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  1. #161
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    Let's cite a real life example. Right now both USA and UK are crying because they are accusing Russia of meddling in Western elections! Though lets not forget about the countless times USA and UK have embarked on regime change in foreign nations.

    The chickens are coming home to roost!

  2. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by Technics 1210 View Post
    They blame THE CURRENT ills on the West because the West continue to interfere in the politics and economics till this day in the region. Which part are you not understanding mate? Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, were NEVER allowed to be rebuilt because Western interests were to busy arming the rebels! What was it that Cameron said? Ahh yes we are arming the *moderate Muslims*.

    ME would recover from the wreckage once Western politics stop interfering. Look at the state now, the West have armed Israel with nukes but warn Iran otherwise.
    ”The West” continues to “interfere” in German and Japanese politics and yet these nations go from strength to strength. They do not foment terror or invade neighbours, they trade with them and cooperate.

    Iraq was not interfered with, until it invaded Kuwait. Libya was not interfered with until Gaddafi interfered with Mediterranean shipping in the eighties. Latterly he was left alone when he started cooperating with ‘the West”. But the UNSC decided to impose a no-fly zone during the Arab Spring to stop him killing Libyans, and the resulting bombardment allowed another regime to seize that country. I would have left him in place, though.

  3. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot View Post
    More to do with the Japanese people having the highest average IQ levels. High IQ is related to success as explained by Jordan Peterson.

    South Asians on the other hand have on average low IQ levels.
    I discount those bell curves as questionable at best and racist as worse. It’s down to cultural factors such as entrepreneurship, and having good STEM education.

  4. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    ”The West” continues to “interfere” in German and Japanese politics and yet these nations go from strength to strength. They do not foment terror or invade neighbours, they trade with them and cooperate.
    Al Qaeda, and ISIS are the result of power vacuums created by the West. The west now admit that the biggest mistake was to interfere in the region and topple dictators. As for festering terrorism, I ask you, if your family was bombed by a foreign military for no reason, family killed, you survive, would you want to grow up to be a humble, law abiding citizen? Think about this. Cause and effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    Iraq was not interfered with, until it invaded Kuwait. Libya was not interfered with until Gaddafi interfered with Mediterranean shipping in the eighties. Latterly he was left alone when he started cooperating with ‘the West”. But the UNSC decided to impose a no-fly zone during the Arab Spring to stop him killing Libyans, and the resulting bombardment allowed another regime to seize that country. I would have left him in place, though.
    That's the story you want to go with then so be it. You forget to mention all these so called evil dictators were once supported by the West, funded by the West. Also look up how Saddam notified USA that he was going to invade Kuwait and some Americans supported the idea! Still, what did Iraq do in 2003 please? Why did the West fabricate a story of WMDs to wage an illegal war? Now tell me if USA has ever engaged in an illegal war vs Germany or Japan post 1947? Thought so.

    If you want to know the real reason why said countries were attacked by the West, then look no further than the Petrodollar - these countries were going to sell oil in non USD currency, but I guess you will not have been told about this truth because our government and the American government always speak the truth. Too bust spreading democracy!

    Of course I sense you are very careful about stating the West helped instill democracy in the region because that would not only be the biggest jokes, but the greatest of all ironies.

  5. #165
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    Just caught Trumps press conference with the Italian President and it’s now clear, at least to me, that Erdogan was given the green light...

  6. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by Technics 1210 View Post
    Al Qaeda, and ISIS are the result of power vacuums created by the West. The west now admit that the biggest mistake was to interfere in the region and topple dictators. As for festering terrorism, I ask you, if your family was bombed by a foreign military for no reason, family killed, you survive, would you want to grow up to be a humble, law abiding citizen? Think about this. Cause and effect.

    That's the story you want to go with then so be it. You forget to mention all these so called evil dictators were once supported by the West, funded by the West. Also look up how Saddam notified USA that he was going to invade Kuwait and some Americans supported the idea! Still, what did Iraq do in 2003 please? Why did the West fabricate a story of WMDs to wage an illegal war? Now tell me if USA has ever engaged in an illegal war vs Germany or Japan post 1947? Thought so.

    If you want to know the real reason why said countries were attacked by the West, then look no further than the Petrodollar - these countries were going to sell oil in non USD currency, but I guess you will not have been told about this truth because our government and the American government always speak the truth. Too bust spreading democracy!

    Of course I sense you are very careful about stating the West helped instill democracy in the region because that would not only be the biggest jokes, but the greatest of all ironies.
    That “some Americans” supported Saddam in 1990 is neither here nor there as the whole UN and Arab League was united against him. He had months to leave Kuwait and stop threatening Saudi Arabia, but did not so was driven out by a multinational force.

    By 2003, Saddam had failed to fully comply with UNSCR 1441. There were WMDs. I have talked to USMC pilots who detected Sarin with sniffer pods. Some Sarin was later found in an underground lab, but had denatured. This was reported in the papers. I would not have invaded as Saddam was keeping the lid on the nasty can of worms you describe. I would have let him keep his small stock of Sarin. He didn’t have any rockets to load it into. Blair should still have been forced to resign for misleading the Commons (except the Lib Dems under dear old Charlie Kennedy) with the dodgy dossier.

    Nobody invaded Germany and Japan after 1945 because these became good international citizens who foster strong trade, military and cultural links.

  7. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    That “some Americans” supported Saddam in 1990 is neither here nor there as the whole UN and Arab League was united against him. He had months to leave Kuwait and stop threatening Saudi Arabia, but did not so was driven out by a multinational force.

    By 2003, Saddam had failed to fully comply with UNSCR 1441. There were WMDs. I have talked to USMC pilots who detected Sarin with sniffer pods. Some Sarin was later found in an underground lab, but had denatured. This was reported in the papers. I would not have invaded as Saddam was keeping the lid on the nasty can of worms you describe. I would have let him keep his small stock of Sarin. He didn’t have any rockets to load it into. Blair should still have been forced to resign for misleading the Commons (except the Lib Dems under dear old Charlie Kennedy) with the dodgy dossier.
    Oh my. You believe Saddam had WMDs, despite the Chilcot report and countless inspectors and reports saying there were no WMDs.

    Be sure to watch the new movie that will be released this week, *Official Secrets*


    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    Nobody invaded Germany and Japan after 1945 because these became good international citizens who foster strong trade, military and cultural links.
    Oh so the citizens of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Lebanon are not good international citizens so are worthy of being invaded and killed.

  8. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    That “some Americans” supported Saddam in 1990 is neither here nor there as the whole UN and Arab League was united against him. He had months to leave Kuwait and stop threatening Saudi Arabia, but did not so was driven out by a multinational force.

    By 2003, Saddam had failed to fully comply with UNSCR 1441. There were WMDs. I have talked to USMC pilots who detected Sarin with sniffer pods. Some Sarin was later found in an underground lab, but had denatured. This was reported in the papers. I would not have invaded as Saddam was keeping the lid on the nasty can of worms you describe. I would have let him keep his small stock of Sarin. He didn’t have any rockets to load it into. Blair should still have been forced to resign for misleading the Commons (except the Lib Dems under dear old Charlie Kennedy) with the dodgy dossier.

    Nobody invaded Germany and Japan after 1945 because these became good international citizens who foster strong trade, military and cultural links.
    Saddam was given the green light by US via a meeting with the then ambassador April Glaspie. You can find a transcript of their discussion which has been leaked.

    What some pilot told you means nothing. Again there are leaked documents which show the US and it's poodle(female) Blair knew there were no WMDs, as proven by his false 45 mins speech.

    Even if they did find Sarin, do you realise how daft your argument is? Chemical weapons were supplied to Saddam by western governments. A German company with a UK subsidery actually supplied these nerve gases to Saddam because he was their puppet.

    So you argument is UK supplied nerve gas to Saddam so UK has a right to invade and it take it back. Do you realise how this sounds? Im trying to be respectful here.


    Lions don't lose sleep over the opinions of Sheep

  9. #169
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  10. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post

    Sometimes I wish I lose all the interest in reading news and stick to reading novels ,watching sports , funny sitcoms.

  11. #171
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  12. #172
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    Will there ever be peace while there are US troops in Syria?.

  13. #173
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post

    Not only is this real, it wasn’t even leaked. It was circulated at his behest to various Senators today.

  14. #174
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    President Donald Trump has said Turkey's incursion into Syria is "not our border", and called the former US allies the Kurds "no angels".

    The US is facing intense criticism for withdrawing its forces from Syria, which some say gave Turkey the green light to launch a cross-border offensive against Kurdish-led forces.

    Mr Trump told reporters at the White House the US is "not a policing agent".

    "It is time for us to go home," he said.

    The US House of Representatives voted overwhelming to condemn the president's withdrawal of US forces from Syria, with both Democrats and Mr Trump's fellow Republicans approving the measure.

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi later told reporters Mr Trump had had a "meltdown" during a meeting with congressional leaders about Syria, which Democratic politicians eventually left after the president allegedly called her a "third-rate politician," according to Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

    For his part, Mr Trump aimed the same accusation at Ms Pelosi.

    Republican leaders however said Ms Pelosi's behaviour was "unbecoming", and criticised her for "storming out".

    Turkey launched the offensive in northern Syria a week ago to push back from its border members of a Syrian Kurdish militia called the People's Protection Units (YPG) and create a "safe zone" along the Syrian side of the border, where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled.

    The Turkish operation came after Mr Trump ordered the withdrawal of US forces from the area.

    Kurdish-led forces have been a key ally of the US in the fight against Islamic State in Syria and there are fears the destabilisation could lead to a resurgence of the militants.

    What did the president say?
    Earlier reports suggested the president said Turkey's operation in Syria was "not our problem". In fact, Mr Trump said: "They have a problem at a border. It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."

    Mr Trump said he saw the situation on the Turkey-Syria border as "strategically brilliant" for the US.

    "Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They've got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting," he said.

    "We're watching and we're negotiating and we're trying to get Turkey to do the right thing, because we'd like to stop wars regardless."

    The president also said that the Kurds are "not angels".

    "They fought with us. We made a lot of money for them to fight with us, and that's okay," he said. "They did well when they fought with us. They didn't do so well when they didn't fight with us."

    Mr Trump added that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a rebel group that fights for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey - "is probably worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than" Islamic State.

    President Trump also told reporters that he did not give Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "green light" for the operation, insisting that he wrote a "very powerful letter" to Mr Erdogan after speaking to him on the phone about the incursion.

    On Wednesday, a letter emerged dated 9 October - the day Turkey launched its offensive - in which Mr Trump wrote to President Erdogan: "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!"

    "You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will," the letter said.

    What's the context?
    Ankara sees the YPG militia as an extension of the PKK.

    The US has designated the PKK as a foreign terrorist organisation and Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity. The US has previously acknowledged links between the PKK and YPG, but it has rejected Turkey's assertion that the YPG is an extension of the PKK.

