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Police in El Salvador that receive equipment and training — though not weapons —  from the U.S. have allegedly been involved in what has been criticized as illegal executions of gang members, CNN reports.

The big picture: The police, known as the Jaguar Police Unit, are targeting MS-13 gang leaders, per CNN. Many of those serving with the Jaguar unit were once a part of the Special Reaction Forces (FES,) which was disbanded because of allegations surrounding its "lethal track record." The alleged illegal executions pose a problem for the U.S. as it is not supposed "to fund units guilty of human rights abuses."

The details: The police argue that they're fighting "terrorists," but the U.N. is set to release a report that will declare "a pattern of behavior by Security Personnel amounting to extrajudicial executions," CNN reports.

  • The U.S. Embassy said in a statement: "The U.S. government takes allegations of extrajudicial killings extremely seriously."

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.