry, an investigative group founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast.

Political backdrop: South Sudan has been in a state of turmoil since the ongoing civil war broke out in 2013. The violence has left famine in its wake and millions of South Sudanese internally displaced and seeking refuge in neighboring countries. A ceasefire signed in December hasn't been followed.

What’s happening, per the report: South Sudan’s state oil company, Nile Petroleum Corporation (Nilepet), has funded militias responsible for violence. More than $80 million was recorded as being paid to South Sudanese politicians, military officials, government agencies, and companies with links to politicians that paid for military transport and other logistics linked with atrocities.

  • The petroleum ministry helped provide funds, food, and fuel to militia groups in the Upper Nile state that are reportedly behind attacks on villages and civilians.
  • Nilepet made payments to a company called Golden Wings Aviation and other companies for an “army logistics operation” in June 2015. The UN has claimed this company transported weapons to Unity state during a period of violence in 2014 and 2015.
  • Other companies the records list as having received similar payments for military logistics operations include Interstate Airways, partially owned by South Sudan’s First Lady, as well as Nile Basin for Aviation, an airline owned by family members of top military and government officials.
  • Crown Auto Trade, a Toyota dealership majority-owned by a prominent South Sudanese businessman, is also reportedly listed in the records as having received $8 million in payments from Nilepet for providing vehicles and importing armored personnel carriers. The businessman, Obac William Olawo, denies transporting troops, weapons, or equipment.

There were 84 security-related transactions between March 2014 and June 2015, according to the documents The Sentry obtained.

Go deeper:

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Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.