    The YPG dominates an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has driven the Islamic State (IS) group out of a quarter of Syria over the past four years with the help of air strikes by a US-led multinational coalition.

    On Sunday, after US troops began withdrawing from the region and Turkish-led forces made gains, the Kurds agreed a deal with the Syrian government for the Syrian army to be deployed on the border to help repel the Turkish assault.

    Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are heading to Turkish capital, Ankara, to meet Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The US announced sanctions against Turkey on Monday. Mr Trump has threatened to use sanctions to hurt Turkey's economy in a bid to stop their offensive.

    On Wednesday, a spokesman for Turkey's President Erdogan said the country's foreign ministry was preparing retaliatory sanctions against the US.

    Ankara has vowed to continue its offensive, and has refused to negotiate with Kurdish fighters.

    What's the latest on the ground?
    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that Syrian and Russian forces had entered the border town of Kobane, following a deal struck between the Kurds and Damascus in the wake of Turkey's incursion.

    Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed in the operation so far and at least 160,000 have fled the area, according to the UN.

    The UN Security Council meanwhile on Wednesday once more called on Turkey to stop its assault.

    Syrian government forces entered the strategic town of Manbij on Tuesday – inside the area where Turkey wants to create its "safe zone".

    Turkish troops and pro-Turkish, anti-government fighters have also been gathering near Manbij.

    Over the past two years, hundreds of US troops have visibly patrolled the strategic town, but they left earlier this week.
    Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50075703.


    LIONEL MESSI FAN
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  15. #175
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    Saddam was given the green light by US via a meeting with the then ambassador April Glaspie. You can find a transcript of their discussion which has been leaked.

    What some pilot told you means nothing. Again there are leaked documents which show the US and it's poodle(female) Blair knew there were no WMDs, as proven by his false 45 mins speech.

    Even if they did find Sarin, do you realise how daft your argument is? Chemical weapons were supplied to Saddam by western governments. A German company with a UK subsidery actually supplied these nerve gases to Saddam because he was their puppet.

    So you argument is UK supplied nerve gas to Saddam so UK has a right to invade and it take it back. Do you realise how this sounds? Im trying to be respectful here.
    If you are trying to be respectful you might try reading and understanding my posts. At no point have I said that the invasion of Iraq was justified. You make a confection in your mind of what you think I am saying and you argue with your own confection instead of me.

    What the pilot told me means plenty to me. It’s useful to speak to people who were there. His statement was confirmed by news reports about the Sarin lab.

    Nobody can export Sarin legally. There are international treaties preventing this. One might legally export precursor chemicals.

    I think Saddam had destroyed most of his chemical weapons stocks in accordance with UNSCR 1441, but foolishly kept some back from Hans Blix giving Bush 43 the excuse to invade. Bush 43 was not a bright guy, who was dominated by the neoconservative Cheney and Rumsfeld, according to Ken Clarke’s book. All those people died because 43 tried to impress 41.

  16. #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    I discount those bell curves as questionable at best and racist as worse. It’s down to cultural factors such as entrepreneurship, and having good STEM education.
    It’s only racist if you think it’s race related. Intelligence is influenced a lot by environmental factors, hence my view that countries with low average IQs are mainly due to issues such as education, diet, etc.

  17. #177
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    If you are trying to be respectful you might try reading and understanding my posts. At no point have I said that the invasion of Iraq was justified. You make a confection in your mind of what you think I am saying and you argue with your own confection instead of me.

    What the pilot told me means plenty to me. It’s useful to speak to people who were there. His statement was confirmed by news reports about the Sarin lab.

    Nobody can export Sarin legally. There are international treaties preventing this. One might legally export precursor chemicals.

    I think Saddam had destroyed most of his chemical weapons stocks in accordance with UNSCR 1441, but foolishly kept some back from Hans Blix giving Bush 43 the excuse to invade. Bush 43 was not a bright guy, who was dominated by the neoconservative Cheney and Rumsfeld, according to Ken Clarke’s book. All those people died because 43 tried to impress 41.
    Chemical weapons are exported legally, but under strict control. How do you think UK is a arms dealer for foreign countries? Just ask Israel where they got their White Phosphorous and other chemical weapons from.

  18. #178
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    Yes I heard of the Opium Wars, and then I heard of the Long March which killed tens of millions of Chinese and had nothing to do with the Opium War, and then I heard of Tiannenman Square Massacre which had nothing to do with the Opium War either.

    It doesn't matter that I haven't been stopsearched, I know I have white privilege, but calling out human rights abuses is the right thing to do. According to you, doing the right the right thing is hypocritical because only people who have suffered are allowed to do good things. I'll remember that next time I walk past a homeless guy on the street, I won't get him a sandwich because I have never gone hungry and helping him would therefore be hypocritical. I'll tell him sorry mate, I would put food in your belly but I can't because @the Great Khan will call me a hypocrite because some dead white guys started an opium war a century before I was born. I'm not allowed to do anything good because of that.
    lol..human rights abuses..lol

    your outrage is always selective and prejudiced. You see you only care about Hong Kong because the british media have highlighted a certain point of view. tell me do Hong Kong citizens who support mainland china not have human rights or is it ok to beat them up and burn their businesses down because some Hong kong citizens want the old colonial power back? Any other view that doesnt fit your own blinkered position is a conspiracy theory or is smirked at as being "ignorant".

    Actually you have no idea what white privilege is. You think you do but you don't. As for calling out human rights abuses, like I said before, the british and americans commit untold crimes on a daily basis, they have killed billions over the years. By all means try to make amends but dont go around lecturing the rest of the world about human rights and try to show us what a humanitarian you are when your very existence is built on the bones of my ancestors!!

    The best way for the british to make a difference is to shut up and show some humility. But alas that is asking too much. I mean you havent even apologised for the atrocities in the sub continent yet. Its not even a subject thats been talked about. its not even on the agenda..so please save us your whining.

    And those homeless you see are the direct result of the voting public of this nation. Racist, inhumane and stupid. And at the same time completely ignorant of this fact..

  19. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    If you are trying to be respectful you might try reading and understanding my posts. At no point have I said that the invasion of Iraq was justified. You make a confection in your mind of what you think I am saying and you argue with your own confection instead of me.

    What the pilot told me means plenty to me. It’s useful to speak to people who were there. His statement was confirmed by news reports about the Sarin lab.

    Nobody can export Sarin legally. There are international treaties preventing this. One might legally export precursor chemicals.

    I think Saddam had destroyed most of his chemical weapons stocks in accordance with UNSCR 1441, but foolishly kept some back from Hans Blix giving Bush 43 the excuse to invade. Bush 43 was not a bright guy, who was dominated by the neoconservative Cheney and Rumsfeld, according to Ken Clarke’s book. All those people died because 43 tried to impress 41.
    I think you believe in conspiracy theories but do not realize it.

    I mean the entire world including the official inspectors, said that Saddam did not have WMDs, but here you are not only convinced Saddam destroyed them, but your pilot friend told you so.

    I think it's better to accept the fact that Western intervention has not paid dividends in the ME, and while you may disagree, Western politicians have realized that regime change never works, it only makes matters worse.

  20. #180
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's anticipated visit to Pakistan has been postponed, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Thursday during his weekly briefing, hours after a Turkish diplomat tweeted about the matter.

    It had earlier been reported that the Turkish president would pay an official visit to Pakistan on October 23 to cement relations between the two countries and extend full support to Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir issue.

    The FO spokesperson added that a new date for the visit is yet to be determined.

    While Dr Faisal did not provide any reasons for the postponement, Turkey is currently occupied with a military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria which has raised tensions with Washington and other Western nations.

    US Vice President Mike Pence, heading a US delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, is set to arrive in Turkey on Thursday afternoon.

    Pak-Turkey ties
    Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had telephoned President Erdogan to discuss matters of mutual interest.

    According to Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Prime Minister Imran had called President Erdogan to exchange views on recent developments and apprised the latter that Pakistan fully understood Turkey's concerns relating to terrorism.

    The prime minister had said that, as ever, Pakistan stood in full support and solidarity with Turkey.

    "We pray that Turkey’s efforts for enhanced security, regional stability and peaceful resolution of the Syrian situation are fully successful," Prime Minister Imran had told his counterpart.

    On the visit of the Turkish president to Pakistan, the prime minister had said: “The government and the people of Pakistan are looking forward to accord a warm welcome to President Erdogan on his forthcoming visit to Pakistan later this month.”

    On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Pakistani, Turkish and Malaysian leaders met and decided to launch a joint international English language TV channel on the pattern of BBC.

    https://www.dawn.com/news/1511361/tu...n-postponed-fo

  21. #181
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    The US illegally invaded Iraq and toppled that government and committed genocide - no sanctions against US coalition (nor individuals like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Blaire)
    The UK/France illegally bombed Libya and toppled that government - no sanctions there.
    The Saudi led coalition has been bombing Yemen for years with hundreds of thousands of casualties - no sanctions there.
    Burma has ethnically cleansed millions of Rohinga Muslims, no sanctions there.
    India has imprisoned 8 million Kashmiris and the world looks the other way. No sanctions there.

    The US says it's pulling out of Syria and gives Turkey green light to remove internationally recognized terrorists (YPG and PKK), and everyone goes crazy and sanctions are applied
    right away with the EU threatening Turkey with its own sanctions.

  24. #184
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    Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw.

    The deal came after US Vice-President Mike Pence and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met for talks in Ankara.

    All fighting will be paused for five days, and the US will help facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey terms a "safe zone" on the border, Mr Pence said.

    It is unclear if the Kurdish YPG will fully comply, however.

    Commander Mazloum Kobani said Kurdish-led forces would observe the agreement in the area between the border towns of Ras al-Ayin and Tal Abyad, where fighting has been fierce.

    "We have not discussed the fate of other areas," he said.

    UK-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said clashes were continuing in Ras al-Ain despite the ceasefire announcement.

    It said 72 civilians had been killed inside Syria and more than 300,000 displaced over the past eight days.

    What prompted the offensive?
    Turkey launched the cross-border offensive last week, after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling US forces out of the Syria-Turkey border region.

    Its goal was to push back a Kurdish militia group - the People's Protection Units (YPG) - that Turkey views as a terrorist organisation.

    Turkey had hoped to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees in the border area, but critics warned that could trigger ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.

    President Trump was accused by some of abandoning a US ally, as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a group dominated by the YPG - fought alongside the US against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

    But on Wednesday he said the Kurds were "not angels", and declared: "It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."

    How has Trump reacted to the ceasefire?
    Mr Trump tweeted about the Turkish ceasefire before his vice-president unveiled it, writing: "Millions of lives will be saved!"

    He added later: "This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some "tough" love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!"

    Mr Pence credited Donald Trump's "strong leadership" during the announcement, saying: "He wanted a ceasefire. He wanted to stop the violence."

    "I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path," Mr Trump added on Twitter.

    Just a day before the Pence-Erdogan meeting, it emerged that Mr Trump had sent his Turkish counterpart a letter about the offensive, urging him: "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!"

    After the ceasefire announcement on Thursday, he called Mr Erdogan "a hell of a leader" who "did the right thing".

    What does Turkey say?
    Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists the offensive would only be permanently halted when the SDF had left the border zone.

    "We are suspending the operation, not halting it," he said. "We will halt the operation only after [Kurdish forces] completely withdraw from the region."

    Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey had also secured its goal of having heavy arms removed from the Kurdish-led fighters, and their positions destroyed.

    Mr Pence said the US would lift economic sanctions imposed on Turkey when the military offensive ended, and would not impose more in the meantime.

    The reversal on sanctions was been strongly criticised by the two most senior Democrats in the US Congress.

    Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer described Turkey's suspension of hostilities as a "sham ceasefire", saying President Erdogan had given up nothing. They said the lifting of sanctions seriously undermined the credibility of US foreign policy.

    Speaking to Al Arabiya, senior Kurdish politician Aldar Xelil said he welcomed an end to the fighting, but that the SDF would defend itself if exposed to violence.

    James Jeffrey, the US special representative on Syria, acknowledged that Kurdish-led forces weren't happy about leaving their positions.

    "We're basically doing our best efforts to get the YPG to withdraw using as a carrot and a stick the sanctions levers that we have," he told reporters.

    "There's no doubt that the YPG wishes that they could stay in these areas."
    Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50091305.


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  25. #185
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    The US Senate majority leader has attacked President Donald Trump's policy in Syria.

    In a Washington Post opinion piece, Mitch McConnell says fellow Republican Mr Trump's troop withdrawal order combined with Turkey's Syria assault was a "strategic nightmare".

    On Wednesday the president called the Turkey-Syria border situation "strategically brilliant" for the US.

    Sporadic fighting continues in the region despite a US-brokered pause.

    Under the deal, Turkey agreed to halt its operation for five days while Kurdish fighters leave the area. Ankara first launched its assault after Mr Trump withdrew all US forces from the border.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's operation aims to push Kurdish fighters - regarded by Turkey as terrorists - away from northernmost Syria and create a "safe zone" for resettling up to two million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

    Between 160,000 and 300,000 people have reportedly fled their homes since the fighting started, and there are fears that the Turkish operation may lead to the ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.

    Concern was also growing about possible war crimes committed by Turkey and allied militias since the offensive began on 9 October. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Turkish forces have used white phosphorous in Syria.

    What did Mitch McConnell say?
    In his opinion piece in the Washington Post, Mr McConnell - as Senate majority leader one of the most senior members of Mr Trump's Republican party - attacked the US troop withdrawal as a "grave strategic mistake".

    "The combination of a US pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country," he wrote. Even if the ceasefire holds, the Turkish assault and US withdrawal has "set back" Washington's fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

    Mr McConnell says their "retreat" will allow both Russian and Iranian influence to grow in the region.

    The Kentucky senator suggests using "both sticks and carrots to bring Turkey back in line while respecting its own legitimate security concerns", as well as maintaining a "limited military presence" in Syria and work closely with allies in the Middle East "threatened by this chaos".

    Mr McConnell did not mention Donald Trump by name in the article.

    On Wednesday, President Trump called the situation in the region "strategically brilliant" for the US.

    "They have a problem at a border," he told reporters at the White House. "It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."

    Mr McConnell is the latest Republican to criticise the president over Syria. Senator Lindsey Graham - normally a staunch ally of Mr Trump's - has vociferously opposed the administration's troop withdrawal.

    "A buffer zone is acceptable to the Kurds but a military occupation that displaces hundreds of thousands is not a safe zone," Mr Graham said on Thursday after speaking to Kurdish forces. "It is ethnic cleansing."

    What's happening on the ground?
    Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tweeted on Friday morning that Turkey was breaking the ceasefire near the flashpoint border town of Ras al-Ain.

    "Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital," he wrote.

    President Erdogan dismissed reports of continuing clashes on Friday as "misinformation" but international news media recorded explosions in Ras al-Ain during the morning.

    The Kurds had agreed to cease firing in the area between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, where combat had been fierce, but they said other areas had not been discussed.

    The Turkish-declared pause followed talks in Ankara between Mr Erdogan and Mr Trump's Vice-President, Mike Pence, on Thursday.

    All fighting was to halt for five days, or 120 hours, and the US was to help facilitate the withdrawal of Kurdish-led troops from Turkey's "safe zone" along the border.

    Mr Erdogan said on Friday that Syrian Kurdish fighters had begun to withdraw but Turkish forces would stay in north-eastern Turkey to make sure they "truly leave".

    The Turkish president also told reporters that Ankara would restart its assault "the minute 120 hours are over" if Kurdish fighters have not left the area by the end of the ceasefire.

    Were war crimes committed?
    Nearly 500 people have been killed since the offensive started, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group.

    They included 224 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and 183 Turkish-backed rebels, but also 72 civilians, according to the SOHR. The dead reportedly included at least 20 Turkish civilians.

    Reports in some newspapers alleged that Turkish forces used white phosphorous in Syria. People exposed the chemical are badly burned, as moisture on the body makes the chemical burn more vigorously while the heavy smoke it emits damages the lungs.

    Turkey insisted it did not have the weapon in its arsenal, but some Kurds forces accused militias fighting on behalf of Ankara of deploying it.

    A spokesman for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Friday the group had "not yet determined the credibility of these allegations", but it is aware of the situation and is collecting information.

    Amnesty International says it has gathered "damning evidence of war crimes and other violations by Turkish forces and their allies".

    It accuses them of carrying out summary executions and attacking civilians indiscriminately.

    Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish female politician killed on 12 October, was dragged out of her car, beaten and shot dead by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, Amnesty says.

    In other attacks, children were killed by Turkish air strikes or mortars, Amnesty says.

    Turkish-backed fighters have denied responsibility for Khalaf's death. President Erdogan insists his operation is aimed at bringing peace to the region and should be welcomed internationally.
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50103605.


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  26. #186
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    Turkish-led bombardment on Friday killed 14 civilians in northeastern Syria, as Turkey's president threatened to broaden his assault and an hours-old US-brokered deal already appeared to crumble.

    A war monitor said Turkish air strikes and mortar fire by its Syrian proxies killed 14 civilians, appearing to dash the ceasefire announced late Thursday.

    That deal was meant to provide a five-day pause for the evacuation of Kurdish fighters from the battleground border town of Ras al-Ain and other areas Turkey wants to control along its border with Syria.

    “If the promises are kept until Tuesday evening, the safe zone issue will be resolved,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

    “If it fails, the operation ... will start the minute 120 hours are over,” he said.

    The suspension looked designed to help Turkey achieve its main territorial goals without fighting, but its Syrian proxies continued to clash with Kurdish fighters on Friday.

    The 14 civilians were killed in Turkish airstrikes and mortar fire by allied Syrian fighters on and around the village of Bab al-Kheir, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    The Britain-based war monitor said eight fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces — the de facto army of the embattled Kurdish autonomous region — were killed in the strikes.

    SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said Turkey was clearly violating the terms of the agreement reached during a Thursday visit to Ankara by US Vice President Mike Pence.

    Violation
    “Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital” in Ras al-Ain, he said.

    Under the deal, Kurdish forces are required to withdraw from a border strip 32 kilometres deep, clearing the way for a “safe zone” sought by Turkey.

    The Kurdish-led SDF had said they were ready to abide by the ceasefire in border territory between Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad to its west.

    Kurdish forces have put up fierce resistance in Ras al-Ain, with a network of tunnels, berms and trenches that held off the Turkish onslaught for a week.

    On Friday afternoon, an AFP correspondent on the Turkish side of the border saw a big column of black smoke rise from Ras al Ain, though it was unclear what was burning.

    The Turkish offensive was sparked by US President Donald Trump's announcement of an American withdrawal from northern Syria, leading critics to accuse him of betraying Washington's Kurdish allies.

    The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies — mostly Arab and Turkmen former rebels used as a ground force — have so far seized around 120 kilometres of territory along the border.

    More than 500 people have been killed on the two sides, including nearly 100 civilians, while around 300,000 have been displaced, according to the Observatory.

    Ankara considers the Kurdish forces to be “terrorists” linked to Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.

    Turkish forces and their allies had taken control of half of Ras al-Ain on Thursday when its hospital was hit, trapping patients and staff inside, Abdel Rahman said.

    Kurdish authorities sent a medical team to rescue the wounded but it was prevented from entering the town, said Hassan Amin, a director of the hospital in nearby Tal Tamr.

    Seven wounded people from around Ras al-Ain made it to Tal Tamr, he said.

    'War crimes'
    Trump has come under criticism in Washington over his handling of the crisis, from Democrats and from within his own Republican Party.

    The SDF fought alongside US forces to defeat the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, but Trump argued it was no longer the US role to ensure calm in the region.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country has special forces in Syria as part of the anti-IS coalition, complained he had learnt of the US withdrawal by Twitter.

    Thousands of IS fighters and their family members are held in Kurdish-run jails and camps across northern Syria.

    The prospect of thousands of the world's most radical jihadists breaking out in the chaos caused by Turkey's invasion is causing widespread alarm.

    The Turkish offensive has also been widely criticised, with videos surfacing online allegedly showing captured fighters and civilians being executed.

    The Kurds on Thursday accused their rivals of using banned weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus munitions, a charge Ankara has denied.

    Amnesty International on Friday accused Ankara's forces and their proxies of “serious violations and war crimes, summary killings and unlawful attacks”.

    There was no immediate response from Ankara, which says it takes all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties.

    Trump welcomed the ceasefire on Thursday, but later compared the warring parties to children. “Like two kids in a lot, you have got to let them fight and then you pull them apart,” he said.
    Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1511567/tu...ortheast-syria.


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  27. #187
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    How USA Betrayed Kurds Nine Times

    FANS of the iconic ‘Peanuts’ cartoon strip will recall how time after time, Lucy persuades the hapless Charlie Brown to kick the football she is steadying with a finger.

    When Charlie Brown asks for an assurance, he receives a promise that she won’t pull the ball away this time. He then comes running in, and of course, Lucy pulls the ball away at the last instant, leaving Charlie sprawling on his back. It never changes, and yet he never loses his innocence, just as Lucy never loses her mean streak.

    This is what has been happening to the Kurds over hundreds of years. According to an old Kurdish saying, the mountains are the Kurds’ only friends. Although they are the world’s largest ethnic group without a state, they have been used and abused time and again by cynical regional countries, as well as by global powers.

    Today, there are anywhere between 20 million and 40m Kurds, depending on whose figures you trust. At 15m, they constitute around 18 per cent of the Turkish population. There are also about 8m in Iran; 2m in Syria, and 5m in Iraq. Sadly, they have been unable to unite and present a joint front.

    For decades, it was a crime to broadcast in Kurdish in Turkey, or use other expressions of identity like singing or publishing works written in Kurdish. This pushed the Kurds into demanding greater autonomy, and when the Turkish state responded with violence, the conflict escalated into a full-blown civil war. Spearheading this fight was the PKK, or the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a secular, left-wing group that espoused independence.

    To his credit, Erdogan, the Turkish president, lifted the ban on many of the draconian bans on the display of Kurdish identity. Schools can now teach in Kurdish, and Kurds can take part in elections. However, this thaw ended when terrorist attacks in Turkey took scores of lives. Although the PKK denied responsibility, Erdogan unleashed a fierce anti-Kurd campaign in south-eastern Turkey that has levelled entire city blocks and killed thousands.

    The YPG, or Peoples’ Protection Units, is a Syrian group close to the PKK’s ideology. Women have fought shoulder to shoulder with men in the war against the militant Islamic State (IS) group, and have won the admiration of many around the world for their courage and skill.

    For the Americans, the YPG were a godsend, as no other regional force was willing to take on the bloodthirsty jihadists of the IS. Writing a cheque in Riyadh is one thing; risking life and limb in the desert quite another. In any case, the fighting capabilities of the Saudi army have been thoroughly exposed in the war against the Houthis in Yemen.

    Nor did the Americans wish to send more troops to Syria and risk vote-losing casualties. But with American air and artillery support, the YPG defeated the IS in a series of bloody battles. Trump could thus declare victory, and pull out the small number of troops who served as a trip-wire to prevent Turkish attacks on the Kurds. But after they had served American interests, Trump has abruptly stabbed his Kurdish allies in the back, continuing a long and dishonourable tradition.

    Over the last century, America has betrayed the Kurds exactly eight times, so Trump’s latest (and ninth) act of treachery should not surprise us, or the Kurds. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after its defeat in the First World War, Kurds who had lived for centuries under Istanbul’s yoke thought their time had come. But despite earlier promises, they were betrayed by the Americans, and denied statehood under the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 that redrew regional maps to reflect the carve-up of the Ottoman Empire.

    After the Second World War, the Americans armed the Kurds to bleed the government of Abdul Karim Kassem. However, when the (initially) pro-West Saddam Hussein staged a coup, arms to the Kurds were abruptly halted. The next chapter in betrayal came when the Iraqi Kurds were armed by Nixon against Saddam at the behest of the Shah of Iran, but were abandoned to the tender mercies of the murderous Iraqi dictator following the revolution in Iran.

    When he was asked to explain this act of treachery, Kissinger cynically replied: “One should not confuse covert acts with missionary work.” When Saddam used poison gas to massacre thousands of Kurds, an American reporter handed in a story about the incident, his editor asked: “Who will care?”

    When the elder Bush halted the American advance during the first Gulf War, he encouraged Iraqis to fight Saddam. But when the Shias in the south and the Kurds in the north did rise up, they were butchered by the dictator without the Americans lifting a finger to help.

    The litany of betrayal goes on, but the desperate Kurds continue to believe that one day, the Americans will deliver on their promises. Dream on.
    Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1511716/the-ninth-betrayal.


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  28. #188
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  29. #189
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    Turkey reported to have used white phosphorus as at least 200 civilians have died in this offensive.

    This mess was avoidable had the US mediated a political settlement between the Kurds and the Assad government instead of beating a hasty retreat and greenlighting ethnic cleansing.

    A move supposedly to end a war has created another mini war on top of a civil war.

  30. #190
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markhor View Post
    Turkey reported to have used white phosphorus as at least 200 civilians have died in this offensive.

    This mess was avoidable had the US mediated a political settlement between the Kurds and the Assad government instead of beating a hasty retreat and greenlighting ethnic cleansing.

    A move supposedly to end a war has created another mini war on top of a civil war.
    So Turkey in killing people and its all Americas fault. I would have thought regardless of what America does Turkey are responsible for what they do.

  31. #191
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly View Post
    So Turkey in killing people and its all Americas fault. I would have thought regardless of what America does Turkey are responsible for what they do.
    The US redeploying from the northern border without a political settlement enabled Turkey to carry out this offensive.

    Now I actually agree with Trump on principle that US should reduce its military footprint in the Middle East and for refusing to listen to warhawks like John Bolton who want to perpetuate endless conflicts in places like Iran and Afghanistan.

    The problem is a false choice is being presented between Trump's chaotic and bungled retreat, and permanent imperialism that warhawks in DC are motivated by.

    The progressive view is, yes withdraw from Northern Syria (and from the whole of Syria) but in a strategic way ensuring civilians are protected and are not a victim of Turkish ethnic cleansing, ensure Kurdish political rights will be safeguarded, and allow the Syrian government forces to take over the northern border posts.

  32. #192
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markhor View Post
    The US redeploying from the northern border without a political settlement enabled Turkey to carry out this offensive.

    Now I actually agree with Trump on principle that US should reduce its military footprint in the Middle East and for refusing to listen to warhawks like John Bolton who want to perpetuate endless conflicts in places like Iran and Afghanistan.

    The problem is a false choice is being presented between Trump's chaotic and bungled retreat, and permanent imperialism that warhawks in DC are motivated by.

    The progressive view is, yes withdraw from Northern Syria (and from the whole of Syria) but in a strategic way ensuring civilians are protected and are not a victim of Turkish ethnic cleansing, ensure Kurdish political rights will be safeguarded, and allow the Syrian government forces to take over the northern border posts.
    America helped the Kurds fight ISIS but dont want to support Kurdish terrorists from attacking Turkey.

  33. #193
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    When you mention Kurds, you have to mention which ones. There are different groups among Kurds. There is Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds), there is YPG (Syrian), and there is PKK (Turkish). There is also Iranian Kurd.

    Turkey is only targeting YPG and PKK because these groups have attacked them in the past. Turkey has reasonably friendly relation with Peshmerga.


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  34. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep_shot View Post
    When you mention Kurds, you have to mention which ones. There are different groups among Kurds. There is Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds), there is YPG (Syrian), and there is PKK (Turkish). There is also Iranian Kurd.

    Turkey is only targeting YPG and PKK because these groups have attacked them in the past. Turkey has reasonably friendly relation with Peshmerga.
    So is Turkey wrong for wanting to kill Kurds?.

  35. #195
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly View Post
    So is Turkey wrong for wanting to kill Kurds?.
    Turkey is not attacking all Kurds. They never attack Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds).

    They attack the ones who attack them back. PKK/YPG has been killing Turkish soldiers for years.

    I think Turkey can approach this differently but they definitely have the right to defend themselves.


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  36. #196
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep_shot View Post
    Turkey is not attacking all Kurds. They never attack Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds).

    They attack the ones who attack them back. PKK/YPG has been killing Turkish soldiers for years.

    I think Turkey can approach this differently but they definitely have the right to defend themselves.
    Bro when you invade another nation civillians will be hurt/killed. Turkey shouldn't have invaded, there is no justification for this. They have advanced intelligence and air power which could have been used to target terrorists only. As always this approach creates more enemies than it wipes out.


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  37. #197
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep_shot View Post
    Turkey is not attacking all Kurds. They never attack Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurds).

    They attack the ones who attack them back. PKK/YPG has been killing Turkish soldiers for years.

    I think Turkey can approach this differently but they definitely have the right to defend themselves.
    So Turkey have a right to defend themselves, do America have the right to stop Turkey from defending themselves?.

  38. #198
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    Bro when you invade another nation civillians will be hurt/killed. Turkey shouldn't have invaded, there is no justification for this. They have advanced intelligence and air power which could have been used to target terrorists only. As always this approach creates more enemies than it wipes out.
    You are right. Erdogan can use a bit of diplomacy instead of using force from the beginning.

    However, Kurds aren't angelic either. They are not willing to compromise. Both sides need to compromise and that is the only way to resolve this.


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  39. #199
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly View Post
    So Turkey have a right to defend themselves, do America have the right to stop Turkey from defending themselves?.
    I don't think USA should interfere in Turkish matters. It can make things worse.

    However, USA can help Turkey with freeing the border region from ISIS and YPG. Both are considered as terrorists by Turkey.


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  40. #200
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep_shot View Post
    You are right. Erdogan can use a bit of diplomacy instead of using force from the beginning.

    However, Kurds aren't angelic either. They are not willing to compromise. Both sides need to compromise and that is the only way to resolve this.
    The Kurds are deluded into thinking they will have their own nation with these sort of tactics. They should offer to fully end any terrorist activities in Turkey and make some sort of peace deal.


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  41. #201
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    No one apart from the Kurds themselves believed that the Kurds would get an independent state. The west and the US are just using the Kurds against Assad since the anti-Assad rebels were incompetent and unreliable.

    The best deal the Kurds could make is to give control of north-eastern Syria back to Assad in exchange for greater autonomy and try to make similar deals with Iraq and Turkey.

  42. #202
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Turkey will "crush the heads" of Kurdish fighters if they do not withdraw from a planned safe zone area in northern Syria.

    Turkey agreed on Thursday to suspend an offensive for five days to allow the Kurds to retreat from the area.

    But on Saturday both sides accused the other of violating the ceasefire.

    Ankara views the Kurdish forces as terrorists and wants to create a "safe zone" buffer inside Syria.

    Despite the temporary ceasefire, some sporadic violence has continued - particularly around the border town of Ras Al-Ain.

    What did Erdogan say?
    Speaking at a televised event in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on Saturday, President Erdogan said that if Kurdish fighters did not withdraw by Tuesday evening - as agreed in the ceasefire - "we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists' heads".

    The Turkish leader is due to hold talks next week with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. On Saturday he said that if those talks did not produce a solution, Turkey would "implement its own plans".

    Turkey's defence ministry earlier accused Kurdish forces of carrying out 14 "provocative" attacks in the last 36 hours, mostly in Ras Al-Ain, but insisted Turkish forces were fully abiding by the agreement.

    However, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of violating the ceasefire.

    They also accuse Turkish troops of failing to create a safe corridor for the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from the besieged town.

    On Saturday the SDF urged US Vice-President Mike Pence, who helped to broker the temporary ceasefire, to pressure Turkey to allow the passage of civilians.

    "Despite the constant communication with the American side and the promise made by them to solve this problem, there has not been any tangible progress in this regard," the SDF said in a statement.

    Turkish presidency spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said they wanted the US to put pressure on Kurdish forces to withdraw.

    "We have told our American colleagues to use their leverage, their connections, to make sure that they leave without any incidents," he told AFP news agency.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said deliveries of humanitarian aid had been prevented from entering Ras Al-Ain.

    The monitor group said on Friday that the civilian death toll from the Turkish operation had now risen to 86.

    Between 160,000 and 300,000 people have reportedly fled their homes since the offensive started 10 days ago.

    What prompted the offensive?
    Turkish forces first launched their assault on 9 October, following an announcement US troops would withdraw from the Syria-Turkey border region.

    The Turkish plan is to clear Kurdish fighters from a buffer zone extending more than 30km (20 miles) into Syria. It would run for about 440km along the border, President Erdogan said on Friday, and be monitored from observation posts.

    Turkey also plans to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees, currently on its territory, in the buffer zone but critics warned the move could trigger the ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.

    The goal was to push back a Kurdish militia group - the People's Protection Units (YPG) - that Turkey views as a terrorist organisation.

    Since the offensive was launched, President Donald Trump has been accused by some, including senior Republicans, of abandoning a US ally. The SDF - a group dominated by the YPG - fought alongside the US against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

    There has been growing international concern about possible war crimes committed by Turkey and its allied militias during the offensive.

    Amnesty International says it has gathered "damning evidence" of war crimes and other violations by their side and the United Nations has called on Turkey to investigate the allegations.

    Unconfirmed reports have also emerged that Turkish-allied forces have used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon which causes bad burns, in Syria.

    The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was aware of the claims and was gathering evidence.

    What is the latest with the ceasefire?
    The pause in hostilities followed talks in the Turkish capital Ankara between Mr Erdogan and Mr Pence on Thursday.

    President Trump celebrated news of the ceasefire and claimed the pause in hostilities would lead to "millions of lives" being saved. He remained optimistic in comments made on Friday, despite reports the ceasefire was failing to hold.

    SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted on Friday morning to allege that Turkey was breaking the ceasefire near Ras al-Ain.

    "Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital," he wrote.

    President Erdogan dismissed reports of continuing clashes on Friday as "misinformation" but international news media recorded explosions in Ras al-Ain during the morning.

    The SOHR said Saturday that the SDF had not yet started to pull back from the border region.

    Local Kurdish media are reporting that five civilians and 13 Kurdish fighters in Ras-al-Ain have been killed since the ceasefire began, but the BBC has not been able to independently confirm that.
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50108417.


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    All US troops withdrawing from northern Syria are expected to be relocated to western Iraq, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed.

    Mr Esper told reporters that, under current plans, about 1,000 soldiers would be redeployed to help stop the resurgence of Islamic State (IS).

    President Donald Trump has previously pledged to bring US troops home.

    Meanwhile, a Kurdish-led force said it had withdrawn all its fighters from the besieged Syrian town of Ras al-Ain.

    Correspondents said it appeared to be the start of a wider withdrawal under a US-brokered temporary ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Kurdish fighters.

    President Trump's announcement of a US withdrawal from northern Syria paved the way for a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.

    Ankara views one of the prominent militias in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as terrorists, and wants to create a "safe zone" buffer inside Syria.

    Under the temporary ceasefire the SDF has agreed to withdraw from an area of about 120km (70 miles) stretching from Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ain, although Turkey wants to ultimately control a much larger area.

    The SDF had earlier accused Turkey of not allowing its fighters and wounded civilians to leave Ras al-Ain.

    Both sides have accused each other of breaching the truce. On Sunday Turkey said one of its soldiers was killed and another wounded in a Kurdish attack near the Syrian town of Tal Abyad.

    In another development, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a bipartisan group of US lawmakers arrived in Jordan for talks with King Abdullah.

    Ms Pelosi, along with senior US politicians, has strongly criticised President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria.

    "With the deepening crisis in Syria after Turkey's incursion, our delegation has engaged in vital discussions about the impact to regional stability, increased flow of refugees, and the dangerous opening that has been provided to Isis (IS), Iran and Russia," she said in a statement.

    What about US troops?
    On a flight to the region, Mr Esper said US forces would be used to "help defend Iraq" and counter an attempt by IS to re-establish itself there.

    "The US withdrawal continues apace from north-eastern Syria... we're talking weeks, not days," he said.

    "The current game plan is for those forces to re-position into western Iraq."

    A senior US defence official cautioned that plans could change "but that is the game plan right now".

    In a tweet, later deleted, President Trump quoted Mr Esper - whom he referred to as Mark Esperanto - as saying that the ceasefire was "holding up very nicely".

    What about the ceasefire?
    On Sunday, the Turkish defence ministry said a soldier was killed and another wounded by anti-tank and small arms fire near Tal Abyad.

    It said Turkish forces returned fire in self-defence.

    Earlier, Turkey's defence ministry accused Kurdish forces of carrying out 14 "provocative" attacks in the last 36 hours, mostly in Ras al-Ain, but insisted Turkish forces were fully abiding by the agreement.

    However, the SDF accused Turkey of violating the ceasefire and failing to create a safe corridor for the evacuation of civilians and wounded people from Ras al-Ain.

    A reporter from AFP news agency in Ras al-Ain said at least 50 vehicles, including ambulances, left the hospital there and flames were then seen leaping from the building.

    Dozens of Kurdish fighters left on pick-up trucks which passed by checkpoints manned by pro-Turkish Syrian rebel fighters.

    Some reports said civilians were also leaving because they feared atrocities by Syrian militias allied to Turkey.

    The convoy of ambulances was later seen arriving in the town Tal Tamer where crowds lined the streets, cheering and waving flags.

    The pause in hostilities followed talks in the Turkish capital Ankara between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice-President Mike Pence on Thursday.

    But Mr Erdogan has kept up a war of words on the Kurdish fighters. On Saturday he that if they did not withdraw by Tuesday evening "we will start where we left off and continue to crush the terrorists' heads".

    Between 160,000 and 300,000 people have reportedly fled their homes since the offensive started 10 days ago.

    SOHR said on Friday that the civilian death toll from the Turkish operation had risen to 86.

    What prompted the offensive?
    Turkish forces first launched their assault on 9 October, following an announcement that US troops would withdraw from the region.

    The Turkish plan is to clear Kurdish fighters from a buffer zone extending more than 30km (20 miles) into Syria.

    Turkey also plans to resettle up to two million Syrian refugees, currently on its territory, in the buffer zone but critics warned the move could trigger the ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.

    The goal was to push back a Kurdish militia group - the People's Protection Units (YPG) - that Turkey views as a terrorist organisation.

    Since the offensive was launched, President Trump has been accused by some, including senior Republicans, of abandoning a US ally. The SDF - a group dominated by the YPG - fought alongside the US against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50117765.


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  44. #204
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    AKCAKALE: Dozens of vehicles rolled out of a besieged Syrian border town, evacuating Kurdish fighters and civilians and opening the way for Turkish-backed forces to take over in the first pullback under a three-day-old US-brokered ceasefire.

    Kurdish officials say the evacuation of the town of Ras al-Ayn will be followed by a withdrawal of their forces from a broader section of the border with Turkey, a central requirement of the ceasefire deal.

    The withdrawal is supposed to take place before Tuesday evening, when the pause in fighting is set to end.

    Still, questions remain over longer-term arrangements. Turkey says it wants a “safe zone” clear of the Kurdish fighters whom it considers terrorists across the entire northeast border. That is far longer than the territory the Kurds will leave under the terms of the deal.

    The Trump administration negotiated the accord after heavy criticism at home and abroad that it had opened the way for the Turkish invasion by abruptly removing its soldiers from northeast Syria. That move abandoned the Kurdish-led force, which was allied with the Americans in the bloody, years-long campaign that brought down the Islamic State group’s rule over nearly a third of Syria.

    For the moment, the pull-back focused on Ras al-Ayn, a town that has been a major battle zone since Turkey launched its invasion on Oct 9.

    Kurdish civilians also flee

    The ceasefire deal only calls for fighters to leave.

    But Kurdish civilians fled in the convoy as well, fearing atrocities by the Turkish-backed Syrian forces. Those fighters, who are Arab and often Islamist extremists, have been accused of killings of Kurdish civilians and captured fighters during this campaign and in other Syrian territory seized in Turkish campaigns since 2017.

    That flight of civilians is likely to be repeated in other areas the fighters withdraw from, though most have already fled their homes in the past days of fighting.

    Turkish TV showed a line of vehicles driving through agricultural areas out of town on Sunday. The Turkish military said at least 86 vehicles were involved. The convoys passed through corridors opened by Turkish-backed forces and headed to the town of Tal Tamr further south.

    A senior official in the Kurdish-led forces, Redur Khalil, said the evacuation was completed in the afternoon. “We now have no fighters inside the city,” he said. The pullout elsewhere had not yet begun, he added.

    The Kurds had been holed up for days in a small pocket on the southern edge of the city, surrounded by the Turkish-backed fighters and engaged in clashes well after the start of the ceasefire. The SDF said 16 of its fighters had been killed and three wounded the past 24 hours.

    Turkish soldier killed

    Both sides accuse each other of repeatedly violating the three-day old ceasefire. Turkey’s Defence Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed on Sunday in a Kurdish attack with anti-tank weapons and small arms fire near the border town of Tal Abyad.

    That brought the Turkish military’s death toll to seven soldiers since it launched its offensive on Oct. 9.

    Significant issues remain over the arrangements at the border. A previous agreement between the US and Turkey over a “safe zone” along the Syria-Turkish border foundered over the diverging definitions of the area.

    Erdogan has said the Kurdish fighters must withdraw from the entire northeastern border from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, more than 440 kilometres.

    Another question is what the arrangement will be along the rest of the northeastern border, most of which remains solely in the hands of Kurdish-led fighters.
    Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1512079/ku...fter-ceasefire.


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  45. #205
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    US President Donald Trump says some American troops will stay on in Syria despite his call for them to be pulled out.

    He said a small number would protect oil fields while others would stay near Israel and Jordan.

    His decision two weeks ago to withdraw US forces from the Syria-Turkey border region drew criticism even from some of his supporters.

    Soon after Turkey launched an offensive against former US allies the Kurds.

    The US president again defended his decision to withdraw, amid accusations he has betrayed Kurdish-led forces who have been an important partner in the battle against Islamic State.

    "Why should we put our soldiers in the midst of two large groups, hundreds of thousands potentially of people, that are fighting? I don't think so," he said. "I got elected on bringing our soldiers back home."

    But Mr Trump also said the US had been asked by Israel and Jordan to leave a small number of troops in "a totally different section of Syria".

    In another part of the country he said US forces were needed to "secure the oil".

    Turkey moved against Kurdish-led forces in Syria with the aim of pushing them away from northern Syria and create a "safe zone" for resettling up to two million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

    Up to 300,000 people are reported to have fled their homes since the fighting started.

    A ceasefire is currently in place to allow for the withdrawal of Kurdish-led forces from the area but is set to run out at 22:00 local time (1900 GMT) on Tuesday.

    Mr Trump has not ruled out the possibility of an extension.

    In a separate development, three current and former defence officials told NBC that the Pentagon has begun drawing up plans for a quick withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan in the event that Mr Trump orders an immediate withdrawal as he did with Syria.

    Mr Trump has been heavily criticised over his decision to remove US forces from Syria.

    The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to condemn the president's withdrawal of troops, with both Democrats and Mr Trump's fellow Republicans approving the measure.

    In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Republican Mitch McConnell said it was a "strategic mistake".
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-50134430.


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  46. #206
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    Turkey and Russia have agreed what they called a "historic" deal aimed at keeping Kurdish forces away from Syria's border with Turkey.

    Turkey this month launched an offensive to drive out the Kurdish forces from their southern frontier and create a buffer zone.

    Russia is an ally of Syria's Bashar al-Assad and has raised concern about foreign interference in Syria.

    Turkey and Russia will now conduct joint patrols on the border.

    The deal comes after the US announced a sudden and unexpected withdrawal and analysts see it as cementing Turkish and Russian influence in the region.

    For Turkey it means retaining control over areas gained at the expense of the Kurds while for Russia its forces alongside Syria's will oversee the rest.

    Hours after the deal was announced Turkey said there was no need to re-launch its offensive, which was on hold due to a ceasefire, as Kurdish fighters had withdrawn from the Turkish "safe zone".

    What was agreed?
    Turkey has seized a 120km-long strip of land between the towns of Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad to create a "safe zone" to resettle up to two million refugees currently in Turkey.

    Russia has agreed to allow Turkey's operation, removing the risk of conflict between the two sides.

    The statement from Russia and Turkey says that Kurdish forces "will be removed" from the towns of Manbij and Tal Rifat - both of which lie outside the operation area.

    Kurdish militias have yet to indicate whether they will agree to those demands.

    Under the plan, Russia will conduct joint patrols with Turkey in parts of northern Syria to ensure that Kurdish forces do not return to areas close to Syria's border with Turkey. They will begin on Wednesday.

    Joint Russian and Syrian patrols in areas where Turkish forces do not operate will also begin on Wednesday.

    The announcement came after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

    Mr Assad thanked President Putin and "expressed his full support for the results of the work as well as the readiness of the Syrian border guards, together with the Russian military police, to reach the Syrian-Turkish border," the Kremlin said.

    How did we get here?
    A US-led coalition relied on Kurdish led forces to battle Islamic State (IS) militants in northern Syria over the past four years, but they are dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Turkey sees as a terrorist organisation.

    Just over two weeks ago President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from Syria. Soon after, Turkey launched an offensive on the Kurds.

    Russia stationed troops near the border over concerns that Syria's territory was being encroached upon by a foreign power.

    Turkey agreed to pause the assault last week at the request of the US to "facilitate the withdrawal of YPG forces from the Turkish-controlled safe zone".

    Since then the ceasefire has largely held, despite what US officials have described as "some minor skirmishes".

    The Kurds have been given another 150 hours to withdraw to a depth of 32km (20 miles) from the border.

    What has the cost been?
    The UN says more than 176,000 people, including almost 80,000 children, have been displaced in the past two weeks in north-east Syria, which is home to some three million people.

    Some 120 civilians have been killed in the battle, along with 259 Kurdish fighters, 196 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and seven Turkish soldiers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group.

    Twenty civilians have also been killed in attacks by the YPG on Turkish territory, Turkish officials say.
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50138121.


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  47. #207
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    Turkey Syria offensive: Erdogan and Putin strike deal over Kurds

    Turkey and Russia have agreed what they say is a "historic" deal aimed at keeping Kurdish forces away from Syria's border with Turkey.

    It comes during a pause in Turkey's offensive to drive Kurdish forces out, creating a "safe zone" in the area.

    Under the deal, Syrian and Russian forces will immediately oversee a withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

    There is no word from the Kurdish fighters, whom Turkey regards as terrorists.

    The deal sets out plans for joint Turkish-Russian patrols along the border next week.

    The agreement was announced after six hours of talks on Tuesday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian host, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

    A ceasefire brokered by the US was set to expire on Tuesday evening and Turkey had threatened to re-launch its offensive against the Kurdish fighters. It said there was now "no need".

    The Turkish offensive began after the US announced a sudden and unexpected withdrawal of its troops from northern Syria. The US troops had been supporting the Kurdish fighters, who have been allies in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in the region.

    What was agreed in Sochi?
    In its offensive, Turkey seized a 120km-long strip of land between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad - part of its attempt to create a "safe zone" to resettle up to two million refugees currently in Turkey and remove the Kurdish fighters.

    Under the deal, Russia has agreed to allow Turkish troops to remain in the area they have taken and to retain sole control.

    Kurdish fighters have been given 150 hours from midday on Wednesday (09:00 GMT) to pull back 30km (18 miles) along almost the whole frontier from the Euphrates, just east of Manbij, to the Iraqi border.

    Russian and Syrian forces will move in immediately to oversee the Kurdish pullback.

    The area around Qamishli, which has a large Kurdish population, is not included and no immediate details were given as to what would happen there.

    After the 150-hour deadline expires on 29 October, Turkish and Russian troops will begin joint patrols in areas described as "in the west and the east of the area" of the Turkish offensive.

    The statement from Russia and Turkey also says Kurdish forces "will be removed" from Manbij and the town of Tal Rifat, 50km to the west of Manbij - both of which lie outside the operation area.

    Kurdish militias and political leaders have made no immediate comment on whether they will agree to the demands.

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has raised concern about foreign interference in Syria but the Kremlin said he had thanked President Putin and "expressed his full support for the results of the work as well as the readiness of the Syrian border guards, together with the Russian military police, to reach the Syrian-Turkish border".

    Iran's foreign ministry said the deal was a positive step and that it backed any move to restore stability in the region.

    How did we get here?
    A US-led coalition relied on Kurdish led forces to battle IS militants in northern Syria over the past four years, but they are dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organisation.

    Just over two weeks ago President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from Syria. Soon after, Turkey launched an offensive on the Kurds.

    Russia stationed troops near the border over concerns that Syria's territory was being encroached upon by a foreign power.

    Turkey agreed to pause the assault last week at the request of the US to "facilitate the withdrawal of YPG forces from the Turkish-controlled safe zone".

    The ceasefire largely held, despite what US officials have described as "some minor skirmishes".

    What has the cost been?
    The UN says more than 176,000 people, including almost 80,000 children, have been displaced in the past two weeks in north-east Syria, which is home to some three million people.

    Some 120 civilians have been killed in the battle, along with 259 Kurdish fighters, 196 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and seven Turkish soldiers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group.

    Twenty civilians have also been killed in attacks by the YPG on Turkish territory, Turkish officials say.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50138121

  48. #208
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    The US is lifting sanctions imposed on Turkey nine days ago over its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, President Donald Trump says.

    His decision came after Russia agreed with Turkey to deploy troops to extend a ceasefire along the Syrian border.

    Turkey's assault began after Mr Trump's unexpected move to withdraw US troops from northern Syria earlier this month.

    "Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand," the president said in a TV address from the White House.

    He was heavily criticised by both Democrats and Republicans for the abrupt military pullout, as the Kurds targeted by Turkey had been key US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group (IS) in the region.

    Turkey ordered the military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia - which it considers a terrorist organisation - on 9 October, days after the US withdrawal was announced.

    What did President Trump say?
    "The sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we're not happy with," Mr Trump announced on Wednesday.

    He said Turkey had assured him that it would halt fighting in the region and would make the recently agreed ceasefire permanent.

    Turkey wants to create a 30km (20-mile) deep "safe zone" along the Syrian side of the border free of Kurdish fighters. It wants to relocate there some of the two million Syrian refugees it is currently hosting.

    The US Treasury later confirmed that the sanctions, imposed on 14 October on the Turkish ministries of defence and energy, as well as three of the country's senior officials, had been lifted.

    President Trump said on Wednesday he would keep a "small number" of troops in parts of the country to protect oil installations.

    He also urged Turkey to commit to securing IS militants, and make sure the jihadist group did not regain any Syrian territory.

    A senior state department official earlier said more than 100 IS prisoners had already escaped in the chaos since Turkey's offensive began, and had not yet been located.

    According to President Trump, it was US diplomacy alone that halted the Turkish military operations in Syria and instituted a lasting deal to save Kurdish lives.

    Others may see a different reality, that Russia and Turkey did the deal and the whole episode was precipitated by Washington's willingness to abandon its Kurdish allies.

    This press conference was not about diplomatic realities but the electoral cycle - an effort by Mr Trump to try to turn diplomatic catastrophe into political credits.

    He hopes the riff on ending pointless wars in the Middle East will play well with his base, who care little about the tortuous detail of the Middle East powder keg.

    But as to Washington's abiding strategic interests in the region, there was no mention.

    What was in the deal?
    President Trump hailed the deal agreed by Russia and Turkey on Tuesday as a "big success".

    It was struck during a pause in Turkey's offensive, and will see Russian and Syrian troops facilitate the removal of Kurdish fighters in an area up to 30km deep along the border.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Russian forces deployed to the two key border towns of Kobane and Manbij.

    As part of the deal, Turkey will continue to control an area it took in the recent offensive between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

    The deal also sets out plans for joint Turkish-Russian patrols along the border from next week.

    Mazloum Abdi, the head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force (which is dominated by the YPG) publicly thanked Mr Trump on Twitter, and said the US president had promised to maintain their partnership.

    In a statement, the SDF said Mr Abdi had also thanked the Russian defence minister for saving the Kurds from the "scourge" of war. But he also expressed reservations over some points of the deal, without giving further details.

    Turkey halted its assault last week at the request of the US to facilitate the removal of Kurdish forces from the "safe zone".
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50157439.


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  49. #209
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    Turkey on Friday warned Washington that any meeting with the leader of a US-backed Syrian Kurdish-led force risked “legitimising terrorists”.

    US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had talked with Mazlum Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which fought against extremists in Syria, and that he had “really enjoyed” the conversation.

    In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump thanked Mazlum and said: “I look forward to seeing you soon”, raising fears in Turkey of a possible face-to-face meeting between the two men in the United States.

    “If you start legitimising terrorists like this, tomorrow you will end up meeting with Baghdadi as well,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in televised remarks.

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the head of the militant Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

    “It is not acceptable for our allies to meet with a terrorist wanted under a red notice,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Baku.

    “We have informed the US of all of this in a written note,” the minister added.

    Turkey says there is an Interpol red notice for Abdi, which Turkish NTV broadcaster reported had been issued in 2011.

    A group of American senators including Lindsey Graham earlier this week urged the US State Department to expedite a visa for Abdi to enable a visit where he can speak to officials and lawmakers on the situation on the ground in Syria.

    Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul earlier on Friday said if Abdi entered the US, “because there is a red bulletin, because there is an arrest warrant..., this person should be caught, arrested and extradited to Turkey.”

    Gul told reporters in the Turkish border town of Akcakale that Turkish diplomats had contacted their US counterparts to remind them that Abdi was a wanted individual.

    Relations between Turkey and the US are particularly tense after Ankara launched a cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, whose fighters make up the bulk of the SDF.

    But there have also been strains over Washington's failure to extradite Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of ordering the 2016 failed coup. which Gulen has denied.
    Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1512864/tu...ise-terrorists.


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  50. #210
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    On our way to Qamishli, the largest Kurdish city in northern Syria, we see a US military convoy escorted by fighter jets heading east towards the Iraqi border. They are leaving the Kurdish region.

    The first time I saw an American in Syria was in 2016. He was part of US special forces, sent to support the Kurds fighting the Islamic State (IS) group. Locals were excited to see them arriving.

    But it was in stark contrast this time around. Now you could see the fear and anxiety in the faces of onlookers.

    We were only a few kilometres from the Turkish border as one of the jets circled overhead, leaving a trail of white smoke as it passed in and out of Turkish airspace.

    One of our guides sighed. "Trump bi namoose," he said to me in Kurdish. "Trump has no honour."

    The Kurds have every reason to be worried. On one side they face neighbouring Turkey, and on the other side, Syrian government forces.

    Now the US is leaving, Kurds here are convinced they have no friends other than the mountains they inhabit in this region.

    'Trump sold us'
    From the moment we arrived in Qamishli, ordinary Kurds from baker to waiter asked "why did Trump sell us out?" This is a traditional society that prides itself on a code of honour and do not understand why they have effectively been cut loose.

    "America stabbed us in the back... Trump sold us... we were betrayed," we heard said, again and again.

    Qamishli 's squares and electricity poles are decorated with the pictures of the fallen - men and women killed in the war against IS.

    Every day there are funerals somewhere in this tiny region. It has been this way since IS attacked the Kurds in 2014. But now the victims are those who have been killed since Turkish and allied forces launched their cross-border attack earlier this month.

    At the funerals, many mourners hide their tears. Instead they lead the caskets to graveyards with dances and chants.

    At one such ceremony, for a fallen fighter of the Kurdish YPG, a tall man in his 60s approaches me and calmly says: "Erdogan doesn't like the Kurds. He wants us to leave," referring to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip, who regards the YPG as terrorists.

    The Kurds lost 11,000 men and women battling against IS. "The fight wasn't ours only, we fought on behalf of humanity," the man says. "Where is the international community, why don't they stop Erdogan?"

    'What's the point?'
    In a bakery sits a pile of bread, baked for fighters on the front line. Bahouz, a 16-year-old boy who is cutting dough, asks me my opinion of Americans and Europeans.

    "Do you think they will stop Erdogan from massacring us?" An older boy shouts: "Trump sold us - oil is more important than our lives."

    The young boys are clearly frightened. They know if the pro-Turkish Islamist militias arrive here, they would be the prime target. Already videos have emerged apparently showing Turkish-backed militias shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") and shooting handcuffed young men just like them.

    At a hospital treating wounded YPG fighters, a doctor, Rojda, runs from one operating theatre to another. Rojda, a petite woman in her 30s, is also the director of the facility.

    "What's the point of filming?" she asks wearily. "Don't waste your time. The world has closed its eyes on us."

    One of the patients I meet there is 23-year-old Jiyan. She sits on her bed, staring into the distance. There are dark circles around her eyes. Her head has been surgically pinned, her skull fractured and a hand and both legs are injured.

    She laughs derisorily. "I survived fighting IS in Kobane, Manbij, and Raqqa, but it was the Turks who almost killed me!"

    Jiyan was in Ras al-Ain when Turkey attacked the border town. Her unit came under extensive Turkish artillery and bombardment.

    "We put up a good fight against Turkish-backed thugs, but we couldn't match Turkish firepower," she tells me, adding: "I lost many friends."

    'They are coming for us'
    On our way out of Syria, I meet Kino Gabriel, spokesperson for the SDF, the Kurdish-led alliance of militias.

    A tall man with green eyes and a big smile, he is the founder of the Christian Syriac Military Council, part of the SDF. He avoids criticising President Trump, hoping, it seems, that the US will change course and come back to the SDF's aid.

    "Those jihadists backed by Turkey are not only coming for our land, they see us as infidels, they are coming for us," he says.

    As US troops withdrew from Qamishli last week on Donald Trump's orders, one picture in particular - of a US soldier in his armoured vehicle wearing YPJ (the Kurdish women's fighting force) insignia on his sleeve - resonated with the Kurdish allies they were leaving in haste.

    "The American soldiers are just like us - shocked and disappointed with this political decision," Kino Gabriel says. "But it is not their fault. We honour their sacrifices too."
    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50181855.


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  51. #211
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    ISTANBUL: Turkey will clear north-east Syria of Kurdish YPG militia if Russia does not fulfil its obligations under an accord that helped end a Turkish offensive in the region, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

    Under the deal hammered out by Erdogan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Russian military police and Syrian border guards are meant to clear the YPG fighters from within 30km of the border over a period of six days ending on Tuesday.

    From Tuesday, Russian and Turkish forces will start to patrol a narrower, 10km strip of land in north-east Syria.

    “If this area is not cleared from terrorists at the end of the 150 hours, then we will handle the situation by ourselves and will do all the cleansing work,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul.

    Russia has already warned the YPG that it will face the full force of Turkey’s army, the second biggest in Nato, if it fails to withdraw its fighters and weapons from the designated area in north-east Syria within the agreed deadline.

    Erdogan also accused the European Union of lying because it had promised six billion euros ($6.7 billion) to help house and feed around 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey but had only provided half of that amount. Turkey has spent around $40 billion euros on the refugees, Erdogan added.

    The president repeated an earlier threat to send the refugees to Europe if European countries failed to provide more financial support to help resettle them in a “safe zone” Ankara wants to establish on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey.

    “If Turkey’s plans for the return [of the refugees] ... is not supported, we will have no choice but to open our borders. We would open the borders, they can go to Europe,” he said.

    In a move sure to further infuriate Ankara, a former prosecutor and UN investigator Carla del Ponte said in an interview published on Saturday that Erdogan should be investigated and indicted for war crimes over the incursion.

    “For Erdogan to be able to invade Syrian territory to destroy the Kurds is unbelievable,” said Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

    “An investigation should be opened into him and he should be charged with war crimes,” she told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende in an interview.
    Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1513164/er...if-russia-wont.


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  52. #212
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    Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said there was “no way we could have done” the mission to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi without the help of Kurdish troops.

    Rogers, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that having the Kurds as allies and retrieving intelligence from them enabled the U.S. to successfully carry out this mission.

    “There’s no way we could have done this,” Rogers said. “Remember those Kurdish forces were pushing back on ISIS.”

    “All of that, Trump should understand how impactful that was,” he added. “That was a change in operating in Syria and it did make a significant difference to push back and eliminate their land holding.”

    The Michigan Republican emphasized that Kurdish forces most likely provided intelligence leading to al-Baghdadi’s death.

    “You can’t do it without those allies of which candidly we just walked away from,” he said.

    Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper agreed that the Kurdish forces most likely played a vital role in the mission.

    “I’m quite confident that our being on the ground and sharing tactical intelligence, ground-level intelligence with the Kurds, I’m quite sure had a lot to do with the success of this mission,” he said.

    President Trump announced the removal of U.S. troops from Syria earlier this month, after which Turkey launched an offensive against the U.S. Kurdish allies, who Turkey views as terrorists. Several bipartisan lawmakers condemned the announcement, worrying that the Kurds would view the removal as a “betrayal.”

    The U.S. military utilized the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurds, to complete the mission of killing al-Baghdadi.
    Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-...have-done-this.


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  53. #213
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    Syrian Kurds are asking the Pentagon to block US-controlled air space over north-eastern Syria to Turkish armed drones which they claim are causing significant civilian casualties.

    Ilham Ahmed, the head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), said the Kurds would hold the Pentagon responsible for Turkish war crimes if they did nothing to guarantee protection from the air.

    She told reporters during a visit to Washington that armed Turkish drones were a constant presence in the air above north-eastern Syria, striking at will against both military and civilian targets.

    “We have been promised by the United States on a couple of occasions that areas that have US forces will never be attacked by Turkey,” Ahmed said through a translator “However, we saw that the US did not fulfill its promise after the Turkish incursion.

    “Armed Turkish drones are still flying over our region and targeting anything they wish to,” Ahmed said.

    “We call on the Pentagon go to stop allowing Turkey to use Syrian air space,” she added. “We hold the Pentagon responsible for all the crimes committed by Turkey if they don’t block the air space.”

    Ahmed said said the SDC, which is the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), had appealed to the Pentagon for help or an explanation but had heard nothing back.

    The SDC leader rejected claims by US officials that the ceasefire was holding in north-eastern Syria in the wake of a US troop withdrawal from the border area and a subsequent Turkish incursion.

    She said attacks by drones, artillery and Turkish-backed militias were continuing, and that since the start of the Turkish incursion, 509 civilians and 412 SDF soldiers had been killed in the area.

    The Turkish government justifies its incursion as a counter-terror operation, pointing to close links between the SDF and the Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).

    The SDF accuse the Turkish government of sending in jihadists in proxy militias to carry out ethnic cleansing of the border area. Ahmed said elements in those militias could help the Islamic State regenerate in the region.

    From her meetings with US officials, Ahmed said she had statements saying “there is a will to stay” on the part of US forces.

    “But until when, why and for what we have no clear answer yet,” she said.

    Ahmed added that the deployment of US troops and armour to the oilfields around Deir Ezzor would do nothing for her people.

    “If the US forces are going to be remaining in the oilfields in the south when the Turks are attacking us from the north-west, where is the stability?” she asked. “How can we achieve security for the people?”

    The head of the regime in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, said on Thursday that his government would eventually restore control of the north-east in the wake of the Turkish invasion, and an subsequent agreement with the SDF that allowed regime forces to take up positions along the border, on condition that Kurdish fighters not be asked immediately to hand over their weapons.

    Asked about the status of SDF talks with Damascus, Ahmed replied: “Reaching a political solution about the future of north-east Syria … is the key to our discussion with the regime and for our forces integrating into the Syrian army.”
    Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...n-air-space-us.


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  54. #214
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    A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town along the border with Turkey on Saturday, killing 13 people. Turkey’s defence ministry said about 20 others were wounded when the bomb exploded in central Tal Abyad, which forces backed by Ankara captured from Kurdish-led fighters last month.

    The ministry harshly condemned the attack, which it blamed on Syrian Kurdish fighters, and called on the international community to take a stance against this “cruel terror organisation”. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    Turkey invaded north-eastern Syria last month to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters, whom it considers terrorists because of their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

    The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said earlier on Saturday that Christian fighters would now oversee security in a northern Syrian region where troops backed by Turkey have clashed with and Kurdish-led militias.

    The SDF said the deployment would take place in villages close to the town of Tal Tamr in the Khabur river region. The area is home to Syria’s dwindling Christian Syriac and Assyrian communities.

    Turkey’s advance into northern Syria has led to the displacement of about 200,000 people. There have been concerns in Christian villages about possible atrocities committed by fighters backed by Ankara, some of whom are former jihadists.

    The SDF said it was deploying the Syriac Military Council and Assyrian fighters in the Khabur river region. Both groups are part of the SDF.

    The announcement came a day after Turkey and Russia launched joint patrols in north-eastern Syria under a deal that halted a Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, who were forced to withdraw from the border area following Ankara’s incursion.

    The truce has mostly held, but it has been marred by accusations of violations from both sides and occasional clashes. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has threatened to resume the offensive if he deems it necessary.

    The Syrian Kurds had been Washington’s top allies in the fight against Islamic State, a relationship that had strained ties between the US and Turkey, which are both members of Nato.

    After an abrupt and widely criticised decision by Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from this part of Syria, Kurdish forces approached the Syrian government and Russia for protection. Syrian government troops and Russian military police subsequently moved into areas along the border.
    Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...key-from-kurds.


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  55. #215
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    Turkish-backed forces fighting Kurdish militias in north-east Syria have been accused of committing war crimes, with acts of brutality surfacing on mobile phone footage.

    The UN has warned that Turkey could be held responsible for the actions of its allies, while Turkey has promised to investigate.

    Bearded men shout "Allahu Akbar [God is the Greatest]". One captures the scene on his smartphone and says: "We are mujahedeen [holy warriors] from Faylaq Al-Majd [Glory Corps] battalion." In the background are the corpses of Kurdish fighters.

    Further away, a group of men plant their feet on a woman's bloodied body. One says she is a "*****".

    The gruesome footage is much like that produced by the ultra-violent Islamic State (IS) group.

    Yet the men in this video are not IS militants, but rather fighters for a rebel alliance known as the Syrian National Army, trained, equipped and paid for by a Nato member, Turkey. They are under the command of the Turkish army.

    The video was filmed on 21 October in northern Syria. The woman beneath the fighters' feet is Amara Renas, a member of an all-woman unit of Kurdish fighters, the YPJ, a force that played a significant role in defeating IS in Syria.

    On 9 October the Turkish army and pro-Turkish Syrian rebels attacked the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), shortly after Donald Trump announced the US would pull troops out of Syria.

    SDF fighters had been a highly effective and trusted ally of the US-led coalition and led the defeat of IS on the ground. The group says it also provided intelligence that led to the killing last week of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    Video threats
    Days after Turkey's attacks, numerous videos alleged to have been filmed by pro-Turkey rebels emerged on social media. In one, an unidentified fighter shouts in Arabic: "We have come to behead you infidels and apostates!"

    In another video, a masked rebel clad in black carries a terrified woman surrounded by other rebels - one films her, one shouts "pig", another says: "Take her to be beheaded."

    The captured woman is Cicek Kobane, another YPJ fighter.

    The widely-circulated video provoked outrage on social media. A few days after it was published, Turkish state TV showed Cicek Kobane being treated in a hospital in Turkey.

    US officials have said that some of the actions in these videos probably constitute war crimes.

    "Many people fled because they're very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces," James Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria, told Congress.

    "We'd say that Turkey-supported Syrian opposition forces who were under general Turkish command, at least in one instance did carry out war crimes."

    Crossing point
    Turkey has long been accused of taking little action against jihadists in Syria.

    "I ran the ISIS [Islamic State group] campaign - 40,000 foreign fighters, jihadists from 110 countries around the world, all came into Syria to fight in that war and they all came through Turkey," Brett McGurk, former US President Special Envoy in the coalition against IS, told CNN last month.

    He said he tried to persuade Turkey to seal its border against IS. "They said they couldn't do it," he said, "but the minute the Kurds took parts of the border, it's totally sealed with a wall."

    US officials say they have demanded an explanation from Turkey for alleged war crimes by the rebels.

    Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president's spokesman, said Turkey will investigate any suspected war crimes.

    But many Kurdish activists have no faith in the Turkish government or army.

    "There is strong evidence that over the past four decades, Turkish military and security forces have systematically committed war crimes and violated human rights in their conflict with the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades)," says Kamran Matin, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University.

    Turning a blind eye
    In the past decade, numerous disturbing images and videos allegedly filmed by the Turkish army and security forces document the killing of captured Kurdish dissidents in Turkey.

    In one video published a few years ago, suspected Turkish soldiers behead dead PKK militants. In another video, two female PKK fighters with their hands tied behind their backs are seated on a mountain cliff, when what are apparently Turkish soldiers with automatic machine guns shoot them at close range and kick them over the edge.

    In October 2015, a widely-shared video showed Turkish security forces dragging the body of 24-year-old actor Haci Lokman Birlik through the streets in Sirnak, a Kurdish town in south-east Turkey, with a rope around his neck. Part of the video appeared to have been filmed from inside the police vehicle. Turkish officials claimed his corpse might have been booby-trapped.

    Kurdish human rights activists have accused the US and the EU of failing to condemn Turkey or take any effective punitive action.

    "The EU turned a blind eye to Turkey's human rights violations, because of Turkey's Nato membership, economic ties and the fear of a backlash among millions of Turks living in European countries, Germany in particular," says Kamran Matin.

    After the Syrian civil war began, a new factor "constrained European countries' reaction to Turkey's gross violation of human rights," he says - "Syrian refugees. [Turkish] President Erdogan repeatedly threatened flooding Europe with them."

    This, it seems, is something European countries want to avoid, whatever the cost.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50250330


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  56. #216
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    ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani said on Tuesday that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had previously warned Syrian Kurdish authorities to distance themselves from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), adding that the PKK’s struggle for legitimacy in the area led to the Turkish invasion.

    “Turkey's problem in the beginning was not Kurds in Syria, it was the PKK. They were clear in saying one thing: 'we cannot bear seeing the flag of the PKK on our borders with Syria,’” he told a crowd at a forum hosted by the Middle East Research Institute in Erbil.

    “We have always tried to make our friends in Syria understand that [Turkey’s concerns] are a grave danger,” he added.

    He continued by saying that the suffering of the Syrian Kurds under the Turkish incursion came as a result of PKK “policy” to gain legitimacy in Syria.

    “The biggest problem was that the PKK tried to obtain its legitimacy at the expense of Syrian Kurds. What Kurds eventually suffered came as a result of the wrong policy they followed,” he added.

    President Barzani added that the best possible solution to the current crisis in the north-east enclave, known as Rojava, is for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to engage in further dialogue with Damascus.

    "Emotionally, there is no doubt that all of us, any Kurd, who sees what is happening in Syria and what Kurds are suffering there, is sad and want things to happen in a different way" Barzani said.

    The Turkish Army and its Syrian proxies launched Operation Peace Spring against the SDF on October 9 after US forces withdrew from the area.

    Ankara repeatedly threatened a military incursion to push the SDF away from the border and establish a “safe zone” up to 30 kilometers deep.

    Ankara considers the YPG - the backbone of the SDF-to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, seen as a terrorist group in Turkey .

    The YPG, although ideologically inspired by PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, denies any links to the PKK, which is based in the Qandil Mountains of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

    Kurds accuse Turkey of planning to carry out ethnic cleansing and demographic change, uprooting the Kurdish population from their homes, and pushing them away from the border to make way for refugees who come from other parts of Syria.

    President Barzani added that he believes Kurds should not always criticize other governments for their silence or inaction, and that "we have to criticize ourselves" too.

    "When something happens, we are used to immediately criticizing others. But we never criticize ourselves and see what factors triggered the issues to happen. If we see these mistakes in the first place, we can take future steps with caution," he said.

    The Kurdish leader revealed for the first time that he has spoken with General Mazloum Abdi, general commander of the SDF on the situation unfolding in northern Syria and added he informed Abdi of his request to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to facilitate talks between the SDF and Damascus.

    The day before the Turkish incursion began on October 9, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was in Erbil where Kurdish leadership asked him to protect Kurds in northern Syria.

    He added that Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the SDF, described the prospect of talks between the SDF and Damascus as “the right thing” to do.

    The Kurdish president discussed other concerns over the Turkish attack, including mass displacement and the resurgence of ISIS.

    “We host around two million Iraqi and Syrian refugees and IDPs. It has now reduced to 1.1 million. The population of the Kurdistan Region increased by 25 to 30 percent. The cost on the Kurdistan Region was around 1.5 billion dollars. It is a handsome amount of money on the Kurdistan Region," the president said.

    The biggest concern however, was the potential for ISIS to make a comeback.

    "We do not think that Daesh has been eliminated, nor the ideology disappeared. We believe Daesh is still a grave security danger on the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in general,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

    Barzani stated that the KRG will work with Baghdad to mitigate the threat of the terror group.

    The Kurdish leader also added that the KRG will not interfere in external issues.

    “Our responsibility to carry is the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We will not meddle in any country's affairs, neither Syria, nor Iran or Turkey,” Barzani stated.

    Despite this, Barzani said the KRG has urged Kurdish actors in Syria to be united and "work together".

    This was echoed by SDF Commander Abdi, who called on all Kurdish forces to "join efforts and let us decide on the fate of our nation together."

    "We will need to a have a single unified Kurdish discourse," Abdi told Rudaw on Tuesday.
    Source: https://www.rudaw.net/english/middle...yria/051120193.


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  57. #217
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    Turkey has vowed to make good on its promise to send foreign Islamic State fighters back to their home countries as soon as Monday, warning European nations that it does not matter whether the former militants are welcome at home or not.

    Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Friday that militants captured during its military incursion in northern Syria - where many former IS fighters were being held in prisons after being captured by Kurdish forces - would be repatriated.

    Turkey has long criticised its European allies for refusing to take back Islamic State fighters who are their citizens, and claimed that it will send them back even if their citizenship has been revoked.

    "We are telling them: 'We'll repatriate these people to you', and we are starting as of Monday," Soylu said.

    Read more: Belgian and UK authorities say ISIS fighters should face justice in Iraq, Syria

    It is the second time that Soylu has made his threat. On November 3, he warned that Turkey was "not a hotel" for captured militants and accused Britain, France and Belgium that expecting the authorities in Turkey to deal with the former militants alone was irresponsible.

    All three nations have argued that IS fighters should face justice in Syria and Iraq, where their crimes were committed, while Britain has stripped dozens of former militants of their citizenship.

    Speaking to Euronews when the policy was first announced, representatives of both the British and Belgian governments repeated that the militants should remain in Syria and Iraq to face trial.

    In a written statement, a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said: “Our priority is the safety and security of the UK and the people who live here.

    “Those who have fought for or supported Daesh should wherever possible face justice for their crimes in the most appropriate jurisdiction, which will often be in the region where their offences have been committed.”

    The Belgian Foreign Ministry said the country's position was still to seek trial for IS fighters "near the place where they committed their crimes."

    "This must imperatively be done in fair conditions and in compliance with international law. Discussions are continuing and Belgium remains convinced that this is the solution that minimizes the risks for our society while respecting the rights of the defendant," a ministry spokesman said.

    It remains to be seen whether Turkey could actually return IS prisoners to their home countries against the will of their home governments.

    Although Britain, for example, has stripped fighters with dual nationality of their citizenship, it is against international law to make an individual stateless, so those with sole nationality should theoretically remain British citizens and - ultimately - the responsibility of the British government.
    Source: https://www.euronews.com/2019/11/08/...-says-minister.


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